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Gentile Impurities and Jewish IdentitiesIntermarriage and Conversion from the Bible to the Talmud$
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Christine E. Hayes

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195151206

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195151208.001.0001

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Gentiles and Moral Impurity: Rabbinic Attitudes to Intermarriage

Gentiles and Moral Impurity: Rabbinic Attitudes to Intermarriage

(p.145) 7 Gentiles and Moral Impurity: Rabbinic Attitudes to Intermarriage
Gentile Impurities and Jewish Identities

Christine E. Hayes (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The rabbinic approach to intermarriage differs considerably from that of the Second Temple sources examined in Ch. 4. The rabbis reject the holy‐seed thinking of Ezra and related sources and – in contrast to Jubilees and related texts – they deny that a universal ban on all interethnic sexual unions can be located in the biblical text. For the rabbis, conversion is possible, marriage with converted Gentiles is permitted, and the rationale for the rabbinic prohibition against marriage with unconverted Gentiles is moral–religious rather than genealogical. Nor does the fear of ritual impurity motivate rabbinic prohibitions of sexual unions with unconverted Gentiles. Indeed, the rather limited rabbinic decree of Gentile ritual impurity is best understood as a resistance to competing (and extreme) characterizations of Gentiles and intergroup unions as generating a dangerous carnal impurity or indelible genealogical impurity.

Keywords:   carnal, conversion, genealogical, gentile, holy seed, impurity, intermarriage, moral, ritual

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