02.02.15 Midrash. The Midrash is a Jewish commentary on the Old Testament. The name means to investigate, to search, or to study, is based on the reference by the prophet Iddo (2 Ch. 13:22). Synagogues had a room known as the beit Midrash, meaning house of interpretation, dedicated to the study of Scripture. The tradition of the Midrash is, no doubt, as old as the written Scripture, but by the first century it was the commentary on the Hebrew Bible.
The Midrashim (plural form) are thought to be commentaries on historical narratives that evidently were used extensively by Ezra (7:10) upon his return from Babylonian captivity. At the time, the Torah was accepted as the sole authority of the Word of God. Some scholars believe the Midrashim were part of the Oral Law and not recorded until the second or third century A.D.
But this document became a point of controversy between the Sadducees, who were literal interpreters of the Torah, and the Pharisees, who upheld the Oral Law. The focus of attention was on the application of the Mosaic books to daily life in a culture that had radically changed in the fourteen centuries since Moses wrote them. While the Midrash is not mentioned in the New Testament, it and the Oral Law were certainly at the root of some heated discussions between Jesus and his opponents.
. Spangler and Tverberg, Sitting at the Feet. 25.
. Harrison, “Midrash.” 351.
. Goulder, Midrash and Lection in Matthew. 28.
. Lee, The Galilean Jewishness of Jesus. 60-61.
. Coker, “Midrash.” 4:222-23.