Generally perceived as sacred text, The Bible was accepted by the audiences for whom it was made as revelation of God’s ‘Word’. The question arises, then, whether it can be explained through categories developed for the understanding of such fundamentally secular, individual, and aesthetic enterprises; such as that of later Western literature?
The lecture focuses on the Bible as a ‘Great (Literary) Text’ rather than religious scripture, and discusses the development and evolution of the ‘Text’ over a millennia – from the invention of the alphabet to what is known as ‘the Canon’. It acknowledges that scholars and ‘believers’ may not always agree on the source of the power which The Book exerts on the Extra Biblical World; but they both agree that reading the Bible in Translation is ‘like kissing a bride through a veil’.
Dr Azila Talit Reisenberger is the Head of the Hebrew in the School of Languages and Literature at the University of Cape Town. A champion of women’s rights – in various women’s organisations and in the media – she teaches and publishes in the field of Bible and Hebrew literature, with a focus on gender issues and the South African experience. In addition to numerous academic papers and books, she has published seven volumes of poetry and short stories in Hebrew and in English. The first edition of her recent English novel, ‘The Other Booker Prize’, has sold out and two of her plays have been staged. Since 1989, she has served as spiritual leader (Rabbi) of the Jewish Progressive Community in East London.