Thursday, June 11, 2009

review of Why Did They Write This Way?

In the most recent issue of RBL Werner Kelber offers a typically poetic review of Katherine M. Stott's book, Why Did They Write this Way: Reflections on References to Written Documents in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Literature (LHBOT 492; London and New York: T&T Clark, 2008). I look forward to reading Stott's book primarily because in my own work (Structuring Early Christian Memory, as well as "Reading and Hearing in Ancient Contexts," forthcoming in JSNT) I suggest that biblical scholars would do well to shift their focus away from strictly compositional interests and ask questions regarding reception.

Too often we have focused on the text in front of us and neglected the way that text would have "worked" in its ancient context. In addition, when we suspect the use of written traditions in the composition of other texts, we have neglected the ways that composition represents an instance of reception (viz., of the source text).

Kelber's review leads me to suspect that Stott's work advances our interest in compositional dynamics precisely by broadening her focus to include dynamics of reception. If any of you have read this book, I welcome your comments here.

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