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Purity, Body, and Self in Early Rabbinic Literature$
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Mira Balberg

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780520280632

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520280632.001.0001

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From Sources of Impurity to Circles of Impurity

From Sources of Impurity to Circles of Impurity

(p.17) 1 From Sources of Impurity to Circles of Impurity
Purity, Body, and Self in Early Rabbinic Literature

Mira Balberg

University of California Press

The first chapter overviews some of the central innovations that the rabbis introduced to the biblical system of purity, arguing that these innovations effectively turn impurity from a concern restricted to those who function as sources of impurity or to those in their immediate vicinity (as is the case in the Bible and in the Qumran Scrolls) to a concern pertaining to anyone and everyone at any given time. These innovations include a system of graded impurity, as well as new forms of impurity transmission. Through this transformation in the scope and impact of impurity, the rabbis of the Mishnah portray the entire lived world as infused with impurity, and they depict one's daily interactions with people and things as governed by constant attention to impurity.

Keywords:   Bible, Qumran, bodily fluids, transmission of impurity, graded impurity

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