Social Inequality in the World of the Text
The Significance of Ritual and Social Distinctions in the Hebrew Bible
1. Edition 2011
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht
Journal of Ancient Judaism. Supplements -
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This volume consists of fifteen of the author’s essays, including two that have never been published before. The essays date to the last decade and a half, and all reflect in some manner the author’s ongoing interest in literary operations of classification and their social implications, particularly the production of distinctions which create social inequality in the world of the text, and have the potential to generate hierarchical social relationships in contexts where biblical texts might have had an impact on real people. In these essays, the author explores themes such as gender, sexuality, purity and pollution, sanctification, death and afterlife, foreignness, and disability with particular attention to the roles distinctions such as honored/shamed, feminine/masculine, mourning/rejoicing, unclean/clean, alien/native play in creating and perpetuating social differences in texts. Rites of status change such as circumcision, shaving, purification, burial or disinterment, sanctification and profanation of holiness are a focus of interest in a number of these essays, reflecting the author’s on going interest in the textual representation of ritual. Most of the essays examine texts in their historical setting, but several also engage the early history of the interpretation of biblical texts, including the phenomenon of inner biblical exegesis. The essays are divided into five sections: Rites and Social Status; Gender and Sexuality; Disability; Holiness, Purity, the Alien; Death, Burial, Afterlife and their Metaphorical Uses. The author introduces each of the sections, contextualizing each essay in his larger scholarly project, reflecting on its development and reception and, in some cases, responding to his critics.