Thursday, October 31, 2013

Anthony Le Donne on Modern Reconstructions of Jesus' Sexuality

I'm currently a little more than halfway through Anthony Le Donne's The Wife of Jesus, and let me tell you: it's good. Like, really good. Le Donne deserves to be on The Daily Show or The Colbert Report. Why not? They let all those other yahoos on their shows; it would be great to have a real live Jesus historian on there for once. I am especially impressed at how well balanced Le Donne's book is, particularly in its consideration of the biases we all bring to the text as readers shaped by our culture. Take, for example, the following excerpt from Chapter 5, "Smithing Jesus":
For most of us, spotting the agendas and ideologies at work in others seems easy. Many people have probably never considered the notion that Jesus had multiple wives or that he was gay, and so they will be cautious about these sexualized portraits from the beginning. But recognizing our own agendas and ideological projections onto Jesus is more difficult. If we are to be honest and avoid the arrogance of creating Jesus in our own image, a healthy suspicion of ourselves is warranted. The challenge for us, therefore, is to examine the agendas and ideologies that we unwittingly project onto Jesus. (p.90)
I hope to have a brief review—either here or at Near Emmaus—up sometime next week, followed by a full review through Review & Expositor. Many thanks to the good folks at Oneworld for the free review copy.

Buy this book. Do it. Now.


  1. Lecture 7 of this set of lectures has the title "Was Jesus Married?'
    I'm considering using these lectures for Sunday school class.

    1. Looks interesting, Clif. Ehrman is good. I like most of his work (although I disagree with some of his conclusions).

      I'd also like to talk to you sometime about the possibility of getting a group from church together to go see the film A Polite Bribe, which features Ehrman and a host of other reputable NT scholars. It'll be playing in KC in early January.

      Here's a link to the three trailers for the film:

  2. Thank you JPS. That chapter (Smithing Jesus) was the most fun to write. Even so, I guessed while I was writing it that it would be overlooked by most reviews. So very grateful that you've highlighted it.


  3. (This is a bit off the subject, but I found to be of interest.)
    The following text (from link, last paragraph) indicates that those who truly uphold New Testament teachings will not use the name “Jesus.”
    "The name Jesus or Jesus Christ is often used in everything from idle conversation, to bumper stickers and jewelry, to enforcing false teachings, to justifying wars and political agendas, and is even used as a profanity. The name Yeshua however, has remained pure and holy, known and used only by those who would uphold His name and teachings in the highest regard and thus reserving His holy name for use only in spiritual matters and the most humbled and sincere of prayer and obeisances."

    1. Hi Clif,

      While interesting, most of the article (which doesn't list a specific author?) unfortunately does little more than promote long debunked arguments for the "Mythicist" position—that is, the belief that Jesus of Nazareth was never a real person, but instead an amalgam of different divine archetypes.

      Also, from the looks of it, this particular website is dedicated to a gnostic and anachronistic depiction of Jesus and his disciples as "Nazarene Essenes". I draw the conclusion of gnosticism from the final paragraphs of the article (which the Nazarene Way now considers "obsolete"): "As with all things Essene however, there is always the exoteric and the esoteric philosophies and functions. That is, those ideas and teachings suitable to be imparted to the public, and those designed for or understood by the specially initiated alone."

      It's safe to say that for nearly all intents and purposes, the name Jesus suffices as an etymological stand-in for the rabbi from Nazareth who was crucified by the Romans in the first century. Historians and the religious alike know what is implied by the name, whether Yeshua or Jesus.