Detail from “The Last Supper” by Becki Jayne Harrelson, beckijayne.com
“Dandy Discipleship: A Queering of Mark’s Male Disciples” by New Zealand theologian Robert J. Myles was published recently in a scholarly journal.
The article appears in the June issue of “The Journal of Men, Masculinities and Spirituality,” an online scholarly, peer-reviewed journal.
Myles, a graduate student in the School of Theology at the University of Auckland, challenges the assumption of heterosexuality in the Bible and tries to liberate the scriptures from sex-negative misinterpretations. He does this by purposely rereading three Gospel stories in sexual (and homosexual) ways.
For example, he gives a homoerotic twist to the call of the disciples (Mark 1:16-20): “While cruising the seashores of Galilee, Jesus began his ministry by fetching a number of seemingly attached men to join his cohort of male admirers….Upon enticing them, they immediately left their father and their livelihood, to elope with the alluring Jesus.”
The article also offers queer versions of two other stories. Myles reexamines the disciples’ argument about “who is greatest” (Mark 9:33-37) in light of the male obsession with penis size. Then he looks at the arrest of Jesus (Mark 14:43-52) by focusing on “the erotic texture of the betraying embrace” -- the scandalous kiss between two men, Judas and Jesus -- and the possibility that the mysterious naked youth in the story was a prostitute.
Myles is not trying to prove that the historical disciples were gay, but instead to present queer disciples as one valid possibility. “The ultimate goal is for the reconstruction of the biblical text in order that it is a redeeming text for all, rather than just redeeming for some,” he states in the conclusion. By liberating the scriptures with his queer approach, Myles hopes that the Bible may continue to liberate its readers.
Throughout the article, Myles uses a method of queer and gender criticism pioneered by theologian Marcella Althaus-Reid, author of “The Queer God” and “Indecent Theology.”
Myles admits that “the queer imagination deliberately transgresses normalcy in order to destabilize.” But there’s a reason for it. He sums up the purpose -- and the human condition -- with eloquent clarity: “Normalcy, as an ideological means of control, obscures our perception of reality.”
The full article is available online at:
The image above is a detail from “The Last Supper” by Becki Jayne Harrelson, an Atlanta artist who challenges mainstream religious beliefs via art. The painting is a tribute to Da Vinci and Caravaggio, but Harrelson’s multiracial version includes a drag king in the background! All Harrelson’s models are LGBT people in real life.