The Institute of Midrashic Studies of the New Testament
Now in our fifth quarter, the Institute including the Director and the four fellows has submitted eight articles to peer-reviewed theological journals. One of these articles has been accepted for publication and will be published this spring. Four other articles are still being refereed by the Westminster Theological Journal, the oldest theological journal in the US, and Dr. Pitcher has been in contact with the editor of that journal. A second grant from the Nathaniel Foundation has been received for a total of $53,500 from that Foundation for the five quarters. Another $31,000 has been received from individual donors over the same period.
Long-term Goal over the Next Four Years
The Executive Director Gidon Ariel and I agreed that a theological degree would be a better platform to academically direct the seminarians than a medical degree and I have completed the first semester of that degree at the John W. Rawlings School of Divinity at Liberty University to pursue a Doctorate of Biblical Languages. During March and April, I’ll be submitting a “Capstone internship” entitled “Midrashic Hermeneutics of the New Testament” that will include revised lecture slides for 250 lectures and 250 three-minute teaching videos summarizing the lectures for the internship goals. This will be in anticipation that I’ll be allowed to do a dissertation on the same subject to be used as the academic textbook for the Institute. And in the spring we’ll be looking for new fellows for the Institute.
The long-term goal is for the Institute to be associated with and funded by one or more seminaries overseen by Root Source. Midrashic principles in the New Testament are a wholly unchartered area of hermeneutics for Christians. I have formulated three principles to guide the research:
1) The findings must be reproducible by others, that is, there must be a logical methodology to its thesis (without mental acrobatics).
2) The findings must point to the original reasoning of Scripture without any change in doctrine (even leading to the understanding of the prophets).
3) The credible patterns of argument must carry the power that is capable of convincing by itself but leading to a stronger conviction of faith in Jesus the Messiah.
Additionally, briefly, it appears that there are three components to Paul’s commentary of the Hebrew Scriptures. In Neusner’s Encyclopaedia of Midrash it is 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.” The two roles of leadership include the visionary role and the implementation role. “Setting the course” has involved providing visual parameters. For example Paul’s Hellenistic Jewish Midrash can be diagrammatically simplified with a Venn diagram with three components: Jewish elements, Hellenistic elements and other elements. Figure 1.) Such guidance assists the seminarians to stay on the same page as a group.
Figure 1. Venn diagram illustrating the three components of the Hellenistic Midrash. Some components are recognized as Judaic and Hellenistic. There are Roman and mathematical principles that fall into the “Other principles” category.
1 Folker Siegert, “Hellenistic Jewish Midrash, I: Beginnings,” in Encyclopaedia of Midrash: Biblical Interpretation in Formative Judaism, Volume One, ed. Jacob Neusner and Alan J. Avery-Peck (Atlanta: SBL Press, 2005), 199.
2 Blanchard, Kenneth H. and Phil Hodges. Lead Like Jesus Revisited: Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Model of all Time. Nashville, TN: W. Pub. Group, 2005, 142.