Page 93 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 49

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NAHUM M. WALDMAN
Prophets in Hebrew Literature
H
ebr ew
l it e r a t u r e
,
in all o f its phases, from rabbinic to mod­
ern , bears the imprint o f the TaNaKH . While vocabulary and
syntax change, the influence o f the Bible in theme and word,
is always present. The phenom enon o f intertextuality has been
characterized by Ju lia Kristeva as one where a poetic text is
“produced in the complex movement o f a simultaneous affir­
mation and negation o f ano ther text.”1 The creative and in te r­
pretive retelling o f the biblical story began with the Bible itself
and has continued to ou r own day.2 The modern recreator o f
the biblical theme may affirm and elaborate o r may be in op ­
position to the biblical view.
We shall look at some modern rein terpreta tions o f the biblical
prophe ts and their incorporation into metaphor. The p rophe t
can be viewed in d iffe ren t ways. He may be seen as a romantic,
who lives apa rt from the society he is commanded to reprove.
The bohemian image o f the p rophe t is to be found both in
literature and in 19th-century Bible studies. Julius Wellhausen
stressed the total individualism o f the prophets: “The prophe ts
have notoriously no father, their importance rests on the in­
dividual . . . representative men are always single, resting on
nothing outside themselves . . they do not preach on set texts;
they speak ou t o f the spirit which judges all things and itself
is judged o f no m an .”'1 The view o f the p rophe t as an ecstatic
has been maintained by many scholars. We may cite Herm ann
1. Cited in David C. Jacobson,
Modern Midrash
(State University o f New York
Press, 1987), p. 6. Convenient collections o f modern Hebrew prose and
poetry relating to the Bible are Gedaliah Elkoshi, ed.,
Antologiyah Mikrai'it
(Tel Aviv, 1954) and M. Rabinovits and Z. Yardeni, eds.,
Antologiyah
Tanakhit
, 3 vols. (Tel Aviv, 1962-63).
2. Jacobson, p. 1.
3. Julius Wellhausen,
Prolegomena to the H iston o f Israel
(Edinburgh, 1885),
p. 398.
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