Introducing Scripture: The Accessus ad auctores in Hebrew Exegetical Literature from the Thirteenth through the Fifteenth Centuries
This chapter investigates the deployment in medieval Hebrew exegetical literature of various exordial topoi (accessus ad auctores) used in high and late medieval Christian schools and universities to introduce authoritative secular and sacred texts studied therein. As time-honored certainties concerning Hebrew scripture crumbled in the post-medieval period and as the need to probe questions of biblical authorship, dating, original historical setting and the like was felt with unprecedented intensity in “modernity”, it was in “introductions” to the Hebrew Bible (or rather the “Old Testament”) that biblicists typically sought to address such issues. This chapter begins with aerial surveys of the genre of the introduction in earlier medieval Jewish exegetical literature and of the Latin accessus in its historical development. It then reconsiders what has been seen as an initial stratum of Jewish awareness of Latin prologue formats in 13th-century southern France. It also explores the less ambiguous yield of a handful of Hebrew texts from Italy and Iberia.
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