RELIGION 44

This is a course about reading, religion and sex – more specifically, the dynamic interplay between how Christians have read and interpreted their Bibles on the one hand, and how they have understood sex and human sexuality on the other. (We will deal briefly with the Bible and sexuality in the Jewish tradition, but the majority of the course focuses on Christianity.) Thus, the questions that will drive our inquiry are fundamentally questions about interpretation. What does it mean to make the claim that a particular perspective on human sexual experience is ‘biblical’?  How are we to understand the sheer variety of ways that a fixed set of canonical scriptural texts have been used as an authoritative resource for discussing and regulating sexual ethics, identity and practice?  How do changing notions of what ‘sexuality’ is (and why sexuality matters) impact the way that biblical texts have been interpreted?  We will explore these questions through the study of key texts in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament and an examination of how these texts have been interpreted from antiquity to the present.  Topics to be covered include marriage, gender identity, desire, same-sex relationships, and sexual renunciation.   No previous study in religion or biblical studies is assumed, and there are no prerequisites for enrolling in the course. This course is for undergraduates only.