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Bereshit Rabbati

בראשית רבתי – A late midrash on Sefer Bereshit that is attributed to the school of Moshe ha-Darshan of Narbonne in Provence, who was active during the first half of the 11th century. Bereshit Rabbati was known only by references to it until modernity, when a single Hebrew manuscript of it surfaced, which was published by Chanokh Albeck in 1940. It is an expansion of the material in Bereshit Rabba including material from other classic sources as well as, interestingly, works known from the Apochrypha—literature of antiquity, including material originally written in Hebrew, that was preserved by various Christian groups.

Before the manuscript was rediscovered, Bereshit Rabbati was largely known from a major medieval compilation of extracts intended to convert Jews and Muslims called Pugio fidei (Dagger of Faith), compiled in the late 13th century by the fiery Dominican friar Ramon Martí (Raymond Martini). The relationship between the Hebrew manuscript published by Albeck and the text from which Martí was working is conjectural, as they are clearly not the same version. A working assumption is that the group of late midrashim attributed to Moshe ha-Darshan, of which Bereshit Rabbati is one, are various reworkings of material originating in the beit midrash of Moshe ha-Darshan.

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