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Jewish Concepts of ScriptureA Comparative Introduction$
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Benjamin D. Sommer

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814740620

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814740620.001.0001

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Concepts of Scriptural Language in Midrash

Concepts of Scriptural Language in Midrash

(p.64) Chapter 5 Concepts of Scriptural Language in Midrash
Jewish Concepts of Scripture

Benjamin D. Sommer

NYU Press

This chapter offers a definition of the term midrash, and explains how the rabbis viewed the language of scripture. One must acquire some appreciation for midrashic approaches to scripture, not only to understand the Bible's role in the Judaism of the classical rabbis who produced the midrashim, but also to understand the Bible's role in the Judaisms of all who came after them. The chapter illustrates how the rabbis regard the Bible's language as essentially, even ontologically, different from normal language. Because the Bible's language is divine, it functions differently from normal human language, and it demands to be read in ways that reflect this radical difference. Modern Jewish thinkers reject this view; however, at no point does any Jewish thinker escape the midrashic conception of scriptural language.

Keywords:   midrash, scripture, Bible, Judaism, classical rabbis, modern Jewish thinkers, misrashim

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