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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Scripture and Tradition: Rabbi Akiva and the Triumph of Midrash
Yadin-Israel, Azzan

Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014 pp. 320. $75.00

Series Information
Divinations: Rereading Late Ancient Religion


Description: The earliest rabbinic commentary to the Book of Leviticus, the Sifra, is generally considered an exemplum of Rabbi Akiva's intensely scriptural school of interpretation. But, Azzan Yadin-Israel contends, the Sifra commentary exhibits two distinct layers of interpretation that bring dramatically different assumptions to bear on the biblical text: earlier interpretations accord with the hermeneutic principles associated with Rabbi Ishmael, the other major school of early rabbinic midrash, while later additions subtly alter hermeneutic terminology and formulas, resulting in an engagement with Scripture that is not interpretive at all. Rather, the midrashic terminology in the Sifra's anonymous passages is part of what Yadin-Israel calls "a hermeneutic of camouflage," aimed at presenting oral traditions as though they were Scripture-based injunctions.

Subjects: Bible, Mishnah, Talmudic and Rabbinic Literature, Literature

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Review by Joshua Schwartz
Published 11/2/2017
Citation: Joshua Schwartz, review of Azzan Yadin-Israel, Scripture and Tradition: Rabbi Akiva and the Triumph of Midrash, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2017).


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