Being a Man: Negotiating Ancient Constructs of Masculinity (London: Routledge, 2016) is the first-ever collection of essays on masculinity in the ancient Near Eastern textual and iconographical sources. It is a formative work which reveals the myriad and complex negotiations for constructions of masculine identities in the greater ancient Near East and beyond. Through a juxtaposition of studies into Neo-Assyrian artistic representations and omens, biblical hymns and narrative, Hittite, Akkadian, and Indian epic, as well as detailed linguistic studies on gender and sex in the Sumerian and Hebrew languages, the book challenges traditional understandings and assumed homogeneity for what it meant “to be a man” in antiquity. Being a Man is an indispensable resource for students of the ancient Near East, and a fascinating study for anyone with an interest in gender and sexuality throughout history.
Ilona Zsolnay, the editor of the volume, is an assyriologist (University of Pennsylvania) specialized in ancient Near Eastern religions and gender theory. Other contributors include Julia Assante, Jerrold S. Cooper, Ann K. Guinan and the late Joan Goodnick Westenholz (Mesopotamia); Mary Bacharova (Hittites); Simon Brodbeck (India); Hilary Lipka, Marc Brettler, and Steven W. Holloway (Hebrew Bible). Martti Nissinen, the director of the CSTT, has contributed an article on “Relative Masculinities in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.”