Page 398 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

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390
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
T
h e
S
a r a h
a n d
J
u l iu s
K
u s h n e r
M
e m o r ia l
A
w a r d
From Tradition to Commentary: Torah and Its Interpretation in the
Midrash Sifre to Deuteronomy,
by Steven D. Fraade (State Univer­
sity o f New York Press)
The genre o f “Commentary” is universally recognized as one
o f the most central in the history o f Jewish cultural creativity,
and yet its history has begun to attract sophisticated research
only in recent decades. Within this new movement to under­
stand the development o f commentary in all its manifestations,
Stephen Fraade’s
From Tradition to Commentary
constitutes an im­
portant methodological contribution. By focusing on key pas­
sages in the Midrash Sifre to the Book o f Deuteronomy, Fraade
demonstrates how this early commentary actually works, and
how it communicates its message to its intended audience. To
do so, he subjects the text to a series o f questions which are
formulated in the light o f current literary and historical theories
o f narration.
SEPHARDIC STUDIES
T
h e
M
a u r ic e
A
m a d o
F
o u n d a t io n
The Compunctious Poet: Cultural Ambiguity and Hebrew Poetry in
Muslim Spain,
by Ross Brann (The Johns Hopkins University
Press)
In
The Compunctious Poet,
Ross Brann explores the personal
and literary dilemma o f four o f Spain’s great medieval poets
who are torn between their art and the strictures o f their tra­
dition. In a study characterized by technical sophistication and
erudition, Brann sheds new light on some o f the subtleties o f
the Hebrew poetic tradition in Spain. In his comparative analysis
o f the dilemmas and ambiguities o f attitude towards secular po­
etry he uncovers new layers o f meaning in the oeuvre o f al-
Andalus. His numerous learned notes drawn from contempo­
rary Israeli scholarship as well as his personal translations o f
many Hebrew poems provide the reader with a wealth o f ma­
terial generally accessible only to the connoisseur.
SCHOLARSHIP