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Second Slayings


The Binding of Isaac and the Formation of Jewish Memory


In Second Slayings: The Binding of Isaac and the Formation of Jewish Memory, David N. Gottlieb explores the decisive - and, until now, under-appreciated - influence exerted on Jewish memory by the Akedah, the Binding of Isaac narrative in the Book of Genesis. Through the lenses of hermeneutics, literary and social theory, and history, Gottlieb reveals the ways in the Akedah narrative models the act of interpretation as a means of recovery from and commemoration of crisis - a strategy that has penetrated every aspect and era of Jewish life.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-4026-4
  • *
Publication Status: In Print

Series: Judaism in Context 24
Publication Date: Nov 6,2019
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 251
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-4026-4
$95.00
$57.00

This work is a study of Jewish cultural memory as exemplified by rabbinic midrash of the Amoraic period, the second through fifth centuries of the Common Era, and especially midrash on the Akedah, the Binding of Isaac (Gen. 22:1–19). The Akedah is proposed and analyzed as a model for submission to the divine will through the act of interpretation. Rabbinic sages constructed a framework for cultural memory that relies on mimetic acts of interpretive substitution that are employed to confront, interpret, and remember ruptures as evidence of divine care, and they found, in the Akedah, a model for this interpretive stance. The form of memory they devisedtermed midrashic memory, is proposed as inherent to rabbinic textual interpretation and whose origins are traced to the Akedah narrative itself. Midrashic memory is analyzed in selections from Amoraic midrash, in Shalom Spiegel’s twentieth-century masterwork on the Akedah,The Last Trial, and is proposed as the crux of a theory and taxonomy of Jewish memory. Second Slayings analyzes the Akedah as metonym for cultural reorientation through the reharmonization of the lived (‘temporal’) and the covenanted ( ‘anamnestic’) planes of experience.

This work is a study of Jewish cultural memory as exemplified by rabbinic midrash of the Amoraic period, the second through fifth centuries of the Common Era, and especially midrash on the Akedah, the Binding of Isaac (Gen. 22:1–19). The Akedah is proposed and analyzed as a model for submission to the divine will through the act of interpretation. Rabbinic sages constructed a framework for cultural memory that relies on mimetic acts of interpretive substitution that are employed to confront, interpret, and remember ruptures as evidence of divine care, and they found, in the Akedah, a model for this interpretive stance. The form of memory they devisedtermed midrashic memory, is proposed as inherent to rabbinic textual interpretation and whose origins are traced to the Akedah narrative itself. Midrashic memory is analyzed in selections from Amoraic midrash, in Shalom Spiegel’s twentieth-century masterwork on the Akedah,The Last Trial, and is proposed as the crux of a theory and taxonomy of Jewish memory. Second Slayings analyzes the Akedah as metonym for cultural reorientation through the reharmonization of the lived (‘temporal’) and the covenanted ( ‘anamnestic’) planes of experience.

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Contributor Biography

David Gottlieb

David N. Gottlieb received his PhD in the History of Judaism from the University of Chicago Divinity School in 2018. He has written for numerous academic publications, including The Journal of Religion, AJS Review, AJS Perspectives, The Toronto Journal for Jewish Thought, and The Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception

Table of Contents v
Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 1
Genesis 22:1–19 18
Chapter One. Sacrifice and the Formation of Jewish Memory 23
1. Key Concepts and Definitions 31
2. A Brief Review of Key Theorists and Theoretical Works on Cultural Memory 35
a. Maurice Halbwachs 36
b. Pierre Nora 38
c. Kerwin Lee Klein (Critique) 40
d. Jan Assmann 40
e. Aleida Assmann 44
f. David Manier and William Hirst 45
g. Richard B. Miller 46
h. Dietrich Harth 48
i. Yerushalmi and Funkenstein 50
3. The Akedah as Cultural Code 53
4. Memory and the Midrashic Condition 54
5. Midrash: The Social and Exegetical Construction of Reality 58
6. The Akedah and Midrashic Memory 60
Chapter Two. Transformation through Repetition in the Akedah 63
1. Sacrifice and Mimesis 66
2. Sacrifice and Interpretation 74
3. The Offering of the Firstborn and the Construction of Memory 77
4. Substitution and the Firstborn Son 81
5. Reading the Akedah: Methodology 85
6. Recitation, Revision, and Repetition: The Doubling of Word and Phrase in the Akedah 89
7. Analysis and explication of the text 93
8. The Akedah as a Map of Midrashic Memory 101
Chapter Three. Rabbinic Transformations of Sacrifice and the Formation of ‘Midrashic Memory’ 103
1. The Beginning of Text Culture, the End of Temple Culture 108
2. Ke’ilu and the Mimetic Transformation of Sacrificial Rite 113
3. Ke’ilu and Midrashic Memory in Leviticus Rabbah 7 115
4. The Akedah in Genesis Rabbah: Ke’ilu, Substitution, and Divine Mimesis 123
5. Memory, Mimesis, and Martyrdom: The Theme of the Second Slaying 130
6. Polysemy, Indeterminacy, and the ‘As If’ of Memory 132
7. Memory and Identity 136
Chapter Four. Shalom Spiegel and the Modernization of Midrashic Memory 139
1. Spiegel and the ‘as if’ of Midrashic Memory 142
2. Ricoeur: The Threefold of Narrative, History, and Memory 143
3. Three Phases of Narratization 144
4. Jan Assmann and the Iron Wall: Hypolepsis, Permeability, and Midrashic Memory 148
5. Spiegel’s The Last Trial as a Work of Midrashic Memory 151
6. The Ashes of Isaac 155
7. Malkhuyot, Zikhronot, Shofarot: High Holiday Liturgy and Divine Mimesis 159
8. The Second Slaying 165
9. Merit, Martyrdom, and Eternal Mimesis 171
10. ‘Anamnestic Time’ and the Individuation of Consciousness 177
11. Toward a Re-theorization of Jewish Cultural Memory 178
Chapter Five. Toward a Theory and Taxonomy of Jewish Cultural Memory 181
1. A Theory of Jewish Cultural Memory 183
2. Cultural Memory: Linguistic Orientations 188
3. Hebrew and the Ontology of Rupture 189
4. Rupture, Remembrance, and Selfhood 194
5. A Taxonomy of Jewish Memory 197
a. Canonical Memory 197
b. Canonical: Halakhic Memory 199
c. Canonical: Liturgical Memory 199
d. Canonical: Midrashic Memory 200
6. Temporal Memory: Historical, Archival, and Reconstructive 201
7. Cultural Memory Rubrics: Ruptures, Fractures, and Fractals 203
8. Historical: Secular Memory 205
9. Toward an Ethics of Midrashic Memory 207
10. New Directions for the Study of Memory, Jewish and Other 208
11. Conclusion 210
Bibliography 215
Index 233

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