History of  Literature










A BRIEF HISTORY OF

WESTERN LITERATURE


 

  CONTENTS:

The Beginnings of Literature. Myths and Legends

Classical Myth

Myth and Mystery

Bible

Hebrew literature

Ancient Greek literature

Ancient Greek literature. Greek theatre

Ancient Greek literature. Philosophical prose

Latin (Roman) literature

Latin (Roman) Literature. The Silver Age

Latin (Roman) Literature. Renaissance

Modern Italian Literature

The Middle Ages Literature

The Middle Ages. Elizabethan England

The Restoration

The Rise of the Novel

Cervantes and Spanish literature

The Enlightenment

Romanticism

Classicism and Naturalism

The 19th century - Prose

The 20th century - Modernism

The 20th century - The Political Novel





THE BIBLE



 



Bible


The sacred scriptures of Judaism and Christianity. The Christian Bible consists of the Old Testament and the New Testament, with the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox versions of the Old Testament being slightly larger because of their acceptance of certain books and parts of books considered apocryphal by Protestants. The Jewish Bible includes only the books known to Christians as the Old Testament. The arrangements of the Jewish and Christian canons differ considerably. The Protestant and Roman Catholic arrangements more nearly match one another.

Traditionally the Jews have divided their scriptures (i.e., the Old Testament) into three parts: the Torah (the “Law”), or Pentateuch; the Nevi'im (the “Prophets”); and the Ketuvim (the “Writings”), or Hagiographa. The Pentateuch, together with the book of Joshua (hence the name Hexateuch) can be seen as the account of how Israel became a nation and of how it possessed the Promised Land. The division designated as the “Prophets” continues the story of Israel in the Promised Land, describing the establishment and development of the monarchy and presenting the messages of the prophets to the people. The “Writings” include speculation on the place of evil and death in the scheme of things (Job and Ecclesiastes), the poetical works, and some additional historical books.

In the Apocrypha of the Old Testament, various types of literature are represented; the purpose of the Apocrypha seems to have been to fill in some of the gaps left by the indisputably canonical books and to carry the history of Israel to the 2nd century BC.

The New Testament is by far the shorter portion of the Christian Bible, but, through its associations with the spread of Christianity, it has wielded an influence far out of proportion to its modest size. Like the Old Testament, the New Testament is a collection of books, including a variety of early Christian literature. The four Gospels deal with the life, the person, and the teachings of Jesus, as he was remembered by the Christian community. The book of Acts carries the story of Christianity from the Resurrection of Jesus to the end of the career of Paul. The Letters, or Epistles, are correspondence by various leaders of the early Christian church, chief among them the Apostle Paul, applying the message of the church to the sundry needs and problems of early Christian congregations. The Book of Revelation (the Apocalypse) is the only canonical representative of a large genre of apocalyptic literature that appeared in the early Christian movement.





Michelangelo
Creation of the Sun, Moon, and Plants

1511
Cappella Sistina, Vatican


Hebrew Bible


also called Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament, or Tanakh, collection of writings that was first compiled and preserved as the sacred books of the Jewish people. It constitutes a large portion of the Christian Bible.

A brief treatment of the Hebrew Bible follows. For full treatment, see biblical literature.

In its general framework, the Hebrew Bible is the account of God’s dealing with the Jews as his chosen people, who collectively called themselves Israel. After an account of the world’s creation by God and the emergence of human civilization, the first six books narrate not only the history but the genealogy of the people of Israel to the conquest and settlement of the Promised Land under the terms of God’s covenant with Abraham, whom God promised to make the progenitor of a great nation. This covenant was subsequently renewed by Abraham’s son Isaac and grandson Jacob (whose byname Israel became the collective name of his descendants and whose sons, according to legend, fathered the 13 Israelite tribes) and centuries later by Moses (from the Israelite tribe of Levi). The following seven books continue their story in the Promised Land, describing the people’s constant apostasy and breaking of the covenant; the establishment and development of the monarchy in order to counter this; and the warnings by the prophets both of impending divine punishment and exile and of Israel’s need to repent. The last 11 books contain poetry, theology, and some additional history.

The Hebrew Bible’s profoundly monotheistic interpretation of human life and the universe as creations of God provides the basic structure of ideas that gave rise not only to Judaism and Christianity but also to Islam, which emerged from Jewish and Christian tradition and which views Abraham as a patriarch (see also Judaism: The ancient Middle Eastern setting). Except for a few passages in Aramaic, appearing mainly in the apocalyptic Book of Daniel, these scriptures were written originally in Hebrew during the period from 1200 to 100 bce. The Hebrew Bible probably reached its current form about the 2nd century ce.

The Hebrew canon contains 24 books, one for each of the scrolls on which these works were written in ancient times. The Hebrew Bible is organized into three main sections: the Torah, or “Teaching,” also called the Pentateuch or the “Five Books of Moses”; the Neviʾim, or Prophets; and the Ketuvim, or Writings. It is often referred to as the Tanakh, a word combining the first letter from the names of each of the three main divisions. Each of the three main groupings of texts is further subdivided. The Torah contains narratives combined with rules and instructions in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The books of the Neviʾim are categorized among either the Former Prophets—which contain anecdotes about major Hebrew persons and include Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings—or the Latter Prophets—which exhort Israel to return to God and are named (because they are either attributed to or contain stories about them) for Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and (together in one book known as “The Book of the Twelve”) the 12 Minor Prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi). The last of the three divisions, the Ketuvim, contains poetry (devotional and erotic), theology, and drama in Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs (attributed to King Solomon), Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles.

Many Christians refer to the Hebrew Bible as the Old Testament, the prophecy foretelling the advent of Jesus Christ as God’s appointed Messiah. The name Old Testament was devised by a Christian, Melito of Sardis, about 170 ce to distinguish this part of the Bible from the New Testament, which recounts the ministry and gospel of Jesus and presents the history of the early Christian church. The Hebrew Bible as adopted by Christianity features more than 24 books for several reasons. First, Christians divided some of the original Hebrew texts into two or more parts: Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles into two parts each; Ezra-Nehemiah into two separate books; and the Minor Prophets into 12 separate books. Further, the Bibles used in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and some Protestant churches were derived initially from the Septuagint, the Greek-language translation of the Hebrew Bible produced in the 3rd and 2nd centuries bce. This included some books deemed noncanonical by Orthodox Judaism and most Protestant churches, slightly longer versions of Daniel and Esther, and one additional psalm. Moreover, the Ethiopian Tewahdo Orthodox Church, one of the Oriental Orthodox churches, also includes within its Old Testament two works considered by other Christian churches to be pseudepigraphical (both noncanonical and dubiously attributed to a biblical figure): the apocalyptic First Book of Enoch and the Book of Jubilees.


Old Testament


In its general framework, the Old Testament is the account of God's dealing with the Jews as his chosen people. The first six books of the Old Testament narrate how the Israelites became a people and settled in the Promised Land. The following seven books continue their story in the Promised Land, describing the establishment and development of the monarchy and the messages of the prophets. The last 11 books contain poetry, theology, and some additional historical works. Throughout the Old Testament, the Jews' historical relation to God is conceived in reference to the ultimate redemption of all humanity. The Old Testament's profoundly monotheistic interpretation of human life and the universe as creations of God provides the basic structure of ideas in which both Judaism and Christianity exist. The term Old Testament was devised by a Christian, Melito of Sardis, about AD 170 to distinguish this part of the Bible from the New Testament. Except for a few passages in Aramaic, the Old Testament was written originally in Hebrew during the period from 1200 to 100 BC.

The Hebrew canon recognizes the following subdivisions of its three main divisions:

(1) the Torah (q.v.), or Pentateuch, contains narratives combined with rules and instructions in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy;

(2) the Nevi'im (q.v.), or Prophets, is subdivided into the Former Prophets, with anecdotes about major Hebrew persons in the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, and stories of the Latter Prophets exhorting Israel to return to God in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Twelve Minor Prophets; and

(3) the Ketuvim (q.v.), or Writings, with poetry—devotional and erotic—and theology and drama to be found in Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles.

The total number of books in the Hebrew canon is 24, the number of scrolls on which these works were written in ancient times. The Old Testament as adopted by Christianity numbers more works for the following reasons. The Roman Catholic canon, derived initially from the Greek-language Septuagint (q.v.) translation of the Hebrew Bible, absorbed a number of books that Jews and Protestants later determined were not canonical; and Christians divided some of the original Hebrew works into two or more parts, specifically, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles (two parts each), Ezra-Nehemiah (two separate books), and the Minor Prophets (12 separate books).




Pieter Bruegel the Elder
The Tower of Babel
1563

Torah

in Judaism, in the broadest sense the substance of divine revelation to Israel, the Jewish people: God's revealed teaching or guidance for mankind. The meaning of “Torah” is often restricted to signify the first five books of the Old Testament, also called the Law or the Pentateuch. These are the books traditionally ascribed to Moses, the recipient of the original revelation from God on Mt. Sinai. Jewish, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant canons all agree on their order: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

The written Torah, in the restricted sense of the Pentateuch, is preserved in all Jewish synagogues on handwritten parchment scrolls that reside inside the ark of the Law. They are removed and returned to their place with special reverence. Readings from the Torah (Pentateuch) form an important part of Jewish liturgical services.

The term Torah is also used to designate the entire Hebrew Bible. Since for some Jews the laws and customs passed down through oral traditions are part and parcel of God's revelation to Moses and constitute the “oral Torah,” Torah is also understood to include both the Oral Law and the Written Law.

Rabbinic commentaries on and interpretations of both Oral and Written Law have been viewed by some as extensions of sacred oral tradition, thus broadening still further the meaning of Torah to designate the entire body of Jewish laws, customs, and ceremonies.




Cosimo Rosselli
Crossing of the Red Sea

Cappella Sistina, Vatican

 

Nevi'im

(Hebrew), English The Prophets the second division of the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, the other two being the Torah (the Law) and the Ketuvim (the Writings, or the Hagiographa). In the Hebrew canon the Prophets are divided into

(1) the Former Prophets (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings) and

(2) the Latter Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Twelve, or Minor, Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi).

This canon, though somewhat fluid up to the early 2nd century BC, was finally fixed by a council of rabbis at Jabneh (Jamnia), now in Israel, c. AD 100.

The Protestant canon follows the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament. It calls the Former Prophets the Historical Books, and subdivides two of them into I and II Samuel and I and II Kings. Some Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox versions further divide Kings into four books. I and II Maccabees are also included in the Roman and Eastern canons as historical books.

The Prophets in the Protestant canon include Isaiah (which appears in two books in some Catholic versions), Jeremiah, and Ezekiel from the Hebrew Latter Prophets. The Minor Prophets (The Twelve) are treated as 12 separate books; thus the Protestant canon has 17 prophetic books. The Roman Catholics accept the book of Baruch, including as its 6th chapter the Letter of Jeremiah, both considered apocryphal by Jews and Protestants.





Gerbrand van den Eeckhout
Hannah presenting her son Samuel to the priest Eli
ca.1665

Ketuvim

(Hebrew), English Writings , Greek Hagiographa the third division of the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament. Divided into four sections, the Ketuvim include:

poetical books (Psalms, Proverbs, and Job),

the Megillot, or Scrolls (Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Ecclesiastes, and Esther),

prophecy (Daniel), and

history (Ezra, Nehemiah, and I and II Chronicles).

Thus the Ketuvim are a miscellaneous collection of liturgical poetry, secular love poetry, wisdom literature, history, apocalyptic literature, a short story, and a romantic tale. They were composed over a long period of time—from before the Babylonian Exile in the early 6th century BC to the middle of the 2nd century BC—and were not entirely accepted as canonical until the 2nd century AD. Unlike the Torah and the Nevi'im (Prophets), which were canonized as groups, each book of the Ketuvim was canonized separately, often on the basis of its popularity.



Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld
Ruth in Boaz's Field

 




The Bible illustrations by


Julius von Carolsfeld "Das Buch der Bucher in Bildeb"

Gustave Dore

William Blake "The Book of Job"



 


El Greco
The Burial of the Count of Orgaz

 

New Testament

second, later, and smaller of the two major divisions of the Christian Bible, and the portion that is canonical (authoritative) only to Christianity.

Christians see in the New Testament the fulfillment of the promise of the Old Testament. It relates and interprets the new covenant, represented in the life and death of Jesus, between God and the followers of the Christ. Like the Old Testament it contains a variety of kinds of writing. Among its 27 books are selected recollections of the life and acts and sayings of Jesus in the four Gospels; a historical narrative of the first years of the Christian Church in Acts of the Apostles; Epistles or letters of advice, instruction, admonition, and exhortation to local groups of Christians—14 attributed to Paul, one (Hebrews) probably in error, and seven by three other authors; and an apocalyptic description of the intervention of God in history, the Book of Revelation.

The books are not arranged chronologically in the New Testament. The Epistles of Paul, for example, which address the immediate problems of local churches shortly after Christ's death, are considered to be the earliest texts. The books are instead arranged in a more logical narrative order, the Gospels telling the life of Jesus and his teachings; the Acts detailing the work of Christ's followers in propagating the Christian faith; the Epistles teaching the meaning and implications of the faith; and Revelation prophesying future events and the culmination of the divine purpose.

The setting of the New Testament within the Christian community is one factor that makes a biography of Jesus or a history of the 1st-century church difficult or impossible. The books of the New Testament were composed not in order to satisfy historical curiosity about the events they recount but to bear witness to a faith in the action of God through these events. A history of the New Testament is made difficult by the relatively short time span covered by its books when compared with the millennium and more of history described by the Old Testament. There is less historical information in the New Testament than in the Old, and many historical facts about the church in the 1st century therefore must be arrived at by inference from statements in one of the Gospels or Epistles.

 


Saint John Takes the Book from the Seventh Angel 

Book of Revelation


also called Book of Revelation , or Apocalypse of John last book of the New Testament. It is the only book of the New Testament classified as apocalyptic literature rather than didactic or historical, indicating thereby its extensive use of visions, symbols, and allegory, especially in connection with future events. Revelation to John appears to be a collection of separate units composed by unknown authors who lived during the last quarter of the 1st century, though it purports to have been written by John, “the beloved disciple” of Jesus, at Patmos, in the Aegean Sea.

The book comprises two main parts, the first of which (chapters 2–3) contains moral admonitions (but no visions or symbolism) in individual letters addressed to the seven Christian churches of Asia Minor. In the second part (chapters 4–22:5), visions, allegories, and symbols (to a great extent unexplained) so pervade the text that exegetes necessarily differ in their interpretations. Many scholars, however, agree that Revelation is not simply an abstract spiritual allegory divorced from historical events, nor merely a prophecy concerning the final upheaval at the end of the world, couched in obscure language. Rather, it deals with a contemporary crisis of faith, probably brought on by Roman persecutions. Christians are consequently exhorted to remain steadfast in their faith and to hold firmly to the hope that God will ultimately be victorious over his (and their) enemies. Because such a view presents current problems in an eschatological context, the message of Revelation also becomes relevant to future generations of Christians who, Christ forewarned, would likewise suffer persecution. The victory of God over Satan (in this case, the perseverance of Christians in the face of Roman persecution) typifies similar victories over evil in ages still to come and God's final victory at the end of time.

Although Christ is clearly the central figure of Revelation, an understanding of the text presupposes familiarity with Old Testament language and concepts, especially those taken from the books of Daniel and Ezekiel. The author uses the number seven, for example, in a symbolic sense to signify “totality” or “perfection.” References to “a thousand years” (chapter 20) have led some to expect that the final victory over evil will come after the completion of some millennium.




Tintoretto
Susanna and the Elders
c. 1555
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna


 

Apocrypha


in biblical literature, works outside an accepted canon of scripture. The history of the term's usage indicates that it referred to a body of esoteric writings that were at first prized, later tolerated, and finally excluded. In its broadest sense apocrypha has come to mean any writings of dubious authority.

There are several levels of dubiety within the general concept of apocryphal works in Judeo-Christian biblical writings. Apocrypha per se are outside the canon, not considered divinely inspired but regarded as worthy of study by the faithful. Pseudepigrapha are spurious works ostensibly written by a biblical figure. Deuterocanonical works are those that are accepted in one canon but not in all.

At the time when Greek was the common spoken language in the Mediterranean region, the Old Testament—the Hebrew Bible—was incomprehensible to most of the population. For this reason, Jewish scholars produced the Septuagint, a translation of the Old Testament books from various Hebrew texts, along with fragments in Aramaic, into Greek. That version incorporated a number of works that later, non-Hellenistic Jewish scholarship at the Council of Jamnia (AD 90) identified as being outside the authentic Hebrew canon. The Talmud separates these works as Sefarim Hizonim (Extraneous Books).

The Septuagint was an important basis for St. Jerome's translation of the Old Testament into Latin for the Vulgate Bible; and, although he had doubts about the authenticity of some of the apocryphal works that it contained (he was the first to employ the word apocrypha in the sense of “noncanonical”), he was overruled, and most of them were included in the Vulgate. On April 8, 1546, the Council of Trentdeclared the canonicity of nearly the entire Vulgate, excluding only the Third and Fourth Books of Maccabees, the Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, and the First and Second Books of Esdras. Eastern Christendom, meanwhile, had accepted some of the Old Testament apocrypha—Tobit, Judith, the Wisdom of Solomon, and Ecclesiasticus (Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach)—but rejected the rest.

The other apocryphal writings, canonical only to Roman Catholicism, with an exception or two, include the Book of Baruch (a prophet) and the Letter of Jeremiah (often the sixth chapter of Baruch); the First and Second Books of Maccabees; several stories from Daniel, namely, the Song of the Three, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon; and extensive portions of the Book of Esther.

Old Testament pseudepigrapha are extremely numerous and offer accounts of patriarchs and events, attributed to various biblical personages from Adam to Zechariah. Some of the most significant of these works are the Ascension of Isaiah, the Assumption of Moses, the Life of Adam and Eve, the First and Second Books of Enoch, the Book of Jubilees, the Letter of Aristeas, and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.

All the New Testament apocrypha are pseudepigraphal, and most of them fall into the categories of acts, gospels, and epistles, though there are a number of apocalypses and some can be characterized as wisdom books. The apocryphal acts purport to relate the lives or careers of various biblical figures, including most of the apostles; the epistles, gospels, and others are ascribed to such figures. Some relate encounters and events in mystical language and describe arcane rituals. Most of these works arose from sects that had been or would be declared heretical, such as, importantly, the Gnostics. Some of them argued against various heresies, and a few appear to have been neutral efforts to popularize the life of some saint or other early leader of the church, including a number of women. In the early decades of Christianity no orthodoxy had been established, and various parties or factions were vying for ascendancy and regularity in the young church. All sought through their writings, as through their preaching and missions, to win believers. In this setting virtually all works advocating beliefs that later became heretical were destined to denunciation and destruction.

In addition to apocryphal works per se, the New Testament includes a number of works and fragments that are described by a second meaning of the term deuterocanonical: “added later.” The Letter to the Hebrews attributed to Paul, who died before it was written, is one of these; others are the letters of James, Peter (II), John (II and III), and Jude, and the Revelation to John. Fragments include Mark 16:9–20, Luke 22:43–44, and John 7:53 and 8:1–11. All are included in the Roman canon and are accepted by the Eastern Church and most Protestant churches.

Heretical movements such as Gnosticism and Montanism spawned a great body of New Testament pseudepigrapha. The existence of such purported scriptures lent great impetus to the process of canonization in the young and orthodox Christian Church.

 

Daniele da Volterra
Madonna with Child, Sts Giovannino and Barbara

c. 1548
 

see:

The Bible illustrations by

Julius von Carolsfeld "Das Buch der Bucher in Bildeb"

Gustave Dore

William Blake "The Book of Job"

 


11th century manuscript of the Hebrew Bible
with Aramaic Targum


Books of the Bible
 

Jewish Canon
Christian Canon
Protestant Canon
Roman Catholic Canon
(Revised Standard Version [RSV]) (Douai-Confraternity Versions)







Old Testament



Torah ("The Law")

Genesis Genesis; or, The First Book of Moses The Book of Genesis
Exodus Exodus; or, The Second Book of Moses The Book of Exodus
Leviticus Leviticus; or, The Third Book of Moses The Book of Leviticus
Numbers Numbers; or, The Fourth Book of Moses The Book of Numbers
Deuteronomy Deuteronomy; or, The Fifth Book of Moses The Book of Deuteronomy
The Book of Joshua The Book of Josue


Nevi'im ("The Prophets")

The Book of Judges The Book of Judges
The Book of Ruth The Book of Ruth
Joshua The First Book of Samuel The First Book of Kings
Judges The Second Book of Samuel The Second Book of Kings
First Samuel The First Book of Kings The Third Book of Kings
Second Samuel The Second Book of Kings The Fourth Book of Kings
First Kings The First Book of Chronicles The First Book of Paralipomenon
Second Kings The Second Book of Chronicles The Second Book of Paralipomenon
Isaiah The Book of Ezra The First Book of Esdras
Jeremiah The Book of Nehemiah The Second Book of Esdras
Ezekiel The Book of Tobias (apocryphal Tobit in RSV)
Hosea The Book of Judith (apocryphal Judith in RSV)
Joel The Book of Esther (includes The Additions to The Book of Esther, apocryphal in RSV)
Amos The Book of Esther The Book of Job
Obadiah The Book of Job The Book of Psalms
Jonah The Psalms The Book of Proverbs
Micah The Proverbs Ecclesiastes
Nahum Ecclesiastes; or, The Preacher Solomon's Canticle of Canticles
Habakkuk The Song of Solomon The Book of Wisdom (apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon in RSV)
Zephaniah Ecclesiasticus (apocryphal Ecclesiasticus in RSV)
Haggai The Prophecy of Isaias
Zechariah The Prophecy of Jeremias
Malachi The Book of Isaiah The Lamentations of Jeremias
The Book of Jeremiah The Prophecy of Baruch (apocryphal Baruch and The Letter of Jeremiah in RSV)


Ketuvim ("The Writings")

The Lamentations of Jeremiah
The Prophecy of Ezechiel
The Prophecy of Daniel (includes The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the
Psalms The Book of Ezekiel Three Young Men, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon, apocryphal in RSV)
Proverbs The Book of Daniel The Prophecy of Osee
Job The Prophecy of Joel
The Song of Songs The Book of Hosea The Prophecy of Amos
Ruth The Book of Joel The Prophecy of Abdias
Lamentations The Book of Amos The Prophecy of Jonas
Ecclesiastes The Book of Obadiah The Prophecy of Micheas
Esther The Book of Jonah The Prophecy of Nahum
Daniel The Book of Micah The Prophecy of Habacuc
Ezra The Book of Nahum The Prophecy of Sophonias
Nehemiah The Book of Habakkuk The Prophecy of Aggeus
First Chronicles The Book of Zephaniah The Prophecy of Zacharias
Second Chronicles The Book of Haggai The Prophecy of Malachias
The Book of Zechariah The First Book of Machabees (apocryphal The First Book of the Maccabees in RSV)
The Book of Malachi The Second Book of Machabees (apocryphal The Second Book of the Maccabees in RSV)






Rembrandt
Evangelist Mathaus und der Engel


New Testament

The Gospel According to Matthew The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to St. Matthew
The Gospel According to Mark The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to St. Mark
The Gospel According to Luke The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to St. Luke
The Gospel According to John The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to St. John
The Acts of the Apostles Acts of the Apostles
The Letter of Paul to the Romans The Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Romans
The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians The First Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians
The Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians The Second Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians
The Letter of Paul to the Galatians The Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Galatians
The Letter of Paul to the Ephesians The Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians
The Letter of Paul to the Philippians The Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Philippians
The Letter of Paul to the Colossians The Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Colossians
The First Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians The First Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians
The Second Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians The Second Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians
The First Letter of Paul to Timothy The First Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to Timothy
The Second Letter of Paul to Timothy The Second Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to Timothy
The Letter of Paul to Titus The Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to Titus
The Letter of Paul to Philemon The Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to Philemon
The Letter to the Hebrews The Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews
The Letter of James The Epistle of St. James the Apostle
The First Letter of Peter The First Epistle of St. Peter the Apostle
The Second Letter of Peter The Second Epistle of St. Peter the Apostle
The First Letter of John The First Epistle of St. John the Apostle
The Second Letter of John The Second Epistle of St. John the Apostle
The Third Letter of John The Third Epistle of St. John the Apostle
The Letter of Jude The Epistle of St. Jude the Apostle
The Revelation to John The Apocalypse of St. John the Apostle




Botticelli
The Return of Judith to Bethulia
c. 1469


Apocrypha

The First Book of Esdras
The Second Book of Esdras
Tobit
Judith
The Additions to the Book of Esther
The Wisdom of Solomon
Ecclesiasticus; or, The Wisdom of Jesus the
Son of Sirach
Baruch
The Letter of Jeremiah
The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of
the Three Young Men
Susanna
Bel and the Dragon
The Prayer of Manasseh
The First Book of the Maccabees
The Second Book of the Maccabees
 

Note on the Apocrypha.

The Protestant Old Testament books of Ezra and Nehemiah are known to Roman Catholics as respectively the first and second books of Esdras.
The two Apocrypha books of Esdras constitute an entirely separate entity, usually called together Third Esdras by Roman Catholics. This latter two-book Esdras is not considered part of the Old Testament by either Protestants or Roman Catholics. Eastern Orthodox churches hold all the books, including Third Esdras, to be canonical, or part of the Old Testament. The Prayer of Manasseh was included only in the appendix to the Latin Vulgate Bible.

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

 
 
 

 
APPENDIX:


Hebrew literature

 

The body of written works produced in the Hebrew language and distinct from Jewish literature, which also exists in other languages.

Literature in Hebrew has been produced uninterruptedly from the early 12th century bc, and certain excavated tablets may indicate a literature of even greater antiquity. From 1200 bc to c. ad 200, Hebrew was a spoken language in Palestine, first as biblical Hebrew, then as Mishnaic Hebrew, a later dialect that does not derive directly from the biblical dialect and one that gained literary status as the Pharisees began to employ it in their teaching in the 2nd century bc. It was not revived as a spoken language until the late 19th century, and in the 20th century it was adopted as the official language of the new State of Israel. The latter event gave impetus to a growing movement in Hebrew literature centred in Israel.

Hebrew literature is not synonymous with Jewish literature. Some Hebrew writing was produced by the Samaritans and in the 17th century by Protestant enthusiasts. Jews also produced important literatures in Greek, Aramaic, Arabic, Judeo-Spanish (Ladino), Yiddish, and a number of other languages. Apart from the Aramaic writings, however, such literatures always served only that part of Jewry using the language in question. When the community ceased to exist, the literature produced in that language was forgotten (or, in the case of Greek Jewish literature, became part of Christian tradition) except for whatever part of it had been translated into Hebrew and thus became part of Hebrew literature.

The Hebrew language, though not spoken between c. ad 200 and the late 19th century, has always adapted itself to the needs of changing literary tastes. In the Bible it develops from a simple and earthy idiom to a language suitable for the expression of sophisticated religious thought without losing the poetic force and rhythmic fullness that characterizes it. Mishnaic Hebrew is pedestrian and exact, and yet it can reach heights of irony or of warmth. In medieval poetry Hebrew allows extravagant displays of verbal artistry but also, in northwestern Europe, a simplicity equal to that of the spoken languages of its milieu. One generation of translators in the 12th century created a scientific Hebrew that is not inferior to contemporary Arabic or Latin in precision or syntactic refinement. The 17th–19th centuries saw the formation of a stately, rigid, classical style based on biblical Hebrew, but at the same time eastern European mystics made the language serve the expression of their love of God. Literary Hebrew in the 20th century draws upon ancient literature to a marked degree, with styles often modeled upon ancient predecessors. The modern period has also evolved a new type of language for nonliterary writing, while in novels the style is often based upon the spoken language.

 

Ancient Hebrew literature

Preexilian period, c. 1200–587 bc

All that is preserved of the literature of this period is slightly more than 20 of the 39 books included in the Old Testament (the remainder being from the next period). Poetry probably preceded prose. Biblical poetry was based on the principle of parallelism; i.e., the two halves of a verse express the same idea, either by repeating it in different words or by stressing different aspects of it. Examples are found in the book of Psalms: “But they flattered him with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues” (Ps. 78:36); “He turned their rivers to blood, so that they could not drink of their streams” (Ps. 78:44). To this form was added a simple rhythm, consisting mainly in having each half of a line divided into an equal number of stressed words. There were also folk songs, to which belonged perhaps large parts of the Song of Solomon, dirges, epic chants, and psalms. The use of various forms of poetry in the work of the prophets appears to be a later development.

The earlier prose texts were still very close to poetry in structure and language. The first real prose may well have been some of the laws recorded in the Pentateuch. In Jeremiah and Deuteronomy a high standard of prose rhetoric was achieved: some of the conversations in the historical books were attempts to reproduce in writing the style of ordinary speech.

 


Period of the Second Temple, 538 bc–ad 70

The literary output of this period was large, only part of it belonging to the biblical canon. The biblical Hebrew of the writings was artificial because it had ceased to be spoken and had been replaced by Aramaic, a related Semitic language, and Mishnaic Hebrew. Works that are included among the Dead Sea Scrolls belong to this period. Some of these works provide evidence of a new kind of writing, the homiletic, or sermonizing, commentary to the Bible called Midrash. The only work of real literary merit among the scrolls is the fervent personal poetry of the Hymns of Thanksgiving.

Parts of the biblical books of Ezra and Daniel and certain works among the Dead Sea Scrolls are in an early form of Aramaic. This period also began to provide translations (called Targums) of most of the Hebrew Bible into a slightly later Aramaic.

Talmudic literatureIn contrast to the works of the Bible and the Second Temple were the collections of writings concerned with Jewish civil and religious law. Whereas the former were lengthy writings bearing the imprint of their authors or editors, early rabbinic literature consisted entirely of collections of individual statements loosely strung together. The individual paragraphs exhibit the influence of Hellenistic rhetoric. Collections that follow the arrangement of biblical books are called Midrash, as opposed to works such as the Mishna, where the material is arranged according to subject. The Mishna was the main work of the period c. 100 bc–ad 200. The following period, ad 200–500, was notable for two main innovations: the appearance of an additional literary centre in Babylonia, where Jewry flourished in contrast to its subjugation under the oppressive rule of Rome and, later, Byzantium in Palestine; and the literary use of the spoken local dialects of Aramaic alongside Hebrew. The Talmuds produced by Palestine and Babylonia in this period contained a large proportion of Haggada, statements dealing with theological and ethical matters and using stories, anecdotes, and parables to illustrate certain points. This material was later an influence on Hebrew fiction of the Middle Ages and of the modern period.


Literary revival, 500–1000
In the 6th century, some Jewish groups attempted to enforce the exclusive use of Hebrew in the synagogue, this tendency being part of a Hebrew revival that began in Palestine and spread westward but did not reach Babylonia until the 10th century.

Piyyuṭim Synagogues began in this period to appoint official precentors, part of whose duty it was to compose poetical additions to the liturgy on special sabbaths and festivals. The authors were called payṭanim (from Greek poiētēs, “poet”), their poems piyyuṭim. The keynote was messianic fervour and religious exuberance. Besides employing the entire biblical, Mishnaic, and Aramaic vocabularies, the payṭanim coined thousands of new words. Such poems, presupposing a highly educated audience, abound in recondite allusions and contain exhaustive lists of rites and laws. It is known that the most outstanding poets—Phineas the Priest, Yose ben Yose, Yannai, and Eleazar ha-Kalir, or ben Kalir—lived in that order, but when or where in Palestine any of them lived is not known. The accepted datings are 3rd century and 5th–6th century ad. Many piyyuṭim are still used in the synagogue.

Adoption of Arabic metreBiblical Hebrew was re-established as the literary idiom about 900 by Saʾadia ben Joseph, grammarian and religious polemicist. The Arabic system of quantitative metre was adapted for Hebrew during this period (900–1000), probably by Dunash ben Labrat. At first the piyyuṭ form was retained for religious poems, and the new metres were used only for secular poetry, which closely imitated Arabic models and, like the latter, was chiefly employed for laudatory addresses to prominent people.


The Middle Ages
The Palestinian tradition in Europe, 800–1300From Palestine, the Hebrew renaissance soon spread into the Byzantine Empire. In Sicily and southern Italy (which belonged to Byzantium) several important payṭanim were at work, and before 1000 a secular literature began to arise in Italy: a fantastic travelogue of Eldad the Danite; a historical romance, Sefer ha-yashar (1625; Eng. trans., Sefer ha-yashar, the Book of the Righteous) and Josippon, a revision of Josephus’ Antiquities filled with legendary incidents—this last-named book was popular until modern times and was translated into many languages. Nathan ben Yehiel completed in 1101 at Rome a dictionary of Talmudic Aramaic and Hebrew, the ʿArukh, which is still used.

In the middle of the 10th century members of the north Italian family Kalonymos brought Talmudic studies and piyyuṭim to Mainz, Ger., where the yeshiva (school) became a centre of studies under the direction of Gershom ben Judah, known as “the Light of the Exile.” As a poet, he established a distinctive style of European piyyuṭ in poems that read very much like early European popular poetry. The greatest alumnus of the Mainz academy was Rashi, an author of complete commentaries on the Bible and on the Babylonian Talmud, himself a poet of note.

The slaughter of Jewish peoples in western and central Europe during the Crusades drove large masses of Jews into eastern Europe. The German Jews carried with them their Yiddish speech but hardly any literary culture. In Germany accounts of the disaster were written in a new prose style permeated with poetry; liturgical poetry became henceforth mainly a chronicle of persecutions. These sufferings inspired an important mystical movement, largely propagated through stories, of which the chief collections are the Ayn Shoyn Mayse Bukh (1602; Maʿaseh Book) and the Sefer Ḥasidim (1538; “The Book of the Just”), the latter attributed to Judah ben Samuel, “the Hasid” of Regensburg (died 1217).

The golden age in Spain, 900–1200Spanish Jewry began to flourish in Muslim Spain under the caliphate of Córdoba, where Hasdai ibn Shaprut, a vizier, was the first great patron of Hebrew letters. His secretary, Menahem ben Saruk (died c. 970), wrote a biblical lexicon, which was criticized by Dunash ben Labrat when the latter arrived in Spain with philological ideas from the East. Samuel ha-Nagid, vizier of Granada (990–1055), himself a poet and philologist, gathered around him a group of poets, most outstanding among whom was Ibn Gabirol. Moses ibn Ezra of Granada (died c. 1139) was the centre of a brilliant circle of poets. Moses’ kinsman Abraham ibn Ezra, a poet, philosopher, grammarian, and Bible commentator, attacked the language and style of the early payṭanim; he and Judah ben Samuel Halevi were the first to use Arabic metres in religious poems. Dominated by Arab standards of taste, the secular poetry dealt with themes of Arabic poetry and often reproduced Arabic phrases; it was written to be appreciated by a small circle of connoisseurs and declined with the collapse of Jewish prosperity in Muslim Spain. The last major poet in Spain was Judah ben Solomon Harizi, who translated various philosophical works into Hebrew.

The use of biblical Hebrew was made possible by the work of philologists. Of great importance was the creation of comparative linguistics by Judah ibn Kuraish (about 900) and Isaac ibn Barun (about 1100). Judah Hayyuj, a disciple of Menahem ben Saruk, recast Hebrew grammar, and, in the form given to it by David Kimhi of Narbonne (died c. 1235), the new system was taken over by the Christian humanists and through them by modern scholarship. The first complete Hebrew grammar, Kitāb al-lumaʿ (1886; “The Book of the Variegated Flower Beds”), was written by Ibn Janāḥ of Córdoba (died 1050).

Jewish medieval philosophers in Spain wrote in Arabic, not Hebrew, until the 13th century. Apart from Isaac Israeli (north Africa, died c. 940) few medieval Jews made original contributions to science, but the Spanish Jews shared the best scientific education. Abraham bar Hiyya (died c. 1136) of Barcelona was an original mathematician who wrote in Hebrew works on mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy. When the Almohads expelled the Jews from Muslim Spain in 1148, many learned refugees went to Languedoc and Provence and there translated scientific and philosophical works.


The period of retrenchment, 1200–1750
Hebrew culture in western EuropeFrom 1200 to 1750 was the era of the ghetto, during which the area of western European Hebrew culture shrank to a remnant in Italy, while an entirely different culture arose in eastern Europe. The appearance in 1200 of the Hebrew version, translated from Arabic, of Moses Maimonides’ Moreh Nevukhim (1851–85; The Guide of the Perplexed), which applied Neoplatonic and Aristotelian philosophy to biblical and rabbinic theology, provoked orthodox circles into opposition to all secular studies. As a result of Maimonides’ work, there was a return to Neoplatonist mysticism in a form known as Kabbala. This culminated in the theosophy of the Zohar (1560; “The Book of Splendor”), which is ascribed to Moses de Leon and which exercised an influence comparable only with that of the Bible and Talmud. Hebrew culture, however, was reduced to a miniature scale in the West after the expulsion of the Jews from England (1290), from France (1306), and from Spain (1492). It continued in Italy, where it remained in contact with contemporary Christian thought. The most outstanding figure was the mystical philosopher Moshe Ḥayyim Luzzatto, who wrote a work on poetics and three remarkably modern plays.

Eastern Europe and the religious crisisIn the kingdom of Poland (which then extended from Lithuania to the Black Sea) refugees from German persecution mingled with earlier Byzantine émigrés to create, by the 15th century, a prosperous Jewry with extensive autonomy. Their culture was not a continuation of western European Hebrew civilization but a new creation. The Bible (except for the Pentateuch) was neglected, while the Babylonian Talmud—hitherto studied only by specialists—became the basis of all intellectual life, particularly since the so-called pilpul method of Jacob Pollak had turned its study into an exciting form of mental gymnastics. The typical literature consisted of novellae (hiddushim), ingenious discussions of Talmudic minutiae written in an ungrammatical mixture of Hebrew and Aramaic. Imaginative literature existed only in Yiddish, for women and the uneducated.

The expulsion from Spain produced a wave of messianic emotion. Kabbala flourished in Safad, the new Palestinian centre, the meeting place of Spanish, European, and Oriental Jews. There, in 1570–72, Isaac Luria created a cosmic messianism. Though its formulation, in the writings of his pupil Ḥayyim Vital, was abstruse and esoteric, its phraseology penetrated the widest masses, as a result of the introduction of Kabbalist prayers, and coloured all later Hebrew writing. Luria’s teachings were developed by the false messiah Sabbatai Zebi in the next century, for and against whom a vast literature was written.

The sufferings of Polish Jewry in the Cossack massacres of 1648—described in a long poem by the Talmudist Yom Ṭov Lipmann Heller—opened their country to Lurianic mysticism. Out of popular Kabbalist elements, Israel ben Eliezer, called the Baʿal Shem Ṭov, produced Ḥasidism. His teaching, like that of his successors, was oral and, of course, in Yiddish; but it was noted by disciples in a simple, colloquially flavoured Hebrew. Since they taught mainly through parables, this may be considered to mark the beginning of the Hebrew short story. Indeed these narratives exercised, and still exercise, a profound influence on modern Hebrew writers.


The 18th and 19th centuries
In the 18th century the conservative mystical movement of Ḥasidism spread rapidly over all eastern Europe except Lithuania. There, Elijah ben Solomon of Vilna, a writer of unusually wide scope, advocated a better graded course of Talmudic training. Shneur Zalman of Ladi created the highly systematized Ḥabad Ḥasidism, which was widely accepted in Lithuania. The Musar movement of Israel Salanter encouraged the study of medieval ethical writers.

Beginnings of the Haskala movementIn the Berlin of Frederick II the Great, young intellectuals from Poland and elsewhere, brought in as teachers, met representatives of the European Enlightenment; they came under the influence of Moses Mendelssohn and also met some representatives of Italian and Dutch Hebrew cultures. One, a Dane, Naphtali Herz Wessely, who had spent some time in Amsterdam, wrote works on the Hebrew language, and another, an Italian, Samuel Aaron Romanelli, wrote and translated plays. Out of these contacts grew Haskala (“Enlightenment”), a tendency toward westernization that venerated Hebrew and medieval western Jewish literature. Among German Jews, then already in rapid process of Germanization, this Hebrew movement had no place. The Enlightenment was introduced in Galicia (Austrian Poland), a centre of Ḥasidism, by the Edict of Toleration (1781) of the emperor Joseph II. By supporting some of its aims, Hebrew writers incurred hatred and persecution. Their chief weapon was satire, and the imitation by Joseph Perl of the Epistolae obscurorum virorum (1515; “Letters of Obscure Men”) of Crotus Rubianus and the essays of Isaac Erter were classics of the genre. One poet, Meir Letteris, and one dramatist, Naḥman Isaac Fischman, wrote biblical plays.

Romanticism
Galicia’s chief contribution was to the Jüdische Wissenschaft, a school of historical research with Romanticist leanings. The impact of Haskala ideas upon the humanistic Italo-Hebrew tradition produced a short literary renaissance. Its main connections were with the Jüdische Wissenschaft, to which Isaac Samuel Reggio contributed. Samuel David Luzzatto, a prolific essayist, philologist, poet, and letter writer, became prominent by his philosophy of Judaism, while a poet, Rachel Morpurgo, struck some remarkably modern chords. For the Jews of the Russian Empire, the Enlightenment proper began with Isaac Baer Levinsohn in the Ukraine and with Mordecai Aaron Ginzberg (Günzburg), in Lithuania. In the 1820s an orthodox reaction set in, coinciding with the rise of a Romanticist Hebrew school of writers. A.D. Lebensohn wrote fervent love songs to the Hebrew language, and his son Micah Judah, the most gifted poet of the Haskala period, wrote biblical romances and pantheistic nature lyrics. The first Hebrew novel, Ahavat Ziyyon (1853; “The Love of Zion”), by Abraham Mapu, was a Romantic idyll, in which Mapu, like all Haskala writers, employed phrases culled from the Bible and adapted to the thought the writer wished to express.

Mapu’s third novel, ʿAyiṭ tzavuaʿ (1857–69; “The Hypocrite”), marked a departure. It dealt with contemporary life and attacked its social evils and portrayed a new type, the maskil (possessor of Haskala), in a fight against orthodox obscurantism. The new, aggressive Haskala soon came under the influence of Russian left-wing writers, such as Nikolay Gavrilovich Chernyshevsky and Dmitry Pisarev. Judah Leib Gordon, like Mapu, had started as a Romantic writer on biblical subjects. From 1871 onward he produced a series of ballads exposing the injustices of traditional Jewish life. Moses Leib Lilienblum began as a moderate religious reformer but later became absorbed by social problems, and in Mishnat Elisha ben Abuyah (1878; “The Opinions of Elisha ben Abuyah”) he preached Jewish socialism. Peretz Smolenskin created in six novels a kaleidoscope of Jewish life in which he rejected the westernized Jew as much as orthodox reactionaries did.


Modern literature in Hebrew
Formative influencesThe first formative influences on 20th-century Hebrew literature belong to the late 19th century. The middle classes of eastern European Jewry that read Hebrew books turned to Jewish nationalism, and Zionist activity, coupled with the movement for speaking Hebrew, widened the circle of Hebrew readers. Hebrew daily papers began to appear in 1886. Writers borrowed extensively from medieval translators and European languages, and the Hebrew language assumed a new character. A key figure in the transition to modern writing was Shalom Jacob Abramowitsch, who wrote under the pseudonym of Mendele Mokher Sefarim; after his first novel he became convinced that biblical Hebrew was unsuitable for modern subjects and turned to Yiddish. From 1886 onward he returned to writing mainly in Hebrew and by using Hebrew and Aramaic phrases from the Talmud was able to capture the homeliness he prized in Yiddish. His stories depicted life as it really was, and his style and support of traditional values attracted a wide readership. The popularity of his stories of ghetto life ensured that they would remain the most read and written genre of Hebrew literature until the mid-20th century. A group of writers adopted “grandfather Mendele” as their model. One of these, Asher Ginzberg (Aḥad Haʿam), wrote, from 1889 onward, articles evolving a secular philosophy of Jewish nationalism. His periodical ha-Shiloaḥ attained editorial standards previously unknown in Hebrew. From 1921, he devoted his last years to the editing of his correspondence, a valuable documentary of the period.

Ḥayyim Naḥman Bialik, an important poet, essayist, editor, and anthologist of medieval literature, was, for a time, literary editor of ha-Shiloaḥ and was much influenced by Aḥad Haʿam. His poetry expressed the inner struggles of a generation concerned about its attitude to Jewish tradition. Saul Tchernichowsky, on the other hand, was untroubled by tradition, and his poetry dealt with love, beauty, and the three places where he had lived: the Crimea, Germany, and Palestine. Isaac Leib Peretz, who wrote both in Hebrew and in Yiddish, introduced the Ḥasidic, or pietistic devotional, element into literature. The emotionalism and simple joy of life of that milieu thereafter strongly influenced writers, and the language absorbed many Ḥasidic terms. A literary historian, Ruben Brainin, discerned the presence of a “new trend” in literature and foresaw a concentration on human problems. Bialik had already pointed to a conflict between Judaism and the natural instincts of Jews. This psychological interest dominated the work of a group of short-story writers and, in particular, that of the writer and critic David Frischmann, who, more than anyone else, imposed European standards on Hebrew literature. European literary tendencies thus became absorbed into Hebrew. Uprooted by the pogroms of 1881 and the two Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917, Jews had emigrated to western Europe and America, and Hebrew literary activity in eastern Europe was disrupted. The Soviet Union eventually banned Hebrew culture, and it also decayed in other eastern European countries and in Germany as the position of Jews deteriorated.

Émigré and Palestinian literature
The writers of this generation were known as the émigré writers. Their work was pessimistic, as the rootlessness without hope of Uri Nissan Gnessin and Joseph Ḥayyim Brenner exemplified. The majority of writers active in Palestine before 1939 were born in the Diaspora (Jewish communities outside Palestine) and were concerned with the past. An exception was Yehuda Burla, who wrote about Jewish communities of Middle Eastern descent. The transition from ghetto to Palestine was achieved by few writers, among them Asher Barash, who described the early struggles of Palestinian Jewry. S.Y. Agnon, the outstanding prose writer of this generation (and joint winner of the 1966 Nobel Prize for Literature), developed an original style that borrowed from the Midrash (homiletical commentaries on the Hebrew Scriptures), stories, and ethical writings of earlier centuries. While his earlier stories were set in Galicia, he later began to write about Palestine. In Ore’aḥ nataʿ lalun (1938; A Guest for the Night) the narrator recounts his return to his native town in Galicia. Temol shilshom (1945; Only Yesterday), widely regarded as Agnon’s finest work, satirizes the ideals of both secular Zionism and religious Judaism.

Poetry immediately addressed Palestinian life. Among outstanding writers were Rachel (Rachel Bluwstein), who wrote intensely personal poems; Uri Zevi Greenberg, a political poet and exponent of free verse; and Abraham Shlonsky, who would lead Israel’s Symbolist school.

Israeli literatureWorld War II and the Arab-Israeli War of 1948–49 brought to the fore Palestinian-born writers who dealt with the problems of their generation in colloquially flavoured Hebrew. In the State of Israel, where Hebrew had become the official language, literature developed on a large scale, mainly along contemporary western European and American lines. The extreme diversity in culture of parts of the population and the problems of new immigrants provided the main themes for fiction. Poetry flourished, but original drama at first was slow to develop. Greenberg’s Rehovot HaNahar (1951; “Streets of the River”) traces the process by which the humiliation of the massacred is transmuted by the pride of martyrdom into the historical impulse of messianic redemption. In a long dramatic poem, Bein ha-Esh ve-ha-Yesha (1957; Between the Fire and Salvation), Aaron Zeitlin envisioned the annihilation of European Jewry in mystical terms, examining the relationship of catastrophe and redemption.

Native Israeli prose writers wrote of their life in the kibbutz, the underground, and the war of 1948–49. S. Yizhar and Moshe Shamir emerged as the outstanding representatives of this generation, probing the sensibility of the individual in a group-oriented society. But the establishment of the State of Israel could not allay the anxieties of the individual. The dominant themes of writers who had no access to collective ideals were personal ones—frustration, confusion, and alienation. The works of Yehuda Amichai and Haim Gouri are representative of the poetry of this period and of the following decades; their poems emphasize the dissolution of social coherence and express the individual devoid of a sense of historical and spiritual mission. The novelist Aharon Megged’s Ha-Hai ʿal ha-met (1965; The Living on the Dead) casts a putative hero of the pioneer generation in an ironic light.

Memories of the Holocaust haunt the lyrical work of Aharon Appelfeld. Flight and hiding are the characteristic situations of his early stories. His Badenhaim, ʿir nofesh (Badenheim 1939), published in 1975, captures the ominous atmosphere of the approaching Holocaust sensed by a group of assimilated Jews vacationing at an Austrian resort. It describes social and spiritual disintegration, as do his novels Tor ha-peli ʾot (1978; The Age of Wonders) and Katerinah (1989; Katerina). Appelfeld’s many other novels and novellas consider the theme of the survivor’s spiritual paralysis (as, for example, in Bartfus ben ha-almavet [1988; The Immortal Bartfuss]) at the same time that they explore the frozen spiritual landscape of the post-Holocaust world.

The New Wave is the name given to the generation of prose writers who began publishing in the late 1950s and ’60s. Shimon Ballas’s novel Ha-Maʾabarah (1964; “The Transit Camp”), which describes the struggle of immigrants from Iraq in an Israeli transit camp, is one of the first books in which the absorption of Jewish immigrants of the Mizrahi religious Zionist movement is recounted from the immigrant’s perspective. But many New Wave writers—including A.B. Yehoshua, Yaʿakov Shabtai, and Amos Oz—made attempts in their early work to distance themselves from preoccupations with Israeli reality. In Yehoshua’s stories the narrator’s tone is remote and the people are drained of emotion. Occasionally, an act of feeling or meaning breaks the mood of boredom and illuminates a character’s humanity. In both Ha-Meʿahev (1976; The Lover) and Gerusḥim meʾuḥarim (1982; A Late Divorce), Yehoshua explores the confrontation between the philosophy of his generation and the ideology of the Zionist founders. His Mar Mani (1990; Mr. Mani), a complex and innovative work about a Sephardic family whose history is linked to the significant events in Diaspora and Israeli history, spans a period of 150 years. Shabtai’s novel Zikhron devarim (1977; Past Continuous) broke new ground in its evocation of the family in society. Oz, in a series of later novels, confronted the difficulties of life in Israel. Kufsah sheḥora (1987; Black Box) utilizes a satirical epistolary style to depict a family at war with itself, while La-daʾat ishah (1989; To Know a Woman) also details family relationships. Panter ba-martef (1994; Panther in the Basement), written from the point of view of a child, is set in Palestine in 1947 as British rule over the region is coming to an end. Oto ha-yam (1999; The Same Sea) is an unconventional novel of love, family, and loss, written in a mixture of poetry and prose.

Personal frustration and religious vision are the subjects of the novelist Pinḥas Sadeh. Yitzḥak Orpaz’s novels tend toward psychological exploration, particularly in the series beginning with Bayit le-adam eḥad (1975; “One Man’s House”). Yoram Kaniuk’s work examines the alienated Israeli, but Ha-Yehudi ha-aḥaron (1981; The Last Jew) explores the Israeli experience as a response to the Holocaust. The realistic stories of Yitzḥak Ben Ner are set in rural and urban communities (Sheḳiʿah kefarit [1976; “A Rustic Sunset”] and Ereẓ reḥokah [1981; “A Distant Land”]). The writings of Amalia Kahana-Carmon explore the subjective impressions of experience and the complexities of time and memory through a stream-of-consciousness technique.

In the 1980s and ’90s a new generation of writers, including Yehoshuʿa Ḳenaz and David Grossman, began to emerge. Ḳenaz’s Hitganvut yeḥidim (1986; “Heart Murmur”; Eng. trans. Infiltration) depicts a group of recruits in the Israeli army who are representative of Israeli society. Grossman’s ʿAyen ʿerekh: ahavah (1986; See Under: Love), a novel about the Holocaust, is regarded by some as one of the great novels of the modern period. In Viḳṭoryah (1993; Victoria) Sami Michael traced the history of a Baghdadi family in Israel. The experiences of immigrants from North African and Middle Eastern countries were described by other writers, including Albert Swissa in his novel ʿAḳud (1990; “The Bound One”) and the poets Ronny Someck, Erez Biṭon, and Maya Bejerano. Yoel Hoffmann, whose work is characterized by stylistic experimentation and the influence of Japanese literature, represented the experience of German Jewish immigrants to Palestine in Bernharṭ (1989; Bernhard) and Krisṭus shel dagim (1991; The Christ of Fish).

In the last decades of the 20th century, writers explored a wide variety of themes and styles, influenced more than previously by American popular culture. In Agadat ha-agamim ha-ʿatsuvim (1989; “The Legend of the Sad Lakes”) Itamar Levi attempted to confront the subject of the Holocaust in a surrealistic manner. One of the phenomena of these decades was the appearance of a number of women writers, including Judith Katzir, ʿEdnah Mazya, Orly Castel-Bloom, and many others, who provided a powerful alternative to the male voice that had dominated Hebrew letters from the start of the modern period. Many of these writers traced their own family histories. The literary world of Leʾah Eni (Leah Aini) is one of memory, in which two central elements intersect: the community in which she spent her childhood and the Holocaust. The work of Hanna Bat Shahar (a pseudonym) deals predominantly with the inner world of women who are bound by the strict rules and customs of Orthodox communities.

At the turn of the 21st century, Hebrew poetry remained innovative. Some poets addressed subjects previously considered taboo for Hebrew literature, such as homosexuality. The poetry of Itamar Yaʿoz-Ḳesṭ, Admiel Kosman, Benyamin Shvili, and Chava Pinchas-Cohen (Ḥava Pinḥas-Kohen) tended toward broadly metaphysical, even religious, expression.

Chaim Rabin
Samuel Leiter
Glenda M. Abramson
Ed.

 
   
 
         

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