Customer Review

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately unconvincing, 18 Dec 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People In Western Europe From The Beginning Of The Christian Era To The Fourteenth Century: Gay ... of the Christian Era to the 14th Century (Paperback)
John Boswell's "Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality" was published already in 1980. The author argues that Christian intolerance against gays (his term) isn't based on the Bible, but rather on little understood social and economic changes during the 13th and 14th centuries in Western Europe.

I consider this thesis unconvincing. Of course, all religious scriptures are the subject of interpretation and re-interpretation. History is ultimately driven by other factors than what some scribbler put in the Bible, which is contradictory anyway. In *this* sense, intolerance against homosexuality doesn't "come from the Bible", but strictly speaking, neither does anything else. However, Boswell goes one step further, arguing that the Bible really isn't hostile to homosexual behaviour at all. This is covert "gay theology", not scholarly research. Besides, Boswell admits that the epistle of Barnabas is homophobic and was something of a favourite proof text for homophobic churchmen. Today, the epistle is considered apocryphal, but for a long time it was a legitimate part of the New Testament (i.e. the Bible). Boswell then writes that churchmen often considered to be anti-gay were just as opposed to heterosexual relations. While this is true, it's difficult not to see it as a potential source for homophobia (or indeed misogyny).

The author is probably on safer ground when he points out that the Late Roman Empire was teeming with gays, that homosexuality wasn't always considered to be the gravest sin, and that some Christians were pro-gay during the 9th and 10th centuries. This is a necessary corrective to the view that fighting homosexual relations always had top priority within the Church. The first church council which explicitly condemned homosexuality was Lateran III, meeting in 1179. (In Lutheran Sweden, courts could be surprisingly lenient to gays even during the otherwise strongly conformist 17th and 18th centuries.)

However, I don't think Boswell will convince "Bible-believing" Christians today into changing their opinions. The text of the Bible, after all, condemns homosexual relations. Unfortunately.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in