The Midrashic Imagination
Jewish Exegesis, Thought, and History
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This innovative and original book examines the broad range of Jewish interpretation from antiquity through the medieval and renaissance periods. Its primary focus is on Midrash and midrashic creativity, including the entire range of nonlegal interpretations of the Bible. Considering Midrash as a literary and cultural form, the book explores aspects of classical Midrash from various angles including mythmaking and parables. The relationship between this exoteric mode and more esoteric forms in late antiquity is also examined. This work also focuses on some of the major genres of medieval biblical exegesis: plain sense, allegory, and mystical.
Michael Fishbane is Nathan Cummings Professor of Jewish Studies at The Univeristy of Chicago. He has written many works including Text and Texture, Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel, and The Garments of Torah.
"Written by some of the most outstanding scholars of Jewish Studies, this book sheds light on the dominant cognitive mode of Judaism. Through the Midrashic process Jewish scholars molded Jewish consciousness, responded to historical crises, created legal and theological norms, and shaped Jewish culture. The book offers a sophisticated analysis of textuality in Judaism: the interpretation of sacred texts explains both the traditionalist nature of Judaism as well as its elasticity. Going beyond contemporary literary approaches to Midrash, these essays offer a very balanced analysis of the dialectical interplay between textual interpretation and historical context. It is an important collection that could become standard reference work in the field of Jewish Studies. " — Hava Tirosh-Rothschild, Indiana University