“Jacob’s Wound: Homoerotic Narrative in the Literature of Ancient Israel”–reclaiming the Bible

Jennings Jr., Theodore W. “Jacob’s Wound: Homoerotic Narrative in the Literature of Ancient Israel”, Continuum, 2005.

Reclaiming the Bible

Amos Lassen

Theodore Jennings Jr. has a voice that he makes heard in “Jacob’s Wound”. He brings forth a suggestion that homoerotic themes are present in Hebrew narrative which is in opposition to the accepted supposition that the culture and religion of ancient Israel was opposed to erotic relationships between members of the same sex. Most of us think the prohibition stems from the Book of Leviticus and the story of Sodom found in Genesis. Some of us understand that the story of Sodom no more deals with homosexuality than other books of the Bible. It is about attitudes of hospitality and not about same-sex relations just as attitudes toward rape are not found in the story that deals with the rape of Dinah.

Jennings shows that the eroticism of the Bible is not only about heterosexuals but about issues that refer to homosexual interpretation. He looks at the relationship between David and Jonathan as well as David and Saul. Likewise he looks at shamanism in the Old Testament and the story of Joseph (which I found particularly interesting). He also examines the Prophets and shows their role in sexuality of the Hebrew Bible. He shows that the Bible does, indeed, contain a great many homoerotic texts within it and in doing so, takes the bible from those who use it to oppress others and shows t as a liberating text. The Bible so often falls into the hands of those who have their own agendas.

Jennings’s book refuses to allow the Bible to be used for or dominated by radicalism. His findings come from many varied Biblical and theological sources and he offers up a way to read the Bible so that it can meaning in the lives of oppressed minorities like gays and lesbians. We learn how to read unfamiliar texts as well as how to read texts we are aware of in a different way.

Anyone who reads the Bible cannot deny that there is a great deal of eroticism in it but many are unaware of the homoeroticism contained therein.

Moore’s concentration here is on the relations between the members of the male gender. What is novel is the approach he uses to show how a divine image which is perceived as male is regarded by male adherents and thereby affects homoeroticism. He does not discount female-female eroticism and cites “The Story of Ruth” as well as other stories.

I found the book to be illuminating and to give off ideas for further and intense study. I commend Moore for bringing some of these issues to light and hopefully others will continue the trend that he has started.

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