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date: 19 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This essay showcases a sample of the diverse approaches to gender and sexuality that can be found in the literature of Second Temple Judaism. Within four of the major genres of Jewish literature during this period, it analyzes one example that makes particularly striking claims with respect to gender and sexuality: The Book of the Watchers, the Wisdom of Ben Sira, Jubilees, and Judith. Although all of the texts surveyed here come out of a culture with strong patriarchal tendencies, they do not all uphold patriarchal assumptions in equal measure or in the same ways. Taken together in their diversity, the texts demonstrate that the Jewish literary environment out of which the New Testament emerged was one in which sexuality was not a taboo subject but often provided an opportunity to reflect on the nature of the human person in relation to the divine.

Keywords: Second Temple Judaism, Book of the Watchers, Ben Sira/Ecclesiasticus, Jubilees, Judith, patriarchy, sexuality, procreation, marriage

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