Appalling Bodies: Queer Figures Before and After Paul's Letters

ISBN : 9780190060312

Joseph A. Marchal
324 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Jan 2020
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The letters of Paul are among the most commonly cited biblical texts in ongoing cultural and religious disputes about gender, sexuality, and embodiment. Appalling Bodies reframes these uses of the letters by reaching past Paul toward other, far more fascinating figures that appear before, after, and within the letters. The letters repeat ancient stereotypes about women, eunuchs, slaves, and barbarians-in their Roman imperial setting, each of these overlapping groups were cast as debased, dangerous, and complicated.
Joseph Marchal presents new ways for us to think about these dangers and complications with the help of queer theory. Appalling Bodies juxtaposes these ancient figures against recent figures of gender and sexual variation, in order to defamiliarize and reorient what can be known about both. The connections between the marginalization and stigmatization of these figures troubles the history, ethics, and politics of biblical interpretation. Ultimately, Marchal assembles and reintroduces us to Appalling Bodies from then and now, and the study of Paul's letters may never be the same.



Prelude: Before and After


Queer Reconfigurations

Past Paul

After This Before

Chapter One: Touching Figures: Reaching Past Paul

Between Brooten and a Halperin Place

How to Get Stuck in the Middle with Sedgwick and Butler

Toward Some Touching Connections?

Chapter Two: A Close Corinthian Shave: Trans / Androgyne

Corinthian Citations, Pauline Performativity, and Echoes of Androgyny

Ancient Androgyny, Reconsidered

Hair-Raising Androgyny and the Corinthian Assembly?

Transgender and Other Mobilizations of Masculinity

Resembling and Assembling Female (Masculine) Prophets

Chapter Three: Uncut Galatians: Intersex / Eunuch

They tried to write their Gospel on my body: Defining, Treating, Resisting

An Ancient Pal, Against Genital Cutting?

A Cutting Joke

Facing the Phallus, Cutting to the Fore(skin)

Don't Quote Ovid to Me (and Don't Bother with Paul Either?)


Chapter Four: Use: Bottom / Slave

The Use of Slaves

The Use of Onesimus: Chresis and Consent, Puns and Patrons

Switching Biblical Bonds

Other Uses of History

How Not to Race Past

Attending to the Past

Whipping Through Time

Chapter Five: Assembled Gentiles: Terrorist / Barbarian

Exceptional Sexual

The Epistles' Exceptionalism

Barbarians, Among Other Perverse Figures

Exceptionalism Rules

An Unexceptional Paul

Some Alternative Assembly Required

Analogy, Anachronism, Assembly: A Contingent Conclusion

Epilogue: Biblical Drag



About the author: 

Joseph A. Marchal is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and affiliate faculty in Women's and Gender Studies at Ball State University. Marchal is the author and editor of several works, most recently Philippians: Historical Problems, Hierarchical Visions, Hysterical Anxieties (2017), Sexual Disorientations: Queer Temporalities, Affects, Theologies (with Kent L. Brintnall and Stephen D. Moore; 2018), and Bodies on the Verge: Queering Pauline Epistles (2019).

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