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Monday, April 22, 2013

The First Case of Drug-Dependent Memory: The Biblical Lot in Talmudic and Midrashic Exegesis

The literature on alcohol and alcoholism has long noted how the effects of alcohol are reported in early sources, including religious texts such as the Bible and Talmud. In that vein, we suggest that the Bible, as elucidated according to long-established rabbinic interpretation, contains the earliest recorded case of drug-dependent memory, in the account of Lot's alcohol-facilitated incestuous relationships with his daughters (Genesis 19:29–38).

We posit that the Talmudic, Midrashic, and traditional rabbinic commentaries that support our reading of the Lot narrative convey keen understanding of the effects of alcohol on recall.

These Jewish sources, written centuries ago, demonstrate insight into the nature of alcohol-influenced cognitive function, which was thought to have been unknown prior to contemporary times.

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