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The Straight Mind in Corinth: Queer Readings across 1 Corinthians 11:2–16
Gillian Townsley
SemeiaSt 88
Publication Date
July 2017



A new reading that troubles and transgresses the normal with regard to biblical studies and our understandings of gender and sexuality

Despite its lack of both historical and exegetical clarity, 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 has often been fundamental to understandings of gender and sexuality in many Christian traditions. In particular, a hierarchical model of gender and a heterosexual model of sexuality tend to dominate and are presented as “natural” and “God-ordained.” With the materialist lesbian theory of Monique Wittig providing the theoretical basis for discussion, this book intersects various biblical, theological, and queer lines of inquiry across 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 in order to reveal and challenge these models of gender and sexuality that lie behind both the text itself and its various interpretations.


  • Reveals the complex relationship between effeminacy, masculinity and sexual relations in the first century Greco-Roman environment of the New Testament
  • Explores the ideologies of sexuality that underlie much of the debate within evangelical circles
  • Examines Karl Barth’s theology on the binary pairing of “man and woman” as asymmetrically related to each other and to God through the notion of the imago dei, revealing and challenging the ways in which this reflects androcentric and patriarchal ideologies

Gillian Townsley is Teaching Fellow at The University of Otago. Townsley contributed several essays to Bible Trouble: Queer Reading at the Boundaries of Biblical Scholarship (Society of Biblical Literature), Pieces of Ease and Grace (ATF), and Sexuality, Ideology, and the Bible: Antipodean Engagements (Sheffield Phoenix).

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