4.0202 Collage; Ordering of Biblical Texts (Retransmission)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Wed, 20 Jun 90 17:33:09 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0202. Tuesday, 19 Jun 1990.

[This posting was garbled by Brown's listserv; this is a re-posting]

(1) Date: Tue, 19 Jun 1990 13:45 IST (63 lines)
From: Marc Bregman <HPUBM@HUJIVM1>
Subject: Collage

(2) Date: Tue, 19 Jun 90 00:09:23 EDT (15 lines)
Subject: re. 4.0196. The ancient ordering of biblical texts.

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Tue, 19 Jun 1990 13:45 IST
From: Marc Bregman <HPUBM@HUJIVM1>
Subject: Collage

Now that Humanist is back on the air, I would like to thank all of those
who responded to my query about Collage (May 8). I have hardly begun
to digest the vast and varigated bibliographical information I received.

I would like to repond to just one comment. Prof. Tzvee Zahavy referred
me to Jacob Neusner's Canon and Connection -- Intertextuality in Judaism
Lanham: UPA, 1987. This was indeed yet another very useful reference and
for that I thank him. He concluded his communication with the following

"Anyone who has gone through this material would be forced to agree that
the notion of collage has little value in the study of Midrash.
(Unfortunately many Israeli scholars refuse to read Neusner. The Hebrew
Union College library in Jerusalem cancelled their order for one of his
translation series on the basis of a vindictive review in JAOS serveral
years ago. Thus I suspect that Mr. Bregman may not have the research
tools available to pursue the subject in light of the most current
publications in the discipline. Please correct me if I am wrong)."

To set the record straight, it should be noted that the Hebrew Union
College (Jerusalem Campus) Library is a relatively small collection of
approximately 30,000 volumes. Of these over 180 are works by Prof.
Neusner, including many new works published this year. While this does
not represent a complete collection of his very large and significant
ouvre; I feel it would be misleading to leave the impression that this
important scholar's views on Rabbinic Literature have been intentionally
slighted by my institution.

In perusing those works by Neusner which are available in our Library --
at Prof. Zahavy's suggestion, I did discover that he is also misinformed
about Neusner's own views on the value of the notion of collage in the
study of Midrash.

In his discussion of the first homily in Pesiqta Rabbati, Neusner (From
Tradition to Imitation -- The Plan and Program of Pesiqta Rabbati and
Pesiqta deRab Kahana, Atlanta, 1987, p. 108) states: "We may now ask
whether our *pisqa* forms a highly cogent syllogism, with a proposition
systematically proven by each of the components; whether it forms a
collage, in which diverse materials seen all together form a cogent
statement; or whether it constitutes a scrapbook in which thematically
continuous materials make essentially individual statements of their
own. Among these three choices, the second seems to me, in balance, to
apply to *Pisqa* One...So we may judge our *pisqa* to be an imperfectly
executed collage, one that, in the aggregate, really does make its point
(see also Neusner's concluding remarks on page 226). I am in basic
agreement with the description of this passage as a collage, but with
this reservation. From the other replies to my original query about how
the term collage might be applied to Midrash, I have learned how this
term is presently being employed in the broader Humanities. Not as a
pejorative evaluation (i.e. worse than a syllogism, but better than a
"scrapbook"), but rather as a critically neutral term describing a
particular type of artistic composition. In this sense, I do believe
"collage" is a very helpful notion in describing the composition of many
of Midrashic compilations.

Once again, I would like to thank the many Humanists who have helped me
clarify, in my own mind at least, this admittedly "parochial" issue.

Marc Bregman, Hebrew Union College, Jerusalem (HPUBM@HUJIVM1)
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------23----
Date: Tue, 19 Jun 90 00:09:23 EDT
Subject: re. 4.0196. The ancient ordering of biblical texts.

In addition to the writings listed by Steve Mason for the ordering Torah,
Prophets, and Writings in pre-codex times may now be added the following
line from the soon (?) to be published text from the Dead Sea Scrolls,
Miqtsat Ma'aseh Torah (4QMMT C10) (1-2 century BCE): "We have written
to you so that you might discern (the correct interpretations) of the
Book of Moses, and the words of the prophets, and (the words of) David."
Note that the three divisions are denoted by their inspired "authors."

Steven D. Fraade
Religious Studies
Yale University