Restoring the Narrative: Jewish and Christian Exegesis in the Twelfth Century
In the past decades, the concept of narrative has emerged as a significant theoretical framework across the spectrum of scholarly disciplines. Narrative—the construction of story—is central to defining the self and, by extension, one's community. This chapter places 12th-century Jewish and Christian biblical exegetes squarely within the argument over the construction of narrative or story. The Hebrew Bible, with its amalgam of narrative and non-narrative genres, has its parallel in the Christian scriptures, whose Gospels are constructed of mixed genres and whose Epistles, with their arguments and exhortations, have, over the centuries, taxed the patience of many exegetes and preachers. In both Solomon ben Isaac (Rashi, 1040–1105) and the monk Andrew of Saint Victor, modern readers can discern the concerns of medieval readers. For the Jews in the late 11th century, their lowly status and the growing strength of the Christian Church were the source of some anxiety about the possibilities of future redemption.
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