How does one “lie with a woman”? The performance of gender in the Holiness Code (<em>Leviticus</em> 17-26)
Keywords:Leviticus 18:22, Jewish studies, Membership Categorization Analysis, homophobia, gender
The homophobia of a number of Christian and Jewish denominations can be traced back to two verses in the Hebrew Bible, Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13. One generally overlooked characteristic of both these passages is that their normative thrust is gendered. My argument will start from this obvious fact to conduct an inquiry into the way the feminine is constructed in the Holiness Code. The conclusion of my analysis is that the real object of the Biblical prohibition it not sex between men but the erasure of the social difference between man and woman, which poses a formidable threat to the status of the only subject whose existence is acknowledged by the social order of ancient Israelitic culture, the adult human male. And, of course, the very anxiety associated with this possibility is a clue to the fact that in the Holiness Code gender is conceived of not as an essence but as the intrinsically unstable result of relationships, events, and negotiations; in short, as what thousands of years later would come to be known as performative.
Whatever is an open access journal, which means that all articles are available on the Internet to all users immediately upon publication. Our articles are published under the terms of the Creative Commons Licence 4.0 by-nc, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial.
Authors hold copyright without restrictions. Also, authors retain publishing rights on their articles; however, it is recommended to keep track of the CC-BY-NC license and to quote original publication.