Jewish Biblical Interpretation and Cultural Exchange
Comparative Exegesis in Context
Natalie B. Dohrmann and David Stern, Editors
"No other anthology of scholarship on the Jewish interpretation of the Hebrew Bible covers the same chronological span (ancient through early modern) or has the same comparative and contextual emphasis (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Karaite) as this."—Steven Fraade, Yale University
Biblical interpretation is not simply study of the Bible's meaning. Historically, it has also served as a primary medium for cultural and religious exchange between the great religious traditions of the West. Focusing on moments of signal interest in the history of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic scriptural interpretation from the ancient, medieval, and early modern periods, Jewish Biblical Interpretation and Cultural Exchange offers a unique comparative perspective. Each of the essays treats its subject in relation to the larger cultural context and to other contemporary interpretative traditions. Sources and authors examined in the book include late biblical and early postbiblical compositions, rabbinic legal and homiletical interpretation, Jerome and other early Christian exegetes, Islamic exegesis in both the Qur'an and early Muslim tradition, medieval Jewish and Christian exegetes, and biblical interpretation as evidenced in early modern illustrations of biblical scenes.
The histories of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic interpretation are presented not merely as parallel but as deeply interrelated, not only as reacting and polemicizing against each other but often as appropriating the tools and methods of their rival traditions. Biblical exegesis thus emerges as a forum of active and intense cultural exchange. The volume comes at a crucial time in the study of Jewish relations with Christianity and Islam, and shows how deeply connected and intertwined these three religious traditions truly are.
Natalie B. Dohrmann teaches in the Religious Studies Department and is the Director of Publications at the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
David Stern is Ruth Meltzer Professor of Classical Hebrew Literature at Penn. He is author of Midrash and Theory: Ancient Jewish Exegesis and Contemporary Literary Studies and Parables in Midrash: Narrative and Exegesis in Rabbinic Literature.