Circumcision and Jewish identity: case studies on ancient texts and their reception

Lieve M. Teugels, Karin Neutel

Research output: Book/ReportBookAcademic


Male circumcision is one of the oldest and most widespread rituals, it has been practiced for millennia across many parts of the world. Yet this prevalence and long history do not make circumcision self-evident: it has also long been a topic of reflection, discussion, and controversy and continues to be so today. As the cases in this volume show, already in Antiquity, Greeks, Romans, Jews and Christians clashed over male circumcision. Then as now, concerns about identity, ritual, health, masculinity, and sexuality were a factor in these disputes. Very little is known about actual circumcision practices in the ancient world. Apart from depictions in art, the relation of which to daily practice is difficult to ascertain, we have historical access mainly through texts that reveal how the practice was discursively constructed, and that relate circumcision to wider cultural practices and ideas. This book therefore mainly discusses references to circumcision in literary sources, and the way these relate to other known cultural practices and ideas. These sources date from biblical times and Antiquity and their interpretations in medieval Jewish texts and recent scholarship.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationPiscataway, NJ
PublisherGorgias Press
Number of pages284
ISBN (Print)9781463245795
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Publication series

NameJudaism in Context
PublisherGorgias Press
ISSN (Print)1935-6978


  • Circumcision
  • identity
  • ancient judaism

Cite this