Abstracts

STATUS-WOMAN

D. Ben-Abo, Ma'amadah shel ha'ishah beyisra'el uvemizrah Hakadum, Ramat-Gan: Bar-Ilan University, l981, Pp. 245; see KS 58/2 no. 1693.

J.P. Brown, "The Role of Women and the Treaty in the Ancient World", Biblische Zeitschrift 25 (1981), 1-28. - Women's roles in ancient Israel, Greece and Rome developed along similar lines. Since the language of ancient treaties is similar in all these areas, it may be assumed women enjoyed a similar status in each centre. Three main stages in the development of women's roles can be discerned. Early (c. 1000-500 BCE) women had substantial prestige and authority within the patriarchal society. Then with the decline of the city state prostitution flourished and respectable women were forced to stay at home cut off from the centres of power. Finally the NT era sees the emergence of a feminine counter-culture reasserting women's equality in certain areas. (G.J.W.)

David Daube, "Johanan ben Beroqa and Women's Rights", Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte, R.A., 99 (1982), 22-31. - D. seeks the characteristics of the halakhic view of Johanan ben Beroqa. He finds him moderate, a liberal disdaining excessive formalism, a helper of the underprivileged. In particular, he was dedicated to the improvement of the position of women, even where he extended the rabbinic duty to procreation to women. Women's liberation is relative to the mores of the times; it led to different results in R, Johanan's day from our own. (B.S.J.)

D. Mescheloff, "The Jewish Woman in Halakhah" (Heb.), Diné Israel 13-14 (1986-1988), 263-312. - The framework of this article is a critical review of M. Meiselman's book, Jewish Woman in Jewish Law (New York: Ktav, 1978). The author begins by demonstrating that both multiplicity of views and change within halakhah have traditionally been part of Jewish law. Neither of these phenomena contradict the Divine origin of the Torah or its transcendental validity. This is followed by the analysis of various issues concerning the role of women in Jewish law, including Torah study for women; women's duty "to obey their husbands"; the disqualification of women as witnesses, their rights in the laws of inheritance, and women in the context of divorce law. Various halakhic opinions on each of these issues are presented, and illustrations of attempts within the halakhah to deal with changing conditions by means of novel interpretations of halakhic theory or by distinguishing recorded theories from actual practice, are provided. There is also a discussion of a number of proposed pre-nuptial agreements which have been submitted for approval to Israel's major poskim. The purpose of these agreements is to alleviate the problem of agunot. (D.B.S.)

Hans Jacob Hansen & Jakob Schow Madsen, eds., Thi Gud er jeg, ikke mand. Studier over kvindebilleder i Det gamle Testamente, FK-tryk, Aarhus, 1982, ISBN 87 7457 010 2, Pp. 100, Price: Dkr. 30. - Five female students have published their seminar papers on images of women in the Old Testament under the title For I am God, and not man (Hos. 11,9). In focus are texts like Gen. 1-3, the narratives about the patriarchs' wives, and the Song of Songs. These texts are analysed in their historical context, but from a female point of view. A special paper gives a systematic representation of female aspects of the image of God. Laws concerning women and the possible theological implications of these laws today are discussed in an appendix, a reprint of an article by their teacher, Kirsten Nielsen. (K.N.)

Karin Friis Plum, Kvindehistorie og kvindehistorier - i det gamle testamente, Hans Reitzel, København, 1983, ISBN 87-412-3714-5, Pp. 144, Price: Dkr 138,50. - The title of the book indicates the main theme: the history of women as we know it through the stories about women in the Old Testament. According to the author, a woman herself, this history is a history of economic, sexual, and religious oppression. The author bases her thesis on legal texts like Deut. 25:11-12; Ex. 20-21; Deut. 24:1-4; 22-24.29, as well as stories like Gen. 3; 12; 19; 34; 38; Judg. 14-15, and 1 Sam. 1. The authoress does not end up with this negative evaluation, but emphasises that alternatively read, from the point of a woman, the stories about woman often can be understood only as descriptions of misery, but as witnesses of women's courage and the will to transcend religious and political systems. (K.N.)

The status of the woman and the family according to Halakhah, Jerusalem: International Council of Jewish Women, l979, Pp. 58; see KS 57/2 no. 1746.

Judith Romney Wegner, Chattel or Person? The Status of Women in the Mishnah, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988, pp.xii, 267, ISBN 0-19-505169-6. - This is a sensitive treatment of the status of women as found specifically in the Mishnah. The author poses the theoretical question of "chattel or Person", and finds that the answer of the Mishnah varies according to the subject matter. The distinctions centre around ownership of the woman's sexual and reproductive function: the personhood of minor daughters, wives, and some widows is limited, while adult daughters, divorcees, and most widows are virtually autonomous. (B.S.J.)

Judith R. Wegner, "The Status of Women in Jewish and Islamic Marriage and Divorce Law", Harvard Women's Law Journal 5 (1982), 1-33. - The author compares the progress of women from the status of near-chattels to that of near-persons in Jewish and Islamic law, against the background of inhibitions against change in theocratic legal systems. (B.S.J.)

Joel B. Wolowelsky, "Modern Orthodoxy and Women's Changing Self-Perception" Tradition 22/1 (1986) 65-81. - The author accepts a new self-perception on the part of orthodox women as an ineluctable reality and he examines the present and possible participation of women in orthodox Jewish life. The key to the matter, as the author sees it, is the guaranteeing of opportunity for girls and women to receive torah education including instruction in Talmud. He warns that the orthodox community ignores the new self-awareness on the part of women only at its peril. (S.M.P.)

 

 

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