Religious Studies | Topics in Religious Studies: Revelation in Rabbinic Literature
R300 | 25852 | Halberstam, C.


The ancient Rabbi, Ben Azzai, described the activity of interpreting
the Bible in supernatural terms: “'I was linking up the words of the
Torah with one another and then with the words of the prophets, and
the prophets with the writings, and fire flashed all around me [as]
the words rejoiced as when they were delivered from Sinai.”  New
revelation, for the early rabbis, was not thought of as a direct
communication from God but rather the result of creative exegesis of
the sacred biblical text (an interpretive method called midrash).
This course will examine how the early rabbis shaped a renewed
revelation, a new Torah, through sensitive and meticulous attention
to the letters, words, and literary details of the biblical text.
We will closely analyze several midrashic interpretations of
biblical narratives as well as legal passages, and we will read them
alongside the biblical texts themselves in order to gain a thorough
understanding of rabbinic hermeneutics and an appreciation of the
Rabbis’ ability to discover new truths in ancient words.
Requirements: Six 1-page response papers; four secondary-literature
reviews; one oral presentation; one 10-12-page final paper.