Gendering Jesus the Jew

In: Religion and Gender
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  • 1 University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

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Abstract

Gendering Jesus has been a matter of divergent interpretations, ranging from emphasis on typical features of masculine power to ‘unmanly’ character by ancient elite standards. This article explores anew Jesus’ Jewish masculinity. It revisits a recent study of the question what Jesus looked like, by mutually reconsidering ancient literary and rhetorical traditions of description, literary data about Jesus’ physical and social appearance, major aspects in the literary record about Jesus the Jew in comparison with Jewish tradition including the Dead Sea Scrolls, and recent findings in iconography. Jesus the Jew comes off as an unconventional challenger of male power at the time, whose appearance would neither have adhered to elite standards of physical and social apparel nor to late antique adaptations through the Romanization of Christian iconography.

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