On Thu, 30 Sep 1999 11:56:23 -0400 Jim West <jwest@...
> At 04:30 PM 9/30/99 +0000, you wrote:
> >On 30 Sep 99, at 10:06, Jack Kilmon wrote:
> >> Dismas, as the "good thief" and Gestas as the other thief crucified
> >> Jesus is a tradition from the Arabic Gospel of the Infancy. ...
> >This is fascinating -- thanks Jack. It's on the Wesley noncanonical
> >There they are called "Titus" and "Dumachus":
> Now this is getting really interesting...
> WHY the name differences?????
The easiest and most obvious answer is that they represent two
There is a venerable category of Jewish commentary that I think is
attested in the Tanakh, and even in the Torah, whereby stories were
seemingly invented to answer just such questions as "Who were the thieves
who were crucified with Jesus?"
To quote a summary by Lew Reich in January 1997 that may be relevant,
"Traditional Jewish sources talk about four progressively deeper
levels of exegesis of a text: pshat, drash, remez, and sode (plain
meaning, inquiry, hint and secret). (Note that the "house" of Hillel
was a "Beit midrash" - literally a "House of Inquiry" and that term is
still used today to describe the large hall in a traditional Yeshiva
where studying takes place, usually in small groups.)"
"Pshat has to do with ascertaining the plain literal meaning of the
text, not always a straightforward task.
Drash generally involves
asking questions about apparent difficulties in the plain meaning of
the text, and the midrash that results is (in the context most
relevant to our situation) usually an effort to resolve that
difficulty by telling a story that provides both an answer and a
faith-strengthening lesson. (We are talking here of "midrash
aggadah" - lit. the midrash of stories, which is what is usually
referred to when the word midrash is used alone. The method is also
applied to deduce halakhic rulings from the text according to rules
of exegesis, and this effort is referred to as "midrash halakhah",
"inquiry of halakhah".)
Remez, or hint, involves veiled allusions such as numerical values
and abbreviations ("notarikon").
Sode, secret or mystery, involves esoteric interpretation."
I believe that Islam has similar levels of exegesis.