The People of the Book עם הספר
The Jewish people have long been known as the “People of the Book.” The book in question being the Bible, and the term a deceptively simple—but ultimately profound—acknowledgement of the centrality of the Bible in the Jewish religion. The Hebrew Bible is the object of the highest veneration in Judaism and is subject to the strictest rules for everything involving its textual transmission. In synagogue worship, the Five Books of Moses and some select special books from other parts of the Bible are chanted aloud from scrolls. Printed Bibles, on the other hand, are used for study, a practice emphasized by the rabbinic commentaries and translations that frequently appear alongside the biblical text. The Library of Congress holds many fine examples of the Hebrew Bible, ranging from handwritten scrolls from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and fragments of medieval manuscripts to rare and valuable copies of the earliest printed editions of the Bible, either in part or in whole. Not all of the Library’s biblical treasures are old or antique. The living, organic nature of the Bible is well represented in the beautiful, and beautifully illustrated, editions of various biblical books being produced today in Israel and elsewhere—editions eagerly collected by scholars and connoisseurs alike.
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