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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

First-Degree Incest and the Hebrew Bible: Sex in the Family
Stiebert, Johanna

New York: Bloomsbury, 2016 pp. xi + 228. $114.00

Series Information
Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies, 596

Description: 'Incest' refers to illegal sexual relations between family members. Its precise contours, however, are culturally specific. Hence, an illegal incestuous union in one social context may be a legal close-kin union in another. First-degree sexual unions, between a parent and child, or between siblings, are most widely prohibited and abhorred. This book discusses all overt and covert first-degree incest relations in the Hebrew Bible and also probes the significance of gaps and what these imply about projected sexual and social values. As the dominant opinion on the origin of first-degree incest continues to be shaped, new voices such as those of queer and post-feminist criticism have joined the conversation. It navigates not only the incest laws of Leviticus and the narratives of Lot and his daughters and of Amnon and Tamar but pursues subtler intimations of first-degree sexual unions, such as between Adam and his (absent but arguably implied) mother, Haran and Terah's wife, Ham and Noah. In pursuing the psycho-social values that may be drawn from the Hebrew Bible regarding first-degree incest, this book will provide a thorough review of incest studies from the early 20th century onward and explain and assess the contribution of very recent critical approaches from queer and post-feminist perspectives.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Literature, Methods, Social-Scientific Approaches

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Review by Laura Quick
Published 3/9/2018
Citation: Laura Quick, review of Johanna Stiebert, First-Degree Incest and the Hebrew Bible: Sex in the Family, Review of Biblical Literature [] (2018).

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