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Jewish Interpretation of the Bible

Ancient and Contemporary

by Karin Hedner Zetterholm

Publication Year: 2012

Although Jewish tradition gives tremendous importance to the Hebrew Bible, from the beginning Jewish interpretation of those scriptures has been practiced with remarkable freedom. Karin Hedner Zetterholm introduces the legal, theological, and historical presuppositions that shaped the dominant stream of rabbinic interpretation, including Mishnah, Talmud, and Midrashim, discussing examples of different interpretive methods, and explores the contours of Jewish biblical interpretation evident in the New Testament and the legacy of ancient traditions in the way different Jewish movements read the Bible today. Students of the history of biblical interpretation and of Judaism will find this an important and engaging resource.

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiii

This book was originally written in Swedish with a general Swedish audience in mind, and to a large extent it has evolved around questions about Jewish tradition posed to me over the years by students and the public at large. These questions typically revolve around the ability of Jewish tradition to change and adapt ...


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pp. xiv-15

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Chapter 1. Continuity and Change in Rabbinic Judaism

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pp. 1-38

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam share a common concern, namely how to preserve a connection and commitment to ancient Holy Scriptures and their traditional interpretations while at the same time adapting them to the present reality. Too much focus on preserving a literal understanding of Holy Scriptures and tradition leads to a situation ...

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Chapter 2. Tradition in the Making—The Mishnah and the Talmuds

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pp. 39-68

The Mishnah is one of the earliest rabbinic works and as such a very important one. It is primarily a collection of legal traditions attributed to rabbis who lived during the first two centuries C.E. According to tradition, it was edited by Yehudah ha-Nasi (Yehudah the Patriarch) at the beginning of the third century. ...

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Chapter 3. Rabbinic Biblical Interpretation—Midrash

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pp. 69-110

The rabbis’ expansions on the Bible always take as their point of departure something in the verse that appeared problematic to them. Such problems could be anything from a textual detail—an unusual word, grammatical form, or spelling, a repetition, omission, or a contradiction between two verses—to wide-ranging theological problems ...

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Chapter 4. The Jewish Character of the Early Jesus Movement

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pp. 111-144

Christianity traces its origins to an inner-Jewish movement that grew out of Second Temple Judaism, and should accordingly be placed in that context and understood against the background of ideas, interests, and concerns prevalent in Jewish society at that time. ...

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Chapter 5. Continuity and Change in Contemporary Judaism

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pp. 145-188

After the diversion to the Jesus movement in the previous chapter, we now return to rabbinic Judaism and direct our attention to its development in modern times, in particular to the ways in which the various denominations of contemporary Judaism handle the tension between continuity with the past and adaptation to the present. ...


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pp. 189-191


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pp. 192-203

Index of Ancient Sources

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pp. 204-208

Index of Names and Subjects

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pp. 209-210

Back Cover

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p. 226-226

E-ISBN-13: 9781451424386
E-ISBN-10: 1451424388
Print-ISBN-13: 9780800697983
Print-ISBN-10: 0800697987

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2012