The New Testament as Midrash

All this talk about the Noah movie and how to interpret/use scripture in art made me think about the following statement by Stanley Hauerwas in, The Peaceable Kingdom.  I think viewing the New Testament as a midrash is particularly interesting.

“The New Testament is in many ways a midrash on the Hebrew Scriptures through which we Christians try to understand better what it means to be a part of God’s people in light of God’s presence to us in Jesus of Nazareth… Indeed, the diversity of Scripture is at the heart of the Christian life insofar as it requires that we be a community, a church, capable of allowing these differing texts to be read amongst us with authority.

We Christians must recognize, by the very fact that we are a people of a book, that we are a community which lives through memory.  We do not seek a philosophical truth separate from the book’s text.  Rather we are a people of the book because we believe that ‘the love that moves the sun and stars’ is known in the people of Israel and the life of a particular man, Jesus… Therefore, Christians claim or attribute authority to Scripture because it is the irreplaceable source of the stories that train us to be a faithful people.  To remember, we require not only historical-critical skills, but examples of people whose lives have been formed by that memory.”[1]

Before the Noah movie I would not have sought to be formed by story of the flood.  This is the gift of a midrash and hence the gift given to us in the film.  It helps us enter the story in a fresh new way.

[1] Stanley Hauerwas. The Peaceable Kingdom: A Primer in Christian Ethics. pp. 70.

2 thoughts on “The New Testament as Midrash

  1. I like the ideas but the overuse of midrash as a definitive category (especially by some at Duke) gets tiring. Midrash is used like a magical hermeneutical trick that makes everything clearer, but I often feel it is an illusion that is used to hide what they don’t want seen.

    (Not arguing with you, just venting in general!)


    1. I definitely can see how it can be abused. What is your take on the Noah movie as a midrash? Do you think that description misses the mark?


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