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Eternally Eve: Images of Eve in the Hebrew Bible, Midrash, and Modern Jewish Poetry (Brandeis Series on Jewish Women) [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   238
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   0.86 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Publisher   Brandeis
ISBN  1584655739  
EAN  9781584655732  

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Item Description...
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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More About Anne Lapidus Lerner

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! 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).

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A truly remarkable book for everyone--not just academics!  Dec 6, 2007
My teacher Rabbi Neil Gillman, JTS professor and adult education superstar, has written this about Eternally Eve, and with his permission I post his words here. Everyone I know who has read this book has loved it! If you're interested in women in the Bible, midrash, modern Jewish poetry, feminism, literature,'ll want to own this book.

From Neil Gillman:


Read Anne Lapidus Lerner's Eternally Eve.

My first impulse upon finishing reading Dr. Anne Lapidus Lerner's just published Eternally Eve: Images of Eve in the Hebrew Bible, Midrash, and Modern Jewish Poetry, was to search for what was missing. Rarely have I had the experience of putting down a book of this kind with such a sense of satisfaction. Something must be wrong here. My intuitive skepticism thoroughly aroused, I picked the book up again, and began at the back of the book.

A Subject Index? There it was. Eight pages worth. Index of Sources? Six pages. Works Cited? Also eight pages. Footnotes? Over forty pages appear at the end, listed according to the pages to which they pertain. The book is remarkably accessible. But footnotes, indices and citations alone do not guarantee scholarly accomplishment.

True, the works cited range far and wide. From Genesis Rabbah to Dan Pagis, David Stern, Robert Alter, Yaakov Fikhman, ltzik Manger, Marge Piercy, Hessiod, Yokheved Bat-Miriam, Kim Chernin, and many others, some quite unfamiliar to me at least (Helen Papell?), many in Yiddish and Hebrew (all translated). Brief identifying data and dates provide a context.

But it is the way Lerner knits these sources into what she calls "the conversation" that is so striking. An extended analysis of a Hebrew sonnet by Fikhman on the tension between Eve's love for Adam and the "nocturnal enchantments whispered by the serpent" leads to an equally extended study of a Yiddish poem by Manger where the tempter is the apple tree. In a nine-line poem by Helen Papell, the tree becomes a youthful sapling which mirrors Eve to herself.

These three poems serve as a context for a study of the serpent who, in Lerner's telling, emerges as the most intriguing character of the story after Eve herself, first in the biblical text, then in the midrash, later in poetry.

Throughout, Dr. Lerner's analysis is tight and close; she reads her texts very carefully. Her conclusions are frequently surprising, but utterly convincing. Not the least of her accomplishments was to send me back to reread the original narrative, to that incredible third chapter of Genesis and to note the surprises. The biggest surprise is the personality of Eve herself.

I have frequently preached on the matriarchs as exemplars of biblical femininity, but I had never fully appreciated the many dimensions of this woman as they emerge in the narrative. The Eve of the heart of the story is "articulate," a "risk-taker," "eloquent" and "spirited." "Only God, not Adam, rivals her as character," Lerner concludes.

The exegetical history of the biblical narrative, as Lerner traces it from the midrash to our own day, expands this portrait in multiple and varying ways. But Eve's trajectory moves from power to a gradual decline at the end. At first, she is credited with having given birth to Seth, but in 5:3, it is Adam who begets a son, notably, "in his likeness, after his image." I confess that in my many prior readings of the narrative, that striking detail had escaped me entirely.

Gently hovering over the entire conversation are the issues of gender. Eve's story is our story, totally contemporaneous, sacred literature and therefore prescriptive. She is both exemplar and prototype, and paradigm for the present and the future. As every generation read Eve's story through its own lenses, so should we, and Dr. Lerner's Eternally Eve does that for us.
For Academics Only  Nov 6, 2007
The book is well-written, thoughtful, and excellent. It is not for the casual reader, but for one who wants to have a mind-stretching experience. Philosophy, politics, sociology, religion all in one book. Brilliant!

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