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Epic and Romance, Narrative and Exegesis

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Chapter Summary

This chapter opens with a discussion on the poetics of exegetical narrative. It discusses particular themes within the texts to illuminate the nexus of story and interpretation and to explore ways in which they weave together exegesis, romance, epic, and theology. The chapter then investigates the processes of textual development that shape such an imaginative portrayal of Moses, taking into consideration factors both within and outside of the Jewish community. The evolving reception of Moses provides clues to larger cultural and exegetical shifts. The Chronicles of Moses and Midrash vaYosha each narrate the miraculous nature of Moses' birth. The same texts also relate the episode of Moses as a small child, taking Pharaoh's crown and placing it on his own head. Among the messages that became significant in medieval period was the transformation of Moses into an epic and romantic hero, providing the preeminent model within Jewish literature.

Keywords: biblical exegesis; Jewish literature; Midrash vaYosha; Pharaoh; The Chronicles of Moses



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