Journal Article

Constructions of Sex and Gender: Attending to Androgynes and <i>Tumtumim</i> Through Jewish Scriptural Use

Marianne Schleicher

in Literature and Theology

Volume 25, issue 4, pages 422-435
Published in print December 2011 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online November 2011 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI:
Constructions of Sex and Gender: Attending to Androgynes and Tumtumim Through Jewish Scriptural Use

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Responding to the ethical and performative call of Judith Butler not to propagate the sex- and gender-related violence of the imbedded discourse that we study, this article inquires into the discursive strategies of Jewish scripture by analysing how it orchestrates certain norms of sex and gender and makes them serve the overall aim of securing cultural survival. Following this, it traces reflections on persons of ambiguous or indeterminate sex from rabbinic to modern Judaism so as to inquire into the rabbinic dependency on scripture when non-conforming individuals challenge its bipolar sex and gender system. Finally, the article considers if scripture, as suggested by Butler, can play a subversive role in how we attend to non-conforming others today. To do so, the author's distinction between hermeneutical and artifactual uses of scripture is presented to evaluate the extent to which modern Jews and non-Jews are able to influence their own representations of sex and gender and thus liberate themselves from the normativity implied by scriptural discourse.

Journal Article.  6019 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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