How have the Jews read the Bible?
Rabbinic Judaism and the Synagogue After the fall of Judah, the destruction of the Temple, and the Babylonian exile Jewish life and faith were centered in synagogues where rabbis read and taught the Torah.
The Rabbis and the Midrash
Upon the return to Jerusalem and the rededication of the second Temple, the institution of the synagogue continued. There developed an oral tradition which was based upon the teachings of the rabbis (midrash- "to seek out, investigate, inquire of").
Midrash ," refers to (1) the particular mode of scriptural interpretation practiced by the rabbis of the land of Israel and Babylonia in late antiquity, (2) any individual rabbinic interpretation ("a Midrash"), and (3) the corpus of edited literature composed of rabbinic scriptural interpretations.
1. Midrashic Hermeneutics. As a mode of scriptural interpretation Midrash is characterized by its dense overreading of the biblical text. Every lexical element is deemed to bear meaning. Underlying techniques of Midrash is the conviction that the scriptural text in all its details constitutes the revealed word of God, hence every textual element is significant and conveys a meaning (frequently multiple meanings) intended by the divine Author; there are no redundancies. Moreover, Scripture is treated as a kind of oracle requiring interpretation; many of the techniques employed by the rabbis are common to ancient dream interpretation, oracle interpretation, and divination.
Example of Midrash: Genesis 2:16-17
How did the early Christians (converts from Judaism) read the Bible?
The earliest Christians were either Jews or converts to Judaism. They would therefore have seen Christianity not as a new religion, but rather as the fulfillment of the essence of the entire Jewish heritage. As one would expect, they used the familiar interpretive methods of Midrash to show how the Christian message relates directly to, and is... [continues]
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