Saturday, 11 April 2015

M Tong: Reading Gender in Justin Martyr: New Insights from Old Apologies

Although there has been some discussion about Justin Martyr’s views on sexuality, perhaps most notably addressed by Jennifer Knust in her 2007 chapter “Enslaved to Demons: Sex, Violence and the Apologies of Justin Martyr,” in an edited volume Mapping Gender in Ancient Religious Discourses (Brill, 2007), few have read Justin’s texts exclusively for clues to his gender ideology. This communication focuses on three examples where Justin directly addresses gender. First is the self-castration episode in the First Apology, where a Christian youth petitions the Alexandrian governor Felix for permission to receive a medical castration. Next is Justin’s response to the pagan birth narrative of Athena where he ridicules the idea that a god’s “first principle” could be female in form. Finally is Justin’s circumcision argument in the Dialogue with Trypho where he uses the fact that Jewish women were not circumcised as proof that circumcision is unnecessary. In each example, I hope to present a few possibilities for interpretation. My aim is not so much to present an exhaustive exposition of Justin’s gender ideology than to serve as a starting point for further explorations of Justin’s contributions to the discourse of gender in early Christianity. In particular, I am interested in the ways in which Justin both utilizes and innovates dominant gender ideologies of his time, as well as the way in which Justin’s gendered arguments may or may not cohere with the larger aims of his rhetorical projects.

No comments:

Post a Comment