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Sexuality in the Apocrypha

Loader, W. (2021) Sexuality in the Apocrypha. In: Oegema, G.S., (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of the Apocrypha. Oxford University Press, pp. 515-533.

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This piece examines references to sexuality in the diverse writings of the Apocrypha. It uses the term “sexuality” broadly to encompass matters pertaining to sexuality, rather than in the more confined sense that is found in discussions of sexual orientation and sexual theory. It will therefore consider a range of ways in which sexual drive or desire finds expression in various contexts, from marriage to sex work, same-sex relations to celibacy, and beyond. It will do so by examining such references in the particular context of the writings being considered and in the light of the broader social context. It discusses each writing or set of writing in turn: 1 Esdras, Baruch, Judith, the Books of the Maccabees, 2 Esdras, Ben Sira/Sirach, Tobit, Wisdom of Solomon, Susanna, the Additions to Esther, and the Letter of Jeremiah. There are sexual elements common to many of these works: male stereotypes about women in their sexuality as dangerous, associated with mockery of men who lose control to women; male predatory behavior; rape and sexual violence in war; linkage of idolatry to profligate sexuality; gender role reversals, which as exceptions confirm the norms; affirmation of sexual attractiveness when not abused and of (arranged) marriage and the processes of procreation and nurture; and disapprovals of sex work and marriage to foreigners or exogamy.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Publisher: Oxford University Press
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