Midrash, Myth, and Bakhtin's Chronotope: The Itinerant Well and the Foundation Stone in Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer

In: The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy


Throughout the midrash Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer (PRE), motifs are recycled to connect primordial time to the eschaton. In this paper, I read passages on the well “created at twilight of the Sixth Day” in light of Bakhtin's notion of “chronotope” (lit. time-space). The author of PRE disengages the itinerant well from its traditional association with the desert sojourn and links it, instead, to the foundation stone of the world (even shtiyah) at the Temple Mount. The midrash reflects the influence of Islamic legends about the “white stone” around which the Dome of the Rock was built (ca. 690 C.E.). Over the course of the discussion, PRE is understood in terms of the genre “narrative midrash” and compared to classical rabbinic literature in order to illustrate changes in both form and content arising from the author's apocalyptic eschatology.

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