Dinah's Daughters: Gender and Judaism from the Hebrew Bible to Late Antiquity

Dinah's Daughters: Gender and Judaism from the Hebrew Bible to Late Antiquity

By: Helena Zlotnick (author)Hardback

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The status of women in the ancient Judaism of the Hebrew Bible and Rabbinic texts has long been a contested issue. What does being a Jewess entail in antiquity? Men in ancient Jewish culture are defined primarily by what duties they are expected to perform, the course of action that they take. The Jewess, in contrast, is bound by stricture. Writing on the formation and transformation of the ideology of female Jewishness in the ancient world, Zlotnick places her treatment in a broad, comparative, Mediterranean context, bringing in parallels from Greek and Roman sources. Drawing on episodes from the Hebrew Bible and on Midrashic, Mishnaic, and Talmudic texts, she pays particular attention to the ways in which they attempt to determine the boundaries of communal affiliation through real and perceived differences between Israelites, or Jews, on one hand and non-Israelites, or Gentiles, on the other. Women are often associated in the sources with the forbidden, and foreign women are endowed with a curious freedom of action and choice that is hardly ever shared by their Jewish counterparts. Delilah, for instance, is one of the most autonomous women in the Bible, appearing without patronymic or family ties. She also brings disaster. Dinah, the Jewess, by contrast, becomes an agent of self-destruction when she goes out to mingle with gentile female friends. In ancient Judaism the lessons of such tales were applied as rules to sustain membership in the family, the clan, and the community. While Zlotnick's central project is to untangle the challenges of sex, gender, and the formation of national identity in antiquity, her book is also a remarkable study of intertextual relations within the Jewish literary tradition.

About Author

Helena Zlotnick (in reality Hagith Sivan) teaches at the University of Kansas.


Abbreviations Introduction: Setting the Stage -Words of Warning -Sex, Status, and Homecoming: A Jewish Penelope? -Sin, Shame, and Sanctity: The Tale of the Lusty Wife and Rabbi Meir PART 1: PROJECTIONS OF BIBLICAL SPHERES OF WOMEN 1. From Dinah to Cozbi: Rape, Sex, and Foundational Moments -From Rape to Parental Reticence -Why Not Marry a Shechemite? -Dinah and Matriarchal Betrothals -A Woman of the Wilderness: The Rape of Cozbi -Foundation Murders and Rapes 2. Patriarchy and Patriotism: Integrating Sex into Second Temple Society -Birth of a Nation: Marriage and Patriotism in Ezra -Private and Public in Yehud -Sin, Scripture, and Intermarriage -The Fate of Foreign Spouses -The Case of the Defiant Daughter: Jubilees' Dinah 3. From Esther to Aseneth: Marriage, Familial Stereotypes, and Domestic Felicity -Marriage between Gentiles, Model 1: Ahasuerus and Vashti -Marriage between Gentiles, Model 2: Haman and Zeresh -The Jewish Family -Intermarriage: Ahasuerus and Esther -Integrating Brides into the Family: Aseneth and Joseph PART 2: VISIONS OF RABBINIC ORDER 4. Keeping Adultery at Bay: The Wayward Wife in Late Antiquity -Theologies and Theories of Sexuality: Roman and Rabbinic Perspectives -Suspecting Adultery -Preliminaries: Singling Out Adulteresses -The right to Accuse: Constantinian and Rabbinic Innovations -The "Other": Lovers and Aftermath 5. The Harmony of the Home in Late Antiquity: Jewish, Roman, and Christian -Perspectives on Intermarriage -Why not Marry a Goy? -Early Christianity and Marital Peripheries -Banning Jewish-Christian Marriage: Roman Legal Perspectives Conclusion: To Die like a Woman? To Live like a Woman? -Is There a Jewess in Judaism? Notes Bibliography Indexes Acknowledgments

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780812236446
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 264
  • ID: 9780812236446
  • ISBN10: 0812236440

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