Daniel Boyarin

In this chapter I do not so much want to indicate content for a Jewish theology of sex, as point to the peculiar ways that a peculiar people undertake the theological enterprise itself. Not given to forms of philosophical discourse that other Jews (including Christians) mobilize in their doing of theological work (and which might possibly, at least, be the only form of discourse that merits the name "theology"), the Rabbis, famously or notoriously, work out values and religious ideas through two very different discursive means, hermeneutical elaboration of norms, as expressed in the Torah (the five books of Moses), and the expansion of biblical narrative (midrash). These two processes, which bear some relationship to modern "narrative theology," have been dubbed by a school of thinkers following Peter Ochs, as "textual reasoning," a mode of rationality that is always/already second-order, and, indeed, does not recognize the very opposition between first-order and second-order reasonings. Hence, the present contribution to a theological elaboration of sexuality (or rather its privation) within rabbinic textuality.

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