The Origins of Midrash: From Teaching to Text. Leiden-Boston, Brill 2017. Pp. xviii + 405; € 147. isbn 9789004153141.Mandel introduces his book with the famous quote from Simeon ben Gamliel in Pirke Avot 1:17: “Not midrash is the essence, but deeds.” Nevertheless, the essence of the presently reviewed book is undoubtedly midrash. The opposition is not so much between “midrash” and “deeds” as between “what we always thought and taught about midrash” and “what Mandel now comes to teach us about the meaning of the term midrash.” That is: its original meaning. Indeed, this book deals with the meaning of the terms midrash and darash, as well as hakham and related titles, such as sofer, used for the practitioners of midrash.Since Isaac Heinemann, Chanoch Albeck, and the other authorities in Jewish Studies in the beginning of the twentieth century, the consensus about the terms midrash and darash is that they refer to the interpretation of Scripture and the derivation of teachings from this. In more recent scholarship, this is often specified to refer to multiple interpretations of an “open” text. The latter would be the core activity of the hakhamim, the Sages. And this would ultimately go back to
Journal for the Study of Judaism – Brill
Published: Feb 9, 2018
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