“God’s Beauty Parlor: And Other Queer Spaces in and Around the Bible”–new ideas

Moore, Stephen D. “God’s Beauty Parlor and Other Queer Spaces in and Around the Bible”, Stanford University Press, 2001.

New Ideas

Amos Lassen

Opening the Bible to issues contested on sex and sexuality is no easy task. Critical commentary, from queer studies to looks at masculinity, have looked at the Bible many times to receive some kind of validation of ideas. Stephen Moore rereads the Bible as if it is about both God’s bedroom and His beauty parlor, locker room, and war room. In doing so he looks at the themes of homosexuality, beauty, masculinity and violence by examining the Gospels, the Song of Songs, Letter to the Romans and the Book of Revelation and it is a revelation to see what he finds.

I found his approach to “The Song of Songs” particularly interesting as he looks at its place in sexual history. We have always looked at “The Song of Songs” as an ode to male-female love. Moore maintains that it s a “pretext for literary cross-dressing for legions of male Jewish and Christian commentators”.

Looking at Jesus, he views his face and body as related to ideologies of beauty and shows how once he was represented regularly as “earthy”. His acquired good looks are important to the global industry of religion.

Paul’s doctrine of salvation shows how the good are of masculine gender while sin is associated with femininity. Finally in “The Book of Revelation” which is basically about war and man making war shows that war, indeed, makes men.

Bringing some of the main ideas of modern gender study to Biblical text is an interesting look at the Holy Book.  The scholarship of the book is intense, creative and controversial to the letter of the word. What is especially interesting is that Moore addresses both masculinity and violence in his study. The material that he examines are looked at both playfully and seriously—not an easy task when looking at texts that are revered.

Moore also discusses the masculinity of the apostles, an issue that has concerned people for ages. Bringing the most modern concepts of gender studies to the Bible is itself a task not easily dealt with, Moore’s book has so much to say and is so entertaining that I can say, for myself, at least, that I will never be able to read it in the same way.

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