Prostitution: myth and reality

Tali Artman-Partock, Ruth Kara-Ivanov Kaniel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Ruth Kara-Ivanov Kaniel and Tali Artman Partock explore the development of the concepts “prostitute” and “prostitution” in the context of Jewish tradition and myth, and discuss the ways it affects our thought in current discourse. They argue that the literary persona of the prostitute represents the confusion between mythical and metaphorical use of the concept. The reality of prostitution results in an epistemological “black hole”, which serves both to humiliate and to divinize the prostitute in biblical, rabbinical, and Kabbalistic literature. Exploring examples from the Bible, the Talmud, and the Zohar, the authors challenge the common assumption regarding the glorification of the “mythical prostitute”. Concurrently, they draw connections between the Christian and Jewish messianic myth, and its influence on both the virginal conception of Mary and the “holy prostitute”.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProstitution, Pornography and Trafficking in Women
Subtitle of host publicationIsrael's Blood Money
EditorsEsther Hertzog, Erella Shadmi
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9781138364585
StatePublished - 2019

Publication series

NameRoutledge Research in Gender and Society


  • Prostitution -- Biblical teaching
  • Prostitution -- History
  • Prostitution -- Religious aspects -- Judaism


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