Abstract Over the years, scholars have adopted two parallel approaches to studying midrash aggadah. One approach, investigates questions relating to the compilations themselves, and the other approach focuses on the composition of the smaller, nuclear, midrashic units. The petiḥta or proem has been studied extensively by adherents of both approaches. In this paper, I argue that a flexible model is the one most appropriate for describing the petiḥta : a model which simultaneously utilizes both approaches. In the course of this paper, I studied one derasha, a petiḥta , and its subsequent evolution in several different compositions ( Leviticus Rabbah; Tanḥuma Aharei Mot; Tanḥuma Va-Etchanan). By conducting that comparative study of the derasha, I achieved a fuller understanding of it both in terms of the proem as a product of oral discourse and in terms of the proem’s literary redaction within the context of the midrashic compositions. Ultimately, a better understanding of the petiḥta ’s formulation and its Sitz im Leben contributes to our understanding of its contents and allows us to reveal the message that either the darshan or the redactor was attempting to convey.
Journal for the Study of Judaism – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2012
Keywords: Midrash; Aggadah; Leviticus Rabbah; Tanhuma
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