The Man Jesus Loved

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So last night I read Ted Jenning’s book The Man Jesus Loved. His basic strategy is to go beyond the defensive strategy of queer hermeneutics and go back on the offense to rediscover homoerotic narratives already in the New Testament. His main analysis focuses on the disciple whom Jesus loved as discussed in John along with the odd stories in Mark of the nude youth in the Garden and the story of the rich young ruler. His argument is that we do not do violence to the text to suggest that Jesus might have had a homoerotic relationship, but he stresses that to call Jesus ‘gay’ would be to fall prey to an anachronism. The notion of sexual identity is a relatively new construct that has only arisen over the last the two centuries. He also discusses such stories such as Jesus’ healing of the centurion’s slave who was likely his homoerotic partner. Recall that Jesus extols the Roman for having exemplary faith. His last section is devoted towards focusing on the radical anti-family stance Jesus advocates in the gospels along with a discussion of Paul’s rather complex stance on marriage. He does point out that many of the supposed misogynistic passages in the epistles are likely from Pseudo-Pauline authors.

Before you dismiss this project as being hopelessly forced, I’d like to point out that Jennings’ tone remains scholarly and respectful throughout the discussion. One does not get the feeling that this is just ideological drivel, but actual well researched and informed exegetical work. He also has written a book called Jacob’s Wound that queers the Hebrew Bible with discussion of the relationships between Ruth/Naomi and David/Jonathan. Also, recognize that he doesn’t merely dismiss the 6 verses in the Bible that are blatantly against homosexual action, but that doesn’t deter him from teasing out gay aspects of narratives that we so quickly miss because of our heteronormative perspective that distort our readings. I’d encourage anyone to check out this project if you’re interested in gaining a deeper appreciation of the Gospels. Also, Jennings work has not merely been dedicated to GLBTQ rights, but he has also written works on Derrida/Paul and a politically driven atonement. Check it out.

Here’s a helpful summary and discussion of his project: http://itself.wordpress.com/2009/05/30/a-way-back-behind-christian-homophobia/

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