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Eternally Eve
Images of Eve in the Hebrew Bible, Midrash, and Modern Jewish Poetry
Anne Lapidus Lerner



HBI Series on Jewish Women

Brandeis University Press
2007 • 256 pp. 6 x 9"
Women's Studies / Jewish Studies

$29.95 Paperback, 978-1-58465-573-2



“In this wide-ranging work, Lapidus Lerner shows how the typical depiction of Eve as a subservient, and as an evil temptress is wrong. Through a close reading of biblical and rabbinic texts, as well as modern Hebrew, Yiddish, and English poems, she shows a much more complex and interesting Eve. Her method, which allows each text to speak for itself, and to gain more depth through juxtaposition to other texts, yields significant insights into a wide variety of compositions, and offers an important addition to the growing body of Jewish scholarly feminist literature.”Marc Z. Brettler, Dora Golding Professor of Biblical Studies, Chair of Near Eastern and Judail Studies, Brandeis University

A fascinating analysis of the story of Eve, using modern poetry in conversation with biblical texts and rabbinic rewritings to reveal new layers of meaning

The biblical accounts of Eve's life are central to Western culture, occupying a privileged place in our literature and art, culture, and society. For both Judaism and Christianity, these stories involving Eve have for centuries been entangled with the religious and social construction of gender. The ambiguous biblical record of her life from the two versions of her creation, through her encounter with the forbidden fruit, to her expulsion from Eden, and followed by the tantalizing glimpses of her life in the real world has served through the ages as a mirror of commonly held views about women. For Jewish readers, Eve's role as metonym -- signifying womanhood, or Jewish womanhood, as a whole -- is of prime importance. By tracing the imagined character of Eve from ancient times to the present, Eternally Eve opens a window on the transmission and persistence of cultural and social values.

Eternally Eve takes as its subject the many ways these stories can be read, interpreting the biblical narratives as well as their iteration by rabbinic midrashists and modern poets. Anne Lapidus Lerner argues that we must set aside, or at least rethink, a series of assumptions about Eve that have been dominant in Jewish thought for centuries and instead return to the original texts to rediscover meanings implicit in them. Using modern poetry about Eve as a touchstone for reinterpreting older texts, Lerner discovers that Genesis is often more open to contemporary values than are later rabbinic texts. Linking sacred texts to works of the classical and modern imagination, Lerner restores to her sources meanings suppressed or neglected over many years and demonstrates their power to speak today.

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Reviews:

“An erudite exercise in comparative literature, feminist inquiry, and biblical exegesis . . . this work will benefit not only students of Jewish literature but also anyone who seeks to understand Eve as textual figure and cultural appropriation.”Choice

“Ample glossaries and indexes contribute a great deal to the accessibility of Dr. Lerner’s work, but the book is indispensable simply because Eve’s story is our story.”CJ: Voices of Conservative Judaism

“Throughout time Eve as an icon of female sexuality has served as a touchstone for the erotic in women's lives. Readers of Eternally Eve will find their conception of male/female relationships transformed.”—Dr. Ruth Westheimer

Endorsements:

“Deeply rooted in biblical, rabbinic, and literary scholarship, Lerner's accessible and engrossing study explores representations of Eve's enduring creativity and power across the millennia of Jewish tradition and imagination.”—Judith R. Baskin, Knight Professor of Humanities, University of Oregon

“In this wide-ranging work, Lapidus Lerner shows how the typical depiction of Eve as a subservient, and as an evil temptress is wrong. Through a close reading of biblical and rabbinic texts, as well as modern Hebrew, Yiddish, and English poems, she shows a much more complex and interesting Eve. Her method, which allows each text to speak for itself, and to gain more depth through juxtaposition to other texts, yields significant insights into a wide variety of compositions, and offers an important addition to the growing body of Jewish scholarly feminist literature.”—Marc Z. Brettler, Dora Golding Professor of Biblical Studies, Chair of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, Brandeis University



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ANNE LAPIDUS LERNER is Assistant Professor of Jewish Literature and Director of the Program in Jewish Women's Studies at Jewish Theological Seminary, New York City. She is a co-editor of Gender and Text: Feminist Perspectives on Modern Hebrew and Yiddish Literatures (1992).






Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:34:33 -0500