Women in the Sex Texts of Leviticus and Deuteronomy: A Comparative Conceptual Analysis

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The writers of the biblical laws, like the writers of other legal corpora throughout history, considered the regulation of sex to be of some importance. A study and comparison of the two groups of sex laws in the Bible, those in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, reveal that factors even more narrowly focused than the general desire to control social behavior shape the texts. These factors, as reflected in the text, are responsible for the differing conceptual matrices within Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Whereas the interest of the Leviticus sex texts is ontology, that is, the classification or oder of kinds and their relationships, the interest of the Deuteronomy sex texts is property, that is, the man's ownership of the woman's sexuality and its protection. Ellens shows how these differing interests influence subtle corresponding differences in the conceptualization of women in the two groups of texts.