The Sense of Sight in Rabbinic Culture

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Cambridge University Press, Aug 29, 2013 - History - 319 pages
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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Visual theory
God gazing and homovisuality
Heterovisuality facebread and cherubs
Visual eros
Eyeing idols
Seeing sages

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About the author (2013)

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.

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