Androgynes and Eunuchs in Rabbinic Literature
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Trans Talmud places eunuchs and androgynes at the center of rabbinic literature and asks what we can learn from them about Judaism and the project of transgender history. Rather than treating these figures as anomalies to be justified or explained away, Max K. Strassfeld argues that they profoundly shaped ideas about law, as the rabbis constructed intricate taxonomies of gender across dozens of texts to understand an array of cultural tensions. Showing how rabbis employed eunuchs and androgynes to define proper forms of masculinity, Strassfeld emphasizes the unique potential of these figures to not only establish the boundary of law but exceed and transform it. Trans Talmud challenges how we understand gender in Judaism and demonstrates that acknowledging nonbinary gender prompts a reassessment of Jewish literature and law.
Praise For Trans Talmud: Androgynes and Eunuchs in Rabbinic Literature…
"In a world that seeks to erase our history and our bodies, these texts provide images of a past where we may have existed, albeit with complexities. To study Talmud is to dream our past into the future, and to engage in the act of traveling through time accompanied by our ancestors’ voices. . . . As queer, trans and nonbinary Jews do the work of consciously creating a usable past, Trans Talmud invites us to do so with more integrity and precision."
"Dr. Max Strassfeld, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Arizona, now offers us a welcome guide to Talmudic gender(s) in this meticulous, far-reaching, and lyrical book. It welcomes a wide variety of readers with patient explanations of central concepts in the fields of gender and queer studies and the world of the Talmud and rabbinic literature of late antiquity."
— Jewish Book Council
University of California Press, 9780520382053, 262pp.
Publication Date: April 26, 2022
About the Author
Max K. Strassfeld is Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Classics at the University of Arizona.