[Rava] is one of only two Amoraim to whom the principle that “a verse does not depart from its plain sense” is attributed; he was sharply attentive to the problem of pesukim for which derashot were missing. In his work on midrash, he learned from earlier Amoraim of Eretz Yisrael, some from his father-in-law-to-be, R. Hisda, and some of which he pioneered himself. While we have aggadot in the name of earlier Babylonian Amoraim, aside from scattered derashot, midrash halakhah seems not to have been of great interest in Bavel before Rava’s time and, to a lesser extent, that of R. Hisda, his rebbe. This interest was carried on by his talmidim. Among those who are associated with the many discussions of rabbinic biblical exegesis attributed to Rava in the Bavli are R. Papa, R. Mesharshiah, and R. Zevid; these discussions were continued in the next generation by R. Papa’s disciples in Naresh, eventually engendering those large exegetical sugyot so typical of the Bavli (and so rare in the Yerushalmi).
Yaakov Elman, “Rava as Mara de-Atra in Mahoza”, Hakirah 11 (Spring 2011), 70-71.