In Scripture: The First Stories of Jewish Sexual Identities (Hardback)
  • In Scripture: The First Stories of Jewish Sexual Identities (Hardback)
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In Scripture: The First Stories of Jewish Sexual Identities (Hardback)

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£47.95
Hardback 204 Pages / Published: 15/01/2010
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Applying psychoanalytic and gender theory to selected Biblical narratives from Genesis to the Book of Ruth, Lefkovitz interprets the Bible's stories as foundation texts in the development of sexual identities. In Scripture is an exploration of the Biblical origins of a series of unstable ideas about the sexes, human sexuality, family roles, and Jewish sexual identities, in particular, and by extension, changing attitudes towards Jewish men and women.

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 9780742547049
Number of pages: 204
Weight: 445 g
Dimensions: 239 x 161 x 18 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Exegesis or eisegesis, do we draw meaning from the text or do we add meaning based on our own experiences, prejudices, and knowledge? This question is one we must consider when reading Dr. Lefkovitz's book on gender roles in the Hebrew Bible. The Bible does not shy away from sexuality in either its stories or mitzvot and certainly reflects a point of view of a culture and a time. Lefkovitz brings to the text a feminist, gender- based, psychoanalytical analysis which imposes upon the Biblical stories new meanings of sexuality through the lens of modern life. Her work represents a thoughtful and full exploration of several familiar stories beginning with Eve in the Garden and includes such well-known characters as Miriam and Joseph, explored in a new light of sexuality and gender identity. The story of seduction in the Garden has been well commented on, but Lefkovitz adds new layers of sexual meaning to the serpent as a phallic symbol. In a post-Freudian world it is difficult to interpret the serpent image otherwise, but are we imposing our interpretation or drawing out an interpretation? Are there undertones of homosexuality in the Joseph story, or does the beautiful Joseph escape Potiphar's wife because he realizes the consequences of acting on impulse? Interesting questions to ponder or refute in this challenging read of evolving sexual identity in Jewish texts. * Jewish Book World *
Lefkovitz is both sharp and playful in her application of a variety of post-modern gender theories in each of the chapters. In accessible language, she explains such potentially difficult ideas as the semiotics of linguistic classification, French feminist theory, Queer theory and the idea of fluid gender identity, comparative cultural norms, and counter-cultural traditions, among others, and skillfully applies them to her selected biblical texts. Readers who are curious about these contemporary concepts will find clear and useful introductions in these pages. . . . Lefkovitz, a professor of Gender and Judaism at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, writes in a readable, personable prose, underpinned by sound scholarship, as the solid and informative endnotes testify. This book will shake up many assumptions, as it cuts a wide swath through biblical, rabbinic, and Western cultures, applying a range of gender theories in surprising ways. * Lilith: A Feminist History Journal *
Lori Lefkovitz's stimulating book confirms the arrival of feminist biblical studies-with its particular set of questions and concerns-as a given in contemporary scholarship on the Hebrew Bible. . . . There is much to admire in this work. I appreciate Lefkovitz's application of gender theory in original readings of both female and male. Her language is often poetic, her handling of different texts and genres over time is skillfully done, and her passion to clarify the enduring legacy of sexual limitations and subversions for our time is moving. . . . In Scripture strikes me as very much of our time. We live in a culture in which all bets are off, in a world made strange, and it is in this setting that Lefkovitz's book finds its place, leaving us with a richer and more nuanced appreciation for the shifting and multiple ways in which we take on, and discard, our identities as sexual and gendered readers of biblical texts. * AJS Review *
Like the scriptural narratives it discusses, Lefkovitz's volume is the result of many years of reflection on the facts of biblical life. ...This is an extremely rich book. . . there are a wealth of insightful observations. ... many of Lefkovitz's readings are stunningly multi-textured and perceptive, showing that new treasures can indeed be drawn from these old indeed, ancient texts by the skillful interpreter of Torah. . . .it is a treasury of trenchant observations effortlessly linking the then of the texts with the now of (post) modernity in a fascinating tapestry of gender and identity. * Review of Biblical Literature *
I really delighted in this book. It deals in such clarity with complexity; it reads these ancient biblical texts and finds subtleties that I had never discovered or appreciated before, and opened a new world of meaning. And I had such pleasure in the writing itself. * Relegere: Studies in Religion and Reception *
Thrilling to read. . . . In Scripture has such depth that it's difficult to grasp its complexities in one reading. Its ideas will resonate not only in [the] study of the biblical text, but in analysis of other religious and secular works. * The Reporter Group *
'Brilliant,' 'magisterial,' and 'epiphanic,' are not adjectives I use promiscuously, yet all three aptly describe In Scripture, Lori Lefkovitz's radical re-visioning of Biblical origin stories from Genesis through Ruth. The impact of our sacred texts on the construction of gender, Judaism, sex roles and family dynamics is explained in tightly-reasoned, gracefully-literate prose that one rarely finds in a work of scholarship. Because Lefkovitz delivers, at minimum, one dazzling insight per page, I guarantee that this great book will alter your perception of the Good Book forever. -- Letty Cottin Pogrebin, founding editor of Ms. Magazine
'In the Hebrew Bible, the bedroom is the battlefield where men always lose,' is one of Lori Lefkovitz' eye-opening observations in this book. Provocatively and lucidly argued, In Scripture examines the Biblical connection of the body to the body politic from many angles, including those of Freud, Woody Allen, and contemporary queer theory, demonstrating through close reading how the multiple fluidities, ambiguities and reversals around the representations of gender simultaneously establish and subvert what we 'mean' by man and woman, masculinity and femininity, motherhood and fatherhood, the family, and our ultimate need for oppositional categories. -- Alicia Ostriker, National Book Award finalist in poetry; author of Nakedness of the Fathers
Lori Lefkovitz's In Scripture is a cutting edge exploration of the Hebrew Bible as a foundational text, that is literature which has influenced our very being, our identity. Using the tools of postmodern and critical theory, gender and queer theory, feminism, Jewish studies, and contemporary psychoanalysis, in this important contribution, Lefkovitz traces the mutual influence of the Bible on our sexual and bodily identity and our socio-psycho sexual experience on our reading of the Bible. This groundbreaking book will change how you read Bible stories, relate to Biblical characters, and it will shake up how you think of your own body, gender and sexuality in light of Biblical texts. -- Lewis Aron, director, New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis
Lori Lefkovitz's engagement with Biblical scripture is both learned and literary. She regularly reveals the strange inside the familiar and then manages to show how the old stories, strange as they may be, nonetheless haunt our perceptions of the social world and of ourselves. Layered, subtle, and original, this book makes the very notion of originality a narrative paradox in which sexual and ethnic identities move fluidly and often invisibly to trouble and regenerate the cultural roles to which they appear fundamental. -- Lewis Hyde, author of The Gift
This wonderful book is challenging in the best ways: it challenges conventional notions about the Bible, gender, sexuality and tradition. Even better, it challenges each of us to read the foundational texts of our culture more deeply, and to be open to new readings and to the rethinking of our own selves that these readings will prompt. The book is also sheer pleasure, a delectable treat for those who love words, Lefkovitz is a word-weaver of the highest order. -- Adele Reinhartz, associate vice-president of research, University of Ottawa
Without any loss of scholarly rigor, Lefkovitz moves seamlessly from theory to folk wisdom, from humor to wonderfully imaginative and cogent readings of major texts. In Scripture illuminates crucial issues with remarkable subtlety and clarity. -- Ronald A. Sharp, Vassar College
Reading In Scripture is reading on the edge, out of the habit, and in-between patriarchal beginnings and newly gendered futures. -- Peter Ochs, Edgar Bronfman Professor of Modern Judaic Studies, University of Virginia
Now you see it, now you don't! Lefkovitz's dazzling readings of biblical narratives destabilize both the texts and the assumptions that we bring to them. The result is a complex and multi-layered view of familiar stories that also deepens our understanding of gender and sexuality as cultural categories. -- Judith Plaskow, Manhattan College
In Scripture challenges everything we thought we knew about Bible, disrupting assumptions about gender and selfhood, destabilizing our wholesome and sanitized readings of the familiar narratives. Lefkovitz's transgressive, reconstructive, and poetic reading renders Scripture newly sacred. -- Vanessa L. Ochs, University of Virginia

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