A scholar’s reading of the Bible is drawing criticism for suggesting Jesus might have been a drag king

Flickr/James Shepard

A professor at a Jesuit-run college in Massachusetts has faced criticism for his ‘radical’ reading of the New Testament, in which he suggests that Jesus was neither male nor female, and may have been a drag king.

Elinor Reilly, a former student at the College of the Holy Cross, wrote an article about Professor Tat-Siong Benny Liew for the Fenwick Review.

In the piece, she outlines in great detail the Chair of the New Testament Studies’ “unconventional approach to gender, sexuality, and race in the biblical texts”.

Reilly cites a 2009 paper Liew co-authored entitled They Were All Together In One Place: Towards Minority Biblical Criticism.

In the volume, he discussed the New Testament Gospel of John:

If one follows the trajectory of the Wisdom/Word or Sophia/Jesus (con)figuration, what we have in John’s Jesus is not only a “king of Israel” or “king of the Ioudaioi”, but also a drag king.

 [Christ] ends up appearing as a drag-kingly bride in his passion.

He added:

In addition, we find Jesus disrobing and rerobing in the episode that marks Jesus’ focus on the disciples with the coming of his ‘hour’ (13:3– 5, 12).

This disrobing, as [Colleen] Conway points out, does not disclose anything about Jesus’ anatomy. Instead, it describes Jesus washing his disciples’ feet.

As more than one commentator has pointed out, foot-washing was generally only done by Jewish women or non-Jewish slaves.

12 John is clear that Jesus is an Ioudaios (4:9, 22; 18:33– 35; 19:40); what John is less clear about is whether Jesus is a biological male. Like a literary striptease, this episode is suggestive, even seductive; it shows and withholds at the same time.

Professor Liew also argues that John’s constant references to Jesus and water “speak to Jesus’ gender indeterminacy and hence his cross-dressing and other queer desires”.

He also suggests that the crucifixion scene as described by John implies that “when Jesus’ body is being penetrated, his thoughts are on his Father imagining his passion experience as a… sexual relation with his own Father".

The radical reading has been condemned by readers of Breitbart News, a right wing news website that covered the story.

Reill,y however, insists that “Professor Liew’s unconventional readings of Scripture has brought a new theological perspective to Holy Cross”.

indy100 has contacted Professor Liew for comment.

H/T Fenwick Review

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