The Institute for Midrashic Studies of the New Testament

Putting the Puzzle of Paul’s Midrash Together

During the Fellows Meeting on October 25, 2021, we described our journey discovering Paul’s Midrash of seven books of the Tanakh in seven of his letters as like putting together a puzzle without knowing the picture on the cover of the puzzle box nor having the edge puzzle pieces. However, we do have some knowledge of some of the puzzle pieces. We have identified that Paul has both used principles of Jewish exegesis and the Hellenistic Aristotelian rhetoric. The fellows have begun the process of writing articles for theological journals and in the process are discovering the methods Paul used. Here are the pieces of the puzzle that we have identified so far:

  1. The Framework of Paul’s Midrash (we will discover next week this is Aristotle’s “paradigm” or model) delineates the Midrash and the Source Text into “sections” taking words from the LXX and putting them into his letters
  2. The PaRDeS—we are examining the Peshat, the Remez, the Derash, and the Sod to see if we can reconstruct how the PaRDeS might have been applied in the First Century.
  3. Hillel Principles (middot)—we have seen three (four if you count hekesh) of his principles used so far. Eventually, we will see all of them…
    • Gezerah Shavah
    • Binyan av mi-katuv ehad
    • (hekesh)
    • Kelal uferat-perat vekelal

  4.  Aristotelian Rhetoric—we have examined the enthymeme so far. Next week we will see the other two components—the maxim and the paradigm.
  5. Semiotics—we have looked at a syntagmatic analysis in Hebrews 7 as well as word association; we have also seen how allusion, word pictures and echoes were used by Paul. We have seen how Paul uses metalepsis—a whispered or unstated correspondence with a text entailing the recovery of the suppressed material and creating a resonance between the two texts.
  6. New Word Formation—we have seen how Paul used affixation in new word-formation to describe the uniqueness of his message. We will look at the other 3 ways new words were formed by Paul in the upcoming weeks.
  7. Logic—we have seen how Paul applied the Transitive Law of Mathematics in his Midrash.
  8. Hapax Legomenon—we are discovering how Paul used sole use words to further refine his Midrash.
  9. Principle of First Use—we are discovering this controversial principle may not for long be considered controversial and the LXX’s first use of words as assigned by the Jewish sages is key to Midrashic Hermeneutics.
  10. Contextual Proofing—we have seen how Paul’s Midrash is able to resolve some textual controversies. We will see more of the details of this puzzle piece in future weeks.
  11. Chiasm—finally the Judaic literary structure of the Hebrew Scriptures was used by Paul in his letters!

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