A Proposed Guide For Citing Rabbinic Texts -- By: Bruce H. Grigsby

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 24:1 (Mar 1981)
Article: A Proposed Guide For Citing Rabbinic Texts
Author: Bruce H. Grigsby


A Proposed Guide For Citing Rabbinic Texts

Bruce H. Grigsby*

The relevance and importance of rabbinic texts for NT exegesis and interpretation has been increasingly appreciated by scholars of many theological perspectives. Yet one who embarks on an investigation of this fascinating literature may soon find himself frustrated due to the imprecision that characterizes the citation of rabbinic texts in research-orientated publications. Str-B, for example, uses an internally consistent system for the notation of original rabbinic texts cited, but one who attempts to find these texts for personal consideration will often find the Str-B notation too imprecise for quick location of the source.1 Occasionally it is not possible to find the source at all.2 As our appreciation of’ the significance of rabbinic literature grows, so does the proliferation of rabbinic citation in published NT research. Researchers, especially those who are new to this complex literature, must spend an inordinate amount of time locating a source mentioned in a cryptic notation. Often, especially in the case of indiscriminate midrashic citations,3 the researcher is completely frustrated in attempts to locate the original document.

For assistance, one may consult various “guides” and/or “instructions” for citing rabbinic material.4 Fortunately, the Society of Biblical Literature published such a “guide” in 1976.5 This guide, however, does not attempt to offer the

*Bruce Grigsby is assistant professor of Biblical studies at Biola College in La Mirada, California.

degree of precision in the area of rabbinic notation required by the serious researcher. After consulting it, one is still unable to decipher, adequately cite, or quickly locate in text or translation many common rabbinic citations.6 For example, the contributor is instructed to addend “Rab.” after a Biblical book to denote a Midrash Rabbah. Further qualification is not given. Each contributor is left to his own devices for distinguishing between a citation of Genesis Rabbah (or should it be Bereshith Rabbah?)7 and Ecclesiastes Rabbah (or should it be Koheleth Rabbah?). Yet each Midrash...

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