Midrash

Professors

Alan Cooper, Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages

Benjamin D. Sommer, Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages

Burton L. Visotzky, Talmud and Rabbinics, Program Adviser

Associate Professor

Robert Harris, Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages

Marjorie Lehman, Talmud and Rabbinics

Assistant Professor

Walter Herzberg

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Gila Vachman

Adjunct Instructor

Yedida Eisenstat

The program in Midrash is interdisciplinary, designed to enable students to gain expertise in the broad varieties of rabbinic biblical exegesis and rabbinic narrative. Students are exposed to critical study of the Bible and rabbinic literature, current methodologies in the study of Midrash, and appropriate cognate literatures. Background is offered in the social history of late antiquity. A concentration in Midrash focuses on exegesis of biblical and rabbinic texts from the second century through the early medieval period.

The program emphasizes acquisition of critical methodologies current in the study of Midrash. To that end, students learn historical/critical techniques such as philology and historiography. At the same time, a focus is given to rabbinic narrative and students learn modern and postmodern literary theories, as well as feminist and gender readings. All texts are studied in the original and students are expected to develop fluency in those languages as well as competence in cognate languages. Graduates of the various programs teach at universities throughout North America, Europe, and Israel.

Degrees

Bachelor of Arts

Admission Requirements
See the List College Admissions page.

Degree Requirements
From the Core Curriculum

  • One 1000-level Talmud course, e.g. TAL 1011, Introduction to Rabbinic Literature (3 credits)
  • One 3000-level Talmud text course (3 credits)

For Midrash Majors

30 credits (generally 10 courses) chosen in consultation with the major advisor, as follows:

  • TAL 3323: Mishnah for Majors (3 credits)
  • One Talmud text course, numbered 3000 or higher (3 credits)
  • One parshanut course (3 credits)
  • MID 3944 or MID 5022: Midrash for Majors (3 credits)
  • HIS 1010: Ancient Jewish History (3 credits)
  • One course in the cognate literature of the period (e.g., New Testament, patristics, Greco-Roman literature, Islamic or Gnostic literature ) or in the social history of the period (taken at JTS, Columbia University, Barnard College, or Union Theological Seminary) (3 credits)
  • 9 additional credits in Midrash (MID 6101: Introduction to Exegesis (3 credits) is recommended)
  • One senior capstone seminar (3 credits)


Master of Arts

Admission Requirements
Learn more about admission to The Graduate School.

Degree Requirements
Courses

Students entering the program will be expected to take the following courses, or their equivalent, if they have not had the equivalent previously:

  • BIB 5013: Pentateuch With Rashi
  • TAL 6113: Survey of Mishnah
  • MID 5022: Midrash for Beginners

Students are permitted to register for courses counting toward the degree while fulfilling these prerequisites.

In addition to courses required of all students in The Graduate School, 30 graduate credits are required as follows:

  • MID/MDS 6101: Introduction to Exegesis (3 credits)
  • MID 6307: Miqraot Gedolot I (3 credits)
  • MID 8525–8526: Critical Methods I and II (6 credits)
  • HIS 6117: Jews and Judaism in the Ancient World or HIS 6313 Jews and Judaism in the Middle Ages (3 credits)
  • 6 credits of electives in Midrash, Talmud, Bible, or medieval Bible exegesis at the 6000 level or above
  • 9 credits chosen in consultation with the advisor, at least one course of which focuses on biblical narrative

Comprehensive Examinations
Oral: Students must exhibit the ability to read and translate with fluency from an unmarked text (previously prepared): 50 chapters of Genesis Rabbah, all of Leviticus Rabbah, or the equivalent amount of text in Midrash (with approval of the advisor).

Written: Students must answer essay questions on a reading list (to be determined annually by the advisor).

Doctor of Hebrew Literature

Admission Requirements
Learn more about admission to The Graduate School.

Additionally, students must have a master's degree or its equivalent in Midrash or a cognate field with the approval of the Midrash program advisor.

Degree Requirements
Courses
In addition to courses required of all students in The Graduate School, 30 graduate credits beyond the MA are required as follows:

  • MID 8525–8526: Critical Methods I and II (If the student has taken 8525–8526, he/she is then required to add 6 credits in Midrash.)
  • One doctoral-level course in Midrash Aggadah
  • One course in Midrash halakhah
  • One course in Talmud (Level IV or higher)
  • At least one course in cognate studies is strongly recommended (e.g., Roman Social History, Roman Religions, Introduction to Christianity to 325, Introduction to New Testament, Patristic Literature, Introduction to Islam, Introduction to Quran and Hadith, Karaite Exegesis)
  • Other courses should be selected in consultation with the advisor

Comprehensive Examinations
Upon satisfactory completion of all course work, the student will take two examinations as follows:

  • Oral: Student must demonstrate expertise in Genesis Rabbah; or Leviticus Rabbah plus one-half of Genesis Rabbah; or the equivalent amount of text in Midrash (with approval of advisor).
  • Written: Student must compose an extensive reading list with the advice of the advisor. The list shall survey major critical contributions to the field of Midrash and emphasize those works which formed the direction of critical studies during the last century. The final reading list, on which the candidate will be examined, requires the approval of the program faculty.

Dissertation
A competent piece of research which constitutes a contribution to the field.

Doctor of Philosophy

Admission Requirements
Learn more about admission to The Graduate School.

Additionally, students must have a master's degree or its equivalent in Midrash or a cognate field with the approval of the Midrash program advisor.

Degree Requirements
Languages
In addition to German and one other modern research language, required of all students in The Graduate School, reading proficiency must be demonstrated in one or more primary text languages (e.g., Greek, Syriac, Arabic, Latin) the advisor deems necessary for the dissertation.

Courses
In addition to courses required of all students in The Graduate School, 30 graduate credits beyond the MA are required as follows:

  • MID 8525–8526: Critical Methods I and II (if the student has taken 8525–8526, he/she is required to add 6 credits in Midrash)
  • Two doctoral-level courses in Midrash Aggadah
  • One course in Medieval Bible exegesis
  • One course in Midrash halakhah
  • One course in Talmud (level IV or higher)
  • One or more courses in cognate studies (e.g., Roman Social History, Roman religions, Introduction to Christianity to 325, Introduction to New Testament, Patristic Literature, Introduction to Islam, Introduction to Quran and Hadith, Karaite Exegesis)
  • Other courses may be selected (with consent or requirement of advisor) in rabbinics, Medieval Bible exegesis, or cognate fields

Comprehensive Examinations
Upon satisfactory completion of all course work, the student will take two examinations as follows:

  • Oral: Student must demonstrate critical expertise in Genesis Rabbah (with the Theodor/Albeck commentary); or Leviticus Rabbah (with Margulies commentary) plus one-half of Genesis Rabbah (with commentary); or the equivalent amount of text in Midrash (with approval of advisor).
  • Written: Student must compose an extensive reading list with the advice of the advisor. The list shall survey major critical contributions to the field of Midrash and emphasize those works which formed the direction of critical studies during the last century. The final reading list, on which the candidate will be examined, requires the approval of the program faculty.

Dissertation
An original piece of research which advances knowledge in the candidate's field of specialization.

Search the Course Catalog for MID Courses.