Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Dr. Sheila McGinn
This paper grapples with the traditional anti-queer reading of Rom 1:26–27, which purportedly forbids Christians from entering lesbian and gay relationships in some real sense, if not entirely. I begin by sketching this traditional reading by referring to antiqueer interpretations of Rom 1:26–27 that are top hits in today’s online world; subsequently, I suggest the direction for a standard historical critique of the traditional reading by arguing for the fundamental incongruence of ancient Greco-Roman and modern Western categories of gender and sexuality. Finally, instead of establishing my own historical-critical exegesis of the text, I discuss the necessity of engaged exegesis. I perform my own engaged reading of the text by creatively entering the mind of the Roman church as they read Paul’s letter. There, I entertain the possibility that Paul’s words in Rom 1:26–27 sparked this ancient audience to condemn the androgynous priests of the goddess cults, whose wild public festivals seemed to epitomize unnatural sexual praxis. I conclude by drawing the parallel between ancient condemnation of the priests of the goddesses and contemporary churches’ ability to continue understanding and practicing Christianity in patriarchal terms—indeed, this is the reason why I focus on the praxis of the androgynous goddess priests in the first place. The key for texts like Rom 1:26–27, I suggest, lies in adopting a tribadic hermeneutics, which foregrounds the experience of the queer community.
Michels, Matthew, "DISMANTLING A CLOBBER TEXT: AN ENGAGED CRITIQUE OF ROMANS 1:26–27" (2015). Masters Essays. 20.
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