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The Interpretation of Scripture in Rabbinic Literature

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Chapter Summary

This chapter identifies basic principles, analyses the different exegetical approaches and investigates the exegetical categories employed by the rabbis. The Rabbis' authority stemmed from their belief in the extreme antiquity of the oral tradition, whether it was seen as accompanying the Written Tora or as an inseparable part of that Tora. Moreover, while the Oral Tora derives its authority from its sharing in the divine revelation, its power was given to mankind alone. Although on the one hand, the peshat interpretation is based on the literal meaning of scriptures, on the other it sometimes rejects literalism as the absolute standard for all interpretation. Another aspect of the peshat interpretation is the recognition of synonyms in Scripture. Exegetical-methodological rules in rabbinic literature can be identified either based on explicit statements formulated as rules, or by generalizing from specific rabbinic interpretations.

Keywords: exegetical approaches; Oral Tora; peshat; rabbinic literature; Scripture



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