Defining Virginity, Making Men
Definitions for and tests designed to demonstrate female virginity have as much to do with cultural ideals of masculinity as they do with concerns about sexual practices or women’s bodies. A wealth of scholarship in recent years on masculinity in late antiquity generally and Rabbinic Judaism specifically is thus helpful in framing this study. Unlike earlier studies, however, attention to chronological and geographical variety within late antique Judaism helps sharpen our understanding of masculinity in this work. The introduction concludes with brief discussions about the problem with the terms “virgin” and “hymen,” and about methodological issues concerning working with edited Rabbinic texts. An outline of the book’s contents follows.
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