Behold the Man: Jesus and Greco-Roman Masculinity

Behold the Man: Jesus and Greco-Roman Masculinity

Behold the Man: Jesus and Greco-Roman Masculinity

Behold the Man: Jesus and Greco-Roman Masculinity

Synopsis

In this book, Colleen Conway looks at the construction of masculinity in New Testament depictions of Jesus. She argues that the New Testament writers necessarily engaged the predominant gender ideology of the Roman empire, whether consciously or unconsciously. Although the notion of whatconstituted ideal masculinity in Greek and Roman cultures certainly pre-dated the Roman Empire, the emergence of the Principate concentrated this gender ideology on the figure of the emperor. Indeed, critical to the success of the empire was the portrayal of the emperor as the ideal man and the Roman citizen as one who aspired to be the same. Any person or power that was held up alongside the emperor as another source of authority would be assessed in terms of the cultural values represented in this Roman image of the "manly man." Conway details how the New Testament writings reflectdifferent approaches to the issue of Jesus's gender identity, including resistance to, accommodation to, and imitation of, imperial masculinity. The themes that emerge from her study include the relationship between divinity and masculinity in the Roman world and in depictions of Jesus; the role ofthe body in relation to gender identity; and belief in Jesus as a means of achieving a more ideal form of masculinity. Conway's work will be of interest to the broad range of biblical scholars who are interested in gender critical issues and in the emergence of Christianity in the Roman Empire.

Excerpt

When I wrote my dissertation on the male and female characters in the Gospel of John, I had originally planned to include a chapter on Jesus. Instead, my first teaching position and the birth of my two children took the place of that chapter, which in any case had seemed a daunting task. Still, I was never quite satisfied with omitting consideration of Jesus as a gendered character in the Gospel of John, and I suppose it was inevitable that I would return to the topic. When I did, my interests took me beyond John to consideration of the gendered aspect of Jesus across the New Testament. Soon, I found myself involved in what, once again, seemed a very daunting task. And once again, I found myself having to limit the scope of the work so that it might actually be published before my children had children of their own. For this reason, I have had to restrict my focus to the presentations of Jesus in the Gospels, the Pauline literature, and the Book of Revelation. I have also had to limit my research on the enormous amount of literature devoted to New Testament Christology. Instead of reviewing this scholarship in every chapter, I have focused on illustrating what a gender-critical approach helps us learn about the presentations of Jesus in the New Testament. That is to say, the chapters devoted to the New Testament material are intended primarily as gender-critical analyses of the figure of Jesus, rather than comprehensive treatments of the Christology of each writing. Even in the case of gender analysis, there is certainly more to learn than what I offer here. It is my hope that this initial sustained reading of . . .

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