Does Hebrew literature have a character of its own? And is modern Israeli prose the worthy successor to a more ancient tradition? In “Towards a Hebrew Literature,” published in Azure in 2000, Assaf Inbari analyzes the history of the ancient world in order to bring the Hebrew Bible’s unique form into stark relief. In doing so, he shows that it was the people of Israel who gave the world a unique form of narrative prose that is imbued with the metaphysics and theology of biblical Israel. Contrasting the tradition of Hebrew literature to other genres, Inbari calls on modern writers to situate their own work in native literary form of the Jewish people.
What is Hebrew literature? In its essence, Hebrew literature is historical, national, deed-based narrative prose. In other words, it is narrative prose that is based on an understanding of time as the flow of history, of man as part of a nation, and of reality as a series of actions rather than a constellation of objects in space.
Narrative prose is the authentic form of Hebrew literature. Jews have always written philosophy, poetry and plays, but these literary genres were adopted from other cultures. Narrative prose, as a cultural preference, is the innovation of the Bible. This revolutionary decision was a critical element of the monotheistic revolution of Hebrew culture. Unlike the writings of the other cultures in antiquity, the Bible could only have been written in prose. Its message was, in no small measure, its narrative style; its form expressed its content.
More about: • Jewish Literature
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