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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-J051-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 16, 2024, from

Article Summary

Midrash, a Hebrew word meaning ‘investigation’ or ‘study’, denotes both the method used by the Jewish rabbis of the second to sixth centuries ad to interpret the Bible and the extensive literature that resulted from the application of that method. In rabbinic parlance midrash, or the related term derash, can also designate a homiletic, non-literal way of reading the Bible. Midrash embodies a distinctive hermeneutic which at its most extreme treats the text of Scripture as a set of symbols or signs apparently to be manipulated by the interpreter at will. In recent years midrash has been compared to reader-response literary criticism. It has also been claimed that it represents a ‘Judaic’ as opposed to a ‘Hellenic’ mode of thinking which anticipates postmodernist hermeneutics.

Citing this article:
Alexander, Philip S.. Midrash, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-J051-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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