Midrash: Ancient Bible Study for a Postmodern World – Part 2

Part 2: Jots and Tittles – Applying Midrash to the Words of Jesus

In my previous blog post on Midrash, I reflected on the dilemma in which the Church finds itself today: attempting to apply univocal, linear approaches to the study and interpretation of Scripture in a world in which both science and theology have discredited Enlightenment Modernism’s promise that human reason could arrive at objectively certain, universal truths in all areas of human knowledge, including religion.

To extricate ourselves from this predicament, I suggested, we need a deeper approach to the study of Scripture – one that would allow us to “triangulate in on the truth” by harnessing the Bible’s multiple voices – and that such an approach already existed in the ancient Jewish method of Bible study and interpretation known as Midrash, the workings of which I then set about to explain.

Having set forth the principles and the process of Midrash, I would like to invite my readers to participate in applying them. Over the next couple of weeks, I’d like to walk through the steps of Midrash with time in between each of the steps for your observations, comments, and questions. The text I have in mind is very familiar – the “jot and tittle” passage from Matthew, in which Jesus says “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass , one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Mt. 5:17-18 – KJV). Continue reading