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Bibil Identifier bibil:217737
Publication Type Journal article
Title (English, Long) The Influence of Realia on Biblical Depictions of Childbirth
Author Viezel, Eran
Journal Vetus Testamentum (Volume: 61, Issue: 4)
Year (Publication) 2011
Year (Original (1st Edition)) 2011
Year (Copyright) 2011
Year (Reference) 2011
Language English
Pages 685-689 Pages
Genre Original
Abstract As is well-known, the first part of a newborn's body to emerge during a standard birth is the head. In a breech birth, which is much more rare, the baby enters the world bottom-first. There is no evidence at all of babies exiting the womb with their arms outstretched. Yet biblical accounts of childbirth contain explicit and implicit descriptions of the hand as the first limb to emerge from the womb. In this note, I argue that this erroneous depiction is a reflection of the real life situation of the biblical authors. Since men were not present at childbirth, their knowledge of the process was limited and stereotyped. In contrast, men were very familiar with the birthing of sheep and cattle. Typically, the front legs of a newborn sheep or calf emerge before the body. Male biblical authors relied upon their knowledge of the birthing of sheep and cattle to describe the births of human infants, mistakenly supposing that these two different processes were identical.
DOI 10.1163/156853311X560790
Keywords Thesaurus BiBIL : Old Testament (Introduction) : Theology : Themes : Birth
Pericopes Genesis 25,25-25,26
Genesis 38,28-38,30
Last modification 2017-10-27