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

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

Hardback Greek Culture in the Roman World

By (author) Rachel Neis

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  • Publisher: CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Format: Hardback | 328 pages
  • Dimensions: 162mm x 232mm x 30mm | 620g
  • Publication date: 21 October 2013
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge
  • ISBN 10: 1107032512
  • ISBN 13: 9781107032514
  • Edition statement: New.
  • Sales rank: 1,166,656

Product description

This book studies the significance of sight in rabbinic cultures across Palestine and Mesopotamia (approximately 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'.

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Author information

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.

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.