Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Jacob's Wound by
Publication Date: 2005-06-08
The very suggestion that there may be homoeroticism in Hebrew narrative may seem odd given the supposition that the religion and culture of ancient Israel resolutely opposed same sex erotic relationships. The apparent prohibition of homosexuality in Leviticus and the story of Sodom from Genesis have been made to speak for the whole Hebrew Bible. The oddity of this situation has not been lost on some interpreters who have recognized that the story of Sodom tells us no more about attitudes toward what we call homosexuality than the story of the rape of Dina tells us about attitudes toward heterosexuality. Prof. Jennings says that the well-known eroticism of the Hebrew Bible is not confined to heterosexuality but also includes an astonishing diversity of material that lends itself to homoerotic interpretation. In Part one, Jennings examines saga materials associated with David. It is no innovation to detect in the David and Jonathan's relationship at least the outline of a remarkable love story between two men. What becomes clear, however, is that the tale is far more complex than this since it involves Saul and is set within a context of a warrior society that takes for granted that male heroes will be accompanied by younger or lower status males. Thus the complex erotic connections between David and Saul and David and Jonathan play out against the backdrop of a context of "heroes and pals." The second type of same sex relationship explored has to do with shamanistic forms of eroticism in which the sacral power of the holy man is both a product of same sex relationship and expressed through same sex practice. This section deals with Samuel and Saul and Elijah and Elisha. These are not warriors but persons whose sacral power is also erotic power that may find expression in erotic practices with persons of the same sex.The third type of same sex relationship discusses we now call transgendered persons, especially males, and their erotic relationship to (other) males. Here the book explores the transgendering of Israel by several prophets who use this device to explore the adultery and promiscuity that they wish to attribute to Israel, as well as the story of Joseph.
Jonathan Loved David by
Publication Date: 2011-03-01
The relationship between the Hebrew heroes David and Jonathan has caught the attention of popular and scholarly writers alike. Yet there is little agreement about the nature of this relationship that speaks of a love between two men that 'surpasses the love of a man for a woman' (2 Sam. 1.26). Weighing the arguments of scholars including Nissinen, Stone and Zehnder, Heacock produces a meta-critical analysis of the many interpretations of the relationship between David and Jonathan, identifying three dominant readings: the traditional political-theological interpretation, the homoerotic interpretation, and the homosocial interpretation. After outlining the three interpretive approaches, Heacock considers the evidence cited to support each: namely, themes in the David and Jonathan narrative and related biblical texts, ancient political treaties, laws pertaining to homogenital behaviour in the ancient Mediterranean world, and the heroic tales of the Gilgamesh Epic and Homer's Iliad. By applying recent epistemological shifts in knowledge as developed in the interdisciplinary fields of sexuality studies, queer studies and ancient studies, Heacock emphasizes the inescapability of the modern reader's cultural context when reading the narrative, particularly the influence of modern discourses of sexuality. Rather than suggest an alternative historical reading, Heacock turns the debate on its head by abandoning claims to historical veracity and embracing the input of the contemporary queer reader. Using queer theory and reader-response criticism, he offers a reading of the relationship between David and Jonathan through the lens of contemporary gay male friendships. This queer reading not only celebrates manly love in its numerous forms, but also adds a self-critical voice to the discussion that exposes the heteronormative assumptions underlying the questions often asked of the narrative.
Jonathan Loved David by
Publication Date: 1978-01-01
In this thoughtful exploration of a sensitive issue, Tom Horner considers all the references to homosexuality in the Bible--the stories of Sodom and Gibeah, David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, and passages from Deuteronomy, Leviticus, Romans, I Corinthians, and I Timothy. He includes an important discussion of the words and actions of Christ in their biblical and historical context, to determine what conclusions can validly be inferred about Jesus and sexuality. This book contains suggestions for further reading and a complete list of biblical references to homosexuality. Teachers, students, and anyone open to reconsidering homosexuality in the light of the Scriptures will profit from this clearly written work.
The Love of David and Jonathan by
Publication Date: 2016-04-08
Were David and Jonathan 'gay' lovers? This very modern question lies behind the recent explosion of studies of the David and Jonathan narrative. Interpreters differ in their assessment of whether 1 and 2 Samuel offer a positive portrayal of a homosexual relationship. Beneath the conflict of interpretations lies an ambiguous biblical text which has drawn generations of readers - from the redactors of the Hebrew text and the early translators to modern biblical scholars - to the task of resolving its possible meanings. What has not yet been fully explored is the place of David and Jonathan in the evolution of modern, Western understandings of same-sex relationships, in particular how the story of their relationship was read alongside classical narratives, such as those of Achilles and Patroclus, or Orestes and Pylades. The Love of David and Jonathan explores this context in detail to argue that the story of David and Jonathan was part of the process by which the modern idea of homosexuality itself emerged.
Trajectories of Justice by
Publication Date: 2015-10-09
The Bible proclaims a message of liberation. Though the Bible arose in an age when slavery and patriarchalism permeated society, the biblical authors sought to elevate the rights of slaves, the poor, and women. Their attempts to elevate the oppressed set in motion a trajectory of evolution, which we should still be advancing today. Critics of the Bible declare that it accepts slavery and the subordination of women, but they fail to understand the biblical texts in their historical context. For their age the biblical authors were advanced in their understanding of human rights, and the democratic values we hold today actually resulted from their early attempts to affirm the dignity and rights of slaves and women. It is equally important that we critique those spokespersons of the church who quote the Bible literally but have lost sight of its historical context so that they might still subordinate women today. Such spokespersons also declare that the Bible condemns homosexuality. But a closer reading of the text discerns that those few passages that address same-sex relations actually condemn rape, ritual prostitution, and master-slave relations. To use the Bible to condemn people often is to misuse the Bible.
When Heroes Love by
Publication Date: 2005-06-01
Toward the end of the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh King Gilgamesh laments the untimely death of his comrade Enkidu, "my friend whom I loved dearly." Similarly in the Bible, David mourns his companion, Jonathan, whose "love to me was wonderful, greater than the love of women." These passages, along with other ambiguous erotic and sexual language found in the Gilgamesh epic and the biblical David story, have become the object of numerous and competing scholarly inquiries into the sexual nature of the heroes' relationships. Susan Ackerman's innovative work carefully examines the stories' sexual and homoerotic language and suggests that its ambiguity provides new ways of understanding ideas of gender and sexuality in the ancient Near East and its literature. In exploring the stories of Gilgamesh and Enkidu and David and Jonathan, Ackerman cautions against applying modern conceptions of homosexuality to these relationships. Drawing on historical and literary criticism, Ackerman's close readings analyze the stories of David and Gilgamesh in light of contemporary definitions of sexual relationships and gender roles. She argues that these male relationships cannot be taken as same-sex partnerships in the modern sense, but reflect the ancient understanding of gender roles, whether in same- or opposite-sex relationships, as defined as either active (male) or passive (female). Her interpretation also considers the heroes' erotic and sexual interactions with members of the opposite sex. Ackerman shows that the texts' language and erotic imagery suggest more than just an intense male bonding. She argues that, though ambiguous, the erotic imagery and language have a critical function in the texts and serve the political, religious, and aesthetic aims of the narrators. More precisely, the erotic language in the story of David seeks to feminize Jonathan and thus invalidate his claim to Israel's throne in favor of David. In the case of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, whose egalitarian relationship is paradoxically described using the hierarchically dependent language of sexual relationships, the ambiguous erotic language reinforces their status as liminal figures and heroes in the epic tradition.
Wrestling with God and Men by
Publication Date: 2004-02-01
For millennia, two biblical verses have been understood to condemn sex between men as an act so abhorrent that it is punishable by death. Traditionally Orthodox Jews, believing the scripture to be the word of God, have rejected homosexuality in accordance with this interpretation. In 1999, Rabbi Steven Greenberg challenged this tradition when he became the first Orthodox rabbi ever to openly declare his homosexuality. Wrestling with God and Men is the product of Rabbi Greenberg's ten-year struggle to reconcile his two warring identities. In this compelling and groundbreaking work, Greenberg challenges long held assumptions of scriptural interpretation and religious identity as he marks a path that is both responsible to human realities and deeply committed to God and Torah. Employing traditional rabbinic resources, Greenberg presents readers with surprising biblical interpretations of the creation story, the love of David and Jonathan, the destruction of Sodom, and the condemning verses of Leviticus. But Greenberg goes beyond the question of whether homosexuality is biblically acceptable to ask how such relationships can be sacred. In so doing, he draws on a wide array of nonscriptural texts to introduce readers to occasions of same-sex love in Talmudic narratives, medieval Jewish poetry and prose, and traditional Jewish case law literature. Ultimately, Greenberg argues that Orthodox communities must open up debate, dialogue, and discussion--precisely the foundation upon which Jewish law rests--to truly deal with the issue of homosexual love. This book will appeal not only to members of the Orthodox faith but to all religious people struggling to resolve their belief in the scriptures with a desire to make their communities more open and accepting to gay and lesbian members. 2005 Finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards, for Religion/Spirituality
The Bible on the Question of Homosexuality by
Publication Date: 2012-08-01
The Bible on the Question of Homosexuality addresses the hotly debated topic of whether the Bible condemns homosexuality by a close reading of the biblical texts without taboo or prejudice, without personal or church interpretation