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A hermeneutics of sexual identity: a challenge to conservative religious discourse

M.A. / In this thesis I explore the use of the bible as a normative text with regard to sexuality (especially homosexuality). I start off by focusing on the Genesis creation myth (Genesis chapters one and two), using Robert Gagnon’s gender complementarity argument against homosexuality. I then argue, that essential to understanding how to interpret the creation myth, a person can use a theory developed by Martin Noth, called Deuteronomistic History. This theory helps us to understand that the scriptures (particularly the books from Deuteronomy through to II Kings) were compiled by a group of Jewish priestly redactors (employing retrospective theology) to form part of a continuous narrative that can be said to include the book of Genesis. As such, using the Gadamerian concepts of finitude and effective history, I assert that the creation myth is historically situated, and thus cannot be uncritically applied to contemporary issues, such as homosexuality. Nevertheless it played a central role against the background of a politics of survival in the formation of a Jewish national and sexual identity. It did this through functioning as a national grand narrative. How the biblical text played this formative role, as a national grand narrative, in creating and maintaining Jewish identity, will become evident as we explore, through Richard Kearney, the function that productive imagination can fulfil in the development of sexual identity. I will further highlight this function of the productive imagination through use of Judith Butler’s concepts performativity and interpellation. It will then become evident that using the biblical text (as though it reflected the reality of sexuality as it is), in the way that Gagnon does, to establish gender essences, constitutes a naturalistic fallacy. And so we will see that the creation myth cannot be used to establish normative principles with regard to notions of strict gender essences. Thus, in concluding the thesis, I will revisit the creation myth using the insights of Judith Butler’s queer theory to demonstrate how the biblical text itself, not only does not support notions of strict gender essences, but also undermines notions of strict gender roles or essences.
Date31 March 2010
CreatorsHill, Samuel
Source SetsSouth African National ETD Portal
Detected LanguageEnglish

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