Temptress or Role Model: New Book Rethinks the Story of Eve

Press Contact: Nina Jacobson
Office: (212) 678-8950
Email: nijacobson@jtsa.edu

October 17, 2007, New York, NY

The story of Eve has for centuries been read as a justification for the unequal treatment afforded to women. For both Judaism and Christianity, the ambiguous biblical record of her life has served through the ages to shape commonly held views about womanhood.

In her new book, Eternally Eve: Images of Eve in the Hebrew Bible, Midrash and Modern Jewish Poetry (Brandeis University Press, September 2007), Dr. Anne Lapidus Lerner, an assistant professor of Jewish Literature at The Jewish Theological Seminary, puts biblical texts in conversation with later sources and argues that society must set aside, or at least rethink, a series of assumptions about Eve that have long been dominant in Jewish thought. By tracing the imagined character of Eve from ancient times to the present, Eternally Eve opens a window on the transmission and persistence of cultural and social values and argues for their undoing.

Dr. Lerner is also director and founder of the Jewish Women's Studies Program and director of the Jewish Feminist Research Group at JTS. A member of the faculty since 1969, Dr. Lerner has served in many senior administrative positions and was the first woman to hold the post of vice chancellor at JTS.

Among Dr. Lerner's publications is Who Has Not Made Me a Man: The Movement for Equal Rights for Women in American Judaism, which has become a classic study of the interaction between the second wave of American feminism and Judaism. She is also an editor of the Gender and Text: Feminist Approaches to Modern Hebrew and Yiddish Literature, and has served as a visiting lecturer and research associate for Harvard University Divinity School's Women's Studies in Religion program. Dr. Lerner earned bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees from Harvard University. She received a bachelor's degree in Jewish Education and master's degree in Hebrew Letters from Hebrew College in Boston.

Early reviews

“Throughout time Eve as an icon of female sexuality has served as a touchstone for the erotic in women’s lives. Readers of Eternally Eve will find their conception of male/female relationships transformed.” – Dr. Ruth Westheimer

“In this wide-ranging book, Lapidus Lerner…offers an important addition to the growing body of Jewish scholarly feminist literature.” – Marc Z. Brettler, Dora Golding Professor of Biblical Studies, Chair of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, Brandeis University

Editors/Reporters: To schedule an interview with Dr. Lerner, please contact Sherry S. Kirschenbaum in the Department of Communications at (212) 678-8953.

Founded in 1886 as a rabbinical school, The Jewish Theological Seminary today is the academic and spiritual center of Conservative Judaism worldwide, encompassing a world-class library and five schools. JTS trains tomorrow's religious, educational, academic, and lay leaders for the Jewish community and beyond.