Writing On The Tablet Of The Heart
In Writing on the Tablet of the Heart , David Carr explores a new model for the production, revision, and reception of ancient texts. The Gilgamesh epic, Homer’s Iliad , and the Bible, he shows, were first and foremost intended as educational texts. The primary focus was not on writing such texts on tablets or papyrus, but inscribing hallowed writings, word for word, on the hearts of elite members of society. Carr begins by examining the key concepts of orality, cultural memory, and literacy, and then synthesizes scholarship on writing and education in ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Israel. He shows how each of these cultures formed elites by having young people (usually male) master a body of ancient texts, often written in an archaic dialect or foreign language. By this process, whether or not it occurred in a formal educational setting, select members of society were trained for leadership by learning to read, write, recite, and/or sing this body of texts. We can see the marks of this process in secular and religious educational institutions even today. Elite secular education is still prone to cultivate mastery of ancient, esoteric cultural knowledge, even if the focus has broadened from the Iliad to a range of core literary texts. Moreover, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have been profoundly shaped by early Jewish educational practices, which focused on mastery of the Hebrew Bible defined in opposition to the Greek curriculum and Greek culture. emerged as a support for an educational process in which These ancient forms of education, Carr demonstrates, have much to teach us not only about the Hebrew Bible and ancient Israelite culture, but about how religious and secular groups are formed by having ancient, cherished traditions “written on the heart” of the next generation.
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SKU (ISBN): 9780195172973
Binding: Cloth Text
Published: March 2005
Publisher: Oxford University Press
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