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The Exegetical Imagination

The Exegetical Imagination

On Jewish Thought and Theology

Michael Fishbane

ISBN 9780674274624

Publication date: 10/30/1998

Exegesis--interpretation and explanation of sacred texts--is the quintessence of rabbinic thought. Through such means and methods, the written words of Hebrew Scripture have been extended since antiquity, and given new voices for new times. In this lucid and often poetic book, Michael Fishbane delineates the connections between biblical interpretation and Jewish religious thought.

How can a canon be open to new meanings, given that it is believed to be immutable? Fishbane discusses the nature and rationale of this interpretative process in a series of studies on ancient Jewish speculative theology. Focusing on questions often pondered in Midrash, he shows how religious ideas are generated or justified by exegesis. He also explores the role exegesis plays in liturgy and ritual. A striking example is the transfer of speculative interpretations into meditation in prayer. Cultivation of the ability to perceive many implicit meanings in a text or religious practice can become a way of living--as Fishbane shows in explaining how such notions as joy or spiritual meditations on death can be idealized and the ideal transmitted through theological interpretation. The Exegetical Imagination is a collection of interrelated essays that together offer new and profound understanding of scriptural interpretation and its central role in Judaism.

Praise

  • One of the leading specialists in the history of Jewish interpretation of the Bible has here applied himself to the broader matter of Jewish hermeneutic and how it is employed in the theology, mythology and theosophy of Judaism...A sound and useful corrective to those with a narrower notion of Jewish exegesis.

    —S. C. Reif, Society for Old Testament Study [UK]

Author

  • Michael Fishbane is Nathan Cummings Professor of Jewish Studies, and Chair of the Committee on Jewish Studies, at the University of Chicago. Among his many books are Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel and Judaism: Revelation and Traditions.

Book Details

  • 248 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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