From Robert Alter’s “To the Reader” for his translation of Genesis:
The biblical conception of a book was clearly far more open-ended than any notion current in our own culture, with it assumptions of known authorship and legal copyright. The very different is the technology of bookmaking is emblematic. For us, a book is a printed object boxed in between two covers, with title and author emblazoned on the front cover an the year of publication indicated on the copyright page. The biblical term that comes closest to “book” is sefer. Etymologically, it means “something recounted,” but its primary sense is “scroll,” and it can refer to anything written on a scroll â€” a letter, a relatively brief unit within a longer composition, or a book more or less in our sense. A scroll is not a text shut in between covers, and additional swathes of scroll can be stitched onto it, which seems to have been a very common biblical practice. A book in the biblical sphere was assumed to be a product of anonymous tradition. The only ones in the biblical practice. A book in the biblical sphere was assumed to be a product of anonymous tradition. The only ones in the biblical corpus that stipulate the names of their authors, in superscriptions at the beginning, are the prophetic books, but even in this case, later prophecies by different prophet-poets could be tacked onto the earlier scrolls, and the earlier scrolls perhaps might even be edited to fit better into a continous book with the later accretions. (xl)
I really like sefer as a metaphor for something to replace the cohesive, fully-concluded one-author text (book or essay). In a way, it’s like a multi-authored collage essay or hypertext, something that can be added to later or re-formed, the authorship not as important as the content, the voices inside. If one were to view a blog as a single text, a blog seems to work in this way as well. More later, perhaps?
Alter, Robert. “To the Reader.” Genesis. Transl. Robert Alter. New York: Norton, 1996. ix-xlvii.