Monday, April 18, 2005

Bar Kokhba-Era Texts Abstract

Here is the abstract for the essay on the Judean Desert texts from the Bar Kokhba era. The focus of the essay is the Babatha archive.
The discovery of Babatha's archive inside the Cave of Letters by Yigael Yadin and his team of explorers in January of 1961 was a major breakthrough in the study of women's lives during the early second century C.E. Babatha, a wealthy Jewish woman living in the Dead Sea town of Mahoza, kept a meticulous set of records concerning her two late husbands, her son, her property, and the three different lawsuits involving her. Arguably the most important document in the cache was her Ketubba, or marriage contract, which details the obligations of the bridegroom to the bride during this time, and also protects the wife against future monetary concerns. The evidence concerning Babatha's daughter-in-law Shelamzion, whose Ketubba as well as a possible divorce document are included within the archive, further details the legal standing of women in this time. Briefly mentioned is Julia Crispina, possibly the last Jewish princess in Israel before the Bar Kokhba revolt, whose role in the Roman court demonstrates a different side of a woman's status in court. The powers of women and their most pressing concerns are what Babatha's archive reveals, and their continued study will vastly aid scholars in understanding the struggles in the daily lives of these women.

Erica Lehneis