Typology, Narrative, and History: Isaac ben Joseph ha-Kohen on the Book of Ruth

Barry D. Walfish

in With Reverence for the Word

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780195137279
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849482 | DOI:
Typology, Narrative, and History: Isaac ben Joseph ha-Kohen on the Book of Ruth

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Commentaries on the book of Ruth are relatively uncommon in both Jewish and Christian exegesis. Of those extant, one of the most intriguing is that of Isaac ben Joseph ha-Kohen. Isaac's only other extant works are commentaries on the books of Esther and Ecclesiastes, neither of which has ever been published. The commentary on Ruth has several remarkable features. The first is the means by which Isaac claims to have come to his understanding of the book's contents. The second is his use of typological exegesis. The third is the interweaving of this typology with the narrative plot line of the book of Ruth. Like other late medieval exegetes, Isaac justifies his commentary by claiming that the previous commentaries did not deal with all the issues adequately. Typology, or figural interpretation, has traditionally been associated almost exclusively with the Christian understanding of the Hebrew Bible. Isaac's emphasis on the redemption of the Jewish people is a reflection of his time, an age when the Jews in Spain were being persecuted and messianic ferment was high.

Keywords: Isaac ben Joseph ha-Kohen; book of Ruth; typology; commentaries; exegesis; medieval exegetes; Spain; Jews; Hebrew Bible

Chapter.  8057 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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