This paper explores the way several biblical stories of sexual misconduct are retold in The Testament of Reuben, and other, related, compositions. Through a close reading of these narratives we shows how, in contrast to the biblical narrative, the Testaments tends to expand the female characters' responsibility for causing the forbidden acts. This trend is further revealed as but part of a much broader transformation in which internal thoughts and inclinations rather than actions become the focus of the religious struggle. The stark misogyny of these Testaments, rather than merely a commonplace to be noted, is revealed here as a representation of a whole new era of sexual discourse; one which carries with it also a new economy of gender. This, finally, leads us to rethink Foucault's thesis regarding the Christian origins of sexuality in Late Antiquity.
Sexuality, Ancient Judaism, Foucault, Testaments (of the Twelve Patriarchs), Pseudepigrapha, Biblical narratives, Reuben, Bilhah, Joseph, Judah, Tamar, Potiphar's wife, Gender, Nakedness, Watchers, Jubilees, Mind, Sexual Morality, Hellenistic-Judaism
Libel and slander -- Religious aspects -- Judaism.
The diseases of Leviticus 13 and 14, commonly known as leprosy, were traditionally considered to be miraculously punitive responses to slander (lashon har'a). The link between leprosy and this particular sin is consistently maintained in the Guide of the Perplexed where it is also considered a miraculous punishment for slander. Maimonides' concluding remarks to the Laws of Leprosy Defilement in the Mishneh Torah comprise a relatively lengthy non-halakhic excursus which traces a series of offenses spiraling out of slander into increasingly abstract ones climaxing in an ultimate speculative crime regarding the nature of divine providence. Leprosy metastasizes from building to chattel to clothing to body in a pattern of increasing exposure and isolation culminating in quarantine. Each of these stages are marked by a carefully selected biblical prooftext which also appears in the Guide of the Perplexed and which can only be fully appreciated by reading both his juridical and philosophical works symbiotically. Maimonides has delicately preserved the pragmatic biblical and rabbinic construct of leprosy as a deterrence from slander while maintaining, at the same time, his philosophical position which sees providence or lack thereof as conditional on intellect. His excursus in the Mishneh Torah is strategically crafted, as his philosophical works are, to accommodate different audiences distinguished by their degree of philosophical sophistication. The result is an account of leprosy, which appeals both to those who are motivated by "necessary beliefs", and those who are guided solely by "true beliefs".
Maimonides; Leprosy; Slander; Guide of the Perplexed; Mishneh Torah; Halakha; Divine Providence; Divine Anger; Miriam; Necessary belief
In 1682 three scholars conducted a coordinated effort to obtain the texts of Hebrew tombstone inscriptions from Jewish cemeteries in northern Italy: Bernardino Ramazzini, a professor of medicine at the University of Padua, Antonio Magliabechi of Florence, librarian to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and Johann Christoph Wagenseil, a well-known Christian Hebraist from Altdorf, Germany. This article tells the story of their campaign, based on letters exchanged between the three participants. It fleshes out items mentioned in the correspondence and explores the significance of the affair for the history of European and European-Jewish culture in the early modern era. Among the issues illuminated are messianism, Jewish-Christian relations and Christian Hebraism.
messianism, Jewish-Christian relations, Christian Hebraism, poetry, tombstone, epitaph, Ramazzini, Magliabechi, Wagenseil, Jewish history, Italian Jewry