This book discusses the interaction between history, rabbinic literature and feminist studies. Recent approaches to rabbinic literature have overturned the traditional view of these writings and new literary methods were suggested, mostly denying them all historical value. But rabbinic literature constitutes the main source for the lives of Jews in Palestine and Babylonia during the late Roman period, and thus should not be totally rejected. This study suggests a new post-literary approach, i.e. it discusses the residue of the texts after these have been analyzed and dissected by literary critics.
But mainly this is a book about women's history, adopting many assumptions of feminist criticism about the androcentric nature of all ancient texts, and approaches them with due suspicion. The Rabbis treated women differently from the way they treated men. This resulted in the former's marginalization and manipulation by the texts. On the other hand, however, it created an ironic situation whereby principles useful for the recovery of historical information on women, are useless when applied to men. This study describes such principles and demonstrates them with the help of many examples.
Tal Ilan, Ph.D. (1992) in Jewish History, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She lectures at the Hebrew University and has been a visiting Professor at the Universities of Harvard, Yale and the Free University of Berlin. She has published extensively on Jewish women in antiquity, including
Jewish Women in Greco Roman Palestine (
This work of exceptional intelligence and expertise is a very welcome contribution…' Martin S. Jaffee,
Religious Studies Review, 1999. '
…no rabbinic text about women can now be analyzed without reading it through Ilan's eyes.' Judith Hauptman,
The Jewish Quarterly Review, 1999. '
…she has provided important tools for the ongoing scholarly accumulation of historical data about women from rabbinic sources.' Judith R. Baskin,
All those interested in ancient Jewish history, rabbinic literature, Jewish and Christian feminist studies and historical methodology.