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Harlot or Holy Woman?

A Study of Hebrew Qedesah

Harlot or Holy Woman?

A Study of Hebrew Qedesah

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Hardback

£158.95

Publisher: Eisenbrauns
ISBN: 9781575069814
Number of Pages: 512
Published: 20/11/2019
Width: 15.2 cm
Height: 22.9 cm
Harlot or Holy Woman? presents an exhaustive study of qedesah, a Hebrew word meaning "consecrated woman" but rendered "prostitute" or "sacred prostitute" in Bible translations. Reexamining biblical and extrabiblical texts, Phyllis A. Bird questions how qedesah came to be associated with prostitution and offers an alternative explanation of the term, one that suggests a wider participation for women as religious specialists in Israel's early cultic practice. Bird's study reviews all the texts from classical antiquity cited as sources for an institution of "sacred prostitution," alongside a comprehensive analysis of the cuneiform texts from Mesopotamia containing the cognate qadistu and Ugaritic texts containing the masculine cognate qds. Through these texts, Bird presents a portrait of women dedicated to a deity, engaged in a variety of activities from cultic ritual to wet-nursing, and sharing a common generic name with the qedesah of ancient Israel. In the final chapter she returns to biblical texts, reexamining them in light of the new evidence from the ancient Near East. Considering alternative models for constructing women's religious roles in ancient Israel, this wholly original study offers new interpretations of key texts and raises questions about the nature of Israelite religion as practiced outside the royal cult and central sanctuary.

Phyllis A. Bird

Phyllis A. Bird is Professor Emerita of Old Testament Interpretation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. She is the author of Missing Persons and Mistaken Identities: Women and Gender in Ancient Israel; Faith, Feminism, and the Forum of Scripture; Feminism and the Bible; and The Bible as the Church's Book.

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