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Romans 1:23-28 is one of the primary texts from the NT used to justify the contemporary condemnation of both male and female homosexuals by some religious groups. This article contextualizes this passage as a unified attack on idolatry by reidentifying the subjects of the "gay" and "lesbian" behavior (1) in vv. 26-27 as participants in the widespread goddess cults that posed a direct threat to Paul's ministry. These individuals violated patriarchal norms of masculinity, femininity, and sexuality in very public ways, and also most twenty-first-century readers' predominant experiences of heteronormativity--I refer to the subjects of the Pauline passage with the postmodern term "queer." (2) Several lines of research converge to allow an interpretation that rejects the assumption that Paul here condemns "gays" and "lesbians." First, the hypothesis that "gay"/"lesbian"/"straight" identities existed in this Greco-Roman-Jewish context is dubious. Second, the interpretation of 1:26b as referring to female homogenitality should be rejected. Third, the grammatical connection between the females in 1:26 and the males in 1:27 does not imply a relationship in the "identity" of these subjects (female and male homosexuals), but rather in action (the exchange of natural behaviors). Fourth, the natural versus unnatural behaviors ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) likely refers not to an exchange of the identity categories "straight" for "gay" but to nonprocreative sex (or perhaps an inversion of patriarchal gender norms). Fifth, the structural and rhetorical unity of the passage seems incongruous if one assumes the dominant contemporary interpretation regarding "gay" and "lesbian" behaviors as archetypal sins followed by a more "minor" list of sins that includes, for example, murder (Rom 1:29). Finally, this era witnessed the wide growth of goddess sects whose cross-gender and sexual practices violated patriarchal norms, giving Paul graphic imagery to refer the audience back to them. This final point is the core of this article, reciprocally supporting the first five pieces of evidence.

GENRE
Professional & Technical
RELEASED
2011
December 22
LANGUAGE
EN
English
LENGTH
43
Pages
PUBLISHER
Society of Biblical Literature
SELLER
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.
SIZE
231.1
KB

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