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Eros and the Jews: From Biblical Israel to Contemporary America Hardcover – September 30, 1992

ISBN-13: 978-0465020331 ISBN-10: 046502033X

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 3362 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (September 30, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 046502033X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465020331
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #423,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Critiquing a body of texts that runs a wide gamut from the Bible to Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint , this fine, authoritative history of Jewish sexuality may well become a standard reference. Biale ( Power and Powerlessness in Jewish History ) explicates a deeply ambivalent tradition: the Bible subordinates erotic desire to fertility; the Talmudic rabbis affirmed marital sexuality and procreation yet also preached sexual self-restraint and flirted with celibacy. In medieval times, the Ashkenazic Northern European elite held a relatively positive view of sexuality, the Jewish philosophers of the Mediterranean sought to separate procreation from desire, and the mystics pursued an erotic relationship with God. The Hasidism of the 18th-century was a widespread movement of sexual asceticism, the 19th-century proponents of the Jewish Enlightenment tried to neutralize sexuality within a bourgeois family framework, and early 20th-century Zionists spouted a theory of erotic liberation but sublimated sexual desire in the service of the Jewish nation. Discussing sexual stereotypes in American Jewish culture, Biale concludes that "erotic liberation remains the unfinished business of contemporary Jewish culture."
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This engaging history of Jewish sexuality from biblical times to the modern era attempts to answer this question: Is the nature of Judaism and the Jewish tradition ascetic and repressive or sensual and liberatory? Biale ( Power and Powerlessness in Jewish History , Schocken, 1986) shows that Jewish sexuality certainly is not monolithic in nature but exhibits both poles--that of asceticism and gratification--which have been in conflict with each other through the ages. The author covers the entire spectrum from the biblical period, the Talmudic era, the Rabbinic writings, the medieval philosophers, Hasidim, and the modern enlightenment to contemporary American Jewish culture exemplified by Philip Roth's notorious novel Portnoy's Complaint (1969). This volume, scholarly yet accessible to general readers, should remain a basic treatment of an intriguing subject for some time.
- Robert A. Silver, Shaker Heights P.L., Ohio
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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