God's Echo: Exploring Scripture with Midrash
Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, . . Paraclete, $19.95 (168pp) ISBN 978-1-55725-478-8
Between 400 and 1200 C.E., a group of rabbis expounded on the text of the Bible, making it relevant to their times and to subsequent readers. This extensive collection of explanations and interpretations is known collectively as Midrash. Sasso, the second woman ever ordained as a rabbi, considers Midrash "both a product, a body of literature... and a process... that continues to the present day" and has assembled a themed collection of text, extrapolations and guided self-evaluation in the hopes that more people will see not only how the ancients still speak to us but how our own experiences make us writers of Midrash as well. Her brief history of the practice and depiction of the four-fold method used for approaching a particular text provides a good starting point for newcomers. However, while she admits to choosing certain portions regarding rejection, anger and repentance because they're "part of [her] story" and advocates taking ownership of the narratives as they apply in present times, she, for the most part, shares very little of herself or her reasons for selecting these themes. Despite her best efforts to excite a new audience to this tradition, the finished product feels disappointingly more like a series of lessons or sermons cobbled together.
Reviewed on: 03/26/2007