|Author||Andrew Gross and Baruch Levine|
In a career spanning almost five decades, Baruch Levine’s numerous publications reflect his wide-ranging interests and areas of expertise in the study of the Hebrew Bible, the ancient Near East, and early Judaism. In Pursuit of Meaning brings together 51 of the most important articles that Professor Levine produced during his years at Brandeis University (1962–69) and New York University (1969–2000, emeritus 2000–). The first volume, containing 27 articles, focuses on the study of religion in the biblical and ancient Near Eastern worlds from a number of perspectives, ranging from close philological analysis of written sources to anthropological studies of ancient cultic practices. In the 24 articles of the second volume, Levine engages broader aspects of ancient Near Eastern society, from legal institutions of various types to larger societal forms of organization. This volume also contains some of his more incisive lexicographical and philological contributions to the study of the Hebrew and Aramaic languages.
The flavor of Prof. Levine’s work is captured in this paragraph from his introduction to these two volumes:
“Looking back, and reviewing my writings, I realize what it is that I have been seeking all along. I have been in pursuit of meaning, employing scholarly methods, primarily philology and semantics, to the exegesis of ancient Near Eastern texts, preserved in several languages, principally the Hebrew Bible. I regard language as the key to meaning. This conclusion would appear to be self-evident, and yet, philology is often sidelined in favor of engaging larger frameworks. Most of all, I challenge the notion that we already know the meaning of the words and clauses central to the texts under investigation, and may proceed directly to other considerations without first re-examining the smaller units. Again and again, that policy has resulted in flawed interpretation, and in missed opportunities for learning. This is not to say that scholars should stop at the smaller units, and, indeed, the tendency to do so has been largely responsible for the reaction against Semitic philology so noticeable since the latter part of the 20th century. It is our challenge to move outward from focal points to the circumference, from text to context, from content to structure.”