Clothing and Nudity in the Hebrew Bible

BERNER, Christoph, Manuel SCHÄFTER, Martin SCHOTT, Sarah SCHULZ and Martina WEINGÄRTNER (eds, 2019). Clothing and Nudity in the Hebrew Bible, London: T&T Clark, Bloomsbury Publishers. ISBN 978-0-5676-7847-0, hardback, line drawings, b/w illustrations, chapter endnotes and bibliography, indexes. Price: £112.32 (exc. postage).

This book includes 32 articles on different aspects of textile production and use in the ancient Near East, with a specific emphasis on clothing in the Hebrew Bible. The book has been divided into three main sections and numerous sub-sections.

The first section includes articles concerning contextualizing clothing and nudity in ancient Israel as well as the ancient Near East in general. There is also a sub-section dedicated to the role of textiles and clothing in particular in the Hebrew Bible.

The second section deals with thematic studies with specific attention being paid to clothing the Divine, as well as customs and ethics – including mixing wool and linen (Deut. 22:11), what should a person do if they see a naked person (Isa. 58:7) and the role of clothing and nudity in Second Temple literature.

The last section looks at textual studies, notably the role of nudity and clothing in various Bible (Hebrew, Old Testament) chapters, such as those worn by Adam and Eve (Genesis), the wearing of garments in Exodus, as well as the role of priestly vestments, and how prophets regarded clothing (notably David, Elijah, Ezekiel, and Joshua).

Finally there is a sub-section about so-called Wisdom literature, which looks at women’s dress codes in the Book of Proverbs and clothing (or lack of) in the Song of Songs.

Recommendation: Where to begin? This book covers so many different aspects of textile production, clothing, religious function of dress, etc., that it is difficult to recommend it for one specific group. Basically it is essential reading for anyone with a specialist interest in ancient Near Eastern manufacturing, economic, religious and cultural contexts and their interconnecting links, in the first millennium BC.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood

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