b-greek-digest V1 #748
b-greek-digest Monday, 12 June 1995 Volume 01 : Number 748
In this issue:
Re: Mark, Midrash, and Progym...
Re: Mark and Midrash
Re: Temptation, Marcan priori...
Date: Sun, 11 Jun 1995 21:44:42 -0400
Subject: Re: Mark, Midrash, and Progym...
David B. Gowler, DGOWLER@micah.chowan.edu, on 6/10
>It seems that one person's "midrash" is another person's
>progymnastic rhetoric, especially the type of progymnastic
>rhetoric that occurs at the rhetorical intersection of
>Hellenistic and Jewish environments. Thus the "either/or" of
>either Jewish ("midrash") OR hellenistic ("rhetoric") style of
>interpretation/writing is a false dichotomy. It was a "both/and"
>spectrum in the first century.
No doubt you are right. I am not familiar with the term you use here
("progymnastic"), but it doesn't sound like something Cicero would have
called it. It sounds more like a modern evaluation. Could you give me your
definition of it?
Midrash, I think, is a little more than a style of rhetoric tho. It also
represents a traditional (I would even say "mainstream") method on
interpreting Scripture (pesher) in Judaism, which is
a little more specific in function.
I am sure Tertullian's writings would no doubt be called "anti-gymnastic".
Seriously tho, along the same lines, I have been very interested
in contrasting midrash and the method of allegorical interpretation
used by Origen. I am somewhat aware of the differences between the two, but
I would like to study this closer.
Grace & Peace,
Date: Sun, 11 Jun 1995 21:48:42 -0400
Subject: Re: Mark and Midrash
David Moore, firstname.lastname@example.org, said...
>Isn't this just wrapping eisegesis in the cloak of "midrash"?
>Isn't "being free from literalizing..." simply another way of saying
>that the interpreter rejects the plain meaning of the text...
No, it's just a matter of recognizing genre. We don't read poetry
literally, we don't read apocalyptic literature literally, etc. Even the
meaning of the content of Paul's letters, which may appear "plain", the
meaning is affected by the form, ie as an epistle. Not to mention the
cultural context, etc, etc.
It wasn't all that long ago that the importance of the gospels being
narrative was re-examined. This has greatly affected their reading. To
recognize that they are midrash narratives even brings this into a better
focus of understanding.
>... to be able to project onto it meanings that better fit his or her >own
Actually, I see the "literal" interpretation doing that, in that the one
who assumes what the "plain meaning" of the text is often neglects to
recognize the influence of their own culture on how they interpret the
Calling the gospels narrative midrash allows us to exegete them more
appropriately to their genre. This is the opposite of eisegesis, it helps us
better determine the author's intent.
Anyway, if one can identify the OT text that is being midrashed, then it
seems to me that this would bring out the meaning of the original, rather
than be a "reading into" the text of someone's prejudices.
>And what would such an interpreter do with those points in
>the NT narratives which also receive mention in other ancient
>sources? Would he say that these are historical, but the rest is
If I understand your question, David, it is my opinion that the historical
and midrashed elements are so mixed that it is almost
impossible to distinguish them while maintaining a high degree of certainty.
My opinion is that they weren't meant to be separated
and shouldn't be.
There are some scholars (who are still searching for the historical Jesus)
who would try to use midrash to weed out the details of the gospels that are
more commentary than new narrative elements. But what they don't recognize is
that the old narrative elements are part of the gospel writer's way of
interpreting and presenting his witness to historical events.
But there are tough calls. For example, does Mark sometimes use
"Galilee" as symbolic or midrashic (Is 9:1-2) or historical-- or all of them?
Compare Mk 1:9 with Mk 16:7.
Many of those on the quest of the historical Jesus often affirm the
cleansing of the Temple by Jesus as very historical, since it appears in all
four gospels. And yet, the details of this story sound very much like a
midrash of 2 Macc 10:1,2. [Note, I am not denying that Jesus had an
altercation at the Temple, but that this is retold with midrashic narrative
>Such an approach would depend on highly subjective criteria and >would open
the door to interpretation that would be tendentious to >an extreme.
The main criteria is how well the gospel narrative reflects an OT passage.
Vocabulary, names, places, actions, form and even structure can be
objectively correlated. I don't see how this is "highly subjective".
As far as opening the door, I assume you mean that I am promoting the
practice of midrashing Scripture as a valid hermeneutical approach for today.
I don't. I am only recognizing
that the NT writers used it, even if we today wouldn't.
Date: Mon, 12 Jun 1995 00:04:17 -0400
Subject: Re: Temptation, Marcan priori...
dear prof conrad,
what i meant is that the temptations are, like the genealogies,
presented in a different order in Mt. and Lk.
End of b-greek-digest V1 #748
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