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Jewish and Black Biblical Interpretation


This is the fifth issue of Proceedings of the Midrash Section at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature published in this series, and contains six papers on Jewish and Black biblical hermeneutics with regard to Rabbinic Midrash.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-61143-924-3
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Publication Status: In Print

Series: Judaism in Context 16
Publication Date: Jul 24,2013
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 148
Languages: English, Hebrew
ISBN: 978-1-61143-924-3
$158.86
$95.32

This is the fifth issue of Proceedings of the Midrash Section at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature published in this series. This volume contains six papers on Jewish and Black biblical hermeneutics with regard to Rabbinic Midrash (the topic of the 2011 session) and on “underrepresented” Rabbinic texts that were the focus of the 2010 sessions. Wil Gafney raises and explores the issue of how Jewish and Black biblical hermeneutics inform issues of White and Black identity. W. David Nelson addresses the occurrence and dynamics of racial thought in Rabbinic Literature and the treatment of the issue in scholarship on Rabbinic Midrash. Rebecca Alpert analyzes and responds to the critical remarks by Charles Copher about midrashic traditions on the “Curse of Ham” in his seminal publication, “The Black Presence in the Old Testament.” Dominique-Jamal Hopkins utilizes racialized hermeneutics to examine critically the ethnocentric exegesis of Rabbinic Literature pertaining to the Noahic curse. Since these issues are both critical and challenging, there is a response by Stacy Davis and a rejoinder by Rivka Ulmer. Rachel Adelman engages with the topic of the bones of the Ephraimites and the Messiah in Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer, reviving Joseph Heinemann’s arguments regarding a parallel between the early Exodus of the Ephraimites and the Messiah. Laura Lieber addresses the prayer referred to as the ‘Groom’s Yotzer’ in light of Creation and its rabbinic, literary imagery.


W. David Nelson is a member of the Religion and Ethics Department at the Groton School. He was formerly the Rosenthal Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and Director of the Program in Jewish Studies at Texas Christian University and Brite Divinity School. Rivka Ulmer is Professor of Jewish Studies at Bucknell University; she was formerly the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Chair of Jewish Studies at Bucknell (2002–2008). They are the chairs of the Midrash Session at the SBL Annual Meetings. They have both published widely in the field of Jewish Studies, and particularly in the field of Midrash.

This is the fifth issue of Proceedings of the Midrash Section at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature published in this series. This volume contains six papers on Jewish and Black biblical hermeneutics with regard to Rabbinic Midrash (the topic of the 2011 session) and on “underrepresented” Rabbinic texts that were the focus of the 2010 sessions. Wil Gafney raises and explores the issue of how Jewish and Black biblical hermeneutics inform issues of White and Black identity. W. David Nelson addresses the occurrence and dynamics of racial thought in Rabbinic Literature and the treatment of the issue in scholarship on Rabbinic Midrash. Rebecca Alpert analyzes and responds to the critical remarks by Charles Copher about midrashic traditions on the “Curse of Ham” in his seminal publication, “The Black Presence in the Old Testament.” Dominique-Jamal Hopkins utilizes racialized hermeneutics to examine critically the ethnocentric exegesis of Rabbinic Literature pertaining to the Noahic curse. Since these issues are both critical and challenging, there is a response by Stacy Davis and a rejoinder by Rivka Ulmer. Rachel Adelman engages with the topic of the bones of the Ephraimites and the Messiah in Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer, reviving Joseph Heinemann’s arguments regarding a parallel between the early Exodus of the Ephraimites and the Messiah. Laura Lieber addresses the prayer referred to as the ‘Groom’s Yotzer’ in light of Creation and its rabbinic, literary imagery.


W. David Nelson is a member of the Religion and Ethics Department at the Groton School. He was formerly the Rosenthal Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and Director of the Program in Jewish Studies at Texas Christian University and Brite Divinity School. Rivka Ulmer is Professor of Jewish Studies at Bucknell University; she was formerly the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Chair of Jewish Studies at Bucknell (2002–2008). They are the chairs of the Midrash Session at the SBL Annual Meetings. They have both published widely in the field of Jewish Studies, and particularly in the field of Midrash.

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Contributor Biography

W. David Nelson

W. David Nelson is chair of the Department of Religion and Ethics at Groton School. Rivka Ulmer is Professor of Jewish Studies at Bucknell University, Pennsylvania. They serve as chairs of the Midrash Section for the Society of Biblical Literature. Both have published widely in the field of Midrash.

Rivka Ulmer

Rivka Ulmer (Ph.D. in Rabbinics, Goethe Universität, Frankfurt am Main; MA in Jewish Studies, Linguistics, American Studies; training in Egyptology; Certificate in Israel Studies, Brandeis U.) is Professor of Jewish Studies at Bucknell University, Pennsylvania; her research specialty is Midrash. She has published/edited nineteen books, including: Egyptian Cultural Icons in Midrash (de Gruyter, 2009); A Synoptic Edition of Pesiqta Rabbati Based Upon All Extant Hebrew Manuscripts and the Editio Princeps (1997-2002), Re-presenting Texts: Jewish and Black Biblical Interpretation: Proceedings of the 2010 and 2011 SBL Midrash Sections (ed. W. David Nelson and Rivka Ulmer; Gorgias Press, 2013); and numerous scholarly articles. Ulmer held The John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Chair in Jewish Studies at Bucknell University (2002-2007). She serves as the co-chair of the Midrash Section of the Society of Biblical Literature. Moshe Ulmer is a Rabbi (including a Master in Hebrew Letters) and a former attorney.

Rachel Adelman

Rebecca Alpert

Wil Gafney

Jamal-Dominique Hopkins

Laura Lieber

Stacy Davis

  • Copyright Page (page 4)
  • Table of Contents (page 5)
  • Introduction (page 7)
  • 1 Eurocentrism: The Tie That Binds Black Christian and White Jewish Biblical Scholarship (W. David Nelson) (page 11)
    • Race, Rabbinics and the Black Presence in the Old Testament (page 12)
    • Eurocentrism: The Tie that Binds Black Christian and White Jewish Scholarship (page 17)
    • Concluding Considerations (page 23)
  • 2 The Noahic Curse in Rabbinic Literature: Racialized Hermeneutics or Ethnocentric Exegesis (Jamal-Dominique Hopkins) (page 25)
    • Ideological Variance within Qumranic Literature (page 33)
    • MMT B 13…17 and 64…72„Notions of Purification (page 34)
  • 3 Translating Rabbinic Texts on the Curse of Ham: What We Learn from Charles Copher and his Critics (Rebecca Alpert) (page 39)
    • Cophers Role (page 42)
    • Lost in Translation (page 44)
    • A Question of Aesthetics? (page 46)
    • The Issue is Sexuality (page 47)
    • Conclusions (page 49)
    • Bibliography (page 50)
  • 4 It Does Matter if Youre Black Or White, Too-black or Too-white, but Mestizo is Just Right (Wil Gafney) (page 53)
  • 5 Response to W. David Nelson, Wil Gafney, Jamal-Dominique Hopkins, and Rebecca Alpert (Stacy Davis) (page 63)
    • Bibliography (page 72)
  • 6 Rejoinder: Black and Jewish Hermeneutics (Rivka Ulmer) (page 75)
  • 7 Preempting the Redemption: The Bones of the Ephraimites and the Messianic Pretender in Midrash Rachel Adelman) (page 87)
    • The Road Less Traveled (page 92)
      • Mekhilta Beshalla? 1 (Ed. Horovitz-rabin 75F.) (page 93)
    • In the Valley of Duma (page 96)
      • b. Sanhedrin 92b (page 96)
    • Miscalculating the End (page 100)
      • Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer Chapter 48 (page 102)
    • You Cant Hurry LoveƒŽ (page 105)
      • Canticles Rabbah 2:7 (page 106)
    • Who is the Messianic Pretender? (page 108)
    • Conclusion (page 110)
    • Appendix A: Chart Summarizing the Sources on the Legend of the Bones of the Ephraimites (page 112)
  • 8 The Poetry of Creation: Zevadiah and Amittais Yotzerot Le-Hatan (Grooms YotzersŽ) (Laura Lieber) (page 113)
    • Poetic Background; Midrashic Sources (page 115)
    • The Piyyutim (page 120)
    • Zevadiahs Yotzer Le-Hatan (page 122)
    • Amittais Yotzer Le-Hatan (page 128)
    • Analysis and Conclusion (page 133)
    • Appendix A: Zevadiahs Yotzer Le-Hatan (page 135)
    • Appendix B: Amittais Yotzer-le-Hatan (page 144)
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