By Professor Beth A. Berkowitz
This ebook lines the interpretive occupation of Leviticus 18:3, a verse that forbids Israel from imitating its associates. Beth A. Berkowitz indicates that historic, medieval, and sleek exegesis of this verse offers an important backdrop for cutting-edge conversations approximately Jewish assimilation and minority identification extra often. the tale of Jewishness that this ebook tells could shock many sleek readers for whom non secular id revolves round ritual and worship. In Lev. 18:3's tale of Jewishness, sexual perform and cultural behavior as a substitute loom huge. The readings during this publication are on a micro-level, yet their implications are far-ranging: Berkowitz transforms either our inspiration of Bible-reading and our experience of ways Jews have outlined Jewishness.
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Additional info for Defining Jewish Difference: From Antiquity to the Present
18:3 to show there two opposing strategies for defining Jewishness in the context of Roman imperial culture. The first passage offers a “Â�neutralization strategy” wherein rabbinic authors carve out a cultural space in which Jews can comfortably participate. I argue that this strategy entails the creation of a rabbinic orthodoxy whose task is to consolidate a Jewish core that will be passed down through elite male leaders. This reading of the Sifra draws from Boyarin’s argument in Border Lines that early rabbis and early Christians, respectively and relatedly, created new orthodoxies grounded in a notion of apostolic transmission.
In Sanhedrin 52b, the talmudic redactor offers a strategy that I call nativization or biblicization, wherein a practice that appears among gentilesÂ€– in this case, the execution method of decapitation by swordÂ€– is declared to be originally Jewish. This strategy paradoxically permits some degree of Jewish syncretism while claiming that syncretism to be chimerical. The redactor of Avodah Zarah 11a proposes a neutralization strategy more like the one we see in the Sifra. According to this strategy, a gentile practiceÂ€ – here the example is the burning of royal property on the occasion of a king’s deathÂ€– is deemed incidental to gentile religion, outside the scope of Lev.
Paul’s quotation of the verse in Gal. 3:12 and Rom. 10:5 has brought it a great deal of both traditional exegetical and modern scholarly attention; see discussion in Preston M. Sprinkle, Law and Life: the Interpretation of Leviticus 18:5 in Early Judaism and in Paul, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008. Â€431, n. 137. Â€137–142. 11 Chapter 18 thus takes its part in a chiasmus that structures the Book of Leviticus and perhaps the Pentateuch as a whole. chiasmus and israelite distinctiveness The verse in question, Lev.