Pregnancy without sexual relations in medieval thought

Simcha Emanuel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This article deals with the various medieval versions of belief in the possibility of conception without sexual relations- either in a bath, from the semen of a man who bathed there, or by sheets on which a man had lain. This notion is frequently cited in the name of the outstanding Muslim savant Ibn Rushd (Averroes, b. 1126), but our research shows that Ibn Rushd never wrote this, and this opinion was added only in the Latin translation of his book. The Latin translation of Ibn Rushd's book influenced medieval Christian scholars, as well as Jewish Tosaphists, in France in the end of the 134 century. The halakhic discussions of the Tosaphists in this issue, which did not have a lot of importance in their days, became the cornerstone in the modern halakhic discussions about some aspects of artificial insemination - a procedure that indeed enable conception without sexual relations.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)105-120
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Jewish Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011


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