Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 7486
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Johnson , Willis.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: The Myth of Jewish Male Menses
  • Source: Journal of Medieval History 24, 3 (September 1998): Pages 273 - 295.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Antisemitism Jews Male Menstruation Medicine
  • Award Note:
  • Geographic Area: General
  • Century: General
  • Primary Evidence:
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  • Abstract: Several scholars have asserted that medieval Christians believed that Jewish men menstruated. Their arguments, made in support of a grander claim that Jews as a collectivity were gendered feminine in Christian thought, rest on numerous misreadings. Though such a belief did appear around 1500, prior references to a Jewish bloody flux derived from textual traditions that were not gendered. The rupturing of Judas's belly (Acts 1:18-19) inspired accounts of heretics and other betrayers of Christ dying with blood and /or guts coming out of their anuses. In the twelfth century this anal bleeding was exegetically linked to Jewish deicidal bloodguilt via the verse 'may His blood be upon us and upon our children' (Matt 27:25). In the thirteenth centruy this motif was rationalized using terms drawn from humoral medicine. Simultaneously, a new verse was adduced in support of the notion of supernatural anal bleeding: 'He smote His enemies in the posteriors'(Psalms 77:66). Monthly bleeding was first alleged in 1302, but only among the male descendants of the Jews who had accepted responsibility for the crucifixtion. The earliest mention of gendered, monthly bleeding appeared in the 1503 account of the ritual murder trials held in Tyrnau in 1494. [Reprinted from the Journal of Medieval History (at http://www.elsevier.nl/locate/jmedhist), Vol. 24, No. 3, Johnson, Willis, "The Myth of Jewish Male Menses," p.273, 1998, with permission from Elsevier Science.]
  • Author's Affiliation: University of Chicago Divinity School
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 1998.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 03044181