Judaism/history:Bible to 1492 essay

Judaism/history:Bible to 1492 essay
Based on Barry Holtz’s chapter on Midrash, write a short paper discussing this genre of biblical commentary. What are the purposes of midrash? How does it work? What is it about the origins and nature of the Torah’s text that makes midrash possible?

To illustrate your discussion with a specific example, analyze a section from Midrash Rabbah on the Book of Genesis (section 9 on page 8 in your printouts).

Midrash Rabbah on the Book of Genesis contains a (fictitious?) dialogue between a Greek philosopher and R. Gamaliel about a precise meaning of the account of creation in the first chapter of Genesis. After carefully studying the dialogue, analyze the two interpretations of the account of creation introduced in the dialogue. In order to do that you will have to read the first chapter of Genesis, especially Gen 1:1-19. Its text is potentially ambiguous. Apparently R. Gamaliel and the philosopher interpret this text in two different ways. What is the difference? Why is it so important from theological point of view?

A well-written paper will have a concise introduction to the general topic of the paper, a clear thesis statement, and a carefully developed argument with specific examples supporting the thesis statement.

Your paper should be written according to the following guidelines.

Your paper should be no longer than three pages (typed, double-spaced) and should concisely, clearly express the results of careful thought and prior drafts. In the paper you turn in, don’t waste space with filler material.

Avoid generalities not supported with specific analysis and evidence. Anchor your paper in careful analysis of Holtz’s article and Midrash Rabbah, not in broad generalities about Judaism. You should cite specific passages from Holtz and Midrash Rabbah to support your argument.

Do not, however, include long quotations of passages. You are writing for an audience that has read these texts. Instead, quote only what is absolutely necessary for your analysis.

Make every paragraph, sentence, and word count. In three pages you don’t have space to waste.

The first paragraph of your paper should include a succinct statement of what you are going to argue to answer the questions posed by this assignment. The following paragraphs should develop your argument to support the thesis that you have stated in your opening paragraph. Your final paragraph should build on your argument to lead the reader into some implications of your thesis and argument for understanding the nature of midrash. Again, your argument must be supported by specific evidence from Holtz and Midrash Rabbah. You are trying to persuade the reader to agree with your thesis statement.

This assignment is not a research paper, but you should (as appropriate for your argument) interact with the readings and class discussions for the course. You are also free (but not required) to pursue outside reading. In any case, do not pass off the ideas of others as your own. Footnote your use of the ideas of others. For general citation guidelines, see Sources, Their Use and Acknowledgement (https://www.dartmouth.edu/~sources/). Use the note method of citation.

In general, material from the Internet has little value in lending support to your argument because most of the material has not been critically evaluated. Anyone can say anything on a Web page. Before you use information from the Internet, you must carefully evaluate its reliability. You have to ask yourself, for example, from where the information is coming. Don’t believe something just because it is on a Web page. You will lose points on your paper if you uncritically use material from the Internet. If you choose to include material from the Internet, you must cite the source of the information.

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