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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:54665
Doc. No:TL24619
Call number:‭3251376‬
Main Entry:Miriam Sherman
Title & Author:A well in search of an owner: Using novel assertions to assess Miriam's disproportionate elaboration among women in the midrashim of Late AntiquityMiriam Sherman
College:University of California, San Diego
Date:2006
Degree:Ph.D.
student score:2006
Page No:787
Abstract:This study posits that compared to other biblical women, the Prophetess Miriam was disproportionately elaborated in Late Antiquity Midrash. The first indication of Miriam's special renown was her association with the Well that accompanied Israel on their forty-year wilderness sojourn. Though early midrashic sources describe it as either given upon Miriam's hand or in her merit, collections in the second half of Late Antiquity call it Miriam's Well, juxtapose its location to a specific Synagogue in Tiberias, and ascribe purity and healing properties to its waters. These stature-enhancing contexts raise questions as to why the midrashists chose a woman, and specifically Miriam, as the namesake of what had hitherto been a nameless well. To compare Well and Miriam's midrashic development, a methodology was designed based on Novel Assertions, new pieces of information first learned from Midrash itself. Using the Bar Ilan Database, the earliest occurrence of each novel Well and Miriam contention was assigned a unique identifier. Once assembled chronologically, this methodology creates a timeline of thematic enhancements facilitating the discovery of perplexities of historical interest. In Miriam's case, these include not only her association with the Well, but the contention of her being one of the midwives, her prophecy of Moses' birth and destiny, her marriage, and her being King David's ancestress. This last assertion, at apparent odds with Scripture, points to the unique role Miriam may have played in rabbinic writings. Miriam's disproportionate elaboration was demonstrated using an Extra-Biblical Novelty Index. This stimulated an historical inquiry as to why she was of special interest to the Rabbis. First, portions of her legacy creatively introduced by midrashists were differentiated from earlier traditions, revealing that though much of her Late Antiquity saga was pre-rabbinic, her being David's ancestress was an arguably unique rabbinic contribution. Next, political and intercultural circumstances inspiring this genealogy were considered. Finally, Miriam's interplay with Christianity's Mary was explored insofar as it enhanced her renown. Notwithstanding the tentative nature of historical conjecture, the facility with which issues of historical importance flow from Novel Assertions vindicates their value to the historian involved in midrashic research.
Subject:Philosophy, religion and theology; Social sciences; Antiquity; Midrashim; Miriam; Novel assertions; Women; Bible; Womens studies; Ancient civilizations; 0579:Ancient civilizations; 0453:Womens studies; 0321:Bible
Added Entry:D. Goodblatt
Added Entry:University of California, San Diego