Sunday, March 06, 2011

New JSIJ article on midrashic reconstructions

JSIJ - JEWISH STUDIES: AN INTERNET JOURNAL has published a new article: Arnon Atzmon, Reconstructing the Original Midrash Based on Rabbinic Parallels: A New Paradigm for an Old Problem (in Hebrew). Click on the link to download as a pdf file.

Modern scholarly reconstructions of rabbinic texts have tended to avoid the use of higher critical methods, because they are based on the indirect evidence provided by parallels in rabbinical literature. Indeed, they seldom use these methods in combination with the lower critical method, which is based on the study of direct textual witnesses. Rather, scholars engaged in textual reconstruction have adopted the lower critical method almost exclusively as their primary tool, arguing that reference to parallels in rabbinic literature is a speculative and problematic methodology. In this paper, I support the use of higher criticism for reconstruction of the original versions of rabbinic texts by demonstrating its usefulness in this framework. I propose distinguishing between two paradigms of textual reconstruction based on higher critical methods by presenting the results of midrashic reconstructions.