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Contextualizing Israel’s Sacred Writings: Ancient Literacy, Orality, and Literary Production
Brian B. Schmidt, editor
AIL 22
Publication Date
August 2015


An essential resource exploring orality and literacy in the pre-Hellenistic southern Levant and the Hebrew Bible

Situated historically between the invention of the alphabet, on the one hand, and the creation of ancient Israel's sacred writings, on the other, is the emergence of literary production in the ancient Levant. In this timely collection of essays by an international cadre of scholars, the dialectic between the oral and the written, the intersection of orality with literacy, and the advent of literary composition are each explored as a prelude to the emergence of biblical writing in ancient Israel. Contributors also examine a range of relevant topics including scripturalization, the compositional dimensions of orality and textuality as they engage biblical poetry, prophecy, and narrative along with their antecedents, and the ultimate autonomy of the written in early Israel. The contributors are James M. Bos, David M. Carr, André Lemaire, Robert D. Miller II, Nadav Na'aman, Raymond F. Person Jr., Frank H. Polak, Christopher A. Rollston, Seth L. Sanders, Joachim Schaper, Brian B. Schmidt, William M. Schniedewind, Elsie Stern, and Jessica Whisenant.


  • Addresses questions of literacy and scribal activity in the Levant and Negev
  • Articles examine memory, oral tradition, and text criticism
  • Discussion of the processes of scripturalization

Brian B. Schmidt is Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient West Asian Cultures in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is the author of Israel’s Beneficent Dead: Ancestor Cult and Necromancy in Ancient Israelite Religion and Tradition (J.C.B. Mohr/Eisenbrauns) and the editor of The Quest for the Historical Israel: Debating Archaeology and the History of Early Israel (Society of Biblical Literature).

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