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date: 12 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The written word is central to Judaism, a prophetic religion in which the divine word is delivered to humankind in the Hebrew Bible (known as Torah). Text not only enables the divine word to be delivered in the Torah, but also serves as the medium through which the entire legalistic system on which Judaism is based is established. In addition, the written word serves as the depository of collective memory that comes in the form of storytelling. In biblical Judaism, this storytelling acquires two presentations: Torah She’Beal Peh, the oral law or tradition, and Torah She’Bemichtav, the written law or tradition. This article examines the role of literature—and text—in Judaism from the Hebrew Bible to the present. It considers how the idea of literature for Jews has evolved over time and how technology has made the written word ubiquitous. It also discusses changes in readership and how Jewish literature has become global through translation. Finally, it looks at the transition between the written word and the graphic image as literary agents.

Keywords: written word, Judaism, Torah, literature, text, Hebrew Bible, Jews, technology, Jewish literature, graphic image

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