“Midrash-Pesher”: A shared technique of interpretation in Qumran, Paul, and the Tannaim

Yael Fisch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This article points to a method of interpretation found only in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Paul’s letter to the Romans (Rom 10:6–8), and rabbinic texts. This rhetoric of scriptural interpretation, which this article refers to as midrash-pesher, splits a passage into building blocks and laces the interpretation through the citation. The lemmata and their interpretations are connected only by a pronoun. This technique has not been studied as a phenomenon that appears across these three corpora. What follows is intended to fill this lacuna, describe the midrash-pesher technique, and explain how it operates hermeneutically in its different contexts. Ultimately, this article problematizes and nuances the scholarly practice to label relevant interpretations from Qumran as well as Paul’s interpretation in Rom 10:6–8 as “midrash” or “midrash-like.” The Dead Sea Scrolls, Paul, and the Tannaim use the same interpretation method in different ways and for different ends.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-233
Number of pages21
JournalRevue de Qumran
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


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