The Return of the Repressed

Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer and the Pseudepigrapha


This study analyzes mythic narratives, found in the 8th century midrashic text Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer (PRE), that were excluded, or ‘repressed’, from the rabbinic canon, while preserved in the Pseudepigrapha of the Second Temple period. Examples include the role of the Samael (i.e. Satan) in the Garden of Eden, the myth of the Fallen Angels, Elijah as zealot, and Jonah as a Messianic figure. The questions are why these exegetical traditions were excluded, in what context did they resurface, and how did the author have access to these apocryphal texts. The book addresses the assumptions that underlie classic rabbinic literature and later breaches of that exegetical tradition in PRE, while engaging in a study of the genre, dating, and status of PRE as apocalyptic eschatology.

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Rachel Adelman, (Ph.D. Hebrew University of Jerusalem 2008) was a post-doctoral fellow in Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto in 2007-2008. She now teaches Bible and Rabbinics at Miami University, Ohio, and also lectures widely abroad.
Adelman's book belongs on the shelf of any scholar interested in the later midrashic literature. It contains excellent, sophisticated, and readable interpretations of some of the theological passages in Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer and
demystifies some of the contextual issues related to this work.

Rivka B. Ulmer, Bucknell University

'This is very important work for anyone seriously interested in midrashic literature. For scholars who are familiar with the study of midrash, it is enjoyable and engaging.

Yoram Bitton, Columbia University, New York, NY

Adelman is to be commended for the depth of her research, inlcuding primary sources and a vast expanse of secondary literature, and for her consistently interesting and innovative exploration of selected parts of one of the most intriguing works of late midrashic literature

Marc Bregman, Catholic Biblical Quarterly 74
Those interested in biblical exegesis, the relationship between law and narrative, theology of evil, Second Temple Literature and Midrash.
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