Burton L. Visotzky reviews A Rivalry of Genius: Jewish and Christian Biblical Interpretation in Late Antiquity by Marc Hirshman:

The author wrote the work in an attempt to “expose the Hebrew reader to the world of Midrash” and to compare it “with lesser known ancient interpretations of Scripture.” He concludes, “I have tried to show that the differences between Greek rhetoric and Jewish preaching are greater than the similarities.” He contends “that the rabbis created literary frameworks that sheltered them from the surrounding culture and refrained from adopting the literary genres prevalent in the ancient world in general and in the Church in particular.”

Here are some key points that the reviewer highlights:

  • The church quickly adopted Greco-Roman rhetorical genres for the sake of proselytizing. The author compares the wrings of the church to the uniform Rabbinical writings.
  • Christian and rabbinic exegetical forms, though with some distinguishing characteristics, are both to be likened to be subsets of Greco-Roman rhetoric.