The formation of some biblical books, according to Rashi

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Twelfth-century Jewish exegetes who engaged in peshat interpretation of the Hebrew Bible were interested in issues of a sort that today would be termed 'higher criticism', asking questions about the authorship and formation of biblical books. Although there is substantial scholarship on this subject, there has not been a study devoted to the position of Rashi (1040-1105), the most renowned and influential of medieval Jewish peshat exegetes. This article demonstrates that although Rashi did not directly engage in systematic investigation of these questions, he did have a coherent opinion, which can be recovered through careful examination of relevant comments dispersed throughout his works. In Rashi's view, most biblical books were composed in a two-stage process: first an extended stage of writing, and then a gathering of the writings and compilation into a book. This second stage of collection and compilation took place in the latter years of the authors' lives. Rashi reached his position by means of dependence upon rabbinic sources and close reading of the Bible. Since his stance influenced his students, and his students' students, this topic underscores links between rabbinic thought and medieval Jewish peshat exegesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-42
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Theological Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies


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