The Aroma of Righteousness: Scent and Seduction in Rabbinic Life and Literature

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In The Aroma of Righteousness, Deborah Green explores images of perfume and incense in late Roman and early Byzantine Jewish literature. Using literary methods to illuminate the rabbinic literature, Green demonstrates the ways in which the rabbis’ reading of biblical texts and their intimate experience with aromatics build and deepen their interpretations. The study uncovers the cultural associations that are evoked by perfume and incense in both the Hebrew Bible and midrashic texts and seeks to understand the cultural, theological, and experiential motivations and impulses that lie behind these interpretations. Green accomplishes this by examining the relationship between the textual traditions of the Hebrew Bible and Midrash, the surviving evidence from the material culture of Palestine in the late Roman and early Byzantine periods, and cultural evidence as described by the rabbis and other Roman authors.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Aroma of Righteousness makes highly original and important contributions to two subject areas that do not normally meet—rabbinic scriptural interpretation, particularly of the Song of Songs, and the religious employment of physical senses, herein scent—especially by locating both in their broader Jewish and general cultural settings. It is a richly rewarding book to read and savor."

—Steven D. Fraade, Yale University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271037677
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 3/25/2011
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 997,148
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Deborah A. Green is Greenberg Associate Professor of Hebrew Language and Literature in the Department of Religious Studies and Director of the Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies at the University of Oregon.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Acknowledgments xi

Note on Style xv

1 Tracking the Trail of Scent: An Introduction 1

2 The Aroma of Daily Life: Aromatics in Roman and Rabbinic Culture 19

3 Election and Erotic: Biblical Portrayals of Perfume and Incense 64

4 Spicy Ideologies: Fragrance and Rabbinic Beliefs 116

5 Soothing Odors: Death, Suffering, and Sacrifice 169

6 Ephemerality and Fragrance: Desire for Divine Immanence 197

Notes 209

Bibliography 257

Source Index 271

General Index 275

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