Behold the Man: Jesus and Greco-Roman Masculinity

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Oxford University Press, May 7, 2008 - Religion - 272 pages
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In this book, Colleen Conway looks at the construction of masculinity in New Testament depictions of Jesus. She argues that the New Testament writers necessarily engaged the predominant gender ideology of the Roman Empire, whether consciously or unconsciously. Although the notion of what constituted ideal masculinity in Greek and Roman cultures certainly pre-dated the Roman Empire, the emergence of the Principate concentrated this gender ideology on the figure of the emperor. Indeed, critical to the success of the empire was the portrayal of the emperor as the ideal man and the Roman citizen as one who aspired to be the same. Any person who was held up alongside the emperor as another source of authority would be assessed in terms of the cultural values represented in this Roman image of the "manly man." Conway examines a variety of ancient ideas of masculinity, as found in philosophical discourses, medical treaties, imperial documents, and ancient inscriptions. Manliness, in these accounts, was achieved through self-control over passions such as lust, anger, and greed. It was also gained through manly displays of courage, the endurance of pain, and death on behalf of others. With these texts as a starting point, Conway shows how the New Testament writings approach Jesus' gender identity. From Paul's early letters to the Gospels and Acts, to the book of Revelation, Christian writings in the Bible confront the potentially emasculating scandal of the cross and affirm Jesus as ideally masculine. Conway's study touches on such themes as the relationship between divinity and masculinity; the role of the body in relation to gender identity; and belief in Jesus as a means of achieving a more ideal form of masculinity. This impeccably researched and highly readable book reveals the importance of ancient gender ideology for the interpretation of Christian texts.

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User Review  - the_awesome_opossum - LibraryThing

I really wasn't sold by the argument that Colleen Conway sets forth in this book: evidently, Jesus is the manliest man ever, and this is defined by him acting virtuous and good. Not standard ... Read full review


Jesus and Gender
2 How to Be a Man in the GrecoRoman World
Divus Augustus Philos Moses and Philostratuss Apollonius
4 The Unmanned Christ and the Manly Christian in the Pauline Tradition
5 The Markan Jesus as Manly Martyr?
Mainstream and Marginal Masculinities
7 The Lukan Jesus and the Imperial Elite
The Divine Masculinity of the Johannine Jesus
Masculinity and Violence in the Book of Revelation
The Multiple Masculinities of Jesus
Subject Index
Index of Citations

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About the author (2008)

Colleen Conway is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey. She is the author of Men and Women in the Fourth Gospel: Gender and Johannine Characterization.

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