What is Midrash?
Midrash is the Hebrew word for “interpretation” or “commentary” and refers to ancient methods for studying Scripture. The primitive root of Midrash is the Hebrew word “Darash,” which means “to seek, search or yearn for understanding.” The Midrash approach encourages gut level “yearning and searching” before conclusive interpretation – understanding what God means as He speaks through His Word requires us to wrestle with the text.
An Ancient Method
Between 400 and 1200 AD, the term Midrash described a group of Jewish commentaries on the Hebrew Scripture. One approach took the form of a collage. The creator of the Midrash would place a passage from the Bible at the center of a page. He would then surround the passage with Rabbinical commentary compiled from different generations. These commentaries expressed a wide variety of perspectives and often disagreed or challenged one another. Readers of the Midrash would consider each Rabbi’s commentary and weigh them against each other. Understanding of Scripture emerged as the readers wrestled with these different perspectives, their own beliefs and the Biblical text.
An Updated Approach
The Digital Midrash project attempts to honor the spirit and purpose of the ancient Midrash in a fresh, updated form. Like the creators of the early Midrash, we’ve chosen passages of Scripture that reflect a Biblical theme. But instead of surrounding the verse with ancient Rabbinical interpretations, the commentators are film clips, contemporary songs, poets, writers and philosophers. The resulting digital collage invites us to wrestle with different points of view and allows God to speak through the voices and stories of our culture. We hope that you will also lend your voice to the conversation in the comments section of each theme.