First Came Marriage: The Rabbinic Appropriation of Early Jewish Wedding Ritual
Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias, 2013 pp. x + 261. $183.04
Judaism in Context, 13
Description: Competing ritual and historical perspectives each provide only a partial view of early Jewish weddings. Combining these approaches allows for a new look at practices rejected or highlighted by early rabbis and their successors. First Came Marriage: The Rabbinic Appropriation of Early Jewish Wedding Ritual investigates the process by which early Jews married and the various moves they used to minimize, elaborate or codify these practices. By focusing on ritual, we come to reconsider the limitations placed on slaves and mamzerim marrying, laying the groundwork for a fuller understanding of how the rabbis construct citizenship. Other sources alluding to wedding processions and feasts provide an important counterpoint to mishnaic and talmudic texts that do explore wedding customs, revealing the limits of a rabbinic stake in these practices. The earliest rabbis, the Tannaim, emerge as less concerned with weddings than previously thought. Only the later rabbis, the Amoraim, develop an interest in articulating Jewish wedding blessings. These explorations point to the need for new ways of understanding the relationship of rabbis to the larger community, recognizing that other events in neighboring communities might help explain why weddings gradually become meaningful in later rabbinic circles.
Subjects: Bible, Mishnah, Talmudic and Rabbinic Literature, Literature, Methods, Historical Approaches, History, History of Judaism
Review by Joshua Schwartz
Citation: Joshua Schwartz, review of Susan Marks, First Came Marriage: The Rabbinic Appropriation of Early Jewish Wedding Ritual, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2015).
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