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Purity And Impurity The Naked Woman Bathing In Jewish And Christian Art

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Chapter Summary

The image of the nude woman in water in medieval Jewish and Christian art is related to contemporary perceptions of immersion. Belief in the purifying and healing effects of water, going back to the biblical period, was adopted by Jews and Christians alike in creating certain basic rituals. For Jews immersion was the final stage of the purification process demanded of women completing their menstrual period. For Christians, it was associated with the sacrament of baptism, signifying admission to the Christian faith. Together with the sanctified aspect, the connection between feminine nudity and water, especially in visual representations, contains elements of temptation. This chapter considers facets of that image. It discusses the similarities and differences between representations in the Jewish and Christian contexts and, through its various expressions, considers the similarities and dissimilarities between the Jewish and Christian attitudes toward menstruation, purification, and sexual relations within marriage.

Keywords: baptism; Christian art; Jewish art; menstruation; nude woman; purification; sanctified; sexual relations; temptation



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