Both in East and West, the 4th and 5th centuries form the golden age of dogmatic theology, of homiletic preaching, of exposition, of letter-writing, of Church history, of religious poetry.
The homiletic Midrashim are characterized by (a) a proem, an introduction based upon some biblical text (not from the lesson itself), which led up to (b) the exposition of the lesson, the first verse of which is more fully discussed than the rest.
But the sermons or discourses of the homiletic Midrashim are classified according to the reading of the Pentateuch in the Synagogue, either the three year cycle, or else according to the sections of the Pentateuch and Prophetical books assigned to special and ordinary Sabbaths and festival days.
In brief, then, the criticism of the Old Testament seeks to discover what the words written actually meant to the writers, what the events in Hebrew history actually were, what the religion actually was; and hence its aim differs from the dogmatic or homiletic treatments of the Old Testament, which have sought to discover in Scripture a given body of dogma or incentives to a particular type of life or the like.
Instead of the sober annalistic style of the earlier historian we have a work marked by hyperbole, inflated rhetoric and homiletic reflection.
Of the Academy's edition one volume was published at Berlin in 1897, containing the Commentaries on Daniel and on the Song of Songs, the treatise on Antichrist, and the Lesser Exegetical and Homiletic Works, edited by Nathanael Bonwetsch and Hans Achelis.
His homiletic books, Epistle on Sanctity (Iggereth ha-qodesh) and Law of Man (Torath ha-Adam), which deal respectively with the sanctity of marriage and the solemnity of death, are full of intense spirituality, while at the same time treating of ritual customs - a combination which shows essential Rabbinism at its best.
He was an extremely precocious lad, and before he was ten had written several Latin odes, a history of the Jews and a series of homiletic outlines.
In matters of exegesis he is, like Hilary, an Alexandrian; his chief productions are homiletic commentaries on the early Old Testament narratives, e.g.
The method, by which the text was thus utilized as a vehicle for conveying homiletic discourses, traditional sayings, legends and allegories, is abundantly illustrated by the Palestinian and later Targums, as opposed to the more sober translations of Onkelos and the Targum to the Prophets.