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The Sense of Sight in Rabbinic Culture
Jewish Ways of Seeing in Late Antiquity

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Part of Greek Culture in the Roman World

  • Date Published: September 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316628904

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About the Authors
  • This book studies the significance of sight in rabbinic cultures across Palestine and Mesopotamia (approximately from the first to seventh centuries). It tracks the extent and effect to which the rabbis living in the Greco-Roman and Persian worlds sought to appropriate, recast and discipline contemporaneous understandings of sight. Sight had a crucial role to play in the realms of divinity, sexuality and gender, idolatry and, ultimately, rabbinic subjectivity. The rabbis lived in a world in which the eyes were at once potent and vulnerable: eyes were thought to touch objects of vision, while also acting as an entryway into the viewer. Rabbis, Romans, Zoroastrians, Christians and others were all concerned with the protection and exploitation of vision. Employing many different sources, Professor Neis considers how the rabbis engaged varieties of late antique visualities, along with rabbinic narrative, exegetical and legal strategies, as part of an effort to cultivate and mark a 'rabbinic eye'.

    • Proposes a new way to look at how ancient people experienced and understood the sense of sight
    • Offers a fresh perspective on the cultural history of vision
    • Gives an inviting and novel approach into late antique rabbinic culture and presents Talmudic sources in an accessible and lively fashion for non-specialist readers
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    Awards

    • Winner of the 2013 Salo Baron Prize
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… highly recommended to anyone interested in late antique Jewish, Christian, and Graeco-Roman society and to scholars of rabbinic and patristic texts.' Catherine Hezser, Theologische Literaturzeitung

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2016
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316628904
    • length: 332 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction
    1. Visual theory
    2. God-gazing and homovisuality
    3. Heterovisuality, face-bread and cherubs
    4. Visual eros
    5. Eyeing idols
    6. Seeing sages
    Conclusion.

  • Author

    Rachel Neis, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
    Rachel Neis is an Assistant Professor in the History Department and in the Program for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. Her interests include rabbinic literature and culture, the history of the senses, and comparative ancient and contemporary law and legal theory.

    Awards

    • Winner of the 2013 Salo Baron Prize
    • Honourable Mention, 2013 Jordan Schnitzer Book Awards, Biblical Studies, Rabbinics, and Jewish History and Culture in Antiquity category

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