GENDERING GENESIS, ENGENDERING DIFFERENCE: a Catholic Theological Quest

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    Abstract

    This article discusses how gender theory might contribute to new Roman Catholic readings of Genesis 1–3 in terms of Trinitarian anthropology, gender, and sexual and maternal embodiment. Emphasizing that her Roman Catholic perspective is intended to sit alongside rather than displace Jewish interpretations, Beattie argues that papal teachings about gender and sexual difference are based on flawed interpretations of Genesis. Reading through “the lenses of gender,” in engagement with gendered studies of the Hebrew text (primarily by Phyllis Trible, Ziony Zevit and Marc Brettler), she explores the diversity of Hebrew terms used to describe the primordial human creatures and the semantic fluidity of these terms. She describes this task as “reading out” of scripture. She then moves to a process of “reading in,” first by way of an anthropology that unsettles the stable identity of the gendered individual through the interpersonal dynamics of the Trinity. Engaging with the Dialogue of Catherine of Siena and the writings of Sarah Coakley and Judith Butler, she argues that a Trinitarian interpretation of Genesis 1:26 can open up new perspectives in the Roman Catholic understanding of gender, identity, and otherness. She then turns to medieval art in which the crucified body of Christ is represented with both phallic and vulvic imagery, suggesting insemination, conception, and birth. This invites a new appreciation of the significance of the baptismal community described in Galatians 3, as a kinship group incorporated into the transgendered body of Christ in the maternal Church.

    © 2017, Accepted for publication in Swedish Theological Quarterly.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)102-117
    Number of pages15
    JournalSvensk Teologisk Kvartalskrift
    Volume92
    Publication statusPublished - 17 Sept 2017

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