Book Reviews BOOK REVIEWS Carnal Israel: Reading Sex in Talmudic Culture, by Daniel Boyarin. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993. 283 pp. $35.00 (c). In this well argued study Boyarin sets out to correct misconceptions about rabbinic attitudes to gender differences, sexual practice, and human sexuality in general. Boyarin's underlying premise is that the rabbinic psyche was not plagued with the "fear of women" and that the rabbinic mind, unlike that of Hellenistic Judaism and Christianity, did not subscribe to the dualist notion of the body-soul dichotomy. The latter fostered the loathing of the body as filthy and as the prison of the pure, heaven-bound soul; it constructed a gender-based theological and cultural hierarchy in which the female, in her sexual and procreative functions, represented the degraded pbysis, while the male stood for the sublime life of the spirit, struggling to free itself from the trap of the sexualized body; women represented nature and men culture. Rabbinic Judaism, however, perceived the human soul and body as a unified whole, rather than a polarity, and sexuality as one of the components of being human, not a feature of existence that should be denied and renounced. An illuminating example of
Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies – Purdue University Press
Published: Oct 3, 1995
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