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Jesus was a swinger?!
August 18, 2011 4:11 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for reputable (i.e. with citations/bibilographies) histories or studies about the evolution of sexuality within the Judeo-Christian religions.

I've searched around online but I'm afraid most of the stuff I've found seems to be heavily informed either by a liberal or conservative agenda that causes me to distrust their conclusions. I'd really like to find a book or a website or a series of articles (or even like a Nova episode or something) that smacks of a more scholarly approach to the topic.

For further clarity, these are the kinds of questions running through my brain that I hope a good academic piece could satisfy:

1. What are the most common modern Christian and Jewish views on sex?
2. Where did these views come from? How did they evolve over time?
3. What external, non-religious influences impacted Judeo-Christian sexuality?
4. Who were the prominent figures in speaking about this subject throughout the history of both Judaism and Christianity?
5. What evidences exist of the connections to ancient fertility cults and early Jewish sex practices/views?
6. How do these evolutions compare with Islam, or Hinduism, or other major world religions?

et cetera, et cetera...

I'd be happy with high-level primers or in depth studies. Mostly I'd just like to find some texts which I can be reasonably assured don't have some creepy agenda informing the research (i.e. anti-gay or promoting specific gender roles). Also not terribly interested in sex-positive books such as mentioned in this thread. I mean, those are great and all but I'm really looking for dispassionate (ahem) observations here.
posted by Doleful Creature to Religion & Philosophy (12 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sex In History. I used to have a copy but I only skimmed it and then ended up giving it to a charity shop. But as I recall it had pretty extensive sections on the evolution of sexual perceptions among various religions.
posted by Fen at 4:24 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe Unprotected Texts or God and Sex, What the Bible Really Says or Sex in the Bible?
posted by hungrytiger at 4:38 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Foucault's Volume One of History of Sexuality is kind of a history of the last 200 years of sexual evolution, and the Church certainly plays a part in that.
posted by absalom at 5:02 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality by John Boswell is a very respected book on the subject.
Boswell was a Yale historian - highly respected in academic circles.
He was a devout Roman Catholic and gay. He died of AIDS about 10 years ago.
posted by Flood at 5:09 PM on August 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology is not to be missed if you are interested in the subject. I can't recommend John Boswell enough either.
posted by munchingzombie at 5:14 PM on August 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, great recommendations already that I would never have found on my own. Thanks a lot! I'll leave this "unanswered" 'til tomorrow (in case any one else wants to throw in) but I've already bought Unprotected Texts on kindle and will be reading it later tonight. Boswell looks really intriguing as well.
posted by Doleful Creature at 7:06 PM on August 18, 2011


I can promise you this: if you read him carefully, Foucault will blow your mind.
posted by Truthiness at 1:50 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Peter Brown, The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (Columbia UP, 1988)
posted by davemack at 6:01 AM on August 19, 2011


Foucault is generally very interesting on theory, but he's quite a poor historian. I'd read another survey on the underlying facts, then have a go at Foucault.
posted by Coobeastie at 6:08 AM on August 19, 2011


I nth Foucault to start and the Boswell book. Homosexuality by Blumenthal is good and The Straight Mind by Wittig is just coming up on the fly.

Oh, how I wish I was home with my library. I did my degree in Religious Studies and Human Sexuality. I'll PM you tonight.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:36 AM on August 19, 2011


For the Catholic approach, check out the works mentioned in this article, either C. West, the author being critiqued, or von Hildebrand. Human sexuality is sort of a subset of Christian anthropology, so books on the latter may touch upon the former.
posted by resurrexit at 12:34 PM on August 19, 2011


Sex, Marriage, and Family in World Religions and Marriage, Sex and Family in Judaism.
posted by -->NMN.80.418 at 9:36 PM on August 20, 2011


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