Gender differences between men and women are t just a matter of sexual differentiation; the roles that men and women play are also socially and culturally determined, in ancient Israel and post-biblical Judaism as in every other context. That is the theme of these ten studies. The first part of the volume examines the gender definitions and roles that can be identified in the Hebrew Bible's legal and ritual texts. The second part uses archaeological and anthropological perspectives to interrogate the biblical text and the society that formed it on issues of gender. The third part explores similar gender issues in a range of material outside the Hebrew Bible, from the Apocrypha through Josephus and Philo down to mediaeval Jewish marriage contracts (ketubbot). Among the questions here discussed are: Why are men, but t women, required to bathe in order to achieve ritual purity after incurring certain types of defilement? What understandings of masculinity and femininity underlie the regulations about incest? Was ancient Israel simply a patriarchal society, or were there more complex dynamics of power in which women as well as men were involved?What do post-biblical re-interpretations of the female figures of Wisdom and Folly in Proverbs 1-9 suggest about heterosexual masculinity? And what kind of rights did mediaeval Middle-Eastern Jewish women have within their marriage relationships?
Deborah W. Rooke is Lecturer in Old Testament Studies, King's College, London.