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R. Samuel Ben Meïr (Rashbam): His Torah Commentary And Its Transmission

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Chapter Summary

Biblical research concentrates on literary aspects, form-critical questions and aesthetic topics, such as the subject matter of Near Eastern prototypes for the law corpora or patterns of poetic language. Along with the concentration on literary-historical questions, biblical exegesis in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries focused on the 'deconstruction' and 'destruction' of the text and for the most part neglected literary issues, e.g., the text's structure and its narrative patterns. Rashbam emphasizes the prominent role of Moses as a biblical author in the literary development of the Torah. At the beginning of his Torah-commentary, Rashbam introduces one of the basic principles of rabbinic exegesis. Although the rabbis were aware of the fact that each biblical verse maintains its plain meaning, i.e., its syntactic and semantic denotation, they developed a set of hermeneutic rules (middot) allowing a multiplicity of meanings and interpretive freedom that can even ignore the plain meaning.

Keywords:biblical research; Moses; Rashbam; Torah



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