Sex & Sin in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity
This course will introduce ways in which sex was used as a proposed boundary marker for religious identity in Second Temple Jewish and Early Christian texts. Contextualizing these boundary markers in the cultural, religious, and political landscape of the Greco-Roman Mediterranean destabilizes the meta-narrative concerning the picture of ‘proper’ sexual ethics and gender identity by exposing the permeability of those boundaries. We will explore how Jewish and Christian pseudepigraphal and apocryphal texts from the third century BCE to the third century CE can offer alternative access points into Jewish and Christian tradition. These texts offer a diverse set of voices that can be used to subvert oppressive interpretations that have had lasting and painful repercussions in lived gender experience because of the conflation of sex, gender, and sexuality with sin. We will engage with traditional readings of passages known as ‘clobber texts’ and challenge them with counter-oppressive readings from a range of hermeneutics including feminist, queer, postcolonial, liberation, and ecological perspectives. Topics such as religious leadership, ritual participation, sin, violence & rape, the afterlife, fertility & abortion, and sexuality in the Greco-Roman world will be surveyed and discussed in light of current debates on women’s ordination, reproductive rights, and LGBTQI identity to track how ancient debates are alive today and consider how silenced voices from this period may be used as counter-oppressive lenses for Biblical and extra-Biblical interpretation.
This is an online synchronous with Zoom 3000 level course. The format is lecture/discussion. Lectures will be pre-recorded and weekly Zoom sessions will be primarily for group discussion of the lecture and the readings.
SKSM Thresholds: 3) Sacred Text and Interpretation and 4) History of Dissenting Traditions and Thea/ological Quest