Libmonster ID: U.S.-1520
Author(s) of the publication: O. V. KHAZANOV

Criticism and bibliography

Moscow: Publishing house firm "Vostochnaya literatura", 2001. 230 p.

E. E. Nosenko's work is unique, because Russian Oriental studies have not yet attempted a complete reconstruction of the history of the most important Jewish holidays from the moment of their origin to the present day. Based on a wide range of sources, the author traces the evolution and peculiarities of holiday culture in Jewish communities in various regions of the world. But the main thing that distinguishes this study is the historical and anthropological approach to the phenomenon under study.

The culture of the holiday occupies a key place in the Jewish tradition, especially actualizing various aspects of the"Jewish myth". In the difficult periods of the Jewish people's history, of which there were many, the holiday allowed us to keep faith, bringing light and hope of the coming deliverance. Again and again separating the world of the "sacred" from the "mundane," the holiday preserved the Jews as a " nation of priests." Acting as a mediator in the process of reproducing the archaic meanings of Sacred Tradition, the holiday at the same time translated the "high" categories of theology into the language of folk culture. "One of the distinctive features of Jewish holidays, starting from the Biblical era, was their mass character, the involvement of all members of the collective in the festive action without distinction of gender, age or social status" (p. 15).

Having formed in the Middle Eastern natural and cultural landscape, the Jewish holiday shared the fate of the people-it absorbed more and more new components, while losing much of its original symbolism. According to E. E. Nosenko, " at present, different ideas and practices co-exist in Jewish holidays, starting with the most ancient and ending with innovations of modern and modern times. In one festive and ceremonial complex, various religious ideas and practices are thus connected in stages. The original nature and significance of the festive rites are mostly forgotten or largely reinterpreted, which is associated with both changes in the economic system and the evolution of Judaism proper" (p.200).

The author focuses on the reconstruction of the earliest "archaic" meanings of Jewish holidays, their genesis, i.e., just the period that has not yet been properly reflected in the research literature. But the work is not limited exclusively to the analysis of the "basics". It examines Jewish holiday culture over many centuries, and its existence is represented in various communities around the world.

The subject of study in the monograph was primarily festive rites. This is due to the state of the source base: the Biblical and post-Biblical texts contain a "myth" in a heavily revised form. In addition, all these texts are the result of the creative work of an educated elite, so they convey the archaic tradition in a significantly modified form. A special feature of modern ethnography is the weak study of Jewish folk culture. Undoubtedly, the strong point of the reviewed work is the attempt made by the author to make it "talk".

When analyzing the festive Jewish ritual practice, numerous coincidences are found with similar manifestations of agricultural and pastoral cults of other peoples who were at the archaic stage. Apparently, during the period of their ethnic consolidation and transition to the stage of civilizational development, the Jews had all the same ideas as the rest of the peoples of this area. At the same time, as E. E. Nosenko rightly notes, "a certain amount of care should be taken to avoid artificial constructions by "pulling out" suitable examples from other cultures" (p.12). However, it seems that in a historical and anthropological study it would make sense to pay more attention to the moment of the" phase transition " from the archaic meanings of rites to their new meanings.

page 193


And if the former are really very similar among peoples who lived in very different parts of the earth, then the latter make each culture unique and serve as one of the most important prerequisites for its entry into a qualitatively new stage of civilization.

Among the advantages of the work, we should note a clear classification of Jewish holidays made by the author on the basis of a functional feature: holidays are grouped primarily by climatic and economic seasons, as well as by their connection with the oldest cults, which allows us to better understand their origin, initial character and subsequent "binding" to the economic cycle (p.18). At the same time, in my opinion, there is still a threat of losing the sense of the specifics of Judaism, within which this holiday culture functioned. Due to the fact that the author focuses on the archaic foundations of Jewish holidays, which are united with the traditions of pastoral and agricultural communities in this region, the reader's field of vision disappears a new great spiritual meaning, which is filled with Jewish holidays already in the Tanakh era. During the Middle Ages and Modern times, when a significant part of Jews broke away from the rural way of life and moved to urban and semi-urban ways, the archaic meaning of Jewish holidays and many rituals was even more lost. E. E. Nosenko sees its restoration as his main task.

In a peer-reviewed paper to me (maybe as a partial reader1 ) What was lacking was an analysis of the transformation of most Jewish holidays into a fundamentally new phenomenon that reflects the unique specifics of Jewish religious consciousness. One of these features is that it is imbued with the idea of history. The very design and positioning of Jewish religious historicism as such was, by the scale of antiquity, a unique phenomenon.2 Most traditional cultures were characterized, as M. Eliade aptly noted, by "abandoning history" or "abolishing it" (Eliade, 1987, p.111, 66). The self-contained myth, being, in the words of K. Levi-Strauss, "a machine for the destruction of time "(Levi-Strauss, 1970, p.155), provided the spiritual comfort that many peoples took centuries and even millennia to part with. The Jewish "myth" appears to be a very special phenomenon. Although not yet exposed to the corrosive influence of the logos, he found himself, so to speak, somehow "miraculously" imbued with history. On the pages of the Holy Scriptures, we observe the unfolding of events, even related to the legendary periods of the history of the Jewish people, as taking place not in mythological, but in concrete historical time and space. This does not mean that the Jews form a strict historical-critical reflection at an early stage of the development of their civilization, and the "historical myth" is replaced by the "historical logos". On the contrary, the Jews ' attentive attitude to history is largely determined by their national myth. It is precisely in its consistent implementation in his own history that A. Y. Militarev sees a unique feature of traditional Jewry [Militarev, 2003].

And American authors believe that "this dramatic Hebrew myth of the chosen people, of the divine promise, of the terrible moral burden imposed , is a prelude to the later myth of the Kingdom of God, this more remote and spiritual "promised land." For in the myth of the chosen people, the ineffable greatness of God and the insignificance of man are intertwined in a dramatic situation that must unfold in time and be directed to the future, where the distant but correlated parallels of human and God's existence must meet in infinity. It is not cosmic phenomena, but history itself, that has been filled with meaning here; history has become the revelation of the dynamic will of God... Hebrew thought did not completely overcome mythopoetic thought. In fact, it created a new myth - the myth of God's will "(Frankfort et al., 2001, pp. 288-289).

Experiencing history as a myth, the Jews constantly reproduced its real and legendary events through ritual. Therefore, it is probably no coincidence that we know so many Jewish religious holidays and memorable days that are most directly related to history


1 I note that the author and the reviewer approach the same phenomenon from different positions-secular and religious scientists.

2 Quite a lot of research has been devoted to this phenomenon. See, for example, [Meyer, 1974; Yerushalmi, 1982].

page 194


(Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot, Purim, Hanukkah, 9th Av). Through them, from year to year, those events that took place in the past were reproduced, but whose action, according to the laws of the mythological genre, continues in the present 3 . And, as one of the well-known modern Israeli historiographers Y.-H. notes. Jerushalmi, the very Divine Revelation in the Jewish religious consciousness is inscribed in history: "Gradually, step by step, man has come to realize that God is revealed in a series of times and events... In the Torah religion, it is impossible to imagine even an attempt to escape from history. It is open to history, permeated and filled to the brim with it. The history and faith of Israel are impossible without each other " [Yerushalmi, 2000, p. 47].

Unfortunately, the most interesting work of E. E. Nosenko does not contain a detailed analysis of the process of transformation of the meanings of Jewish holidays, when ritual is one of the ways to actualize the Jewish historical myth. Nevertheless, her book is a holistic study of the earliest and least studied form of Jewish myth consciousness and its reflection in the Jewish holiday tradition throughout the latter's existence. And this is the absolute value of such research.

list of literature

Yerushalmi Y.-H. Historical memory in Scripture and Talmudic Literature / / New Jewish School. St. Petersburg, 2000. N 8.

Levi-Strauss K. Struktura mifov [Structure of myths]. 1970. N 7.

Embodied Myth: "The Jewish Idea" in Civilization, Moscow, 2003.

Frankfort G., Frankfort G. A., Wilson J., Jacobsen T. On the threshold of philosophy. Dukhovnye iskaniya drevnego cheloveka [Spiritual Search for the ancient Man].

Eliade M. Kosmos i istoriya [Space and History], Moscow, 1987.

Meyer M.A. Ideas of Jewish History. N.Y., 1974.

Yerushalmi Y. -H. Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory. Wash., 1982.

3 The mechanism for actualizing the myth was the liturgical reading of the Torah text, which involved step-by-step reproduction of all its subjects during the year.


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