Senior Fellow: April 2016–September 2016
Research Project: The Sceptical Meditations of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) in Rabbinic Midrash and the Embodiment of Scepticism in Rabbinic Narratives
Reuven Kiperwasser will explore Midrash Kohelet Rabbah, which expounds the verses of Kohelet. In addition, he will scan other Rabbinic texts in order to discover the sceptical topoi in Kohelet exegesis not preserved in Kohelet Rabbah. Ecclesiastes was accepted by the rabbis as a prophetic book composed by King Solomon. The tendency to treat components of a prophetic script with scepticism already appears in ancient Midrash. The rabbis inverted problematic verses of scepticism and the narrator‘s pessimistic point of view, and frequently interpreted them apologetically. This raises a question about Rabbinic culture: what kind of sceptical reasoning was appropriate for the rabbis and what function did it have within Rabbinic culture? These questions will be explored and the nature of this exegetical phenomenon and its theological background will be examined. The project aims to approach the cultural expressions of scepticism, manifested in Rabbinic exegetical narratives, based on the verses of Ecclesiastes as well as on other ‘problematic’ verses from wisdom literature.
Reuven Kiperwasser currently holds a Humboldt Research Fellowship at the Free University of Berlin.