Veda, Torah, and "The Real Book": A Comparative Hermeneutic of Canonicity

  • Randy Groves


Barbara Holdrege’s seminal article, “Veda and Torah: The Word Embodied in Scripture” and her extended work on the same topic, “Veda and Torah: Transcending the Textuality of Scripture,” create a bridge between the Jewish and Hindu textual traditions. This comparison of the two traditions suggests that the hermeneutics of canonicity displays a narrative logic, which can then be applied to other canons and even kinds of canons. In this paper I extend the comparative hermeneutic developed by Holdrege to another text, which is mostly unfamiliar to scholars, “The Real Book.” The Real Book is the canonical text for jazz musicians. I will be putting the interpretative activity of the Rabbis and Brahmavadins on a spectrum with jazz interpretation and improvisation, which will show the exegetical logic of canon and interpretation across distinct media.