Carnal Israel: Reading Sex in Talmudic Culture

Carnal Israel: Reading Sex in Talmudic Culture

by Daniel Boyarin
     
 

Beginning with a startling endorsement of the patristic view of Judaism—that it was a "carnal" religion, in contrast to the spiritual vision of the Church—Daniel Boyarin argues that rabbinic Judaism was based on a set of assumptions about the human body that were profoundly different from those of Christianity. The body—specifically, the sexualized… See more details below

Overview

Beginning with a startling endorsement of the patristic view of Judaism—that it was a "carnal" religion, in contrast to the spiritual vision of the Church—Daniel Boyarin argues that rabbinic Judaism was based on a set of assumptions about the human body that were profoundly different from those of Christianity. The body—specifically, the sexualized body—could not be renounced, for the Rabbis believed as a religious principle in the generation of offspring and hence in intercourse sanctioned by marriage. This belief bound men and women together and made impossible the various modes of gender separation practiced by early Christians. The commitment to coupling did not imply a resolution of the unequal distribution of power that characterized relations between the sexes in all late-antique societies. But Boyarin argues strenuously that the male construction and treatment of women in rabbinic Judaism did not rest on a loathing of the female body. Thus, without ignoring the currents of sexual domination that course through the Talmudic texts, Boyarin insists that the rabbinic account of human sexuality, different from that of the Hellenistic Judaisms and Pauline Christianity, has something important and empowering to teach us today.

Author Biography: Daniel Boyarin is Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture at the University of California, Berkeley and the author of A Radical Jew: Paul and the Politics of Identity (California, 1994).

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780520203365
Publisher:
University of California Press
Publication date:
08/30/1995
Series:
New Historicism: Studies in Cultural Poetics Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.63(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
A Note on the Term Rabbis
Introduction1
1"Behold Israel According to the Flesh": On Anthropology and Sexuality in Late-Antique Judaisms31
2Dialectics of Desire: "The Evil Instinct Is Very Good"61
3Different Eves: Myths of Female Origins and the Discourse of Married Sex77
4Engendering Desire: Husbands, Wives, and Sexual Intercourse107
5Lusting After Learning: The Torah as "the Other Woman"134
6Studying Women: Resistance from Within the Male Discourse167
7(Re)producing Men: Constructing the Rabbinic Male Body197
Concluding Forward: Talmudic Study as Cultural Critique227
Bibliography247
General Index265
Index of Primary Jewish Texts271

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