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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: March 2008

14 - Midrash Halachah

The term midrash halachah was apparently coined in the nineteenth century. Midrash halachah, or legal interpretation, refers to specifically rabbinic forms of biblical exegesis whose ostensible purpose involves deriving broader and fuller legal conclusions from the text of the Torah. While archaeological and textual data from outside the rabbinic world shed light on important aspects of Jewish life in Palestine in the first through the third centuries, some texts raise interesting questions about the extent of rabbinic authority. Exegesis of the Bible for legal purposes was scarcely an innovation of the Rabbis of the first five Christian centuries. Beyond the texts and translations of the Bible, various religiously and culturally identifiable groups that comprised the intellectual elite of the ancient world all developed systems of exegesis of important texts. Jews and Gentiles alike considered the rabbinic reading of Scripture to represent the epitome of intellectual decadence.
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The Cambridge History of Judaism
  • Online ISBN: 9781139055130
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