Vic addressed the topic of Prasch and midrash in her articles - quoting from:
Quote:However, what Jacob Prasch espouses for midrash is kabbalistic and talmudic and gnostic doctrine, which are meant to detract from Biblical doctrine and change sound Biblical doctrine. That's a huge difference.
Quoting from my Hebrew Roots article Literal Kabbalah written in 1999:
"....The Kabbalah in English verifies that the Kabbalists reinterpreted large portions of the Old Testament midrashically in order to inject Judaism with gnosticism:
"The Midrash, stemming from the same period as the Talmud, but more concerned with supplying context and elaboration of the Biblical text. Much legendary material is archived here. Midrashim exist on the Torah, the books of Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Song of Songs (together referred to as the five Megillot), and Psalms. Usually all but the last are grouped together as Midrash Rabbah, and a multivolume translation from the Soncino Press is available. 3
Mr. Jacob Prasch of Moriel recommends the classical Jewish works mentioned above, Midrash Rabba and Lamentations Rabba, as the preferred resources for the study of Scripture:
"Midrash interprets prophecy as a cyclical pattern of historical recapitulation (prophecies having multiple fulfillment), with an ultimate fulfillment associated with the eschaton, which is the final focal point of the redemptive process. A classical work of Midrash in Judaism is the Midrash Rabba on Genesis (Berashith). Another is Lamentations Rabba.
" The clearest set of guidelines in Midrash are the Seven Midroth attributed to Rabbi Hillel, the founder of the Pharisaic School of Hillel, where Rabbi Shaul (St. Paul) was educated as a rabbi by Rabbi Gamaliel, the grandson of Hillel.
Midrash makes heavy use of allegory and typology to illustrate and illuminate doctrine, but never as a basis for doctrine. It sees multiple meanings in Bible texts found in strata, but this is very different in certain fundamental respects from the gnostic and Alexandrian uses of figurative interpretation associated with Philo and Origen, reflecting more of Hebraic, rather than Helenistic philosophical world-view and view of theology. 4.
Hillel was one of the sages referred to in Part 7 of this series, whose teachings contributed deeply to the Talmud, Mishnah and other works. It is common knowledge that the Talmud holds over 300 differences of opinion between Hillel and Shammai, another famous Talmudic sage. In every dispute over their interpretations and teachings, Hillel invariably prevailed.
The apostle Paul was a Pharisee, who before his conversion, persecuted Christians according to the instructions of the Pharisees. After his conversion, he was inspired by God to write extensively about the change in his beliefs and their incompatibility with the Pharisee's teachings that had caused their rejection of Jesus Christ. Peter also addressed the issue of fables or allegory in his epistles.
2 Peter 1:16
"For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty."
For an indepth treatment of a Scriptural view of allegory or Fables, see the article "Have Nothing to Do With Fables and Old Wives Tales," http://www.SeekGod.ca/fables.htm
"The Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism" identifies the doctrine of creation and the throne of God, as the two primary subjects of ancient mystical thought which were consistently interpreted midrashically by the sages.
"The Talmud contains vague hints of a mystical school of thought that was taught only to the most advanced students and was not committed to writing. There are several references in ancient sources to ma'aseh bereshit (the work of creation) and ma'aseh merkavah (the work of the chariot (of Ezikiel's vision), the two primary subjects of mystical thought at the time." 5.
Gershom Scholem explains Kabbalistic interpretation of the written Torah as theosophy. The use of allegory to interpret Scripture on a consistant basis, was considered dangerous.
What Kabbalistic exegesis discovers behind the literal meaning of the Bible or of the Talmudic interpretations of the Bible was something very different. What the Kabbalists looked for in the Bible was not primarily philosophical ideas, but a symbolic description of the hidden process of divine life, as it unfolds in the manifestations and emanations of the sefiroth. Their primary interest in the Bible may be termed theosophical. As for allegory proper, we find very different attitudes among the Kabbalists. So outstanding an authority as Nahmanides deliberately avoided the allegorical interpretations of the philosophers in his commentary on the Torah. He was well aware of the danger that might accrue to the observance of Jewish ritual from a pure spiritualization of the Torah such as a consistent application of allegorical method would apply. He expressly warned against this danger in a passage in his commentary on Deuteronomy 29:29…" 6.
Jacob Prasch states that Midrash follows various forms of Hebraic interpretation of the Scriptures and can therefore only be understood by a student of Judaism or theology:
" Midrash follows certain formats. One is the Mashal/Nimshal format seen in Proverbs or the parables, where physical things are representative of things spiritual. Figurative midrashic exposition in the New Testament is viewed, for instance, in Jude's epistle or Galatians 4:24-34. It is Midrash which accounts for the manner in which the New Testament handles the Old Testament…Another format is the parashiyot; sections opening with a petihah in which a base verse is followed by commentary.
"In addition to exegetical midrash, there are homiletic midrashim, arranged in topically argued pisaqaot. These frequently follow a yelammedenu rabbenu format used by Jesus in the gospels. Both of these kinds of midrashim are haggadic. There are also wide bodies of midrashic literature which are halakik, but these are of less importance to New Testament scholarship.
Unless someone has been educated in Judaism, Hebrew, or theology, it is easier to demonstrate midrash than to explain it. " 7.
According to Gershom Scholem, the use of allegory or Midrash by the sages was a mystical interpretation leading to higher levels of esoteric thought such as theosophy.
"…But not all the Kabbalists were so reserved toward allegory. Many regarded it as a legitimate instrument. The author of the Zohar, though interested primarily in a mystical and symbolic description of the Godhead, did not refrain from interpreting certain Bible passages allegorically. Thus the Book of Jonah and also the story of the Patriarchs in Genesis become allegorical accounts of the human soul--though this does not prevent the author from giving a purely mystical (and more far-reaching) interpretation of these same stories of the Patriarchs. Once the esoteric interpretation of Scripture had assumed two different aspects --the one allegorical, the other mystical---the way lead open to the doctrine of the four levels of meaning. While for example, Joseph ibn Aqnin, contemporary of Maimonides, speaks, throughout his commentary on the Song of Songs, of three such levels of interpretation--literal, Aggadic, and philosophico-allegorical--the Kabbalists added a fourth, that of theosphical mystery in the sense defined above. This level the Zohar terms raza de-mehemanutha--understanding according to the 'mystery of faith.' " 8.
Jacob Prasch states we need a demonstration of Midrash unless we have been trained in Judaism, Hebrew or theology. In other words, lay people cannot understand Midrash or Biblical truth, without the help of teachers such as himself. 9.
We have seen that Jacob Prasch recommends the Midrash Rabbah which the Kabbalah in English states, includes the Midrash on the Book of Ruth. Midrash on the Book of Ruth is used repeatedly throughout Kabbalistic thought and it contains the earliest representations of the four mystical levels of interpretation of the Bible. Referring to the Zohar Hadash, Scholem demonstrates this Midrash:
"The earliest reference to the four levels is to be found in the Midrash ha-Ne'elam to the Book of Ruth, one of the earliest works of the author of the Zohar. In it he writes:' The words of the Torah are likened to a nut. How is this to be understood? Just as a nut has an outer shell and a kernel, each word of the Torah contains outward fact (ma'aseh), midrash, haggadah, and mystery (sod), each of which is deeper in meaning than the preceding.' This passage is remarkable in several ways…Haggadah seems to refer to some allegorical or tropic form of interpretation, while by midrash is meant the hermeneutic method by which the halakhists, or legalists, of the Talmud derived their definitions from Biblical text. The comparison of the Torah with a nut is not new in Jewish literature. It was already employed by the German and French Hasidism of the early thirteenth century, especially in connection with the merkabah…" 10.
Certainly, as demonstrated by Jewish scholars and sages, Midrash or allegory would damage beliefs and understanding of the written Bible. The allegory of the sages was intended to change the traditional thinking. Mr. Prasch acknowledges that changing the meaning of Scripture is wrong.
Whenever you have a change in world-view, you're going to have a change in theology… Redefining the gospel instead of re-explaining what the Bible means, redefinition changes what the Bible means. That is wrong…. " 11.
Mr. Prasch defines theosophy, which clearly applies to the sages he upholds, but then applies his definition to Greek and not Jewish thinking.
"People began reinterpreting the Bible, not using the Jewish method of midrash, but using Greek methods."
"Typology and allegory. Midrash uses typology and allegory-symbols- in order to illustrate and illumine doctrine. "
"These methods first started to creep into the Church through people who were influenced by Philo. His teachings progressively entered into Roman Catholicism, … Instead of recontextualising, they were redefining Scripture. They were reading a Jewish book as if it were a Greek book. That was a mistake…. " 12.
However, Gershom Scholem and many other Hebrew scholars are clear that the Midrash and other oral teachings are derived through theosophical interpretations. Mr. Prasch disregards information that is common knowledge of the mysticism of the sages and their influence and understanding of Jewish Midrash. Gershom Scholem states that the mystic interpretations of the Jewish sages were paralleled in the works of Philo and were only developed through esoteric practices.
"…many Jewish philosophers identified the inner meaning of the Torah with philosophical allegory. And indeed many of their explanations smack strongly of Philo… But allegory in this sense was by no means the cornerstone of the Kabbalistic exegesis, which was strictly symbolic." 13.
The Midrash or allegory and typology of the sages was the gnosticism Mr. Prasch wishes to only apply to the Church, Greek thinking and Catholicism. He points out that Midrash uses typology and allegory--"symbols", which he has stated is not a part of Jewish thought, but rather a method of Gnostics.
"In the Gnostic world of Greek thinking, the opposite happens. Gnostics claim to have received a subjective, mystical insight -called a gnosis-into the symbols. They then reinterpret the plain meaning of the text in light of the gnosis. For Gnostics, symbolism is the basis for their doctrine, contrary to the ancient Jewish methods." 14.
Jacob Prasch of Moriel also states that Christians today are bound by the thinking of the Reformers, and that we must shed any hindrances to exegesis we have assimilated from their teachings, and embrace the much more accurate Jewish thought, found not only in the Midrash, but in the Talmud.
"The problem with the Reformers is that they only went so far. They made rules governing the application of their grammatical-historical system in order to refute medieval Roman Catholicism, and many of those rules are still taught in theological seminaries today. One such rule is this: There are many applications of a Scripture but only one interpretation. That is total rubbish! The Talmud tells us there are multiple interpretations. Who did Jesus agree with? The Reformers? Or the other rabbis? …" 15.
Although Jacob would have us believe that Jesus agreed with the rabbis, it is a matter of Scriptural fact that Jesus spoke often against the Rabbis who were referred to at that time as the Pharisees.
In his scathing rebuke to the Rabbis and Pharisees, Jesus warned his disciples not to follow their pernicious and hypocritical ways Matthew 23:6-8
" And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren."
Jacob's reference to the allegorical interpretation of Jonah, conveniently omits the introductory verses which are Matthew 12:38-39:
"Then certain of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.
But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:"
After responding to the Pharisees and the scribes of Jerusalem, Jesus again rebuked them for their teachings in, Matthew 15:7-9:
"Ye hypocrites, well did E-sai-as prophesy of you, saying, This people draw nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."
The comparison to the Old Testament teaching that Jesus referred to on this issue, is found in, Isaiah 29:13-14:
"Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men. Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid."
We can see that the ancient sages either (1) understood the danger of Midrash and avoided it; (2) totally embraced its use for disseminating their esoteric beliefs; (3) rejected the New Testament and Jesus Christ; or (4) used Kabbalist definitions and applications as well as the Babylonian Talmud to reinterpret the Word of God. To which of these groups of sages are we to turn? And since there are no Jewish Midrash teachings of the New Testament in any of the oral or written works of the sages of old, whose ancient wisdom is Mr. Prasch promoting for interpreting the New Testament?
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding."
Do we need the teaching or methods of men who reject Jesus Christ?
Does Scripture state that we need men to tell us what a passage means, or that its meaning is really something entirely different than what is in the written words of the New and Old Testament?
1 John 2:26-27
"These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him."
Do scholarly authorities agree with Jacob Prasch's teaching that although the Gnostics read their subjective, mystical insight into symbols, this is not true of ancient Jewish methods of interpretation?
Jacob Prash compares Midrash, which we know was derived through esoteric means, to an equation that must be solved by the wisdom of the ancients.
"Midrash is like a quadratic equation or a very complex second order differential equation, a thirteen or fourteen step equation. Some people take the first step of grammatical-historical exegesis and think the equation is solved. There is nothing wrong with what they do, but there is plenty wrong with what they don't do. The equation is not solved. There is nothing wrong with grammatical-historical exegesis. It is a necessary first step, it is a necessary preliminary, and it is okay for reading the Epistles. But that is all.
It takes the wisdom of the ancients to really understand these things-Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast... (Revelation 13:18)-not the wisdom of the 16th century, but the wisdom of the first century." 28
S. L. McGregor Mathers, who in 1888 co-founded with William Wynn Westcott the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, provides an understanding of the very complex application of Gematria and its various equations, modes and forms.
"Gematria is a metathesis of the Greek work grammateia. It is based on the relative numerical values of words…Words of similar numerical values are considered to be explanatory of each other, and this theory is also extended to phrases. Thus the letter shin, Sh, is 300, and is equivalent to the number obtained by adding up the numerical values of the letters of the words RVCh ALHIM, Ruach Elohim, the spirit of the Elohim; and it is therefore a symbol of the spirit of the Elohim…."
"… Notariqon is derived from the Latin word notarius, a short-hand writer. Of Notariqon there are two forms. In the first every letter of a word is taken for the initial or abbreviation of another word, so that from the letters of a word a sentence may be formed. Thus every letter of the word BRAShITh, Berashith, the first word in Genesis, is made the initial of a word, and we obtain from it BRAShITh RAH ALHIM ShIQBLV IShRAL ThVRH, Berashith Rahi Elohim Sheyequebelo Israel Torah: "In the beginning the Elohim saw that Israel would accept the law."
Note: The term Berashith in the second paragraph, refers to the Genesis Rabbah promoted by Jacob Prasch as a classical work of Judaism. "A classical work of Midrash in Judaism is the Midrash Rabba on Genesis (Berashith)."
"The second form of Notariqon is that exact reverse of the first. By this the initials or finals, or both or the medials, of a sentence, are taken to form a word or words. Thus the Qabalah is called ChKMh NSThRH, Chokhmah Nesthorah, "the secret wisdom;" and if we take the initials of these two words Ch and N, we form by the second kind of Notariqon the word ChN, Chen, "grace." Similarly, from the initials and finals of the words MI IOLH LNV HShMIMH, Mi Iaulah Leno Ha-Shamayimah, "Who shall go up for us to heaven?" (Deut. xxx. 12), are formed MILH, Milah "circumcision," and IHVH, the Tetragrammaton, implying that God hath ordained circumcision as the way to heaven. " 29.
By applying the various forms of Kabbalistic gematria and numerology to the Bible, entirely heretical meanings can be promoted as also is demonstrated with the process of Temura or permutation of the Scriptures:...."