Who Really Wrote the Bible: The Story of the Scribes (Hardcover)

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A groundbreaking new account of the writing of the Hebrew Bible

Who wrote the Bible? Its books have no bylines. Tradition long identified Moses as the author of the Pentateuch, with Ezra as editor. Ancient readers also suggested that David wrote the psalms and Solomon wrote Proverbs and Qohelet. Although the Hebrew Bible rarely speaks of its authors, people have been fascinated by the question of its authorship since ancient times. In Who Really Wrote the Bible, William Schniedewind offers a bold new answer: the Bible was not written by a single author, or by a series of single authors, but by communities of scribes. The Bible does not name its authors because authorship itself was an idea enshrined in a later era by the ancient Greeks. In the pre-Hellenistic world of ancient Near Eastern literature, books were produced, preserved, and passed on by scribal communities.

Schniedewind draws on ancient inscriptions, archaeology, and anthropology, as well as a close reading of the biblical text itself, to trace the communal origin of biblical literature. Scribes were educated through apprenticeship rather than in schools. The prophet Isaiah, for example, has his "disciples"; Elisha has his "apprentice." This mode of learning emphasized the need to pass along the traditions of a community of practice rather than to individuate and invent. Schniedewind shows that it is anachronistic to impose our ideas about individual authorship and authors on the writing of the Bible. Ancient Israelites didn't live in books, he writes, but along dusty highways and byways. Who Really Wrote the Bible describes how scribes and their apprentices actually worked in ancient Jerusalem and Judah.

About the Author

William M. Schniedewind is professor of biblical studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he was the inaugural holder of the Kershaw Chair of Ancient Eastern Mediterranean Studies. He is the author of How the Bible Became a Book, A Social History of Hebrew: Its Origins Through the Rabbinic Period, The Finger of the Scribe: How Scribes Learned to Write the Bible, and other books.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780691233178
ISBN-10: 0691233179
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication Date: June 18th, 2024
Pages: 360
Language: English