Chattel or Person?

Chattel or Person? : The Status of Women in the Mishnah

3.57 (7 ratings by Goodreads)

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Exploring the place of women in the socioeconomic system formulated in the Mishnah, a book of legal rules compiled by Jewish sages in second-century Palestine, this study reveals a fundamental ambiguity in women's role. In certain aspects men's property, in others their partners, women sometimes possessed no rights while at other times were judged fit to own property, conduct business, and manage their own affairs in the private domain of mishnaic culture. But, they were systematically excluded from the life of mind and spirit that flourished in the public domain of synagogue and study house. Wegner spells out in detail these variations in status, analyzes them, and relates her findings to recent developments in feminist analysis of the status of women in patriarchy.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 156.2 x 235 x 22.6mm | 502.62g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0195080033
  • 9780195080032

Review quote

By focusing on the notion of womanhood according to the Mishnah, Wegner uncovers paradoxes and ambiguities that lie at the heart of Judaism's ambivalent attitude towards women ... Wegner's realism allows for change and redefinition in the light of a convincing dialogue between feminism and Judaism. * Journal of Theological Studies * Judith Wegner approaches her task systematically. Each section begins with a brief review of the Scripture that inspired the mishnaic debate. This is followed by meticulous, explanatory translation of the relevant mishnaic texts. Better translations are unlikely to be made and the book is worth consulting for their sake alone. Then follows a detailed analysis of the theme, whose consistent clarity is a pleasure to read. Time and again the insights that emerge
illuminate the text, which strongly suggests that the conclusions are correct... it must be emphasised that this reviewer has nothing but praise for the methodology of this book, and an overall acceptance for the basic conclusions that emerge. It is undeniable that Judith Wegner has contributed greatly to
our knowledge of these women of the past. * Journal of Semitic Studies * `rejoices in being both scholarly and intensely personal ... Her thesis is fascinating, and convincing'
Times Literary Supplement
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