The Invention of Hebrew

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How choosing a language created a people

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations   ix
Preface   xi
Acknowlegments   xv
Abbreviations   xvii
Introduction   1
1. Modernity's Ghosts: The Bible as Political Communication   13
2. What Was the Alphabet For?   36
3. Empires and Alphabets in Late Bronze Age Canaan   76
4. The Invention of Hebrew in Iron Age Israel   103
Conclusion   157

Notes   173
Bibliography   225
Index   251

About the Author

Seth L. Sanders is an assistant professor of religion at Trinity College and the editor of the Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions.


"An absolutely innovative way of reading the use of ancient Hebrew for generating political identity and for understanding the Hebrew Bible itself. It is refreshing to see such profound insight and analyses come out of material that has otherwise not received substantial recognition of its cultural and political importance." Mark S. Smith, author of God in Translation: Deities in Cross-Cultural Discourse in the Biblical World "Sanders takes familiar, long-studied material and makes new knowledge. He treats biblical Hebrew as a political phenomenon, exploring how language and especially its written form were employed in the creation of an imagined community--a nation--in the course of ancient Israel's history." Eva von Dassow, author of State and Society in the Late Bronze Age: Alalah under the Mittani Empire "S. Brings anthropology and epigraphy together in an original and stimulating way, seeking to discern the roots of biblical texts by exploring the contexts and development of writing in the Levant during the Bronze and Iron Ages...This wide-ranging, extensively annotated book deserves careful study and offers much of value to OT scholars." A. R. Millard Journal for the Study of the Old Testament

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