Page 21 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 40

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M idrash and the U se o f the O ld Te stam en t in the New T e s ta ­
ment” needs to be brou gh t up to date ; focus at this stage shou ld be
on m idrash fo r its own sake and not merely in re ference to the
New Te stam en t . Som eth ing sim ilar to Baruch B ok se r ’s extensive
“An Anno tated B ib liograph ical Gu ide to the Study o f the Pales­
tinian T a lm u d ” or B e rn ard G ro ss fe ld ’s Bibliography o f Targum
Literature shou ld be undertaken for the field o f m idrash and
published in an easily acquirab le form . Ultimately, there must be
a com pu ter pro ject sim ilar to the one fo r Patristic literature ,
listing every biblical re ference and where it a pp e a rs in the totality
o f m idrash ic literature.
T ow n send ’s b ib liograph ies do contain listings o f translations o f
m id ra sh into m odern E u ro p e an langu age s . F o r the English
re ader much is available. It will requ ire the publication o f new
editions o f the various collections found in the Midrash Rabba
befo re anyone should undertake a translation pro ject to replace
the Midrash o f the Soncino Press. Th e world o f Jew ish letters owes
an enorm ou s debt o f app rec iation to William G. B r au d e who has
translated the Midrash on Psalms, Pesikta Rabbati and with Israel
Kapste in , Pesikta deRab Kahana and most recently Tanna debe
Eliyyahu. Scholars may contest this or that specific translation , or
question whether all requisite manuscripts were utilized, o r d iffer
rega rd in g the popu lar iz ing goals o f these translations. Neverthe­
less, given the vastness o f the material, the nature o f absorb ing
interpretation into translation , and the difficulties o f tran s form ­
ing the Rabbinic idiom into an understandab le contemporary
language , B rau d e has excelled.
T h e view sometimes exp re ssed by scholars that the study o f
m idrash (or o f Rabbinic literature) is still in its infancy, is only
partially correct. Th is survey and the accompany ing bibliography
are meant to be suggestive and fo r the English reader . Num erou s
items in Hebrew and G erm an are regretfu lly excluded . T h e
maxim from The Ethics of the Fathers playfully eases the conscience,
while u rg in g on: “ ’T is not yours to finish the task, but neither are
you free to desist from it a ltogether .”
Appreciation is herewith expressed to the Hebrew Union College and
the Alexander Von Homboldt Stiftung for the sabbatical support which
provided the opportunity to review the material included here.