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Conflicting Attitudes to Conversion in Judaism, Past and Present


  • Date Published: November 2017
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108416306

£ 80.00

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About the Authors
  • Evidence suggests that conversion originated during the Babylonian Exile. Around the same time, biological genealogy was gaining popularity, especially among priests whose legitimacy was becoming increasingly defined by 'pure' pedigree. When the biological, or ethnic, criterion is extended to the definition of Jewishness, as it seems to have been by Ezra, the possibility of conversion is all but precluded. The Rabbis did not reject the primacy of genealogy, yet were also heirs to a strong pro-conversion tradition. In this book, Isaac Sassoon confronts the tensions and paradoxes apparent in rabbinic discussions of conversion, and argues that they resulted from irresolution between the two conflicting traditions. He also contends that attitudes to conversion can impact not only one's conception of Judaism but also on one's faith, as seems to be demonstrated by authors cited in the book whose espousal of a narrowly ethnic view of Judaism allows for a nepotistic theology.

    • Analyses both biblical and rabbinic texts - some lesser known than others - that are important for understanding the divergent, and sometimes contradictory, traditions relating to Jewish conversion, empowering the English reader who often feels mystified, if not intimidated, by the subject
    • Tests the assumption that Israelite priesthood is to have been determined by bloodline since the beginning
    • Discusses the status conferred variably on bona fide converts within Jewish society, showing the range of paradigms scattered throughout the rabbinic corpus
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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2017
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108416306
    • length: 288 pages
    • dimensions: 223 x 146 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.47kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Hillel and Shammai
    2. Philologizing 'ger'
    3. Metaphoric blood
    4. Ethnicity's apotheosis
    5. A hackneyed myth
    6. David's sons
    7. Priesthood
    8. A post-exilic passover
    9. Priesthoods under the microscope
    10. Moses the first-born
    11. Were converts a caste apart?
    12. Holiness and haughtiness
    13. Seed of doubt
    14. Rites of passage
    15. A quirky blockbuster
    16. Maimonides
    17. Warder Cresson
    18. Canaanites redux
    19. Epilogue.

  • Author

    Isaac Sassoon
    Isaac Sassoon is Senior Lecturer (emeritus) in the Bible and Talmud at the Institute of Traditional Judaism. He is the author of several books on aspects of Judaism, most recently The Status of Women in Jewish Tradition (Cambridge, 2011).

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