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Midrash UnboundTransformations and Innovations$
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Michael A. Fishbane and Joanna Weinberg

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113713

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113713.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 18 October 2021

The Pendulum of Exegetical Methodology

The Pendulum of Exegetical Methodology

From Peshat to Derash and Back

(p.249) Thirteen The Pendulum of Exegetical Methodology
Midrash Unbound

Sara Japhet

Liverpool University Press

This chapter investigates two exegetical methodologies: peshat and derash. In the first half of the tenth century, a new exegetical methodology broke into the world of Jewish learning, a methodology commonly defined as peshat or peshuto shel mikra. This methodology was first applied to the interpretation of Scripture in the eastern Jewish communities under the rule of Islam, but it soon spread to all the centres of Jewish learning: Spain, Ashkenaz (northern France and Germany), Provence, Italy, Byzantium, and their branches. After dominating the field of biblical exegesis for several centuries, the power of peshat methodology began to wane, until it almost disappeared from the world of Jewish learning. The exegetical methodology that dominated the field of biblical interpretation prior to the appearance of peshat methodology was that designated as derash or midrash, which are, more precisely, umbrella terms for a variety of interpretative strategies. The most important feature of this methodology is its extremely liberal approach to the biblical text, with the waiving of almost any boundary.

Keywords:   exegetical methodology, peshat, derash, Jewish learning, Scripture, eastern Jewish communities, biblical exegesis, biblical interpretation, midrash

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