THE KALEIDOSCOPIC NATURE OF DIVINE PERSONALITY IN THE HEBREW BIBLE

in Biblical Interpretation
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Abstract

Over the centuries, rabbis, priests and laity have wrestled with the Bible's various and often conflicting portraits of the God Yahweh. The social sciences suggest that each Yahweh text reflects the needs of the communities that formulated the text. Also, academic research has explored the reception of the complete Bible by religious communities. With the exception of so-called canonical criticism, very little work has been done on the transition between these two stages of the Bible's (and Yahweh's) evolution, from initial composition of texts to complete biblical canon. But canonical criticism usually presumes, a priori , that any text later deemed biblical was in some sense religiously useful from the day of initial composition, became (or continued to be) religiously authoritative as it evolved toward final edited form, and only increased in sacredness as it moved toward canonization. This study disputes that presumption, suggesting that the anthology was produced by a group of literati whose motivation was both socio-ideological and aesthetic, but not religious. This motivation best explains the extreme diversity of Yahweh personalities in the Hebrew canon.

Biblical Interpretation

A Journal of Contemporary Approaches

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