Dr. Naomi Grunhaus, associate professor of Bible at Stern College for Women, recently published a book about medieval Jewish commentator Rabbi David Kimhi, known as the Radak. Titled Challenge of Received Tradition: Dilemmas of Interpretation in Radak’s Biblical Commentaries (Oxford University Press, November 2012), the book confronts one of the most vexing problems facing medieval Jewish interpreters of the Hebrew Bible: how to implement the new interpretive strategy of extracting the straightforward, contextual meaning of biblical verses (peshat) without neglecting revered ancient rabbinic modes of interpretation which tended to be more fanciful and homiletical (derash).  Analyzing Radak’s idiosyncratic, consistent juxtaposition of peshat and derash-type rabbinic comments, and thoroughly parsing his methodological statements, the book demonstrates how at times he finds rabbinic traditions essential to resolving textual questions that arise in exegesis, while at other times, he affords them only ancillary functions in his commentaries.

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