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Title: The Life of Psalms in Late Antiquity
Authors: Berkovitz, Abraham Jacob
Advisors: Himmelfarb, Martha
Contributors: Religion Department
Keywords: Biblical Studies
Book History
History of Reading
Reception History
Subjects: Religion
Judaic studies
Biblical studies
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The Life of Psalms in Late Antiquity is a literary biography that tells the story of how Jews and Christians encountered, read and made meaning of the book of Psalms in Late Antiquity. It draws from and contributes to the fields of book history, history of reading and biblical reception. It opens with a discussion of the materiality upon which reading was enacted and how late antique Jews and Christians made sense of and crafted the material medium of the Psalter (chapter 1). It then connects materiality to reading by examining scenes of reading, narratives in which an agent reads from a physical Psalter. This analysis highlights the interplay between materiality and the various sociological transcripts that undergird the activity of reading (chapter 2). Not all forms of reading, however, can be traced back to its material reality. The narrative continues with an exploration of the most expected form of late ancient reading: scholastic reading; namely, reading the Psalter as an exegetical activity (chapter 3). The discussion will examine not only the products of interpretive reading, but also the very assumptions that underpin scholastic reading. Exegesis, however, was not the exclusive – or even the most common – form of reading the book of Psalms in Late Antiquity. The narrative then broadens our horizons of expectations by exploring the reading of Psalms in liturgy (chapter 4) and as magical and pietistic practice (chapter 5). These chapters offer windows into the life and practices of non-elite Jews and Christians. They also establish the popularity and pervasiveness of Psalms, which allows the story to then recurve back to exegesis, this time, however, with a focus on identity and religious competition. The narrative continues with an exploration of how the shared late antique psalmscape fostered both Jewish and Christian polemical exchange (chapter 6), and even irenic exegetical interaction (chapter 7). The narrative ends (conclusion) with the acknowledgement that this dissertation merely scratches the surface of late antique psalm reading, but nonetheless offers a foundation upon which other stories about the life of Psalms in Late Antiquity can be built.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Religion

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