Wrestling With God And Menby Steven Greenberg
Pub. Date: 05/01/2009
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
For millennia, two biblical verses have been understood to condemn sex between men as an act so abhorrent that it is punishable by death. Traditionally Orthodox Jews, believing the scripture to be the word of God, have rejected homosexuality in accordance with this interpretation. In 1999, Rabbi Steven Greenberg challenged this tradition when he became the first
For millennia, two biblical verses have been understood to condemn sex between men as an act so abhorrent that it is punishable by death. Traditionally Orthodox Jews, believing the scripture to be the word of God, have rejected homosexuality in accordance with this interpretation. In 1999, Rabbi Steven Greenberg challenged this tradition when he became the first Orthodox rabbi ever to openly declare his homosexuality.
Wrestling with God and Men is the product of Rabbi Greenberg's ten-year struggle to reconcile his two warring identities. In this compelling and groundbreaking work, Greenberg challenges long held assumptions of scriptural interpretation and religious identity as he marks a path that is both responsible to human realities and deeply committed to God and Torah. Employing traditional rabbinic resources, Greenberg presents readers with surprising biblical interpretations of the creation story, the love of David and Jonathan, the destruction of Sodom, and the condemning verses of Leviticus. But Greenberg goes beyond the question of whether homosexuality is biblically acceptable to ask how such relationships can be sacred. In so doing, he draws on a wide array of nonscriptural texts to introduce readers to occasions of same-sex love in Talmudic narratives, medieval Jewish poetry and prose, and traditional Jewish case law literature. Ultimately, Greenberg argues that Orthodox communities must open up debate, dialogue, and discussion-precisely the foundation upon which Jewish law rests-to truly deal with the issue of homosexual love.
This book will appeal not only to members of the Orthodox faith but to all religious people struggling to resolve their belief in the scriptures with a desire to make their communities more open and accepting to gay and lesbian members.
2005 Finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards, for Religion/Spirituality
- University of Wisconsin Press
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Table of Contents
|1||The Birth of Gender and Desire||41|
|2||The Sons of God, Ham, and the Sodomites||60|
|7||The Queer Middle Ages||113|
|8||The Legal Literature||124|
|9||Rav Moshe and the Problem of Why||135|
|10||The Rationale of Reproduction||147|
|11||The Rationale of Social Disruption||166|
|12||The Rationale of Category Confusion||175|
|13||The Rationale of Humiliation and Violence||192|
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Rabbi Greenberg takes the challenge straight on which I thought was impossible: harmonizing Orthodox Judaism (a religion which I stereotyped as being stridently rigid) with the issue of homosexuality. While reading the book you are, of course, aware that you are reading a scholarly work, and it should be read in such a light. At the same time, however, you can hear the author's voice telling his own personal story along the way. No sentence is purely academic; the entire work is emotionally charged. Let not the observation of its being emotionally charged deceive you, however. Greenberg's presentation is theological, and his anecdotes are parts of arguments. The book functions well as an intellectual endeavor, but it functions equally well as a beacon of hope, not only for people of the Abrahamic faiths, but also for the Gay Orthodox community for whom these issues are not just academic, but are a part of their existence.