Below, author Rafael Rachel Neis provides a comic on When a Human Gives Birth to a Raven: Rabbis and the Reproduction of Species, a provocative and trailblazing work in the study of rabbinic literature.

Through an original analysis of creaturely generation and species classification by late ancient Palestinian rabbis and other thinkers in the Roman Empire, Rafael Rachel Neis shows how rabbis blurred the lines between humans and other beings, even as they were intent on classifying creatures and tracing the contours of what it means to be human. Recognizing that life proliferates by mechanisms beyond sexual copulation between two heterosexual “male” and “female” individuals of the same species, the rabbis proposed intricate alternatives. In parsing a variety of creatures, they considered overlaps and resemblances across seemingly distinct species, upsetting in turn unmitigated claims of human distinctiveness. When a Human Gives Birth to a Raven enters conversations in animal studies, queer theory, trans theory, and feminist science studies to provincialize sacrosanct ideals of reproduction in favor of a broader range that spans generation, kinship, and species. The book thereby offers powerful historical alternatives to the paradigms associated with so-called traditional ideas.

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