A Highly Original Work Looks at the Pentateuch with the Sensibilities of the Psalms https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/arts-culture/2020/06/a-highly-original-work-looks-at-the-pentateuch-with-the-sensibilities-of-the-psalms/

June 8, 2020 | Michal Leibowitz
About the author: Michal Leibowitz is a Krauthammer fellow at the Jewish Review of Books.

Reviewing Laurance Wieder’s unusual work After Adam: The Books of Moses, Michal Leibowitz writes:

After Adam is a prosimetrum, a story told in verse and prose. . . . [I]ts subject is the Pentateuch, and each of the book’s 54 chapters corresponds to a single Sabbath Torah portion.

But Wieder’s work is not simply a poet’s retelling of the books of Moses. It is also the work of an anthologist, and much of the text is composed of biblical commentaries—largely, though not exclusively, midrashim—from a vast variety of texts spanning the apocryphal book of Enoch to the philosophical dialogues of Judah Halevi. Following the associative mode of the Nobel laureate S.Y. Agnon in Present at Sinai, Wieder intermixes his commentaries with little regard for their original context or chronology. Like Agnon, he sometimes alters sources—abridging, paraphrasing, even extending—without making his readers aware of his changes. Other times, he offers commentary that is entirely his own.

Wieder’s individualistic approach never degenerates into chaos or mere whim. Rather, his selections are drawn together by a strong guiding vision—one might say a theology—that more than anything, reflects the voice and worldview of . . . the book of Psalms. [It thus] envisions a world in which God listens and responds to the calls of human beings. The varied forms of the psalms—praise, lament, thanksgiving, individual, communal—all rely on the assumption of continued divine love for, and involvement in, the world.

Read more on Lehrhaus: https://thelehrhaus.com/culture/review-of-after-adam/

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