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  • Thumbnail for Reimagining midrash : a tradition of commentary from the Hebrew Bible to the motion picture
    Reimagining midrash : a tradition of commentary from the Hebrew Bible to the motion picture by Grund, Benjamin C.

    Midrash is a body of homiletic stories in the Jewish tradition told by Rabbinic sages to comment on the Old Testament. Written down in the second century, existing scholarship has explored many aspects of how midrash was used by these communities. However, by expanding and reimagining how midrash can be studied, we can argue there exists a midrash genre in film adaptation that is a part of this genre of commentary that extends through secular literature to the original writing of the Hebrew Bible. This can be proven by breaking down the functional structure of the homiletic midrash and mapping it through the work of Flannery O’Connor, specifically looking at how her first novel, Wise Blood and John Huston’s film adaptation of the same novel act within this extended midrash genre to comment on Southern Protestant Christianity from O’Connor’s vexed Catholic worldview. If film could be studied as an extension of religious creative exegesis, especially one consistent with the internal tradition found within the writing of sacred texts, then this reimagining of midrash could have many implications for how we understand and study religious reimagination and reinterpretation in the modern world, as well as opening the door to studying the creative exegesis happening right in front of us.