Deconstructing the Bible: Abraham Ibn Ezra's Introduction to by Irene Lancaster

By Irene Lancaster

Deconstructing the Bible represents the 1st try out through a unmarried writer to put the good Spanish Jewish Hebrew bible exegete, thinker, poet, astronomer, astrologer and scientist Abraham ibn Ezra (1089-1164) in his entire contextual surroundings. It charts his strange travels and discusses adjustments and contradictions in his hermeneutic strategy, analysing his imaginative and prescient of the longer term for the Jewish humans within the Christian north of Europe instead of in Muslim Spain. It additionally examines his impression on next Jewish concept, in addition to his position within the wider hermeneutic debate. The booklet incorporates a new translation of ibn Ezra's creation to the Torah, written in Lucca, northern Italy, including a whole observation. it will likely be of curiosity to a wide selection of students, starting from philosophers and theologians to linguists and scholars of hermeneutics.

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In Yesod Mora ibn Ezra starts by criticising the massoretes for their emphasis on preservation of text, rather than creativity in analysis. In his Introduction, on the other hand, the massoretes are criticised for their adherence to midrashic rather than common-sense explanations. In contrast to the two earlier works, ibn Ezra also criticises the grammarians for non-creativity. This volte-face is astonishing in the light of ibn Ezra’s earlier championing of the grammatical approach. It may be that towards the end of his life he realised that most people did not understand ‘grammar’ in his original esoteric way, and was hoping to set the record straight by pointing out the drawbacks of the every-day grammatical approach.

Although he was uncertain of how successful he had been in Italy, ibn Ezra influenced it permanently. Sometimes, however, 10 THE BIOGRAPHY OF ABRAHAM IBN EZRA his physical and spiritual turmoil prevented him from thinking clearly and impeded his capacity for creativity. As well as these personal problems, we should also take into account the external factor of the Second Crusade, which had already affected the communities of Germany and France. The fact that the seat of the Church was in Italy may have contributed to ibn Ezra’s decision to leave, although the Italian Jews were, ironically, spared the fate of their co-religionists in France.

His commentary on the Torah resulted from this negative view of Reform, which he regarded as undermining the very foundation of Judaism. In order to safeguard traditional Judaism, he used the same tools as those used by ibn Ezra against the Karaites and allegorists, namely exegesis based on knowledge of Hebrew and the search for the ‘plain’ meaning of the text. He aimed to demonstrate that the Oral Torah was ‘implicit in the plain meaning of the verse and in the profundity of the language and that the interpretation is only the plain meaning based upon accurate, linguistic rules’.

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