The first-ever monograph on the history of queer biblical interpretation of this controversial biblical passage
Since the 1950s, homoerotic readings of the pericope in which Jesus heals a Roman centurion’s slave have been built upon three of the account’s features: the specific Greek word pais, which can refer to youth, slave, or the junior partner in a sexual relationship between two men; Luke’s characterization of the young man as “dear” (entimos) to the centurion; and commonplace homoeroticism in the Roman army. Rather than affirming or denying the historical reality of a sexual relationship between the centurion and the young man, Christopher B. Zeichmann instead traces the shifting patterns of queer readings of the text and the influences of the sexual, political, and theological discourses of late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century Europe, the United States, and Australia. Readers will see how distinct political contexts have led interpreters to find very different meanings about the sexual subtexts of this story.
Christopher B. Zeichmann teaches in the departments of History and Religious Studies at Toronto Metropolitan University. He is the author of The Roman Army and the New Testament (2018) and The Database of Military Inscriptions and Papyri of Early Roman Palestine (2022). He is also the project manager of Brown University’s Inscriptions of Israel/Palestine project.
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Praise for Queer Readings of the Centurion at Capernaum: Their History and Politics
Queer Readings of the Centurion at Capernaum brings a popular queer interpretation out of the scholarly shadows and magnifies its implications for queer hermeneutics, biblical studies, and contemporary politics. Zeichmann’s analysis offers a model and an imperative to explore other archives of queer shadow scholarship that certainly exists on myriad biblical texts.
—Jimmy Hoke, Review of Biblical Literature