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Based on Barry Holtz’s chapter on Midrash, write a short paper discussing this genre of biblical commentary. What are the purposes of midrash? How does it work? What is it about the origins and nature of the Torah’s text that makes midrash possible?
To illustrate your discussion with a specific example, analyze a section from Midrash Rabbah on the Book of Genesis (section 9 on page 8 in your printouts).
Midrash Rabbah on the Book of Genesis contains a (fictitious?) dialogue between a Greek philosopher and R. Gamaliel about a precise meaning of the account of creation in the first chapter of Genesis. After carefully studying the dialogue, analyze the two interpretations of the account of creation introduced in the dialogue. In order to do that you will have to read the first chapter of Genesis, especially Gen 1:1-19. Its text is potentially ambiguous. Apparently R. Gamaliel and the philosopher interpret this text in two different ways. What is the difference? Why is it so important from theological point of view?
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