(C2-22) Transfer of Traditions in Medieval Jewish Compilation Literature (Yalqut Shimoni and Midrash ha-Gadol)

In several respects, the two major medieval exegetical collections, the Yalqut Shimoni – a collection of rabbinic interpretations of the entire Hebrew bible, which originated in 13th-14th Century Ashkenaz – and the Midrash ha-Gadol – a collection of rabbinic interpretations of the Pentateuch, which was authored in 13th–14th Century Yemen – are of central relevance with regard to the transfer of tradition(s): on the one hand, these collections, which are intensively received in their respective cultural environment, shed light on the intra Jewish transfer of tradition(s) and their author’s understanding of tradition. On the other hand, they offer the possibility of investigating the extent to which the engagement with other religions (with Christianity in the case of the Yalqut Shimoni and with Islam in the case of the Midrash ha-Gadol) has influenced the intra Jewish understanding of ‘tradition’.

The Yalqut Shimoni was intensively studied even by Christian theologians as a source of information about rabbinic teachings. Over the centuries, the work was frequently misused for anti-Jewish polemics. At the same time, the Yalqut Shimoni was listed on the “Index Librorum Prohibitorum” and remained there until the Second Vatican Council.

Since both the Yalqut Shimoni and the Midrash ha-Gadol employ quite a few rabbinic sources that are no longer extant in their original form and not cited elsewhere, research until recently focused more or less on the philological task of reconstructing these sources. In contrast to that, the present project for the first time investigates these two collections from the perspective of Jewish intellectual history and cultural studies systematically as literary works in their own right and aims to appraise exemplarily the different and multi-faceted processes of the transfer of tradition(s) in the Yalqut Shimoni and the Midrash ha-Gadol against their cultural and historical backgrounds. In the end, the established term of ‘compilation literature’ commonly applied to these works will be redefined.

The Project is part of interconnecting platform F Transcultural Entanglements and coordinated project group Exchange among and between ‘world religions’: appropriation – transformation – demarcation.