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Fatal FictionsCrime and Investigation in Law and Literature$
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Alison L. LaCroix, Richard H. McAdams, and Martha C. Nussbaum

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190610784

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190610784.001.0001

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Suborning Perjury

Suborning Perjury

A Case Study of Narrative Precedent in Talmudic Law

Chapter:
(p.41) 3 Suborning Perjury
Source:
Fatal Fictions
Author(s):

Barry Scott Wimpfheimer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190610784.003.0003

Chapter 3 focuses on the Babylonian Talmud at Makkot 5b, which records the debate of a hypothetical in which a woman who has already produced two sets of perjuring witnesses attempts to produce a third set. One side believes the litigant loses the ability to produce a third set of witnesses; the other contends that witness credibility must be presumed. Wimpfheimer connects this legal discussion of perjury to Jewish folk beliefs about women who are twice widowed, referred to in post-Talmudic literature as “killer wives.” He argues that the example of the killer wife reflects a pattern of rabbinic thought in which the rabbis consistently characterize superstition itself as female-gendered. Both stories reflect the absorption of the myth of Pandora’s box into rabbinic culture and the relationship between rabbinic views of women and the views of their broader culture.

Keywords:   Talmudic law, perjury, killer wives, gender, Jewish folk beliefs

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