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n Neotestamentica - When gender performance is not straightforward : feet, masculinity and power in John 13:1–11 - research

Volume 53 Number 2
  • ISSN : 0254-8356
  • E-ISSN: 2518-4628

Abstract

The Johannine Gospel continues to be of interest to biblical scholars who are attuned to the manner in which gender is constructed and performed by means of characterisation in its narratives, and is interpreted from a vast range of social locations. For some, the endresult is the promotion of gender equality and gender-transgressive behaviour, whereas others deem the Fourth Gospel narratives to merely reinforce the all-too-familiar patriarchal social structures and hegemonic masculine ideals. Central to interpretative judgments on the gendered dimension of the Fourth Gospel narratives is the manner in which Jesus is characterised. I suggest that the foot-washing narrative of John 13:1–11, when read with a gender-critical lens against the background of the first-century cultural script of honour and shame, resists simplistic categorisation as being solely a liberating or a restrictive gendered narrative. Rather, by taking into consideration the complex intersections of honour, shame, gender and class, a gender-ambiguous picture emerges—one in which the characterisation of Jesus both affirms and transgresses ancient gendered ideals. The unresolved gender ambiguity depicted in the narrative could potentially offer possibilities for theologically engaging gender and sexuality by means of a hermeneutical framework that can explore the discomfort of constructivism, instead of jumping perhaps too hastily to oft-preferred essentialist understandings of gender and sexuality.

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/content/journal/10520/EJC-19eafa0142
2019-07-30
2020-02-26

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