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The Signifying CreatorNontextual Sources of Meaning in Ancient Judaism$
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Michael D. Swartz

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814740934

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814740934.001.0001

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Bubbling Blood and Rolling Bones

Bubbling Blood and Rolling Bones

(p.75) 5 Bubbling Blood and Rolling Bones
The Signifying Creator

Michael D. Swartz

NYU Press

This chapter discusses the two ways in which the teleological view of creation, in which God embeds materials and beings in the world, is expressed in ancient and medieval Jewish exegesis, poetry, and folklore. The first is the idea that precreated things are to be used or interpreted at a later time, and second, that seemingly inarticulate beings or substances may act out the divine will or exercise moral judgment. The chapter also explores two consequences of this teleological frame of mind: the concept that substances like blood and the earth serve as actors in the moral drama of history, as well as the role that animals and inanimate objects play in enacting or resisting the divine will. Divination in Judaism implies the idea that God has embedded meaning and agency in animals, objects, and the natural elements.

Keywords:   ancient Jewish exegesis, teleological creation, divine will, moral judgment, divination, Judaism

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