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Methodological introduction: On the self-referential reading of Prk texts

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Chapter Summary

This chapter offers a methodology for reading midrashim as a window into the rabbis' own self-conception. It also offers two other examples of such readings, and uses them as a way to let the texts introduce their own themes and concerns. That is, the chapter is a second introduction of sorts, a textual introduction. The author's analysis of Pesikta deRav Kahana (PRK) texts will find the issues reflected in these midrashim to be of a more homiletical and rhetorical nature, questions of persuasion, and not questions of interpretation. The key is to find the points of non-exegetical dissonance, places in the midrash which, when compared to their biblical counterparts, seem either strikingly at odds or at least differently shaded. It is here that we have clear access to the rabbinic mind at work, to the subtle traces of the darshan's concerns and preoccupations.

Keywords: biblical counterparts; homiletical nature; midrashim; non-exegetical dissonance; Pesikta deRav Kahana (PRK); rabbis' own self-conception



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