In The Origins of Midrash: From Teaching to Text, Paul Mandel presents a comprehensive study of the words darash and midrash from the Bible until the early rabbinic periods (3rd century CE). In contrast to current understandings in which the words are identified with modes of analysis of the biblical text, Mandel claims that they refer to instruction in law and not to an interpretation of text.
Mandel traces the use of these words as they are associated with the scribe (sofer), the doresh ha-torah in the Dead Sea scrolls, the “exegetes of the laws” in the writings of Josephus and the rabbinic “sage” (ḥakham), showing the development of the uses of midrash as a form of instruction throughout these periods.
Paul D. Mandel, Ph.D. in Hebrew Literature (1997), Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is Senior Lecturer at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. He has published articles on aspects of early Jewish biblical interpretation, Qumran literature and rabbinic texts.
In re-opening the question of the origins of midrash, Mandel has written a book that forces us to rethink some of the essential features of Jewish literary culture. This book will surely have a lasting impact on the study of one of the most formative shifts in the history of Judaism. - Yitz Landes, in: Ancient Jew Review The detailed linguistic investigation of the terms midrash, darash and hakham in their historical developments presented in this book offer a necessary corrective to scholars who juggle with “midrash” and “aggadah” as if these terms are obvious, unchanging and mutually interchangeable. - Lieve Teugels, in: Journal for the Study of Judaism Mandel brings to the topic great philological precision along with an ability to maintain focus on the central questions… The author is very sophisticated in his approach to text… The text is fully documented and there are fascinating discussions in the notes. At the same time, Mandel does not take previous knowledge of the topic for granted and writes clearly so that the book is accessible to beginners.This is a well-written basic study of an important topic. - Shaul Stampfer, in: Religious Studies Review
All students and scholars of Second Temple period literature and early Jewish interpretation, especially those interested in midrash and early Jewish law and their relationship to the biblical text.