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Citation for Ashkenaz in the Late Middle Ages

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Walfish, Barry D. . "Medieval Jewish Interpretation." In The Jewish Study Bible. Oxford Biblical Studies Online. Jan 23, 2020. <http://www.oxfordbiblicalcstudies.com/article/book/obso-9780195297515/obso-9780195297515-div1-1073>.


Walfish, Barry D. . "Medieval Jewish Interpretation." In The Jewish Study Bible. Oxford Biblical Studies Online, http://www.oxfordbiblicalcstudies.com/article/book/obso-9780195297515/obso-9780195297515-div1-1073 (accessed Jan 23, 2020).

Ashkenaz in the Late Middle Ages

Biblical commentary in Ashkenaz in the later Middle Ages was produced by the tosafists, a school of students of the Talmud, which flourished between the 12th (from the time of Rashbam and his brother Jacob Tam) and 14th centuries, and German Pietists (Ḥasidei Ashkenaz), a pietistic school, which flourished from the mid‐12th to the mid‐13th centuries. The tosafist commentaries, mostly produced in the latter part of the tosafist period, were almost all anonymous and have only recently begun to be studied. Many were largely compilations. Very little attention was paid to linguistic matters. Rabbinic midrash was again favored, as were numerological techniques such as gematria (explaining a word or groupof words according to the numerical value of the letters) and notarikon (interpreting every letter in a particular word as the first letter of a whole word, or interpreting a word by breaking it up into its components). The commentaries produced in this period were influenced by the methods of Talmud study of the tosafists, but did not neglect the peshat entirely. The best known is that of Hezekiah ben Manoaḥ (Ḥizekuni; mid‐13th century), which incorporates a good deal of commentary by Joseph Bekhor Shor and other members of the peshat school. The commentaries of the German Pietists are of two types. Some, such as the commentary of Judah ben Samuel (ca. 1150–1217) as recorded by his son Zaltman, are rather undisciplined peshat commentaries intended for a wide audience; others, especially those of Eleazar ben Judah of Worms (ca. 1165–ca.1230), are full of gematriot, notarikonim, and other esoteric methods of exegesis, and were intended for the small circle of initiates schooled in the particular brand of mysticism practiced by this group.

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