The Boswell Thesis: Essays on Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality

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9780226457406: The Boswell Thesis: Essays on Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality
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Few books have had the social, cultural, and scholarly impact of John Boswell's Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality. Arguing that neither the Bible nor the Christian tradition was nearly as hostile to homoeroticism as was generally thought, its initial publication sent shock waves through university classrooms, gay communities, and religious congregations. Twenty-five years later, the aftershocks still reverberate. The Boswell Thesis brings together fifteen leading scholars at the intersection of religious and sexuality studies to comment on this book's immense impact, the endless debates it generated, and the many contributions it has made to our culture.

The essays in this magnificent volume examine a variety of aspects of Boswell's interpretation of events in the development of sexuality from Classical Antiquity through the Middle Ages, including a Roman emperor's love letters to another man; suspicions of sodomy among medieval monks, knights, and crusaders; and the gender-bending visions of Christian saints and mystics. Also included are discussions of Boswell's career, including his influence among gay and lesbian Christians and his role in academic debates between essentialists and social constructionists.

Elegant and thought-provoking, this collection provides a fitting twenty-fifth anniversary tribute to the incalculable influence of Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality and its author.

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About the Author:

Mathew Kuefler is associate professor of history at San Diego State University. He is the author ofThe Manly Eunuch: Masculinity, Gender Ambiguity, and Christian Ideology in Late Antiquity and editor of theJournal of the History of Sexuality.

Review:

The Boswell Thesis is a timely and remarkably coherent collection of essays that demonstrate the extraordinary impact of John Boswell’s Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality. Elegantly written, thoroughly researched, and thought provoking, these papers will be appreciated by anyone with an interest in the history of sexuality, the history of religion, and, of course, everyone who found Boswell’s ideas to be such a revelation.”--William N. Bonds, emeritus, San Francisco State University (William N. Bonds William N. Bonds 2005-09-22)

"Anyone concerned with the study of medieval sexual attitudes and behavior will find this attractive and well-chosen collection of essays intellectually provocative and stimulating." (James A. Brundage Catholic Historical Review)

"An overwhelming strength of The Boswell Thesis is the undeniable cohesiveness of the collection. . . . If the reader leaves the collection wanting more, it is not for lack of comprehensiveness. Rather the essays prove so easily digestible and consistently interesting that the end comes too soon! . . . While the studied insights within will engage astute scholars, the book may just as easily be directed at non-specialized audiences. The brevity of the essays . . . evenness of the contributions, and accessible writing also allow for the work to be read by advanced undergraduate and graduate students as a wonderful introduction to the study of medieval gender and sexuality." (Dana Polanichka Comitatus)

"A thoughtful and interesting reflection on the impact and place in history of John Boswell's bold and ambitious Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality. . . . An admirable tribute to Boswell's industrious contributions to the field, The Boswell Thesis . . . has much to offer its readers, and many will find it difficult to put down." (Sara M. Butler Canadian Journal of History)

"The Boswell Thesis is itself evidence that, even twenty-five years after its publication, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality is still there, is still provoking." (Andy Hyde Ecclesiastical History)

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