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Gentile Impurities and Jewish IdentitiesIntermarriage and Conversion from the Bible to the Talmud$
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Christine E. Hayes

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195151206

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195151208.001.0001

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(p.215) Appendix C

(p.215) Appendix C

The Ritual Impurity of Idolatry: A Refutation of Alon

Gentile Impurities and Jewish Identities

Christine E. Hayes

Oxford University Press

Gedaliah Alon claims that three types of ritual impurity are ascribed to idols in rabbinic sources, corresponding to three types of ritual impurity ascribed to Gentiles. Alon views this correspondence as evidence that the principle of Gentile ritual impurity is grounded in the ritual impurity of idols. Since he believes the latter to be ancient (i.e., biblical), Alon assumes that the former is also. However, only one form of ritual impurity is consistently ascribed to Gentiles in rabbinic literature and this form of ritual impurity corresponds to none of the three forms ascribed to idols. Moreover, the ritual impurity of idols is a rabbinic novum lacking biblical precedent and cannot, therefore, be the basis of an ancient (i.e., biblical or prophetic) principle of Gentile ritual impurity.

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