Growing up with a Jewish grandmother taught me a lot about my heritage. (I can make a mean Matzo ball soup!) But one thing she forgot to mention was the concept of Midrash—a type of Biblical exegesis that encourages us to get our fingers, elbows, and shoulders dirty as we dig deep into Scripture.
Midrash plunges head first into passages, where readers are encouraged to wrestle, argue, debate, and reflect over the unfamiliar verses of the Bible. [Tweet this] Midrash is the belief that God created a one-sided conversation through his Word, and it’s our duty to hash it out and keep the conversation moving.
By wrestling over passages we discuss hard-to-answer questions like Why did Lot’s wife turn around? Or What was going through Isaac’s mind when Abraham tied him to the altar?
As I begin a Midrash of a specific passage, I often find myself looking into the people, places, and details that are commonly glanced over on the surface. So often, my findings unleash facets of each tale that draw me deeper into God’s greater Story. [Tweet this]
Here are some helpful tips when it comes to Midrash:
- Select a passage or story (no more than 10 verses) that stirs your curiosity and find it in three different translations or versions—perhaps the NIV, ESV, and The Message.
- Grab a notebook and your favorite pen and set aside at least 30 minutes to wrestle over the passage you selected.
- Pray and ask God to open your eyes and heart to the wonder of Scripture.
- Read the passage at least three times over in each translation and circle any confusing words or phrases.
- Jot down all the questions the passage surfaces as you read. (For example: Who characters are? Where it takes place? What is the greater context of the story?)
- Peek at the surrounding context. Read what happens before and after the passage to get a fuller understanding.
- Use a Bible commentary to answer any questions you may have. Head to the local library or seminary or use Blueletterbible.org as a resource.
- Discuss what you discover or any questions you have with friends, your small group, or your pastor. Invite others to wrestle over Scripture alongside you.
As you dive into Scripture, Midrash can be a tool that opens your eyes and heart to aspects of God’s story you might have missed before. The wonder of Scripture is that as we read, we uncover new gems and hidden treasures along the way.
What passages have you used Midrash with to discover God’s word in greater depth?