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Signs of VirginityTesting Virgins and Making Men in Late Antiquity$
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Michael Rosenberg

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190845896

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190845896.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 26 July 2021

Struck by Wood, Struck by God

Struck by Wood, Struck by God

Virginity Beyond/Despite Anatomy

(p.90) 5 Struck by Wood, Struck by God
Signs of Virginity

Michael Rosenberg

Oxford University Press

Two second-century works—one Christian, one Rabbinic—reflect anxiety about strictly anatomical definitions of virginity. The Protevangelium of James, even as it extols Mary’s physical virginity, casts doubt on medical standards of virginity by appealing to faith-based standards of virginity testing. One sees a similar pattern emerge in the the Rabbinic Mishnah, which introduces a dissenting view at a critical juncture to disrupt the dominant paradigm. Late antique Syriac poetry builds on the nascent anxiety of the Protevangelium in verses that closely resemble the themes and the stories of the Protevangelium of James. Especially noteworthy in its influence is the continued importance of in partu virginity in the texts of late antique Syriac Christianity.

Keywords:   Protevangelium of James, Mishnah, Syriac, Ephrem, virginitas in partu

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