Michael A. Lyons
Standards of Cohesion and Coherence: Evidence from Early Readers
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What can we know about the standards of cohesion and coherence held by the authors of ancient Israelite texts? If we recognize the fact that when we read we may be imposing our modern conventions on ancient literature, this becomes no small question. In this essay, I will consider the issue by examining evidence from early readers of biblical literature. I will begin with the earliest explicit reader statements about textual cohesion and coherence, then examine actual reading practices, moving back in time in order to determine whether responses to a perceived lack of cohesion and coherence change in various ways. I will conclude with reflections on what we can and cannot learn from this evidence.