Academic journal article Theological Studies

Making Sense of Sex: Attitudes towards Sexuality in Early Jewish and Christian Literature

Academic journal article Theological Studies

Making Sense of Sex: Attitudes towards Sexuality in Early Jewish and Christian Literature

Article excerpt

Making Sense of Sex: Attitudes towards Sexuality in Early Jewish and Christian Literature. By William Loader. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2013. Pp. vii + 168. $24.

A catchy title, to be sure. Of three other books on the market with that title, only Loader's is a scholarly investigation of ancient literature. In fact, it is the latest in a series of more detailed studies by him into sexual issues as revealed in early Hebrew Scriptures, the Septuagint, Philo and other Jewish writers, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the New Testament, all published by Eerdmans. It is a concluding summary, as it were, of those separate monographs on beliefs, practices, and laws related to sex and sexual behavior in late Judaism and early Christianity during the four centuries from ca. 300 BCE to ca. 100 CE.

Chapter 1 compares ancient accounts of the creation of human beings, not only in Genesis but also in Greek literature, all of which portray sexuality as basically good but needing to be circumscribed by laws and customs lest the social order be disrupted by uncontrolled desires. The other three chapters summarize attitudes and mores regarding households of men and women, behavior related to temples and other sacred spaces, and control of sexual passions constrained by social norms. …

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