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Midrashic Units in the Mishnah

Rabbinic Interpretation of Scripture in the Mishnah

In Rabbinic Interpretation of Scripture in the Mishnah, I offer a systematic description of early rabbinic hermeneutics (midrash), in particular in its legal application. Drawing on concepts from modern linguistics and philosophy (explained in a Glossary), more than one hundred individual techniques of interpretation as found in the Mishnah (third century CE) are explained and illustrated. These include the use of thematic or textual analogy, the selective imposition of emphasis, the distributive re-allocation of biblical topics, and the adoption of biblical words and sentences for new rabbinic utterances. In general, Scripture is drawn into a dialogue with detailed rabbinic concerns which are thematically defined, and a refraction of the biblical text takes place in which the meaning of its quoted words is narrowed down in new ways.

Addressing the conflict between rabbinic hermeneutics and historical-critical scholarship, I also identify the methodological precautions necessary in the modern scholarly explication of the tacit hermeneutic arguments of the Rabbis. In breaking down complex hermeneutic operations into simpler, systematically defined steps of interpretation the study pioneers a procedure for the methodical investigation of implicit hermeneutic practices in general.

As a reference manual for all hermeneutic devices in the Mishnah, the book provides a fixed point for the diachronic study of Jewish Bible interpretation as well as for comparisons with other major hermeneutic traditions in antiquity and modern times.

For a slightly fuller description of the book on OUP's subject homepage ("author's viewpoint") click on this link:

To read the first chapter of the book on OUP's subject homepage click on this link:

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