Dialogical reading in the rabbinic exegetical narrative

Joshua Levinson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


This article investigates the reading dynamics of the rewritten Bible or the exegetical narrative in rabbinic literature of late antiquity. The exegetical narrative is composed of a story which simultaneously represents and interprets its biblical counterpart. Its singularity resides precisely in this synergy of narrative and exegesis. As exegesis, it creates new meanings from the biblical verses, and as narrative, it dramatizes those meanings by means of the biblical story world. The concurrent presence of two distinct voices, biblical and rabbinic, as well as two distinct types of discourse, narrative and exegetical, that navigate between these voices, creates a unique type of reading dynamic that I call dialogical reading. It is this dynamic that enables the midrashic text to create new meanings from old and highlights the challenge this genre presents to the theory of reading.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)497-528
Number of pages32
JournalPoetics Today
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004


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