Liminal moments in biblical narrative are moments of transition and change, which are typically fraught with ambivalence. Such new beginnings enshrine both hope and doubt for the future, as in the account of the rebuilding of life after the Flood (Genesis 9). In this subtle analysis, Stahl observes how frequently one component of these liminal moments is law, offering as it does stability and order in a chaotic world but also resonating with the ambiguities inherent in the narrative history. In the Bible, law—as well as narrative—is multi-voiced.
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Nanette Stahl is Judaica Curator at Yale University Library, New Haven, Connecticut.