Ingrid E. Lilly
The Fertility of Bones: Towards a Corporeal Philology of Reproduction
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Addressing the scholarly inattention to male fertility in the Hebrew Bible, this article examines how bones are figured in male bodies and configured in discourses about reproduction and kinship. Drawing on insights from new kinship studies, I analyze texts about bones in ancient Near Eastern medical and related literature to argue that wet bones are a cultural index for male fertility while dry bones signal infertility and a crisis of social regeneration. With special attention to Isaiah 66, we see male children sprout moist bones in their milky bodies as a promise of clan regeneration and the establishment of a future through male seed. By way of conclusion, towards a corporeal philology, I argue that Hebrew philology must incorporate embodiment and the materiality of language into its approaches, using examples from linguistic history and material culture of ʿṣm.