Selected, Annotated Bibliography
HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE BIBLE
By Bruce L. Gerig
The ground-breaking research by Kinsey (1948, 1953) and Bailey (1955) opened the door to an increasing interest in the subject of homosexuality and the Bible, producing a growing amount of much more objective (non-homophobic) research on the subject of and shedding new light on the Biblical texts that may be related to this subject. The past half-century to the present may now be divided into five different periods: 1948-75 - Early Period, during which a few brave pioneers set forth some controversial gay-friendly studies; 1976-83 - Classical Period, during which a notable number of foundational works, still important ‘classics’ in the field, appeared; 1984-93 - Expansion Period, during which other researchers excitedly built upon, reacted to, and developed earlier ideas; 1994-99 - Period of Anthologies, during which many books appeared containing pro and con articles on many aspects of the debate; and 2000 on - Period of Divergence, marked on the one hand by fierce fundamentalist rebuttal and on the other hand by an increasing belief that God’s grace and love supersede various antiquated, harsh commands in the Bible (e.g., relating to slavery and racial inequality, patriarchalism and suppression of women, divorce and remarriage, and homosexuality) and also that other clues to same-sex love still exist in the Bible that need to be studied (a quest of queer theology). This bibliography seeks only to list those sources which I found especially useful, and any such listing always overlooks other important sources. The annotation given with each entry seeks, in a cursory fashion, to suggest why the book was included. Valuable and helpful journal articles, which now number in the hundreds, have also provided an immense contribution to research in this area, but cannot be included here (except in a few instances) because of space limitations.
EARLY PERIOD (1948-1975)
1948 Kinsey, Alfred C., et al. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Philadelphia and London: W.B. Saunders. -- This title is included because of the theological impact of the ground-breaking and startling statistics that Kinsey found related to American male sexuality in the mid twentieth century in the U.S. Kinsey, the Indiana University zoology professor, was viciously attacked by moralists, although his work was praised by the American Statistical Association.
1953 Kinsey, Alfred C., et al. Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. Philadelphia and London: W.B. Saunders. -- Kinsey sought to improve this report by being less passionate and including less graphs and more footnotes; still his findings were both complex (males tend to be genital-focused in their sexuality, while females focus on broader kinds of sexual stimulation) and threatening (undermining the Victorian ideal of a pure woman, without sexual feeling).
1955 Bailey, Derrick Sherwin. Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition. London: Longmans, Green. -- Bailey, an Anglican clergyman, did this separate historical study alongside his work on the Church of England Moral Welfare Council, which eventually led to legal reform in England. This landmark historical study showed how Jewish writing outside of Scripture tied the Sodom story to Greek pederasty, thus creating a homosexual interpretation.
1958-66 Thielicke, Helmut. Theological Ethics. Vol. 1: Foundations. Vol. 2: Politics. Vol. 3: Sex (trans. 1966). Philadelphia: Fortress Press. -- Translated from Theologische Ethik, published in 2 volumes in 1958, 1959. An influential professor of theology at the University of Hamburg and an evangelical, Thielicke wrote that "constitutional homosexuals" are only fallen as all humankind is fallen, and that they do not need to go into therapy to try to change.
1960 Patai, Raphael. Family, Love and the Bible. London: MacGibbon & Kee. -- Director of research at the Palestine Institute of Folklore and Ethnology in Jerusalem, this anthropologist used patterns of living, through history and more recently, to shed light on the world of the Bible. He noted how cultural practices often differ from legal sanctions, how homosexuality is often found, and how the men at Sodom were “bisexual” rather than “exclusively homosexual.”
1963 Towards a Quaker View of Sex: An Essay by a Group of Friends. London: Friends Home Service Committee, rev. 1964. -- This booklet, although small in size (84 pp.), was written by a group of 11 primarily psychologists and psychiatrists, who declare that homosexuality should be considered "no more deplorable … than left-handedness" and they advocate that a physical act in itself should be no criteria for imposing a moral judgment or legal punishment.
CLASSICAL PERIOD (1976-1983)
Blair, Ralph. Record
and Review. New York: Evangelicals Concerned, 1976 to present.
Two broadsides, issued quarterly. -- Blair is a psychotherapist practicing
in New York City and is founder of EC.
The Record reports on events and statements that appear, related
to homosexuality across the religious scene, although especially from conservative
publications and sources.
The Review critiques interesting books and articles, often not
McNeill, John J. The Church and the Homosexual. Kansas City: Sheed Andrews and McNeel, rev. 1985, 1988, 1994. -- A Jesuit
priest who would later be expelled (1987) for this book and speaking out for
gays, McNeill re-evaluates traditional views on homosexuality from the standpoint
of Scripture and Church tradition, bringing fresh insights from Catholic and
other scholars. He suggests that the eunuch may be viewed
as a symbol for gays in Scripture. 1976
Pittenger, Norman. Time for Consent: A Christian's Approach
to Homosexuality. London: SCM Press. -- Written by a senior
member of the divinity faculty of King's College, Cambridge University, this
small paperback first appeared in 1967, then finally in this 3rd enlarged
edition. Pittenger argues that the Church must replace its
entrenched hostility with a fully Christian attitude toward the millions of
homosexuals who exist in the Church and world.
1976 McNeill, John J. The Church and the Homosexual. Kansas City: Sheed Andrews and McNeel, rev. 1985, 1988, 1994. -- A Jesuit priest who would later be expelled (1987) for this book and speaking out for gays, McNeill re-evaluates traditional views on homosexuality from the standpoint of Scripture and Church tradition, bringing fresh insights from Catholic and other scholars. He suggests that the eunuch may be viewed as a symbol for gays in Scripture.
1976 Pittenger, Norman. Time for Consent: A Christian's Approach to Homosexuality. London: SCM Press. -- Written by a senior member of the divinity faculty of King's College, Cambridge University, this small paperback first appeared in 1967, then finally in this 3rd enlarged edition. Pittenger argues that the Church must replace its entrenched hostility with a fully Christian attitude toward the millions of homosexuals who exist in the Church and world.
1976 Pope, Marvin H. "Homosexuality," in The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible: Supplementary Volume, Keith R. Crim, ed. Nashville: Abingdon Press, pp. 415-417. -- A Yale University professor of NW Semitic languages, Pope surveys passages often related to homosexuality in ancient Near Eastern texts and describing cult functionaries, eunuchs, cross-dressing, and homosexuality. His short but scholarly survey still remains relevant.
1978 Horner, Tom. Jonathan Loved David: Homosexuality in Biblical Times. Philadelphia: Westminster Press. -- A comprehensive study by an Episcopal priest with a Ph.D. in religion received jointly from Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary. His many insights here on the ‘clobber passages,’ as well as on Jonathan and David, Ruth and Naomi, eunuchs, and Jesus and Paul and sexuality, lay the groundwork for many later studies.
1978 Scanzoni, Letha & Virginia Ramey Mollenkott. Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? A Positive Christian Response. San Francisco: Harper & Row, rev. 1994, 1998, 2003. -- Scanzoni is a published author and Mollenkott professor of English at William Patterson College in NJ. This book provides a well-written, clear introduction to homosexuality and the Bible, both for someone ‘coming out’ and to give as a gift to perplexed straight family and friends.
1979 Barnett, Walter. Homosexuality and the Bible: An Interpretation. Wallingford, PA: Pendle Hill Publications. -- This Quaker publication, by an evangelical trained as a lawyer with degrees from Yale and Columbia, was written to support gay civil rights. In this small (32 pp.) but lucid pamphlet, Barnett focuses on the ‘clobber passages’ and 3 great homosexual sins condemned in the Bible (rape, prostitution and heterosexual experimentation).
1979 Furnish, Victor Paul. "Homosexuality," in The Moral Teaching of Paul: Selected Issues. Nashville: Abingdon Press, rev. 1985, pp. 52-82. -- Furnish is University Distinguished Professor of NT at Perkins School of Theology, at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. A specialist in Pauline ethics, Furnish focuses on Rom 1 and 1 Cor 6:9-10, placed in their historical context. He notes that homosexuality today is much more complicated than Paul understood it.
1980 Batchelor, Edward, Jr., ed. Homosexuality and Ethics. New York: Pilgrim Press. -- This Episcopalian chaplain at CUNY Brooklyn College brings together diverse texts which argue for viewing homosexual acts in four basically different ways: as intrinsically evil, as essentially imperfect, to be evaluated in terms of their relational significance, and as basically natural and good. Some lucid, very early, and hard-to-find gay-affirming pieces are included.
1980 Boswell, John. Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. This Yale professor of medieval history presents a monumental achievement of historical scholarship, tracing an increasing tolerance and celebration of gay love in southern Europe during 500-1250, before attitudes drastically changed.
1983 Scroggs, Robin. The New Testament and Homosexuality: Contextual Background for Contemporary Debate. Philadelphia: Fortress Press. -- As professor of NT at Chicago Theological Seminary, Scroggs presents an in-depth look at how homosexuality was viewed in its first-century Jewish, Greek and Roman settings. This essential text argues that 1 Cor 6:9-10 and 1 Tim 1:9-10 condemn only boy prostitutes, their clients, and those who enslaved the boys.
EXPANSION PERIOD (1984-1993)
1984 Edwards, George R. Gay/Lesbian Liberation: A Biblical Perspective. New York: Pilgrim Press. -- Professor of NT at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Edwards served on his church's task force to study the ordination of homosexuals. He views this discussion as part of liberation theology, surveys the contributions of Gunkel, Bailey, Furnish and Boswell, and emphasizes agapē love in Christian ethics as well as in sexual relations.
1985 Pennington, Sylvia. Good News for Modern Gays: A Pro-Gay Biblical Approach. Hawthorne, CA: Lambda Christian Fellowship. -- A traveling LCF staff minister, Pennington wrote four books for gays, including But Lord, They're Gay, Do You Love Me, Lord? and Ex-Gays? There Are None! This book includes the important sermon “‘What Doth Hinder Me?’ The Conversion of a Black Homosexual” by Dr. James S. Tinney, on the Ethiopian eunuch.
1988 Countryman, L. William. Dirt, Greed and Sex: Sexual Ethics in the New Testament and Their Implications for Today. Philadelphia: Fortress Press. -- Professor of NT at Church Divinity School for the Pacific in Berkeley, Countryman discusses homosexuality, along with other issues in the Bible that relate to OT principles of purity and property. He notes how Lev 18:22 and 20:13 may have been associated with foreign idolatry and cultic acts.
1988 Spong, John Shelby. Living in Sin? A Bishop Rethinks Human Sexuality. San Francisco: Harper & Row, rev. 1990. -- Episcopal bishop of Newark, NJ, Spong argues that the church should welcome sexually-active homosexuals and support responsible committed relationships. He argues (ch. 5) that homosexual orientation is a natural part of life, and his discussion of animal hormone experimentation and of human intersex conditions is noteworthy.
1989 Balka, Christie & Andy Rose, eds. Twice Blessed: On Being Lesbian or Gay and Jewish. Boston: Beacon Press, rev. 1991. -- Balka works for a humanities council in Philadelphia and Rose is an activist living in Baltimore. Part 2 (“Reclaiming Our History”) discusses how midrash interprets the Bible to make it come alive for the modern reader, then moves to gay midrash, to study David and Jonathan, and Ruth and Naomi as models.
1989 Coleman, Peter. Gay Christians: A Moral Dilemma. London: SCM Press. -- As Anglican bishop of Crediton (Devon Island, Canada), Coleman’s views on interpreting Rom 1 and 1 Cor 6:9-10 are noteworthy and overall he advocates that a loving and sustained relationship with another person is the primary purpose of sexuality, whether with a person of the opposite gender or the same gender. Gays must make their own choice about celibacy.
1990 Dynes, Wayne R., ed. Encyclopedia of Homosexuality. New York and London: Garland, vols. I-II. -- This encyclopedia is included in this list because it contains many interesting articles relating to this study, e.g., on “Canaanites,” “David and Jonathan,” “Eunuchs,” “Greece, Ancient,” “Kadesh” (the male cult prostitute), “Racha” (in Matt 5:22, meaning “soft in a derogatory sense [like ‘fag’?]”), as well as more general articles.
1993 Comstock, Gary D. Gay Theology Without Apology. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press. -- Ordained in the United Church of Christ and visiting assistant professor at Wesleyan University in CT, Comstock looks at Scripture in “non-traditional" ways, through liberation theology, to find new models. Ch. 5 on “Seeing through the Camouflage: Jonathan as Unconventional Nurturer” is especially good, drawing from Joseph’s Cady’s work on Walt Whitman.
PERIOD OF ANTHOLOGIES (1994-1999)
1994 Boswell, John. Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe. New York: Villard Books. -- Boswell describes same-sex unions that occurred in Greco-Roman times and then Catholic and Orthodox liturgies for same-sex unions that were celebrated throughout Christendom into modern times, which remarkably resemble heterosexual nuptial services and show that same-sex relationships were sanctioned, and even idealized, by Western societies for over 2,000 years.
1994 Geis, Sally B. & Donald E. Messer, eds. Caught in the Crossfire: Helping Christians Debate Homosexuality. Nashville: Abingdon. -- Geis is on the faculty of and Messer president of the Hiff School of Theology in Denver. Presenting both sides of the debate and including some familiar, gay-positive authors (Furnish, Nelson, Glaser), the most interesting part is perhaps chapter 8, which summarizes the diverse points of view offered earlier.
1994 Siker, Jeffrey S., ed. Homosexuality in the Church: Both Sides of the Debate. Louisville: Westminster John Knox. -- Associate professor of NT at Loyola Marymount University in L.A., Siker combines essays by writers on both sides. Furnish offers an updated, broader chapter on “The Bible and Homosexuality: Reading the Texts in Context,” and at the book’s end are included documents from 6 different denominations on homosexuality.
1996 Brawley, Robert L., ed. Biblical Ethics & Homosexuality: Listening to Scripture. Louisville: Westminster John Knox. -- A professor of NT at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Brawley presents studies done as part of a discussion on homosexuality in the Presbyterian Church. Included are articles by Brawley (on viewing Christian behavior as being led by the Spirit), Sarah Melcher (on Lev 18:22, 20:13), and Dale Martin (on 1 Cor 1:9-10).
1996 Brooten, Bernadette J. Love between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. -- This professor of Christian studies at Brandies University in MA uses extensive ancient references to lesbian love to show that Paul probably condemned lesbianism in Rom 1:26 because he felt that this subverted the dominant male social/gender role. She holds that a homosexual ‘precursor’ category existed.
1996 Hefling, Charles, ed. Our Selves, Our Souls and Bodies: Sexuality and the Household of God. Cambridge, MA, and Boston: Cowley Publications. -- An Episcopal priest and associate professor of theology at Boston College, Hefling presents a variety of essays, written by 15 American Episcopalians and 2 foreign Anglican writers, mostly accepting the fact that the Spirit is drawing gays into the church, while they search for ways to include them.
1996 Seow, Choon-Leong, ed. Homosexuality and Christian Community. Louisville: Westminser John Knox. -- Thirteen faculty essays growing out of discussions on homosexuality at Princeton Theological Seminary, that discuss, e.g., insights from wisdom literature (Seow), the importance of social views on Paul’s writings (Brian Blount), tensions between faith and love (Patrick Miller), and the importance of gays seeking committed relationships (A.K.M. Adam).
1997 Alpert, Rebecca. Like Bread on the Seder Plate: Jewish Lesbians and the Transformation of Tradition. New York: Columbia University Press. -- A lesbian rabbi and assistant professor of religion and women's studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, Alpert looks at pertinent Hebrew Scripture passages (ch. 2), discusses interpretative methods (midrash) for reading the Torah (ch. 3), and writes about Biblical commitment to justice (ch. 6).
1998 Nissinen, Martti. Homoeroticism in the Biblical World: A Historical Perspective. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress. Trans. from Finnish (1994) and fully revised. -- An OT scholar at the University of Helsinki, Nissinen provides a full and comprehensive survey of homoeroticism in the ancient Near East, Greece and Rome, Jewish sources, and the Bible; his summary (ch. 7) is especially good, which emphasizes gender in ancient thinking about sex.
1999 Wink, Walter, ed. Homosexuality and Christian Faith: Questions of Conscience for the Churches. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress. -- A professor at Auburn Theological Seminary in NYC, Wink brings together 16 essays from writers, many with some association with ATS. Wink writes on sexuality in the OT, David Myers on accepting what cannot be changed, and the evangelical scholar Lewis Smedes on the ‘morality’ of homosexuality.
PERIOD OF DIVERGENCE (2000 on)
2000 Balch, David L., ed. Homosexuality, Science, and the “Plain Sense” of Scripture. Grand Rapids and Cambridge: Eerdmans. -- Ten essays present both poles of debate; the gay-affirming ones are helpful reading, especially those by Christine Gudorf on the science, Phyllis Bird on the OT passages and the demand for love for one neighbor, David Frederickson on 1 Cor 6:9 and Romans 1, and Nancy Duff on gays being called by God into homosexual relationships.
2000 DeYoung, James B. Homosexuality: Contemporary Claims Examined in Light of the Bible and Other Ancient Literature and Law. Grand Rapid: Kregel. -- A graduate of the Baptist Dallas Theological Seminary, DeYoung attacks ‘modern’ views on the Bible and homosexuality. To be avoided unless one is able to recognize how prejudice can distort a writer’s conclusions and applications; still, one can find some useful references here.
2000 Goss, Robert E. & Mona West, eds. Take Back the Word: A Queer Reading of the Bible. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press. -- Twenty-one essays, many by authors in UFMCC, look for “new ways” to read Biblical stories that can encourage LGBT people. Articles challenge the patriarchalism of the Bible; discuss eunuchs, Ruth, and Jesus’ beloved disciple; and notice how Jesus reached out to the despised marginalized, sexual minorities, and even sex workers.
2001 Gagnon, Robert A.J. The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics. Nashville: Abingdon. -- This assistant professor of NT at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, after publishing this homophobic book, became a tireless advocate for his views by visiting fundamentalist churches. Still, there is a wealth of information here, if one remembers that bigoted presumptions discolor every page and most of his conclusions.
2001 Mollenkott, Virginia Ramey. Omnigender: A Trans-religious Approach. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press. -- A writer of many books on gender and transgender, this book contains interesting sections on the Deut cross-dressing ban, on Jesus perhaps being created in Mary’s womb as an XX female (but then perhaps by unusual hormonal action being born with a male body), as well as various intersex or same-sex couples found within the Bible’s pages.
2001 Sheridan, Vanessa. Crossing Over: Liberating the Transgender Christian. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press. -- A transgender living in the greater Twin Cities area of Minnesota, Sheridan speaks from her own experience to offer a resource guide on the transgendered Christian spiritual experience, for laypeople and church leaders. This may be the first book by a transgendered author on Christian spirituality published by a mainstream publisher.
2002 Miner, Jeff & John Tyler Connoley. The Children Are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-sex Relationships. Indianapolis, IN: Jesus Metropolitan Community Church. -- Miner is pastor of an MCC congregation in Indianapolis, and his companion has a master’s in Biblical studies. Includes discussions of Ruth and Naomi, Jonathan and David, the Ethiopian eunuch, and the Roman centurion and his slave.
2003 Childs, James M., ed. Faithful Conversation: Christian Perspectives on Homosexuality. Minneapolis: Fortress. -- These 7 essays were commissioned to deliberate homosexuality in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. While most Christian gays will reject their demand that gays must remain celibate, still freedom to follow one’s conscience is emphasized, and a call for more conversation (listening, humility, honesty) is set forth.
2003 Ellison, Marvin M. & Sylvia Thorson-Smith, eds. Body and Soul: Rethinking Sexuality as Justice-Love. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press. -- Part of an exploration of sexuality in the Presbyterian Church, these 22 essays cover a broad range of topics with compassion, including essays by Susan Craig (bisexuality), Virginia Mollenkott (gender), Scott Haldeman (gay male spirituality), and Rita Brock (marriage troubles in general and gay marriage).
2003 Jennings, Theodore W., Jr. The Man Jesus Loved: Homoerotic Narratives from the New Testament. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press. -- Professor of biblical and constructive theology at Chicago Theological Seminary, Jennings presents evidence to support the view that Jesus’ primary affectional relationship was with another man, which was also erotic. New thoughts are offered on the Roman centurion, the nude youth in Mark, and Jesus’ foot-washing.
2005 Linzey, Andrew & Richrd Kirker, eds. Gays and the Future of Anglicanism: Responses to the Windsor Report. Hants, Great Britain: O Books. -- This anthology has 22 thought-provoking essays by theologians in Britain and the U.S. which evaluate and criticize the Windsor Report (from The Lambeth Commission on Communion, 2004), which advocates moving the Anglican Church toward the exclusion of gays, especially gay bishops and priests.
2005 Myers, David G. & Letha Dawson Scanzoni. What God Has Joined Together? A Christian Case for Gay Marriage. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisico. -- Myers, a widely respected psychologist at Hope College (Holland, MI), and Scanzoni, a Christian author of numerous books, present one of the most sound, readable and compassionate discussions on the topic of gays and the Church. A good book for gays to give to troubled family and friends.
2006 Hanway, Donald G. A Theology of Gay and Lesbian Inclusion: Love Letters to the Church. New York, London and Oxford: Haworth Pastoral Press. -- An Episcopal priest and pastor for many years, Hanway writes a book from the heart that is short but brimming with helpful insight; and his summary review of the clobber passages is excellent. A wonderful book to give to Christian people who are perplexed by gays, or to be read by gay people themselves.
2006 Rogers, Jack. Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church. Louisville: Westminster John Knox. -- Rogers, a former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., presents a ground-breaking book which uses new in-depth research to show how the Church in the past has struggled to cast aside minor Biblical rules (e.g., on slavery, divorce, women) to follow Jesus’ central teachings to truly love God and one’s neighbor as oneself.
©2003, 2008 by Bruce L. Gerig
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