Midrash and Literature
edited by
Geoffrey H. Hartman and Sanford Budick

Tannaitic sages: 70-220 CE. and Amoraic sages: 220-400 CE. [ix]

Matthew Arnold: Hebraism”s “strictness of conciseness” vs. Hellenism”s “spontaneity of consciousness.” [ix]

Analytic study of Midrash begun circa 1836. [xii]

“The Struggle for the Text” by Geoffrey H. Hartman. “And the bewildered Gymnast/ Found he had worsted God.” from “A little East of Jordan,” by Emily Dickinson. [5]

The proper task of Midrashic or non-Midrashic exegesis is to keep the Bible from becoming literature. [9]

Scripture can be distinguished from fiction by its frictionality: not only its respect for friction, which exists also in literary texts, but its capacity to leave traces, which incite and even demand interpretation of what is incorporated. [13]

Bible stories do not flatter or fascinate like Homer”s; they do not give us something artfully rendered; they force readers to become interpreters and to find the presence of what is absent in the fraught background, the densely layered narrative. [15]

“Inner Bible Exegesis: Types and Strategies of Interpretation in Ancient Israel” by Michael Fishbane. Revealed teachings are a dead letter unless revitalized in the mouth of those who study them. [19]

Exegesis arises out of a practical crisis of some sort – the incomprehensibility of a word or a rule, or the failure of the covenantal tradition to engage its audience. [34]

“The Nature of the Aggadah” by Joseph Heinemann. There are three types of Aggadot: Biblical, Historical (post-Biblical) and ethical-didactic. [43]

Most Aggadot have two levels of meaning. The overt, which deals openly with the explication of the Biblical text and the clarification of the Biblical narrative; and the covert, which deals more subtly with contemporary problems that engage the attention of the homilists and their audience. [49]

Much of aggadic exegesis is… a kind of parable or allegory. The aggadists do not mean so much to clarify difficult passages n the Biblical text as to take a stand on the burning questions of the day, to guide the people and to strengthen their faith.

“The Freedom and Restraint of Haggadah” by Judah Goldin. When the principal components of the Oral Law are listed in Midrashic-Talmudic literature, three terms are employed: midrash, being what is legitimately derivative from study and interpretation of the Scriptures; halachot, those handed-down Halachic rulings formulated and assembled independently; and aggadot, best defined as non-Halachic discourse and instruction.

“Two Introductions to Midrash” by James L. Kugel.

Midrash and the Language of Exegesis: A Study of Vayikra Rabbah, Chapter One” by David Stern.

From Midrash to Kabbalah: “Midrash and the Dawn of Kabbalah” by Joseph Dan; “Infinities of Torah in Kabbalah” by Moshe Idel; and “Sacred Language and Open Text” by Betty Roitman.

Literature and Midrash: “The Plain Sense of Things” by Frank Kermode; “Milton and the Scene of Interpretation, from “Typology toward Midrash” by Sanford Budick; “The Hermeneutic Quest in Robinson Crusoe” by Harold Fisch; “Romanticism and the Internalization of Scripture” by Joshua Wilner; “The Model of Midrash and Borges”s Interpretive Tales and Essays” by Myrna Solotorevsky; “Kafka”s Parables” by Jill Robbins; and “Midrash and Narrative: Agnon”s Agunot” by Gershon Shaked.

Contemporary Midrash: “Shibboleth” by Jacques Derrida; “The Key” by Edmond Jabés;

What follows is the glossary from Midrash and Literature, but I don’t recall copying it out in this manner. The only possiblility I can think of is that I found an electronic copy of the book. But most of the words are fun.


Advert: To remark or comment about. [29]

Adumbrate: 1 : to foreshadow vaguely : INTIMATE 2 a : to give a sketchy representation or outline of b : to suggest or disclose partially 3 : OVERSHADOW, OBSCURE- adumbration \9a-(9)d0m-8brÀ-sh0n\ noun- adumbrative \a-8d0m-br0-tiv\ adjective- adumbratively adverb [118]

Aesthetic: Beautiful, pleasing in appearance, attractive. [44]

Agglomerate: To collect or gather together into a cluster or mass. [15]

Agnomen: An additional fourth name given to a person by the ancient Romans in allusion to some achievement or other circumstance, a nick name. [17]

Allegory: 1 : the expression by means of symbolic fictional figures and actions of truths or generalizations about human existence; also : an instance (as in a story or painting) of such expression 2 : a symbolic representation : EMBLEM 2 [87]

Allegorized: intransitive senses 1 : to give allegorical explanations 2 : to compose or use allegory transitive senses 1 : to treat or explain as an allegory 2 : to make into allegory- allegorizer noun [87]

Allusion: A passing or casual reference; an incidental mention of something, either directly or by implication. [33]

Anagogic : interpretation of a word, passage, or text (as of Scripture or poetry) that finds beyond the literal, allegorical, and moral senses a fourth and ultimate spiritual or mystical sense- anagogic \9a-n0-8g-jik\ or anagogical \-ji-k0l\ adjective- anagogically \-ji-k(0-)lÃŽ\ adverb [Hebrew: Sod] [165]

Analogy: A partial similarity between features of two things on which comparison may be based: the analogy between the heart and a pump. [30]

Anamnesis: The recollection or remembrance of the past. [36]

Anodyne: Serving to assuage (ease) pain. [87]

Antiphon: 1 : a psalm, anthem, or verse sung responsively 2 : a verse usually from Scripture said or sung before and after a canticle, psalm, or psalm verse as part of the liturgy [110]

Aphorism: 1 : a concise statement of a principle2 : a terse formulation of a truth or sentiment : ADAGE- aphorist \-rist\ noun- aphoristic \9a-f0-8ris-tik\ adjective- aphoristically \-ti-k(0-)lÃŽ\ adverb [43]

Apocryphal: 1 : of doubtful authenticity : SPURIOUS2 often capitalized : of or resembling the Apocryphasynonyms see FICTITIOUS- apocryphally \-f0-lÃŽ\ adverb- apocryphalness noun [47]

Apodictic: : expressing or of the nature of necessary truth or absolute certainty- apodictically \-ti-k(0-)lÃŽ\ adverb [58]

Appellation 1 : an identifying name or title : DESIGNATION 2 archaic : the act of calling by a name 3 : a geographical name (as of a region, village or vineyard) under which a winegrower is authorized to identify and market wine [166]

Archaizing: 1 : the use of archaic diction or style 2 : an instance of archaic usage 3 : something archaic; especially : something (as a practice or custom) that is outmoded or old-fashioned- archaist \-ist\ noun- archaistic \9r-kÎ-8is-tik, -(9)kÀ-\ adjective- archaize \8r-kÎ-9Úz, -(9)kÀ-\ verb [87]

Arrogate: 1 a : to claim or seize without justification b : to make undue claims to having : ASSUME 2 : to claim on behalf of another : ASCRIBE- arrogation \9ar-0-8gÀ-sh0n\ noun [188]

Asyndeton: The omission of conjunctions as in “He provided the poor with jobs, with opportunity, with self-respect.”[14]

Chiasmus: A reversal in the order of words in two otherwise parallel phrases as in “He went to the country, to the town went she.” [23]

Coda: A concluding section or part, serving as a summation of preceding themes, as in a work of literature or drama. [6]

Cognoscenti: Those who have or are held to have superior knowledge, or inside information, and understanding of a particular field, especially in the fields of fine arts and literature. [21]

Concatenate: To link together; unite as in a series or chain. [15]

Consecrated: To make or declare sacred.[30]

Copia: [4]

Cryptomnesia: (From “cryptonym,” secret name?) [13]

Decoupage: French decoupage, literally, act of cutting out, from Middle French, from decouper to cut out, from de- + couper to cut- more at COPE [170]

Deictic: showing or pointing out directly the words this, that, and those have a deictic function [166]

Démarche: A plan or mode of procedure; change in a course of action. [8]

Dialectic: The art or practice of logical discussion as employed in investigating the truth of a theory or opinion.[x]

Didactic: 1 a : designed or intended to teach b : intended to convey instruction and information as well as pleasure and entertainment2 : making moral observations- didactical \-ti-k0l\ adjective- didactically \-ti-k(0-)lÃŽ\ adverb- didacticism \-t0-9si-z0m\ noun [43]

Ecumenical: General, universal. [20]

Efface: To wipe out, destroy or do away with. To make oneself inconspicuous; withdraw modestly or shyly. [xi]

Enclitic: (of a word) closely connected with the preceding word and not having an independent accent or phonological status. (see Proclitic) [15]

Epigram: 1 : a concise poem dealing pointedly and often satirically with a single thought or event and often ending with an ingenious turn of thought2 : a terse, sage, or witty and often paradoxical saying3 : epigrammatic expression- epigrammatism \9e-p0-8gra-m0-9ti-z0m\ noun- epigrammatist \-8gra-m0-tist\ noun [42]

Eponym: A person, real or imaginary, from whom something, as in a tribe, nation or place, takes or is said to take its name. [8]

Erudite: Learned or scholarly. [5]

Eschatological: of or relating to the end of the world.

Etiology: The study of causation. [4]

Etymology: An account of the particular history of a word. [4]

Exegesis: Explanation or interpretation, especially of Scripture. [ix]

Explicate: To make plain or clear; explain; interpret. [21]

Expository: Serving to expound, set forth or explain. [25]


Fin de siecle: : of, relating to, or characteristic of the close of the 19th century and especially its literary and artistic climate of sophistication, world-weariness, and fashionable despair [127]

Frictional: Moved, worked or produced by friction. [13]

Hekhalotic: Hebrew [136]

Hendiadys: A figure in which a complex idea is expressed by two words connected by a copulative conjunction: “To look with eyes and envy,” instead of “To look with envious eyes.” [8]

Hermeneutics: The science of interpretation, especially of Scripture. [xi]

Heuristic: A teaching method encouraging the students to discover for themselves. [xii]

Historiography: The body of techniques, theories and principles of historical research and presentation. [29]

Homily: 1 : a usually short sermon 2 : a lecture or discourse on or of a moral theme 3 : an inspirational catchphrase; also : PLAT. [49]

Hypostases: 1 a : something that settles at the bottom of a fluid b : the settling of blood in the dependent parts of an organ or body 2 : PERSON 3 3 a : the substance or essential nature of an individual b : something that is hypostatized 4 [New Latin, from Late Latin] : failure of a gene to produce its usual effect when coupled with another gene that is epistatic toward it- hypostatic \9hÚ-p0-8sta-tik\ adjective- hypostatically \-ti-k(0-)lÎ\ adverb [131]

Idiosyncrasy: A characteristic, habit, mannerism that is peculiar to an individual [30]

Imperious: Urgent; commanding; domineering; overbearing. [11]

Introit: A choral response sung at the beginning of a religious service.[27]

Karaite: : a Jewish doctrine originating in Baghdad in the 8th century that rejects rabbinism and talmudism and bases its tenets on Scripture alone- Karaite \-9Út\ noun [143]

Kerygma: The preaching of the gospel of Jesus, especially in the manner of the early church. [14]

Laconic: Concise, expressing in a few words. [4]

Lection: 1 : a liturgical lesson for a particular day2 [New Latin lection-, lectio, from Latin] : a variant reading of a text [107]

Lectionary: a book or list of lections for the church year [107]

Lemma: A subsidiary proposition introduced in proving some other proposition; a helping theorem. [26]

Lexical: Of or pertaining to the words or vocabulary of a language, especially as contrasted with its grammatical or syntactical aspects. [24]

Liturgy: A form of public worship, ritual. [29]

Locus: A place, locality.[xii]

Locution: 1 : a particular form of expression or a peculiarity of phrasing; especially : a word or expression characteristic of a region, group, or cultural level2 : style of discourse : PHRASEOLOGY [48]

Logia: Plural of logion – a traditional saying of a religious teacher. [29]

Lucianic: Lucian the Martyr, 240-312 CE, theologian and bible critic born a Samosata, in Syria. [15]

Macaronic: Composed of a mixture of languages. [13]

Mantic: Having the power of divination. [33]

Metaphor: The application of a word or phrase to an object which it does not literally denote in order to suggest comparison with another object or concept, as in “A mighty fortress is our God.” [30]

Metaphysical: Concerned with abstract thought or subjects. [19]

Metonymy: The use of the name of one object or concept for that of another to which it is related, or of which it is a part as “scepter” for “sovereignty” or “the bottle” for “strong drink.” [14]

Mimesis: Imitation or reproduction of the supposed words of another as in order to represent their character. [11]

Modus vivendi: 1 : a feasible arrangement or practical compromise; especially : one that bypasses difficulties 2 : a manner of living : a way of life [143]

Nihilism: Total rejection of established laws and institutions. [xi]

Obviate: To prevent or eliminate by effective measures; render unnecessary. [28]

Ode: A poem intended to be sung. [4]

Oneiric: : of or relating to dreams : DREAMY- oneirically \-ri-k(0-)lÃŽ\ adverb

Paradigmatic: 1 : EXAMPLE, PATTERN; especially : an outstandingly clear or typical example or archetype 2 : an example of a conjugation or declension showing a word in all its inflectional forms 3 : a philosophical and theoretical framework of a scientific school or discipline within which theories, laws, and generalizations and the experiments performed in support of them are formulated- paradigmatic \9par-0-dig-8ma-tik\ adjective- paradigmatically \-ti-k(0-)lÃŽ\ adverb [164]

Parataxis: The placing together of sentences, clauses or phrases without a conjunctive word as “Hurry up, it is getting late!” [14]

Paronomasia: The use of a word in a different senses or the use of words similar in sound to achieve a specific effect as humor or a dual meaning; punning. [16]

Pars pro toto: “Part [taken] for the whole. [78]

Pericope: a selection from a book; specifically : LECTION 1 [50]

Peroration: 1 : the concluding part of a discourse and especially an oration 2 : a highly rhetorical speech- perorational \9per-0-8rÀ-shn0l, 9p0r-, -sh0-n0l\ adjective [106]

Perspicuous: : of acute mental vision or discernment : KEEN synonyms see SHREWD- perspicaciously adverb- perspicaciousness noun- perspicacity \-8ka-s0-tÃŽ\ noun [142]

Petihta: Hebrew [107]

Pleonasm: 1 : the use of more words than those necessary to denote mere sense (as in the man he said) : REDUNDANCY2 : an instance or example of pleonasm- pleonastic \9plÃŽ-0-8nas-tik\ adjective- pleonastically \-ti-k(0-)lÃŽ\ adverb [24]

Polysemous: : having multiple meanings- polysemy \-mÃŽ\ noun [129]

Proclitic: (of a word) closely connected with the preceding word and not having an independent accent or phonological status. (see Enclitic) [15]

Proem: 1 : preliminary comment : PREFACE 2 : PRELUDE- proemial \pr-8ÃŽ-mÃŽ-0l, -8e-\ adjective [106]

Propound: to offer for discussion or consideration- propounder noun [165]

Prosaic: 1 a : characteristic of prose as distinguished from poetry : FACTUAL b : DULL, UNIMAGINATIVE2 : EVERYDAY, ORDINARY- prosaically \-8zÀ-0-k(0-)lÎ\ adverb [120]

Pseudepigrapha: Non-canonical writings professing to be Biblical in character. [xi]

Putative: 1 : commonly accepted or supposed 2 : assumed to exist or to have existed- putatively adverb [107]

Recension: An editorial revision of a literary work, especially on the basis of critical examination resulting from such revisions.[15]

Recherché: 1 a : EXQUISITE, CHOICE b : EXOTIC, RARE2 : excessively refined : AFFECTED3 : PRETENTIOUS, OVERBLOWN [92]

Sectaries: Plural of Sectary, a member of a sect, especially an adherent of a religious body regarded as heretical or schismatic. [20]

Semantic: Pertaining to, or arising from, the different meanings of words or other symbols. [30]

Semiotic: : a general philosophical theory of signs and symbols that deals especially with their function in both artificially constructed and natural languages and comprises syntactics, semantics, and pragmatics- semiotic adjective- semiotician \-0-8ti-sh0n\ noun- semioticist \-8-t0-sist\ noun [128] Compare to “ideonic.”

Signification: Meaning; import; sense. [33]

Simile: A figure of speech in which two unlike things are explicitly compared, as in “She is like a rose.” [n/a]

Skein: A length of yarn or thread wound on a reel for use in manufacturing. [25]

Stychomythia: dialogue especially of altercation or dispute delivered by two actors in alternating lines (as in classical Greek drama) [4]

Syndetic: Serving to unite or connect; conjunctive. [14]

Synoptic: Affording or taking a general view or the principal parts of a subject. [13]

Syntactic: Of or pertaining to syntax; consisting of or noting morphemes which are combined in the same order as they would be if they were separate words in a corresponding construction: “blackberry.” [23]

Tautology: Needless repetition of a idea, especially in words other than those of the immediate context, without imparting additional force or clearness, as in “widow woman.”[6]

Teleology: The doctrine that final causes exist; the study of the evidences of design or purpose in nature. [15]

Theosophy: 1 : teaching about God and the world based on mystical insight 2 often capitalized : the teachings of a modern movement originating in the U.S. in 1875 and following chiefly Buddhist and Brahmanic theories especially of pantheistic evolution and reincarnation- theosophical \9thÃŽ-0-8s-fi-k0l\ adjective- theosophically \-k(0-)lÃŽ\ adverb [131]

Topoi: Plural of Topos, a traditional or conventional literary or rhetorical theme or topic. [21]

Toponyms: A name derived from the name of a place. [21]

Weltanschauung: The philosophy of an individual or a group, especially a race with an interpretation of world history or civilization. [x]

Zeitgeist: The spirit of the time; a general trend of thought or feeling characteristic of a particular period of time. [xii]

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