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Male Obstetric Competence in Ancient Israel

A Response to Two Recent Proposals

In: Vetus Testamentum
Author: John Makujina1
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According to two recent sociological studies on childbirth in the OT, the (androcentric) OT displays both insensitivity to the parturient and ignorance of the basics of parturition. One of the studies specifies that the biblical authors were unaware of the normally presenting fetal member, the head. The present article, however, comes to decidedly different conclusions: 1) the position that the Israelite male was insensitive to women experiencing childbirth either goes beyond the available evidence or is a distortion thereof; 2) both studies overlook information that undermines their conclusions; and 3) the OT authors were sufficiently aware of the fundamentals of childbirth.

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