Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel

By Michael Fishbane | Go to book overview

Preface

In some respects, this book had its beginning in one of my earliest areas of interest in biblical studies—what I then construed as 'sub-surface culture', meaning those mental or cultural features in ancient Israel which are only indirectly indicated on the surface of biblical literature but which emerged to full view in post-biblical sources. More directly, the subject of this work on exegetical practices and traditions embedded in the Hebrew Bible first found expression in a lecture delivered in Jerusalem in 1973, at the Sixth World Congress of Jewish Studies, and subsequently published in the volume of Proceedings. Further clarification was achieved in the course of preparing essays for several publications from 1975 onwards. My decision to expand the topic into a full-length study came in the summer of 1977, when I enjoyed a stipend from the National Endowment of the Humanities, and during the subsequent sabbatical semester when I also received aid from the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture. Various drafts followed, and these were entirely reworked and expanded during the academic year 1981-2, when I held a visiting appointment at Stanford University on the Aaron-Roland Fund. I also received a research grant from this fund which provided for the typing of the final draft. I am grateful to Professor Van Harvey for making this money available to me, and to Ms Josephine Guttadauro for her expert typing. Support for earlier typing was provided by various research funds at Brandeis University, and I am particularly grateful to Professor Marvin Fox, Director of the Lown School of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, and to Dr Marver Bernstein, past President of the University, for their kind offices in securing for me a substantial subvention which helped support this work in its final stages. Sincere thanks to the Mazur Family Fund for Faculty Research for its generosity.

It is out of the deepest gratitude that I extend my heartfelt thanks to Professor James Barr, Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford University, who exceeded the ordinary duty of a colleague by his interest in and support of this work. His acuity as a reader is well known, and I have benefited from it; his interest in the scholarship of a younger colleague is a debt which I happily acknowledge, and I can only hope to repay this to others in turn.

It is also my pleasure to acknowledge another virtually unpayable debt, and this of even longer standing, to my dear teacher and colleague, Professor Nahum M. Sarna, Golding Professor of Biblical Studies at

-vii-

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