1. Methodological questions
The image of Edom in Midrash Bereshit Rabbah (henceforth: BerR), the classical collection of Rabbinical interpretations on the book of Genesis (late fourth or early fifth century C.E.), cannot be addressed without considering some methodological issues and caveats. Despite considerable forays in the field of Midrash studies during the last decades, this literature, which emerged in late antiquity within Rabbinic Judaism, belongs to the most controversial topics in the academic study of Judaism. Among others, the following questions are discussed:
a) There is lack of unanimity as to whether, in Midrash texts, the Rabbinic Sages engaged – with their own tools however distorted it may seem to modern exegetical eyes – in Biblical interpretation or whether their aim was basically to enter into a dialogue between Scriptures and their own time. In the latter case, this would entail a use of the Bible “as an artist uses his colors on the palette, expressing ideas t...