ABSTRACT

The myth of the Jewish pope, and the prototype of its chief character, a Jewish boy who rises to supreme power, derives ultimately from the biblical story of Joseph, the longest single narrative in Genesis (Genesis 37—50). This story, the earliest record of dualism in Jewish identity, is—like so many other narratives in the Bible—shot through with lacunae, disruptions and ambivalences that the earliest rabbinical commentators were at pains to reconcile with the received teachings of Judaism. These exegetical attempts issued in a hermeneutic tradition known as Midrash.