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Midrash

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Martin Marprelate, Nov 25, 2022.

  1. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    I was asked earlier if I knew what "midrash" is.
    Very briefly, it refers to a set of Jewish commentaries on the Old Testament, mostly written from 400 AD.
    Midrash Some claim that Midrashic commentaries existed in oral form before that date, but this is unprovable for the very reason that they were not written down.
    Those who can be bothered to look at the link will see that the word occurs twice in the O.T. (2 Chronicles 13:22; 24:27). It would be an error to insist that the word must have had the same meaning in c.400 BC as it had in 400 AD.
    In the 1990s or thereabouts, liberal scholars suggested that the whole OT was a form of midrash and therefore could not be taken literally. This has been refuted, but it still raises its ugly head today when posters refer the term to bits of the OT that do not comply with their own shibboleths. The bits they don't like are midrash and not to be taken literally; the bits they do like, of course, cannot be midrash because they base their views on them.
     
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  2. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob Administrator
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    I have never run into that situation, brother. Most who want some "support" for odd interpretations or fodder to discard texts go to "big name" preachers and not Jewish commentaries.

    Personally, I appreciate anyone who even understands the basic differences of the midrash, Talmud, and Torah. :)
     
  3. Silverhair

    Silverhair Well-Known Member

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    To correct a comment you made re the dating of Midrash. This type of material was written down as early as 1 century BC.

    Midrash (מדרש; plural midrashim) is a Hebrew word referring to the exposition, or exegesis, of a biblical text. The term can also refer to a specific compilation of midrashic teachings.
    Midrashic material is now known to have been set to writing as early as the first century B.C.E., having been discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls. However, written collections of rabbinical midrash first began to emerge in the late second century C.E. Since then, a vast corpus of midrash has been preserved, covering virtually every subject, from the creation of the world to the coming of the Messiah. Midrash - New World Encyclopedia

    The Hebrew word darash is probably the most instructive word in the Old Testament. It means “to seek,” “to resort to,” or “to inquire about.” It is used when a person “seeks a word from the Lord” (1Ki_22:5). From this verbal root the word midrash is formed—the Hebrew word that refers to an expansive translation, or explanation, of a biblical text. Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words (Hebrew)

    The use of Midrash by Paul in Romans 3:10-18 would have been a teaching method that both he and the Jews would be familiar with. Some on this board say we should take the line "THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS; THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS AFTER GOD" literally but are we to then take these line in the same manner,
    "THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN TOMB; WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY HAVE PRACTICED DECEIT"; "THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS";
    "THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD;"

    Paul was using these verses in the form of a midrash, a teaching method, to show the Jews that they were no better or worse then the gentiles. All have fallen short of His [Gods'] standard.

    As you said Martin you do not have the right to hold to the parts you like and dismiss the parts you do not like.
     
  4. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    Thanks,@Dr Bob,
    I am certainly not setting myself up as an authority on midrash - far from it! - but it was something that came up when I was a very young Christian with llberal theologians trying to rubbish the O.T.
    with regard to this forum, there is an English cricketing expression - you have to play the bowling as it comes.and be ready for the occasional googly (you'll have to look it up!).
     
  5. AustinC

    AustinC Well-Known Member

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    ...as opposed to giving a eugoogly...
    Urban Dictionary: eugoogly
     
  6. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    Odd. I thought Midrash was what you get in the summer when you don't wear a shirt and brush up against poison ivy.

    Enlightening thread.
     
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  7. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    First of all, the 'New World Encyclopedia appers to be a project originated by Sun Myong Moon and I am not therefore inclined to accept unreservedly its writings on a Christin matter. The source I quoted was at least an evangelical Christian organization.

    Secondly
    Paul is referencing two O.T. verses. Either the Bible is true or it isn't. But this is the delight of midrash. Whatever verses @Silverhair doesn't like are midrash; the ones he likes are not. What a fabulous way to do exegesis! You can get it right every time! :rolleyes:
    But Paul is using the verses to prove the point he has made in Romans 3:9, and he says that they are part of God's law (v.19). and given so that 'every mouth may be stopped and the whole world may become guilty before God.' But of course, if @Silverhair decides that this verse is midrash, then it means whatever he decides it should mean - that every mouth isn't stopped and that the whole world isn't guilty before God.
    Now obviously there is a legitimate discussion to be had over exactly what 'all' and 'world' mean in any given verse, but this is to be decided by the context, not a phoney appeal to midrash.
     
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  8. Silverhair

    Silverhair Well-Known Member

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    Did not know that that Sun Myong Moon was behind that one good that you pointed that out.

    But do you not consider the Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words (Hebrew) to be Christian?

    Midhrāsh: Apparently the practice of commenting upon and explaining the meaning of the Scriptures originated in the synagogues (in the time of Ezra), from the necessity of an exposition of the Law to a congregation many of whom did not or might not understand the language in which it was read. Such commentaries, however, were oral and extempore; they were not until much later crystallized into a definite form. When they assumed a definite and, still later, written shape, the name Midhrāsh (meaning “investigation,” “interpretation,” from dārash, “to investigate” a scriptural passage) was given. ISBE

    The Hebrew term means “an imaginative development of a thought or theme suggested by Scripture, especially a didactic or homiletic exposition, or an edifying religious story” (Driver, Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament, 497).


    Now as to your idea that Paul was referencing two OT verses wrong or are you going to say that context does not matter. The context is at least
    Rom 3:10 As it is written: "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NO, NOT ONE;
    Rom 3:11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS; THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS AFTER GOD.
    Rom 3:12 THEY HAVE ALL TURNED ASIDE; THEY HAVE TOGETHER BECOME UNPROFITABLE; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, NO, NOT ONE."
    Rom 3:13 "THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN TOMB; WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY HAVE PRACTICED DECEIT"; "THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS";
    Rom 3:14 "WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS."
    Rom 3:15 "THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD;
    Rom 3:16 DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR WAYS;
    Rom 3:17 AND THE WAY OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN."
    Rom 3:18 "THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES."

    would you not agree? Are you going to say we should view the first two verses as literal but the rest as what? Are their throats open tombs do that have the poison of asps under their lips.

    The use of Midrash by Paul in Romans 3:10-18 would have been a teaching method that both he and the Jews would be familiar with. Some on this board say we should take the line "THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS; THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS AFTER GOD" literally but are we to then take these line in the same manner,
    "THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN TOMB; WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY HAVE PRACTICED DECEIT"; "THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS";
    "THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD;"

    Paul was using these verses in the form of a midrash, a teaching method, to show the Jews that they were no better or worse then the gentiles. All have fallen short of His [Gods'] standard.

    As you said Martin you do not have the right to hold to the parts you like and dismiss the parts you do not like.

    You seem to dismiss a known teaching method of that time and why is that other then it calls into question your understanding of these verses.
    Paul's letter to the Romans included both Jews and Gentiles. He summed up chapter two by exposing hypocrisy: no one, Jew or Gentile, is going to be excused for his or her sins. And circumcision does not guarantee a right standing with God.
    Which begs the question: Then what is the advantage of circumcision, or of being a Jew? They were entrusted with the oracles of God” (Romans 3:2)
    However, being born a Jew, one of God’s chosen people is no guarantee of a right standing with God. The Jew is, at this point, no better off than the Gentile.

    The Jews are not better than the Gentiles; both are guilty of sin (Romans 3:9). Quotations from the Jewish OT Romans 3:10-18) prove their guilt (Romans 3:19). No man can earn a right relationship with God by doing the requirements of the Mosaic law (Romans 3:20). Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary
     
  9. Silverhair

    Silverhair Well-Known Member

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    I can agree with you when you say that "Most who want some "support" for odd interpretations or fodder to discard texts go to "big name" preachers". I have found that to be a particular problem coming from the calvinist side of the discussion. They do seem to have a habit of quoting the "big guns" of calvinism rather than the bible.
     
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  10. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    I am happy to accept the extract you have pasted here. My link to carm.org is in the O.P. and it states that midrash was not written until the 2nd Century.. But it seems to be accepted that midrash is 'a practice of commenting on and explaining the Scriptures. Is that wht Paul is doing in Romans 3:10-18? No! He is quoting the very word of God! 'As it is written....'

    What Paul gives us here is a compilation of verses from various Psalms and from Isaiah 59:7-8. They are all the word of God and therefore all true. That the Bible, New and Old Testaments, uses various figures of speech including metaphors as in v.13, does not mean that the other verses are metaphors. When our Lord tells Nicodemus, "You must be born again," He does not mean that Nic must enter his mother's womb a second time and be born. He is using figurative language. But that does not mean that everything He says is figurative. That which is born of the flesh is still flesh; therefore unsaved people are unrighteous, and therefore they do not seek God unless and until He opens their hearts to do so (c.f. Romans 8:8).
    Where does Paul say he is using midrash? Where is he actually giving a commentary on the verses? He isn't! He is using them as proof texts. And why do you think the Romans would have understood the concept of midrash? For a start, most of the congregation would have been Gentile, and secondly, it seems that midrashic commentaries were not written on the Psalms until much later, if at all (see my link in the O.P.).
    On the contrary, he was using the verses to show Jew and Gentile alike that they were all under sin (Romans 3:9).
    [QUOTE}
    As you said Martin you do not have the right to hold to the parts you like and dismiss the parts you do not like.[/QUOTE]
    I do not, and nor do you, but I am not the one trying to avoid the plain meaning of Scripture by worming midrash into the argument and trying to throw dust i everone's eyes.
    I question that it was 'well-known,' even to Jews in c.55 AD and it would have been a total mystery to the Romans.. None of the midrashic commentaries were written by then. And in any case, midrash is a non-Christian concept. You might as well bring up the book of Mormon.
     
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  11. Silverhair

    Silverhair Well-Known Member

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    I do not, and nor do you, but I am not the one trying to avoid the plain meaning of Scripture by worming midrash into the argument and trying to throw dust i everone's eyes.

    I question that it was 'well-known,' even to Jews in c.55 AD and it would have been a total mystery to the Romans.. None of the midrashic commentaries were written by then. And in any case, midrash is a non-Christian concept. You might as well bring up the book of Mormon.[/QUOTE]


    Do you think Paul would say here we go this is a midrash, come on Martin that is just a dumb comment. As for the references to the OT Paul used them to TEACH the Jews in Rome that they were not any different than the gentiles.
    The midrashic style of teaching had been used from about the time of Ezra {536 BC} so yes the teaching method would have been well understood by the Jews. If you will just look at the context you will see that Paul was addressing a Jewish misunderstanding. The Jews seem to have been under the impression that their being Jews gave them a leg up so to speak and Paul is teaching them that they are wrong and at the same time showing the gentiles that they to had fallen short of the standard of God.

    That midrashic texts were not written down until latter has no impact on what Paul was doing. I agree the midrash is not a Christian concept but did you forget that Paul was a Jewish rabbi, a Pharisee so this style of teaching would have been known to him.

    Martin you seem to loose focus when you get past verse 12. How are we to view the remaining verses? Are out throats open graves do we have poison under our lips?
    Do men sin yes do we really seek God on our own no. But you seem to have used these first three verses and forgotten the rest.

    Man is sinful but God has provided the way for man to know Him. You just do not want to trust that a loving God would actually want man to come to Him because they want to do so.
     
  12. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    You appear to have had an irony bypass. But on what basis do you say that Paul was into midrash? You have no basis whatsoever except that it enables you to say that this bit of the Bible which I lke is truth and not to be questioned and this bit that I don't like is midrash and so I can dodge its plain meaning.
    He does that in Romans 2:17-29; 3:1-8.. In Romans 3:9ff, he is saying that both Jew and Gentile are under God's wrath.
    Evidence please.
    As I have shown, Paul covers all that in the previous chapter. But whatever Paul is teaching, there is no evidence whatsoever that he is using midrash. He quotes no midrashic authors, for the very good reason that none existed until many years afterwards
    You have not proved that Paul had anything to do with midrash; you are just spoofing to avoid the implications of verses you don't like.
    You cannot show that Paul either knew about midrash or that if he did, he approved of it. As I have shown, he is not commenting on the O.T. texts, but quoting them.
    It will be helpful if you read my posts before replying to them. JUst read post #10 again where I give the answer.
    Now this is important. Do you really believe that a prevenient gace is necessary before a man will believe? Tht is not the impression you have been giving. Will you please stae your position clearly?
    I absolutely agree.
    God does want men to come to him, and, as I never tire of saying, has saved a vast crowd of them that no man (including you) can number, but unless He draws them irresistibly they will not come.
     
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