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Queer Criticism and Queer Theory

Source:
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Biblical Interpretation
Author(s):
Ken Stone

Queer Criticism and Queer Theory  

Queer criticism of the Bible attempts to read biblical texts in light of the interdisciplinary studies known as queer theory. Queer theory is a body of academic writing that emerged during the 1990s in the context of feminist and lesbian and gay studies. Although closely associated with the study of homosexuality, queer theory also investigates the assumptions and practices that allow certain norms, such as those that privilege heterosexuality and fixed gender identities, to be created, maintained, and challenged in both academic and popular representations of sex, gender, and sexuality. In particular, queer theory is associated with a critical analysis of the organization of sexual and gendered meanings and identities around binary distinctions, including those between male and female, and heterosexual and homosexual. Queer criticism brings the critical analyses associated with queer theory to bear on the interpretation of biblical texts.

Origins of Queer Theory.

The emergence of queer theory and queer criticism as terms for academic analysis was made possible by the increased attention given to gender and sexuality during the 1970s and 1980s, particularly by feminist and gay and lesbian activists and scholars. Such attention long preceded the appearance of the phrase “queer theory.” However, during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the word “queer” began to be used frequently by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered activists inside and outside of the academy to refer to themselves, their movements, and their cultural products. This usage contrasted with what had previously been a more common deployment of the term “queer” as an insult. While the word “queer” was therefore reclaimed as a rallying term for political organizing and community formation, its inclusion of otherwise diverse groups of people (lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transsexuals, intersexed persons, sex radicals, etc.) made it apparent that the populations who were identified or who identified themselves as “queer” often lived their lives quite differently from one another as well as from mainstream culture. Thus, recognition of multiplicity was often implied by the use of the term. Still today the word “queer” is frequently used in this way to refer both to a wide range of individuals or groups of people whose sexual and gender identities and practices depart from the heterosexual mainstream, and to their activities or cultural products.

Picking up on this colloquial use of the word “queer,” feminist theorist Teresa de Lauretis coined the phrase “queer theory” in 1990 in an essay titled “Queer Theory: Lesbian and Gay Sexualities” (differences 3/2: iii–xviii). One of her goals in proposing this unusual terminology was to take seriously the differences that exist between lesbians, gay men, and others who are marginalized on the basis of sexual practices or desires. The differences that concerned her included differences of gender, race, and class. By the mid-1990s, however, her phrase “queer theory” was being applied more widely to a growing body of interdisciplinary intellectual work that included influential writings by professors of Modern Language and Literature such as Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Michael Warner, and Leo Bersani; philosophers such as Judith Butler; classicists such as David M. Halperin; and social scientists such as anthropologist Gayle Rubin. Many of these early queer theorists were influenced not only by feminism and lesbian and gay studies, but also by the philosophical-historical work of the French poststructuralist thinker Michel Foucault, who attempted to rethink the relationships among sexuality, power, and discourse. As the influence of Foucault indicates, much of academic queer theory fit within a wider set of intellectual trends during the late twentieth century that were associated with poststructuralist thought.

Subsequently, the projects carried out under the phrases “queer theory,” “queer studies,” and “queer criticism” have grown even more diverse. Indeed, it is difficult to give a description of queer theory that accurately captures all of these projects, partly because queer theorists themselves often resist summary and classification as academic norms. Nevertheless, several recurring themes or analytical moves can be said to characterize much queer criticism.

Queer Theory and Sexuality.

Most queer critics emphasize sexual practice and gender as crucial lenses for the interpretation of societies and texts. With respect to sexual practice, in particular, this emphasis marks a shift in comparison to earlier forms of scholarship that sometimes downplayed sexuality as a minor or “private” matter that served merely as background for more important objects of study.

Although associated with the study of homosexuality, queer theorists call into question the universal relevance or stability of the binary distinction between heterosexual and homosexual identity categories. In modern Western societies, it is now widely assumed that sexual desire for a member of the opposite sex rules out desires for members of one’s own sex and that sexual desire for a member of one’s own sex rules out desires for members of the opposite sex. Such fixed desires are understood to be constitutive of a key component of modern individual identities, called “sexual orientation,” that is thought to be closely related to one’s biological sex and one’s gender identification (though the exact nature of these relations is often vague). However, historical and cross-cultural research indicates that, even though same-sex desires and practices can be documented in most cultures, the tendency to organize such desires and practices around distinct heterosexual and homosexual identities or psychological orientations is a fairly recent phenomenon, originating in modern Western societies. In some ancient Greek and Roman societies, for example, a man who married a woman and sired children was still considered capable of desiring and pursuing sexual contact with other males, though the protocols for such contacts were structured by rigid assumptions about status and penetration (e.g., an adult male citizen should play the active role with subordinate males, who in turn normatively played the passive role for their social superior). Similarly, anthropological research indicates that, in some non-Western cultures, young males are initiated into manhood through rituals of oral intercourse and semen ingestion with other males, rituals that Western society might label as homosexual. Yet most of these males go on to participate in opposite-sex sexual intercourse and father children. Attention to specific case studies such as these led to an increasing emphasis on the social and historical construction of sexuality by the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Moreover, in his influential History of Sexuality, Volume I , Foucault attempted to historicize the emergence of the new category of identity, the “homosexual,” in the nineteenth century. Foucault interpreted this new understanding of the “homosexual” as a “species” of human to be a consequence of both the classifying ambitions of sexologists and psychiatrists, on the one hand, and the attempts by those who identified with the category to reverse the relations of power in which they were engaged, on the other hand. For queer theorists, all of these case studies denaturalize absolute distinctions between homosexuals and heterosexuals as two ontologically different types of people. Even within modern Western industrialized societies, such experiences as bisexuality cast doubt on rigid versions of the opposition between heterosexual and homosexual.

While some gay and lesbian activists fear that these attempts to destabilize modern heterosexual and homosexual identities will undermine the political struggle for gay civil rights, queer theorists argue that dualistic distinctions between heterosexuality and homosexuality actually reinforce the belief that heterosexuality is a fixed, coherent category. In order for heterosexuality to exist as a stable concept, it must be differentiated from homosexuality. Heterosexuality comes to be understood as the norm, and homosexuality as the deviation. To undermine the distinction between these categories is consequently to call into question the assumed normalcy of heterosexuality. Thus, in spite of its origins in lesbian and gay studies, queer theory devotes as much energy to a critical reexamination of heterosexuality and the power relations and norms that support it as it does to homosexuality. Such power relations and norms produce what queer theorists call “heteronormativity,” a widespread bias in favor of heterosexual relations and binary gender roles as primary organizing principles of society. Queer theory is therefore misunderstood if it is thought to be relevant only for individuals or communities who self-identify or are identified by others as “queer.” Its relevance extends to the wider set of social meanings and practices that necessarily inform anyone’s experiences of sex and gender in a heteronormative society. Heteronormativity is not precisely identical to heterosexuality, however, since heterosexual relations could, in principle, be organized in ways that do not privilege heterosexuality over homosexuality or alternative sexual practices.

One of the primary sites for reproducing heteronormativity is the nuclear family. Thus, queer theory builds upon historical and anthropological investigations of kinship structures to point out that the modern nuclear family is only one among several possible ways of organizing affective and communal life. Even within modern society, alternative kinship structures exist.

So too, modern heteronormativity frequently entails the assumption that sexual practice properly takes place only as a private expression of romantic love between monogamous partners. Thus queer theorists tend to examine alternative forms of sexual practice such as sex with multiple partners (whether same-sex or opposite-sex partners), public sex, prostitution, pornography, and sadomasochism. Many queer theorists insist that such practices need to be studied or understood as examples of what Gayle Rubin refers to as “benign sexual variation” rather than dismissed out of hand or interpreted in the worst possible light. Queer theory does not discount the need for sexual ethics, of course; but, following Rubin and other sex radicals, it tends to suspect that sex is too often overlaid with an excess of meaning and moralism surpassing that applied to other human practices that also require ethical deliberation, such as eating.

Queer Theory and Gender.

Partly because norms for sexual activity and assumptions about sexual desire are tied closely to beliefs about the two biological sexes, queer theorists also reexamine ideologies of sex and gender. Much contemporary research starts from a distinction between biological sex and gender, the latter of which is understood as the cultural interpretation of biological sex. Queer theory tends to emphasize a very wide scope of possibilities for gendered behavior. Indeed, the assumption that all bodies fit neatly into only two biological sexes is itself challenged by some queer writers who note, for example, that certain bodies are born with ambiguous sexual markers and others are modified sexually over time. Even when bodies can be fit into one of two sexed categories, “male” and “female,” there is no automatic correlation between sexed bodies and gendered behavior or dispositions. Many individuals with biologically male bodies exhibit so-called “feminine” behaviors or self-identify in “feminine” ways, and many individuals with biologically female bodies exhibit so-called “masculine” behaviors or self-identify in “masculine” ways. However, there is no precise correlation between these multiple behaviors, identifications, and sexual preferences.

The classification of particular behaviors as “masculine” or “feminine” itself varies widely across cultures. Some societies include additional gender classifications, such as a “third sex,” to handle the fact that binary distinctions between male and female cannot account for all gendered practice. Individuals of the “same” sex within a single society also exhibit gender characteristics to variable degrees; and this variability is sometimes used to allot prestige and shame differentially to members of the “same” sex, as when certain men are deemed more or less “manly” than others.

As all of these examples indicate, the binary distinction between male and female, though assumed as common sense throughout Western societies, is not taken for granted by queer theorists. Rather, it is subjected to critical analysis. For some queer theorists, particularly those writing under the influence of feminist philosopher Judith Butler, such binary systems of sex and gender are considered “performative” effects of bodily practices rather than naturally occurring phenomena or cultural interpretations of fixed biological sexes. That is to say, our repeated attempts to conform our bodies and our practices to norms for sex and gender over time produce the illusion of a stable, absolute distinction between male and female. Yet these attempts to embody norms for male and female behavior are only more or less successful imitations of earlier performances. Thus, queer theorists emphasize the many differences that exist between repeated performances of sex and gender as part of a larger project of challenging the stability and success of the norms that inform those performances. On the one hand, queer studies may call attention to transgender lives and practices, which often subvert norms for sex and gender intentionally. On the other hand, queer theorists also argue that even more conventional or “normal” lives fail to conform completely or in a uniform way to dominant gender norms.

Queer Theory and Ethnicity.

One of the most significant developments in queer theory in recent years has been the attempt to study in greater detail how sexual and gendered meanings and practices are structured in relation to race, ethnicity, nation, colonialism, class, and religion. Beliefs about “manly” or “womanly” behavior, including accepted sexual behavior and kinship norms, vary according to the racial, ethnic, and class backgrounds of both the individuals whose behavior is being evaluated and the individuals who make evaluations. In addition, racism, class prejudice, and colonial relations are often structured through sexual stereotypes. In pursuing such issues, queer theory will sometimes make use of “intersectional” analyses of gender, race, class, and nation that have been important for feminist and postcolonial studies. At the same time, the tendency to “queer” categories by demonstrating their mobility and fluidity rather than assuming their fixed or essential nature can be applied not only to gender and sexual practice but also to race, which is sometimes structured through binary oppositions (e.g., “white” versus “black”), and ethnicity, which relies upon the creation of boundaries between self and other.

The Bible and Heteronormativity.

Because queer theory devotes much of its attention to the analysis of modern societies, its relevance for biblical interpretation might appear to be limited. Indeed, the use of queer criticism has been less common to date among biblical scholars than among scholars elsewhere in the humanities. It is important to recall, however, that one crucial influence on queer theory’s critique of modern ways of organizing sex and gender was the demonstration that ancient societies, and particularly Greek and Roman societies, organized relations of sex and gender in quite different ways than modern societies. The queer point taken from such historicizing demonstrations was not to romanticize patriarchal societies of the ancient world by claiming them as models (though this has occasionally been done), but rather to undermine the assumption that modern systems of sex, gender, and kinship are either natural or universal.

One possible agenda for queer criticism of the Bible, then, is to explore or emphasize the gap between modern heteronormative assumptions and the ancient literature found in the Bible. To be sure, it is conventional for contemporary advocates of so-called traditional family values to insist or imply that such values are directly grounded in the Jewish and Christian traditions that utilize biblical texts as religious resources. A few biblical texts are frequently cited in support of this claim, such as the declaration of God in Gen 1:27–28 that humankind, “male and female,” will “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” Yet many more biblical texts indicate that the writers of biblical literature held views about gender and sexual practice that stand in some tension with modern heteronormative assumptions. Queer criticism may emphasize such texts rather than simply acknowledging them as social background.

It is clear, for example, that marriage in ancient Israel (if “marriage” is even the right word for the ancient household) was not organized around heterosexual monogamy. Numerous biblical male characters are represented as having multiple wives and concubines, including Abraham, Jacob, Elkanah, Saul, David, and possibly Moses. None of these characters is criticized for taking multiple women. Indeed, in the case of David, we are even told explicitly that God gave the women of other men to him (2 Sam 12:8 ). While Solomon does receive criticism in connection with his multiple wives and concubines, the criticism appears to be aimed not at the number of his women but rather at the fact that, having taken many foreign wives and concubines, he promotes the worship of their non-Israelite deities. Even the legal prohibitions against adultery do not enforce monogamy in as strict a way as many readers imagine. If a man had sexual relations with the wife of another man, both partners could be killed; but there do not seem to be many restrictions on sexual activity between a married man and a woman other than his wife who was available sexually, such as a prostitute or a slave. The sexuality of women, on the other hand, seems to be more narrowly restricted than that of men so long as a woman falls under the authority of a father or husband. Indeed, as feminist scholars have noted, adultery is understood in the Hebrew Bible as something akin to a property offense. The Ten Commandments even list women alongside houses, slaves, animals and fields as objects that one man has which another man might want (Ex. 20:17 ; Deut. 5:21 ).

Significantly, marriage is almost never associated in the Hebrew Bible with companionate love, as it is in modern Western societies. The recognition of physical desire between partners and a longing to be together is clear in the Song of Songs; but, as scholars of the Song have long recognized, the speakers in the Song are not married. Among men of stature such as Israel’s kings, the ability to collect multiple wives and concubines appears to have been interpreted as an indication of wealth, prestige, and “manly” leadership.

A number of New Testament texts, on the other hand, take a more ambivalent or even negative view of marriage and family. Neither Jesus nor Paul is represented as being married. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus states that “Whoever comes after me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26 ). Although the Gospel of Matthew nervously tones down that saying, all three synoptic Gospels recount an incident in which Jesus learns and responds to the fact that his mother and brothers are outside asking for him: “And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother’” (Mark 3:33–35 ; cf. Matt 12:46–50 ; Luke 8:19–21 ). Paul, while clearly allowing for marriage, also states just as clearly that his preference would be for those who are unmarried to remain that way (1 Cor 7:8 ). These and other biblical passages served as reference points for early Christian figures who emphasized virginity and chastity while discouraging marriage and childbirth.

If queer criticism is understood as being focused solely on same-sex relations, most of these observations are beside the point. Because queer criticism is also aimed at the wider context of heteronormative society, however, such observations potentially challenge the attempt to ground heteronormative assumptions in biblical literature.

Much queer criticism of the Bible accepts that a few biblical passages condemn at least some forms of same-sex sexual relations. Queer critics will generally note, however, that same-sex sexual relations were not conceptualized in the world that gave us the Bible in the same way that homosexuality is understood today. As in other ancient societies, the writers of both Testaments almost certainly interpreted same-sex eroticism in terms of a politics of penetration that understood intercourse to involve an active, penetrating social superior and a passive, penetrated social subordinate. The model for this understanding was, precisely, heterosexual intercourse in a patriarchal society. For example, the levitical proscriptions of male same-sex intercourse are explicitly articulated in terms of gender differentiation, inasmuch as such intercourse is referred to by comparison with lying with a woman (Lev 18:22; 20:13 ). Thus, there is little direct correlation between such passages and contemporary debates about homosexuality, which are informed by very different notions of sexual practice on all sides of the issue.

Queer Readings of the Bible.

However, relatively little queer criticism is actually devoted to debates about the handful of texts that are usually cited against homosexuality. Such contemporary debates normally entail assumptions about biblical authority and textual meaning that historical criticism and studies of reading and reception have undermined, and that queer criticism usually rejects. Instead, queer criticism takes other approaches that intentionally stand outside more conventional approaches to the Bible and ethics.

It is possible to make a rough distinction between two different types of queer criticism of the Bible. Some queer critics build upon the use of the word “queer” as a term for a range of individuals or groups who depart from norms of sex and gender (lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgendered, etc.) and understand “queer” as a social location from which contemporary readers can interpret the Bible. According to this approach, new meanings are generated from the biblical texts when they are read from the perspectives or concerns of queer readers or queer communities. Some of these readings can be quite popular in orientation, while others are more academic. Many of these queer readings understand the Bible as a theological resource for queer religious communities, though the use of this resource is often quite nontraditional; and so they may be aimed at queer audiences as well as emerging from queer communities.

Another type of queer criticism places less emphasis on the social location of readers and gives more explicit attention to the interpretive questions found in academic queer theory. These queer readings of the Bible are usually more closely related to queer criticism as it can be found in academic disciplines outside of biblical or theological studies; and the assumed audience tends to be academic rather than popular. Questions and influential texts from queer theory can be integrated with various methods and figures from biblical scholarship, but this is accomplished in a wide variety of different ways.

Although this manner of distinguishing among queer readings is useful to some degree, the distinction cannot be applied in a dogmatic fashion. The lines between academic and popular approaches are often fluid rather than fixed, as are the lines between ancient and contemporary meanings; and the influence of academic queer theory can be present even when appeals to it are less explicit. Indeed, consistent with the queer emphasis on blurring boundaries, a queer reading of a text may set out intentionally to contravene normative assumptions about the form that queer criticism “ought to take.”

Regardless of where it fits in terms of the distinction just made between two types of queer reading, queer criticism will frequently focus on texts in which assumptions about proper gender behavior seem to be undermined or transgressed. Such texts illustrate the queer point that the binary opposition between male and female is less stable than is often assumed. Examples of individual characters who have attracted or might attract this type of queer attention could include Jacob, who becomes Israel’s eponymous ancestor in spite of being more closely associated with his mother, cooking, and the domestic space of the tents than his brother (Gen 25:27–34 ); Lot and his daughters, or Joseph and the wife of Potiphar, who reverse the normative assumption that men will be sexual subjects and women will be sexual objects (Gen 19:30–38; 39:1–23 ); Jael and the woman of Thebez, who each kill men in scenes with significant phallic overtones (Judg 4:17–22; 10:50–54 ). The representation of an assumed male Israelite audience as a woman in the controversial sexual and marital images used by such prophets as Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Hosea arguably creates queer gender dynamics in the relations between text, original audience, and contemporary reader. Eunuchs have received a lot of attention from queer critics, and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 has proven to be an especially fruitful object of queer interpretation. Paul’s apparent dissolving of gender distinctions in Galatians 3:28 may lay the groundwork for a queer reading of Christianity, though it sits uneasily alongside other Pauline statements. Even the complex gender protocols used to represent Jesus, both in the New Testament and among later interpreters, have been analyzed by queer criticism.

Of course, other approaches to biblical interpretation, such as feminist criticism, gender studies, or masculinity studies, have also emphasized some of these same texts and figures. However, queer criticism will often blur the boundaries between identified methods of biblical interpretation, just as it blurs boundaries that concern gender and sexuality. The distinctiveness of its perspective from some of the other approaches to gender in the same texts will lie in queer criticism’s consistent preference for fluid and mobile notions of gender over fixed gender roles and static gender models. Indeed, a queer reading may attempt to demonstrate that even a character, image, or text that seems on the surface to represent a more stable notion of gender (e.g., the story of the Garden of Eden, or Paul’s Corinthian correspondence) can in fact be read in a more dynamic fashion. A queer reading can also focus on queer gender dynamics in the history of a text’s reception, as in Stephen Moore’s work on readers of the Song of Songs.

Queer criticism also looks for biblical examples of sexual activities or symbolism that stand in tension with heteronormative conventions. In some cases this may involve homoerotic readings of the interactions between two characters of the same sex, such as David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, or Jesus and the beloved disciple. However, other sorts of nonconventional sexual matters also attract attention. The figures of prostitutes in both Testaments are sometimes interpreted as queer figures, since prostitutes participate in stigmatized sexual activities while, in certain texts, displaying significant agency. A few queer critics have used sadomasochism, with its dynamics of pain, pleasure, and domination, to interpret dynamics in the relationship between Israel and God. The public use of sex in such passages as 2 Samuel 16 challenges modern notions of sex as a private matter. The widespread sexual use of slaves in the ancient world may also shed light on both the Hebrew Bible (e.g., the story of Hagar) and the New Testament (e.g., the letter to Philemon). These are only examples of a number of textual figures and symbols that are emphasized by queer criticism because of the ways in which their sexual images transgress heteronormative assumptions.

Consistent with the emphasis in queer theory on the intersections of sex, gender, race, ethnicity, class, and nation, queer criticism also reexamines biblical texts in which such intersections appear to be at work. While numerous passages in the Hebrew Bible represent ethnic difference in terms of gender and sexual practice, queer criticism focuses in particular on passages in which the links between ethnicity, gender, and sexual practice involve some sort of transgression of norms or conventions. Examples might include, from the Hebrew Bible, the story of Lot’s sexual unmanning by his daughters; or, from the New Testament, the story of the Ethiopian eunuch.

Contribution.

As the brief examples given above indicate, queer criticism of the Bible is a heterogeneous enterprise. It does not provide, and in fact tends to avoid, any agreed upon set of methodological steps that its practitioners all follow consistently. It is usually characterized by an emphasis on the dynamics of sex, gender, and sexual practice in biblical texts and biblical interpretation, dynamics that are also studied by other approaches to the Bible. However, the specific contributions of queer criticism to the study of such dynamics include an emphasis on the fluidity and multiplicity of gender and sexual practice as well as the inextricability of sex and gender from matters that are often kept separate from it, such as ethnicity, race, nation, and religion. Just as significantly, queer criticism carries out its interpretations of biblical texts with a view toward queer challenges to contemporary heteronormativity.

Queer theory outside of biblical scholarship, which has had an influence on queer criticism within biblical scholarship, continues to evolve. Many of the practitioners of queer theory have begun to focus on issues that are not always associated with sex and gender, including race, globalization, international conflict, economics, the changing shape of the public sphere, and theories of affect and emotion. Although it is too soon to know what the implications of these more recent developments in queer theory might be for biblical scholarship, it is likely that queer criticism of the Bible will continue to evolve, at least in the near future, in order to take such developments into account.

[ See also Feminist Biblical Interpretation; Ideological Criticism; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Interpretation; Masculinity Studies; and Race, Ethnicity, and Biblical Criticism ]

Bibliography

Queer Theory

Butler, Judith. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of ‘Sex.’ New York: Routledge, 1993. Further development and clarification of Butler’s performative theory of gender as well as engagement with issues of race and queerness.Find this resource:

    Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. 2d ed. New York: Routledge, 1999. Includes an early articulation of Butler’s influential performative theory of gender as well as her critique of the sex/gender distinction.Find this resource:

      Halley, Janet, and Andrew Parker, eds. After Sex? On Writing Since Queer Theory. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2011. A collection of essays that reflect on some of the most recent trends in queer theory, including those dealing with race and affect.Find this resource:

        Halperin, David M. Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. Uses an engagement with the work of Michel Foucault to develop a theory of queer politics.Find this resource:

          Jagose, Annamarie. Queer Theory: An Introduction. New York: New York University Press, 1996. A helpful overview of the texts and issues that shaped the emergence and early years of queer theory.Find this resource:

            Rubin, Gayle S. Deviations: A Gayle Rubin Reader. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2011. A collection of writings by the anthropologist whose essay “Thinking Sex,” included in the volume, was especially influential in the development of queer theories of sexuality.Find this resource:

              Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. Epistemology of the Closet. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990. Notable for its critical examination of the binary distinction between homosexuality and heterosexuality.Find this resource:

                Sullivan, Nikki. A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory. New York: New York University Press, 2003. An overview of queer theory that includes attention to issues of race and transgender.Find this resource:

                  Warner, Michael, ed. Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics and Social Theory. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993. A collection of essays from the early years of queer theory that includes Warner’s influential articulation of “queer” as resistance to heteronormativity.Find this resource:

                    Queer Criticism and the Bible

                    Armour, Ellen T., and Susan M. St. Ville, eds. Bodily Citations: Religion and Judith Butler. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006. A collection of essays on the relevance of Butler’s theories for religious studies that includes two contributions by biblical scholars and a response from Butler.Find this resource:

                      Guest, Deryn, et al., eds. The Queer Bible Commentary. London: SCM Press, 2006. Examines each book of the Bible in the light of queer perspectives and issues.Find this resource:

                        Hornsby, Teresa, and Ken Stone, eds. Bible Trouble: Queer Reading at the Boundaries of Biblical Scholarship. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2011. A diverse collection of essays by biblical scholars who bring queer and other theories to bear on biblical interpretation.Find this resource:

                          Macwilliam, Stuart. Queer Theory and the Prophetic Marriage Metaphor in the Hebrew Bible. Abingdon, UK: Equinox, 2011. An examination of the relevance of queer theory for biblical scholarship that uses queer theory to reconsider the role of sex and gender in the biblical prophetic marriage metaphor.Find this resource:

                            Martin, Dale B. Sex and the Single Savior: Gender and Sexuality in Biblical Interpretation. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006. A collection of essays by the author on sex, gender, and the interpretation of the New Testament, combining historical criticism with queer theory and contemporary theories of reading and rhetoric.Find this resource:

                              Moore, Stephen D. The Bible in Theory: Critical and Postcritical Essays. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2010. Includes essays on queer theory and biblical interpretation as part of the author’s larger project of re-reading biblical texts with the aid of poststructuralist literary theories.Find this resource:

                                Moore, Stephen D. God’s Beauty Parlor: And Other Queer Spaces In and Around the Bible. Palo Alto, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2001. A collection of essays by the author that directly engage queer theory as a lens for interpreting both biblical texts and the history of biblical interpretation.Find this resource:

                                  Stone, Ken. “Gender Criticism: The Un-Manning of Abimelech.” In Gale A. Yee, ed., Judges and Method: New Approaches in Biblical Studies, 2d ed., 183–201. Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 2007. A methodological overview that locates queer criticism of the Bible within a larger set of approaches to gender studies.Find this resource:

                                    Stone, Ken. Practicing Safer Texts: Food, Sex and Bible in Queer Perspective. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2005. Uses queer theory, anthropology, and biblical scholarship to reexamine a number of texts from the Hebrew Bible in which food and sex both appear.Find this resource:

                                      Stone, Ken, ed. Queer Commentary and the Hebrew Bible. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press/Pilgrim Press, 2001. An early collection of essays bringing queer theories and perspectives to bear on biblical interpretation.Find this resource:

                                        Ken Stone