Purity and Pollution in the Hebrew Bible by Yitzhaq Feder
From Embodied Experience to Moral Metaphor
In this book, Yitzhaq Feder presents a novel and compelling account of pollution in ancient Israel, from its emergence as an embodied concept, rooted in physiological experience, to its expression as a pervasive metaphor in social-moral discourse. Feder aims to bring the biblical and ancient Near Eastern evidence into a sustained conversation with anthropological and psychological research through comparison with notions of contagion in other ancient and modern cultural contexts. Showing how numerous interpretive difficulties are the result of imposing modern concepts on the ancient texts, he guides readers through wide-ranging parallels to biblical attitudes in ancient Near Eastern, ethnographic, and modern cultures. Feder demonstrates how contemporary evolutionary and psychological research can be applied to ancient textual evidence. He also suggests a path of synthesis that can move beyond the polarized positions which currently characterize modern academic and popular debates bearing on the roles of biology and culture in shaping human behavior.
Year first published: 2021
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