A Rivalry of Genius

Jewish and Christian Biblical Interpretation in Late Antiquity

By Marc Hirshman

Subjects: Judaica
Series: SUNY series in Judaica: Hermeneutics, Mysticism, and Religion
Paperback : 9780791427286, 179 pages, November 1995
Hardcover : 9780791427279, 179 pages, November 1995

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Table of contents


1. Biblical Interpretation in Its Late Antique Context

2. The Core of Contention: "They Are Not Israel … We Are Israel"

3. On Oratory and Writing: Exegete, Preacher, and Audience in Antiquity

4. The Exegetical Debate: Justin Martyr and the Dialogue with Trypho the Jew

5. The Ideological Contest: The Dialogue Between Jews and Gentiles in Genesis Rabbah

6. The Dialogue with Trypho and the Mekhilta: Selected Comparisons

7. Passover and the Exodus in Origen's Writings and Rabbinic Midrashim

8. Love and Holiness: The Midrash on Song of Songs and Origen's Homilies

9. The Midrash on Ecclesiastes and Jerome's Commentary

10. Christian and Rabbinic Writings: An Overview


Appendix One: Approaches to the Study of Midrash in Rabbinic and Christian Writings

Appendix Two: Methodological Remarks on Polemics and Midrash



Name Index

Subject Index

Compares Rabbinic midrash and Patristic exegesis in late antiquity and provides an introduction to the various forms of Patristic literature.


By comparing interpretations of the Hebrew Bible by Jews, Christians, and Gnostics in Late Antiquity, this book provides a unique perspective on these religious movements in Palestine. Rival interpretations of the early Church and the Midrash are set against the backdrop of the pagan critique of these religions and the gnostic threat that grew within both Christianity and Judaism. The comparison of the exegetical works of Christianity and Judaism illuminates the later development of the two religions and offers fresh insight into the Bible itself.

Marc Hirshman teaches midrash, talmud, and Rabbinic thought at the University of Haifa, the Hebrew University, and Oranim. He is a fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.