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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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Zoharic Literature and Midrashic Temporality

Zoharic Literature and Midrashic Temporality

(p.321) Fifteeen Zoharic Literature and Midrashic Temporality
Midrash Unbound

Elliot Wolfson

Liverpool University Press

This chapter assesses how the conception of time that informed the midrashic mindset reaches a crescendo in the homilies that were eventually included in what may be called the zoharic literature. In spite of the complexity of the history of the text, one can assert with relative confidence that the decisive redactional strategy was to organize the exegetical sermons as a commentary on the Pentateuch. Here it is apposite to recall Scholem's observation that the literary composition of the Zohar ‘outwardly imitates the form of the Midrash’. Not only did the zoharic authors draw freely from rabbinic midrashim, but structurally and rhetorically, the Zohar is essentially midrashic, and this extends from the earliest stratum. Rather than simply repeating the rabbinic dicta, the medieval kabbalists fabricated a more coherent narrative laid atop the biblical account, one that reflects a distinctive metaphysical scheme that renders the scriptural idiom symbolically based on the identification of the Torah and God.

Keywords:   time, Midrash, zoharic literature, exegetical sermons, Pentateuch, Zohar, zoharic authors, rabbinic midrashim, medieval kabbalists

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