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Biblical Prose Prayer, As A Window To The Popular Religion Of Ancient Israel
by Moshe Greenberg
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The Psalms are the best known and most widely used prayer texts of the Bible. But the prayers of the Israelite took another form: the prose prayers that we find embedded in biblical narrative. Prose prayer was spoken by persons of all ranks. Male and female, Israelite and foreigner, all enjoyed equal access to God. The pervasiveness and spontaneity of this prayer, independent as it was of the structure and taboos of formal worship, turned it into a criterion for sincerity both in relations with God and in those among human beings.
Greenberg finds in this rich life of private prayer a setting for the high religious ideas--and the scathing critique of worship--that characterized the "genius" of the prophets of the eighth and ninth centuries B.C. His compact and masterful study, originally the 1981-1982 Taubman Lectures at Berkeley, suggests an explanation for the unprecedented democratization of worship in post-biblical Judaism.
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