Veda and Torah: Transcending the Textuality of Scripture


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From the Back of the Book

In this book Barbara Holdrege has set a high standard for comparative work and has made an important contribution to both Hindu and Jewish studies. She has looked at Veda the Torah not simply as scripture, but as systems of meaning, symbol systems, each with its own affiliated meanings, each with its symbolic context, and each with its history of interpretation. By addressing the whole complex in which Veda and Torah have been transmitted and by seeing their uses and interpretation in the traditions that they enliven, Holdrege has problematized and expanded the usage of the tern scripture and has enriched the possibilities for significant comparative study.

Diana L. Eck, Harvard University

I found Holdrege's knowledge and treatment of the Hebrew material exemplary. There can be no doubt that she has made a fascinating contribution in her analysis of the Hebrew texts in themselves, in her conceptual treatment of the notion of text in Judaism, and in her instructive comparison of the Jewish and Hindu attitudes concerning this topic. In this latter domain I see her book as pioneering. Especially remarkable is the fact that in her treatment of Jewish religion she resorts to a large spectrum of Jewish corpora, beginning with Midrashic texts and ending with kabbalah.

Moshe Idel, Hebrew University.

This book is a remarkable piece of scholarship. The way in which the author employs traditional, text based methods of enlarge scholarly understanding of what texts are is revolutionary. The author demonstrates that scriptures are not just texts, one kind of religious medium alongside others, but constituent parts of religious and cultural life in ways that have been previously unappreciated and that will clearly be of interest to anthropologists and semioticians, as well as to historians and comparativists of religion.

Thomas B. Coburn, St. Lawrence University

Holdrege has produced a unique piece of work one that is equally learned and scholarly in two completely different religious traditions. This is a remarkable achievements in and of itself and offers the possibility for a comparative study that is vastly more informed than what has passed for comparative religion in the past. Holdrege addresses some of the most important question in the study of religion in this work: what are the sources of authority and legitimation in any given religious tradition? How are those sources- the canons of religious traditions- represented and how are they appropriated and reappropriated in the process of legitimating religious change? Her answers to these questions are informed, interesting and significant contributions to the field of religious studies as a whole.

Brian K. Smith, University of California, Riverside

About the Author

Barbara A. Holdrege is Associated Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is a comparative historian of religions specializing in Hindu and Jewish Traditions.

Preface ix
Introduction 1
1 Veda and Creation 29
Veda and Creation in Vedic Texts 30
Veda and Creation in Post-Vedic Mythology 70
Veda and Creation in the Darsanas 113
2 Torah and Creation
Torah and Creation in Pre-Rabbinic Texts 132
Torah and Creation in Rabbinic Texts 140
Torah and Creation in Kabbalistic Texts 196
Comparative Analysis1 Veda Torah in Creation
3 Veda and Cognition 227
Veda and Cognition in Vedic Texts 229
Veda and Cognition in the Post Vedic Mythology 243
4 Torah and Revelation 253
Torah and Revelation in Rabbinic Texts 255
Torah and Revelation in Kabbalistic Texts 315
Comparative Analysis2 Cognition of Veda and Revelation of Torah 325
5 Veda in Practice 343
Recitative Transmission of the Vedic Samhitas 344
Theurgic Conceptions of Vedic Sacrifice and Recitation 347
Interpretation of the Vedas 351
Appropriation of the Veda 354
6 Torah in Practice 359
Written Transmission of the Sefer Torah 359
Interpretation of the Torah 361
Theurgic Conceptions of Torah Study and Practice 374
Appropriation of the Torah 382
Comparative Analysis 3 Veda and Torah in Practice 385
Conclusion 395
Notes 421
Abbreviations 561
Note on Translation and Transliteration 567
Selected Bibliography 569
Index 651

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