The earliest and the most important works of Hebrew literature are the books of the Bible. They were written over centuries, starting some three thousand years ago, by many different authors, most of them being anonymous. A few of the books of the prophets might have been written by the prophets whose names they bear. As Hebrew is known to be the language of the Bible, it catches the interest of many. Numerous people across the planet have a keen interest in Hebrew literature, Harvey Shapiro Boston being one of them.
Hebrew is the language of Israel. Even though it virtually ceased to be spoken sometime around 200 CE, the language continued to be used by Jews throughout the years as the ‘sacred tongue’ in literature and philosophy. Hebrew emerged as a modern cultural medium sometime during the 19th century, and established itself as a vital factor in national revival movements. The British Mandate administration eventually had recognized as an official language, along with Arabic and English in Israel. It was adopted by numerous Jewish institutions and their educational networks. Over the generations, Hebrew literature and press flourished significantly as new authors and readers became interested in the language. In the current times, Hebrew is considered to be among the most vibrant and rich languages in the world. While Hebrew vocabulary had some 8,000 words in biblical times, today it has expanded to more than 120,000 words. The Academy of the Hebrew Language is responsible for guiding its formal linguistic development.
Modern Hebrew prose in the Land of Israel was first written by immigrant authors. Even though their roots were largely anchored in the traditions of East European Jewry, the works of these authors majorly was linked with the creative achievements of Israel. Yosef Haim Brenner and Shmuel Yosef Agnon were the ones who propelled Hebrew prose into the 20th century, and are often considered to be the fathers of Modern Hebrew literature by many. Brenner majorly favored medieval and rabbinical forms of spoken Hebe in endeavor to capture reality. He employed dramatic syntax to give the effect of living speech and created new idioms. His identification with both the physical struggle of the pioneers for a toehold in a harsh land, which was very different from the European nations where they were born, was quite central to his works. Agnon, on the other hand, opted to use more modern forms of the Hebrew language in his works. Alongside the influence of 19th and early 20th century European literature, his familiarity with Jewish tradition, eventually gave rise to a body of fiction that dealt with a host of spiritual concerns.
There are many people who choose to study Hebrew literature, and Harvey Shapiro Boston is one such individuals. He is a Clinical Professor of Education in the College of Professional Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, and his areas of scholarship include philosophy, literary theory, Hebrew literature, and politics. He received his doctorate in Jewish Education from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in 1996. Fluent in the Hebrew language, he studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.