Homoeroticism in the Biblical World. A Historical Perspective
Homoeroticism in the Biblical World. A Historical Perspective
Homoeroticism in the Biblical World. A Historical Perspective
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Price: $19.97 FREE for Members
Type: eBook
Publisher: Augsburg Fortress
Page Count: 225
Format: pdf
Language: English
ISBN-10: 080062985X
ISBN-13: 9780800629854
User Rating: 5.0000 out of 5 Stars! (3 Votes)

Homoeroticism in the Biblical World. A Historical Perspective free


Martti Nissinen ebook


Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Finnish "I strongly recommend Nissinen's work. It fills a major need in contextualizing the Old Testament references to homosexual relations in a study of ancient Near Eastern references to same-sex sexual interactions. Many of the relevant texts have simply not been accessible to the general reader heretofore." ---Phyllis Bird Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

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| 5 out of 5 Stars!


Being that this is an academic book, it is not surprising that the writing style is rather dry. Of course, since this book was translated from the Finnish, that could account for a certain awkwardness in phrasing here and there.

That being said, the book gives a well-researched and detailed account of homosexuality from ancient Mesopotamia to the modern world. The writer shows that homosexuality was not only condoned in many ancient cultures, but fully integrated into the social structure. And while the author fails to draw any conclusion (this being an academic work, I believe Nissinen thought it best to just put the facts out there and let the reader decide), it is well worth reading and I think an important contribution to the literature on GLBT studies.

| 5 out of 5 Stars!


Martti Nissinen wrote this book with a desire to address issues of homoeroticism for the modern Lutheran Church in Finland. He uses the term "homoeroticism" advisedly, since "homosexuality" is a word only about 150 years old; one of the great strengths of his book is Nissinen's awareness of historical context and his desire to avoid anachronism.

Nissinen addresses the crisis in the Finnish Lutheran church in the Introduction, as well as issues of terminology (homoeroticism, homosexuality, and homosociability) and gender and sexual practice.

Chapters 2-6 survey homoerotic elements in texts (and sometimes images) from Mesopotamia, the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, Classical Antiquity, early rabbinic Judaism, and the New Testament. Always his concern is to foreground issues of cultural and temporal location. He shows that for the "plain reading" of such texts to take place, a lot must be known about the text's cultural context and the common usage of words. (His discussion of a word often rendered by the totally anachronistic "homosexuality" in most Greek lexica is particularly enlightening.)

The last chapter, entitled "Homoeroticism in the Biblical World and Homosexuality Today" offers a new way to try to interpret the Bible, especially when asking what relevance it has for those of us dealing with contemporary issues such as sexuality. As a faithful churchman, Nissinen does not want to "throw out the Bible," but as a modern person, he does point out that most church exegesis is deeply flawed when there is no "sufficient correlation between the topics discussed today and the ancient sources." (123)

The point: sexuality as a concept does not exist in any of the ancient literature. Moreover, the gender roles behind homoerotic behavior (and which determine how that behavior is judged in its ancient context) are vastly different than those commonly held now. When homoerotic behavior was condemned, it was because it made a "woman," that is, a passive, weak, and unmasculine being, out of a man (female homoerotic behavior does the opposite, so a woman is seen as attempting to appropriate the potency and active status of a man). Moreover, in the history of the church, "The same reasons have been used to condemn both homosexual and heterosexual contacts: sexuality has been considered an expression of lust and therefore sinful." (125) A relationship consisting of two adult, equal, committed and loving men, or two women, or even a man and a woman, was not a concept for the ancients, and therefore not something we can ask them to reflect in their literature.

A good quotation to end with: "Using individual and ambiguous biblical passages as a basis for threatening people with eternal damnation leads to a kind of scriptural positivism, which may turn out to be a matter of the cruel abuse of religious power." Amen.

| 5 out of 5 Stars!


This is a good book to read if you wish to study the history of homosexuality in the ancient East as well as the Biblical cultures. Nissinen does a pretty thorough study of homosexuality in Assyrian, Roman, Mesopotamian, and Greek cultures--as well as Israelite culture. Nissinen indicates that homosexuality was not the same in each culture. Some viewed it as a display of power and oppression and others viewed it as an expression of love and romance.

While Nissinen does a good job discussing the history I believe that his application to same sex relationships in modern times needs more work. Bridging this gap is difficult but Nissinen's theology on the homosexuality issue seems to come through in this last chapter. Since Nissinen is from Finland, his approach to the issue of homoeroticism is different than many of the authors currently researching this area.

Whether or not you agree with Nissinen's conclusions you will agree that he has done a remarkable job of presenting this history in a concise manner. I think that this book is valuable to the Biblical student who wishes to see eroticism in various cultures surrounding the Israelite and Christian communities.

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