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Chattel or Person?

The Status of Women in the Mishnah

Chattel or Person? by Judith Romney Wegner
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Exploring the place of women in the socioeconomic system formulated in the Mishnah, a book of legal rules with a spiritual basis compiled by Jewish sages in second-century Palestine, this study reveals a fundamental ambiguity in the role of women. Both the property and the peers of men, in some circumstances women were considered to possess no powers, rights, or duties in law, and in others were judged morally, practically, and intellectually fit to own property, conduct business, engage in lawsuits, and manage their own personal affairs. Wegner spells out in detail these variations in status, analyzes them, and isolates the factors that account for differential treatment of different classes of women in the private domain and for differential treatment of men and women in the public domain of mishnaic culture, relating her findings to recent developments in feminist analyses of the status of women in patriarchy.
Oxford University Press; December 1992
280 pages; ISBN 9780195359862
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Title: Chattel or Person?
Author: Judith Romney Wegner