The Boswell Thesis: Essays on Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality

By Brundage, James A. | The Catholic Historical Review, July 2006 | Go to article overview

The Boswell Thesis: Essays on Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality


Brundage, James A., The Catholic Historical Review


The Boswell Thesis: Essays on Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality. Edited by Matthew Kuefler. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2006. Pp. viii, 348. $75.00 clothbound; $27.50 paperback.)

The publication in 1980 of Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality (hereafter CSTH) by John Boswell marked the beginning of radical changes that persist to the present in the ways that historians, especially medievalists, deal with same-sex relationships. The sixteen chapters that make up The Boswell Thesis seek to assess some of the ways that Boswell's work has continued to roil historical scholarship during the past quarter of a century.

The opening essay by the editor, Matthew Kuefler, outlines the central tenets of Boswell's argument. In brief, Christianity, according to Boswell, emerged in a Mediterranean world where intimate relations between persons of the same sex were widely tolerated, if not invariably condoned. Neither the Christian Scriptures nor the early church Fathers, Boswell maintained, expressed blanket disapproval of homosexual practices.Those who now believe that they did so, he asserts, misunderstand the sources.The moral neutrality toward homosexual relations that characterized the Early Church, Boswell continues, persisted throughout the early Middle Ages. Hostility toward same-sex relationships began to surface in Christian Europe only during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. As condemnation of same-sex relationships and those who engaged in them grew more severe, Boswell concluded, mainstream scholars and church authorities began to read their own attitudes back into the documents of the Early Church in order to justify their position.

Boswell, to say the least, set the cat among the pigeons, and feathers continue to flutter furiously, both among those who accept his views and those who find them unpersuasive or even abhorrent. Both groups, it must be said, include people of all sexual orientations. Indeed some of the earliest and most vociferous critics of Boswell's views were members of the gay community, many of whom considered his judgments of the Church far too benign, as Kuefler points out in his extended account of the reviews that CSTH received upon publication.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Boswell Thesis: Essays on Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.