Memory in a Time of Prose: Studies in Epistemology, Hebrew Scribalism, and the Biblical Past

ISBN : 9780190649852

Daniel Pioske
304 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Oct 2018
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Memory in a Time of Prose investigates a deceptively straightforward question: what did the biblical scribes know about a past that consumed so many of their writings? Daniel D. Pioske attempts to answer this question by studying the sources, limits, and conditions of knowing that would have shaped biblical stories told about a time that preceded the composition of these writings by a generation or more. This book is comprised of a series of case studies that compare biblical references to an early Iron Age world (ca. 1175-830 BCE) with a wide range of archaeological and historical evidence from the era in which these stories are set. Pioske examines the relationship between the past disclosed through these historical traces and the past represented within the biblical narrative. He discovers that the biblical scribes drew the knowledge of the past that they used to create their prose narratives from memory and word of mouth, rather than from a corpus of older narrative documents. For those Hebrew scribes who first set down these stories in prose writing, the means for knowing a past and the significance attached to it were primarily wed to the faculty of memory. Memory in a Time of Prose reveals how the past was preserved, transformed, or forgotten in the ancient world of oral, living speech that informed biblical storytelling.


1. Introduction: Memory in a Time of Prose
2. Hebrew Prose and Stories of an Early Iron Age Past: Historical and Epistemological Considerations
3. Gath of the Philistines: The Resilience of a Remembered Past
4. David on the Desert Fringe: The Entanglements of Memory
5. A Past No Longer Remembered: The Hebrew Bible and the Question of Absence
6. Conclusion

About the author: 

Daniel D. Pioske is Assistant Professor at Georgia Southern University. His first book, David's Jerusalem: Between Memory and History, was published in 2015.

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