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Strategic Secularism

Bible Advocacy in England

Matthew Engelke

This article focuses on the work of Bible 'advocacy' carried out by the Bible Society of England and Wales. It describes how the Society's first 'Campaign to Culture', held in Nottingham, highlighted the Bible as something that a secular public might recognize as a relevant and important source of ideas and issues, quite apart from its religious significance. As the author suggests, these campaigns can be seen as part of a strategic secularism—the process by which religious actors work to incorporate secular formations into religious agendas.

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Andrew Levy

a God who responds to individual people. 6 The faith in science is nineteenth century but the value system of ‘tentativeness and uncertainty of our understanding’ and contingent progress is not. It appears in the Hebrew Bible. It is surprising that

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Guiding Settler Jerusalem

Voice and the Transpositions of History in Religious Zionist Pilgrimage

Alejandro I. Paz

This article examines how Elad, a religious Zionist settler group, attempts to reanimate biblical tales by transposing biblical text as part of tours for Jewish visitors to the City of David archaeological site in East Jerusalem. Since the early 1990s, Elad has created controversy by settling in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, provoking criticism from Israeli archaeologists and peace activists. In an effort to avoid 'politics' during tours, the group emphasizes a now globalized historicist reading of the Bible, an interpretation popularized by archaeology over the last century and a half. The article considers how transposition from this historicist reading into the here and now is a rhetorical device used to create a biblical realism that does not yet exist in the contested landscape. However, rather than producing an erasure of the Palestinian presence, and in contradiction to the professed desire to refrain from politics, I show that the very communicative situation and multiple framings for producing this biblical realism inevitably remind visitors of the contemporary context.

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Gabriel Josipovici

Three Figures

David Herman

This article explores three central figures that recur in Gabriel Josipovici’s critical writing. All three are essentially solitary. First, there is the creative figure – the artist, the composer, the writer – alone in their study or studio. Second, there is a curiously impersonal figure, more elusive, harder to pin down. Not the writer or artist but an anonymous figure walking down the road, Wordsworth’s solitaries in The Prelude and Paul Klee’s Wander-Artist. And, finally, there are Jewish figures, especially from Kafka and the Hebrew Bible. What are these bare, elusive anonymous figures doing in Josipovici’s writing? Why do they come up so often, throughout his work, from the mid 1970s to the present? And are they lifeless or are they full of life, deeply human, rooted in history and literature?

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The Word of the Lord to Shylock

Biblical Forms in the Translations of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice to Hebrew

Atar Hadari

Halkin’s allusion back into the English Bible translation tradition, we may test whether his allusion is sustained by English translations of this verse – does the English translation of his biblical allusion concur? Vengeaunce is myne and I will rewarde

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Howard Cooper

There are many approaches to reading the Hebrew Bible, from the pietistic in both Jewish and Christian traditions to the scholarly. Gabriel Josipovici’s approach is not about seeking the reductive ‘meaning’ of a text, but encouraging readers into an open relationship with the text in order to preserve the ambiguities and mysteries that adhere to such texts. Joseph’s encounter with an unnamed stranger in Genesis 37 is used as an illustration of this approach. Standing ‘face to face’ with the text requires humility, and trust in the storyteller.

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Hans Hermann Henrix

The 40-year long tradition of the International Jewish-Christian Bible Week – begun in the Hedwig-Dransfeld-Haus in Bendorf and since 2004 continued at Haus Ohrbeck – is a valid and real reason to express congratulations and thanksgiving. Thanks are due above all to the people who initiated the tradition, and representing them I want to name Anneliese Debray (1911–1985), who will always be remembered, and Rabbi Jonathan Magonet. They helped a vision to come to life and they showed a perseverance that has persisted until today. It is the vision that says: yes, there is a Bible that Jews and Christians have in common, Israel’s Bible. At the same time, this vision does not forget that along with closeness, the relationship of Judaism and Christianity to this shared Bible also includes considerable difference. For some, this difference is so great that they question whether Jews and Christians do have Israel’s Bible in common.

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From Bible to Berlin (Irving)

The Message of Jewish Popular Song

Jonathan Magonet

In this paper I would like to explore, in a somewhat whimsical way, certain aspects of popular songs written by Jewish composers and lyricists. In some cases simply eliciting the title evokes memories of a particular singer or context. In all cases they have about them a quality that has stamped them on the popular mind, often to become ‘classics’ of the repertory. The whimsical aspect of this paper lies in the attempt to relate them to themes to be found in the Hebrew Bible, though without venturing to suggest there is a direct line of connection. Rather this suggests that there are common life experiences to be found universally, each generation finding a popular way of expressing them in their own particular medium

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Jonathan Magonet

The Book of Esther hardly needs an introduction. However, at first glance it is easy to dismiss it as belonging to the kind of extravagant storytelling we associate with the oriental world, something out of the ‘Thousand and One Nights’. Nevertheless, we must be careful not to project our western prejudices onto this kind of literature, which, in its own way, seeks to instruct as well as entertain. Within the Hebrew Bible the Book of Esther might be classified as wisdom literature, illustrating how a wise man turns the tables on his deadly enemy in the struggle for power in a world of palace intrigues. Moreover, it is especially significant as the only book to be set in the diaspora, exploring the implications of this new reality of exile with its opportunities and dangers.

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The History of the Me'am Lo'ez

A Ladino Commentary on the Bible

Alisa Meyuhas Ginio

The eighteenth century was a turning point in the cultural history of the Judeo-Spanish community in the Ottoman Empire. This turning point evolves the use of Ladino for rabbinical literature, until then mostly and regularly written in Hebrew. It was the initiative of Rabbi Ya'akov Khulí (Jerusalem, 1689-Kushta-Constantinople-Istanbul, 1732) to publish his commentary on the Bible entitled: Me'am Lo'ez (1st edition: Kushta-Istanbul, 1730) in Ladino, that inaugurated a new era for Ladino culture. Rabbi Ya'akov Khulí decided to take such a revolutionary step in view of the cultural gap existing, in his time and place, between the Hebrew-writing rabbinical élite on the one hand, and the rank and file of Judeo-Spanish speaking and Ladino-reading Sephardi public on the other hand. The author of the Me'am Lo'ez explained his intentions in the two introductions preceding his work: the first one in Hebrew, addressed to his fellow rabbinical sages and the second one in Ladino, addressed to the general public of readers in that language. Soon after its publication, the Me'am Lo'ez gained an unprecedented popularity that was to last for the next two hundred years. Even after the premature demise of Rabbi Ya'akov Khulí, other rabbinical scholars continued his project and published their commentaries on more books of the Hebrew Bible, following Rabbi Khulí's guidelines. Thanks to its Ladino language, the Me'am Lo'ez became known among Sephardi women as well. Although most of them could not read or write, they could understand what was being read aloud to them in Ladino. For Sephardi women, the Me'am Lo'ez thus became the gateway to Jewish tradition. The Me'am Lo'ez turned out to be the guiding authority for everyday life of the Sephardi communities in the Mediterranean basin. The teachings of the Me'am Lo'ez were the backbone of their cultural heritage with which they were to face the new trends of modernity arriving in the Ottoman Empire in the course of the nineteenth century.