The introduction presents the book's main thesis, namely, that the rabbinic discourse of purity, while building on earlier foundations, presents a curious shift of focus toward self and subjectivity, and thus it establishes the legal field of ritual purity and impurity as one through which the self is formed and perfected. In addition, the introduction provides necessary background by introducing the Mishnah, its features, and the social and historical context in which it emerged, and by outlining the methodology used in approaching early rabbinic literature. Finally, the introduction situates the book's project within three existing scholarly conversations, noting its contribution to the study of purity of ancient Judaism, the body in rabbinic culture, and the self in antiquity.
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