Marriage Gifts and Social Change in Ancient Palestine: 1200 BCE to 200 CE

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In Marriage Gifts and Social Change in Ancient Palestine, T. M. Lemos traces changes in the marriage customs of ancient Palestine over the course of several hundred years. The most important of these changes was a shift in emphasis from bridewealth to dowry, the latter of which clearly predominated in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Whereas previous scholarship has often attributed these shifts to the influence of foreign groups, Lemos connects them instead with a transformation that occurred in Palestine’s social structure during the very same period. In the early Iron Age, Israel was a kinship-based society with a subsistence economy, but as the centuries passed, it became increasingly complex and developed marked divisions between rich and poor. At the same time, the importance of its kinship groups waned greatly. Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach that draws heavily on anthropological research, cultural theory, archaeological evidence, and historical-critical methods, Lemos posits that shifts in marriage customs were directly related to these wider social changes.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This study will have lasting value for not only its conclusions but also the model of interdisciplinary study that it provides. It is of major importance both for its conclusions and for its model of interdisciplinary methodology. The book is well written and will stimulate thinking about the subject at hand. It is both instructive and persuasive. Undoubtedly, it will spark further research into the social world of the family in ancient Israel and the economics of marriage, as well as a better understanding of the correlation between bridewealth and dowry societies and incidences of monogamy, polygyny, and women’s social status. — Biblical Interpretation Naomi Steinberg, DePaul University
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521113496
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2010
  • Pages: 318
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

T. M. Lemos is a Biblical scholar and historian whose interests are broadly social and cultural. In addition to marriage and social change, she has written on such topics as the connection between shame and violence, on reconceiving biblical purity customs, and on the work of Mary Douglas. Her next large scale research project will address changing conceptions of masculinity in ancient Palestine. She hopes to publish widely on a range of Biblical and cross-cultural subjects over the course of her career.

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Table of Contents

1 Biblical evidence for marriage gifts 20

2 Postexilic evidence for marriage gifts 62

3 Anthropology and the study of marriage gifts 89

4 The social structure of ancient Israel from Iron I to the Babylonian Exile 159

5 The social structure of Palestine in the Second Temple period 200

Final analysis and conclusions 230

App Marriage gifts among Judeans living in Babylonia during the sixth century BCE 237

Glossary 245

Bibliography 247

Index of Biblical and other ancient sources 275

General index 283

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