Original Research

A hermeneutics of sexual identity: A challenge to conservative religious discourse

Samuel Hill
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 30, No 2 | a92 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v30i2.92 | © 2009 Samuel Hill | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 September 2009 | Published: 06 November 2009

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Samuel Hill, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

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I argue that since two significant periods (that form part of what is called ‘Deuteronomistic history’) in the history of the Jews contributed to the development of the Biblical narrative in the format that we have it in today, it can be said that what we have in the Old Testament is really a Jewish national grand narrative. As such, part of the function of this text is to create a strong national identity for the purpose of a people to survive as a people in a hostile environment. Understanding the Old Testament (specifically the books Genesis to II Kings) in this way, and using the insights of the queer theorist Judith Butler with regard to performativity and interpellation, I demonstrate that the Biblical narrative, while condemning homogenital acts, nevertheless has limited application when trying to establish normative guidelines around contemporary issues regarding sexual identity, especially homosexuality, since laws and attitudes that are seen to proscribe homogenital activity arose in a context of a politics of survival.


homogenital acts; queer theory; Deuteronomistic history; Jewish national grand narrative; politics of survival


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