I’d like to spend a little time sharing where I think The Oldest Midrash and The Institute of Midrashic Studies of the New Testament fits into history.
We know that there was a Midrash of Iddo from 2 Chronicles 13:22 where Scripture records, “The rest of the acts of Abijah, his ways, and his sayings are written in the commentary of the prophet Iddo.” The word “commentary” in that verse is the Hebrew word “Midrash”. Iddo lived around 931 BC during the reign of Rehoboam, son of Solomon. We don’t know what Iddo’s Midrash contained other that the acts and life of Abijah nor do we know the methodology or principles of that commentary, only like many ancient manuscripts that are lost literary works.
We also know that there was a school of the prophets as recorded in 1 Samuel 19:18-24 and 2 Kings 2:1-22 and 4:38-44 during the Tabernacle era onward although similarly we don’t know the methodology or principles of learning the prophetic word that became the prophetic books of Scripture.
The Second Temple era lasted from 516 BC to 70 AD when the destruction of Jerusalem occurred. With that destruction literary works must have perished because Jewish literary works are lost until the Mishnah of the Second Century. The known Jewish Midrashim were written between 300 and 1400 AD. The Talmud was compiled in the 4th and 5th centuries.
Jewish scholars in the relatively recent past have been searching the New Testament to determine any clues as to the thought processes that would help bridge the understanding between Jewish literature of the Second Temple Era and the Second Century Era. Paul’s Midrash of the Hexateuch and Isaiah in seven of his letters appears to be that bridge.
Jacob Neusner who wrote some 700 books, in 2005 in Encyclopaedia of Midrash Biblical Interpretation in Formative Judaism Volume One page 199 stated “If by Midrash we mean free commentary on biblical texts through narrative expansion, quotation of masters of the past, and diverse forms of reasoning, there is no Jewish text written in Greek that is in every respect midrashic.”
Paul’s Midrash, The Oldest Midrash has turned that statement upside down and appears to be the bridge between the Second Temple Era and the Second Century Era that has been looked for by Jewish academicians. The Hebrew word Midrash is not known by Christians so Paul’s Midrash is a bridge to the Jewish roots of Christianity as well as a bridge for Jews to evaluate the Midrash in the New Testament.
The Oldest Midrash and The Institute of Midrashic Studies of the New Testament is on a busy bridge!
The first two fellows of the Institute have begun writing their first scholarly articles to be submitted to theological journals by the end of 2021 and will include Jewish principles of interpreting Scripture and Jewish traditions as well as previously undiscovered areas of interpretation by Christian and Jewish commentators.
You can be a part of this exciting bridge building endeavor with your generous giving to help fund the stipends given to the seminary students at ntmidrash.com.