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Avodah: Ancient Poems For Yom Kippur

by Michael D. Swartz
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Pennsylvania State Univ Pr
  • Publishing date: 05/06/2005
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780271023571
  • ISBN: 0271023570

Synopsis

Avodah: Ancient Poems for Yom Kippur is the first major translation of one of the most important genres of the lost literature of the ancient synagogue. Known as the Avodah piyyutim, this liturgical poetry was composed by the synagogue poets of fifth- to ninth-century Palestine and sung in the synagogues on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Although it was suppressed by generations of Rabbis, its ornamental beauty and deep exploration of sacred stories ensured its popularity for centuries.

Piyyut literature can teach us much about how ancient Jews understood sacrifice, sacred space, and sin. The poems are also a rich source for retrieving myths and symbols not found in the conventional Rabbinic sources such as the Talmuds and Midrash. Moreover, these compositions rise to the level of fine literature. They are the products of great literary effort, continue and extend the tradition of biblical parallelism, and reveal the aesthetic sensibilities of the Mediterranean in Late Antiquity. The book's format is innovative and appropriate for this complex, allusive genre of poetry. The Hebrew and English appear on facing pages with the references printed in a column to the side of the page. As the ancient listener would hear the poem chanted in the synagogue and recall the biblical references and legends based on them, the modern reader will read the body of the poem and be able to consult the references without being distracted by footnotes. The book contains an extensive introduction that not only describes the Avodah genre of piyyut but also places the poetry of the synagogue into the context of the art and civilization of the Mediterranean in Late Antiquity. Avodah: Ancient Poems for Yom Kippur is the first volume in The Penn State Library of Jewish Literature, overseen by Baruch Halpern and Aminadav Dykman. This series will constitute a library of primary source material for the Jewish and Hebrew literary traditions. The library will present Jewish and Hebrew works from all eras and cultures, offering both scholars and general readers original, modern translations of previously overlooked texts.


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  • lots of poetry
    From Amazon

    8 long poems, all written (probably in Israel) about 1600 years ago, describing the service of the High Priest of the Temple in Jerusalem (destroyed in 70). These poems reminds us that even after a few hundred years, the Temple sacrifices were still part of the Jewish collective memory to a greater extent than today. In addition, the poems' positive description of the High Priest suggests that the Temple priesthood was still more prestigious than some Jewish literature might suggest.

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