Good morning everyone! (so much for weekly updates…but at least its more frequent than before)
Last night I began a class on the Prophetic Books of the Hebrew Bible. Well, actually, the first lecture was concerning how to understand interpreting the Bible. It mostly consisted of us reviewing how you can see the Bible historically, as literature and theological. It was interesting and lively as a lecture and a discussion.
In the midst of the lecture we came across an interesting topic that I thought would be perfect for another blog entry. Especially since its still technically January and I missed Epiphany. My professor (Dr. Tremper Longman) mentioned that another biblical scholar Robert H. Gundry has written a commentary on Matthew where the story of the wise isn’t a historical Gospel / tale as many people have interpreted, but a mid rash. This is significant I think (and makes a lot more sense.) Let me explain.
A midrash is a Jewish tradition where characters in the Bible and their tales are expanded on to further explanation a theological point or argue a certain teaching or perspective. The most well-known is the book The Red Tent however there are several more out there on Sarah, figures like Jacob & David. I think Mr. Gundry has a point. Ironically, the wise men story is only found within one Gospel (Matthew) and it is an unusual story consider what elements are standard within the Christmas tale. However, thinking back throughout the Biblical narrative, the added story of the wise men as a Midrash pointing to the involvement of the Gentiles into the Jewish story makes perfect sense. Look at Ruth… the tale of strangers coming into town.
Of course I would like to expand on this further…but class is about to start ;- )