How the Bible Became a Book: The Textualization of Ancient Israel

It is easy for us to underestimate the aura that surrounded a written text in the ancient world. As you read this review, you are performing something that once seemed like magic: converting signs on a printed page into human speech. Most ancient people did not have that capacity, even those living in societies like Mesopotamia, Egypt or Greece, societies that created famous texts. Most people could live well without recourse to written documents. And when “nonliterates” did encounter a scribe or priest who could read a scroll, they were awestruck. Writing was seen as a god-given way of having the age-old words of the gods and of long-dead people speak in the present.

 

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