In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section LGBTIQ Hermeneutics

  • Introduction
  • LGBTI/Queer Approaches to Pedagogy and the Academy

Biblical Studies LGBTIQ Hermeneutics
Jimmy Hoke
  • LAST MODIFIED: 21 February 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0314


LGBTI/Queer Hermeneutics cover an umbrella of approaches to biblical literature, its historical contexts, its reception, and its ongoing uses today. These approaches take root around LGBTIA2Q+ folks—i.e., people who identify as lesbian, gay, bi, trans, intersex, asexual/ace, two-spirit, and queer, with the plus indicating the many other queer and trans identities that exist beyond this acronym (e.g., pansexual, nonbinary). LGBTI/Queer Hermeneutics include readings by LGBTIA2Q+-identified scholars who read biblical texts from explicitly queer/trans perspectives; readings that analyze LGBTIA2Q+ presence in biblical literature and texts that support queer/transphobic oppressions; considerations of the construction of gender and sexuality in ancient texts and contexts; and readings that draw from wider queer and trans studies to bring their ideas into biblical studies. LGBTI/Queer Hermeneutics began entering the field in recognizable quantity in the mid-1990s, in the aftermath of LGBTIA2Q+ activism during the height the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the coining (by Teresa De Lauretis in 1990) and subsequent explosion of “queer theory” as a field of inquiry. LGBTI/Queer Hermeneutics have been a recognized unit of the Society of Biblical Literature since 2006, with intersex identity being added to the title in 2015. Although they are still often dismissed within the norms of biblical studies, LGBTI/Queer Hermeneutics have, since 2000, grown expansive in their contributions to the field. LGBTI/Queer Hermeneutics can be categorized under the umbrella of ideological methods that critically reflect on the identity and social location of the scholar and insist upon centering marginalized and minoritized perspectives. LGBTI/Queer Hermeneutics are impossible without—and, indeed, inseparable from—feminist, postcolonial, African and African American, womanist, Asian and Asian American, Latino/a, Islands and Islanders, and disability hermeneutics. LGBTI/Queer Hermeneutics blur with studies of gender and sexuality in the Bible. While many LGBTI/Queer scholars frame their work within this broader study, this bibliography emphasizes scholarship that explicitly names its perspective as queer, trans, and/or rooted in LGBTIA2Q+ politics or identities. This does not deny the importance of the study of sexuality and gender in the Bible/biblical world to LGBTI/Queer Hermeneutics, but it is important to acknowledge how explicitly LGBTI/Queer Hermeneutical work is more likely to be dismissed. The scholarship that falls under this umbrella vastly exceeds this overview’s attempt to define LGBTI/Queer Hermeneutics, much like all queerness inherently exceeds any attempt to contain it. Researchers are encouraged to use this overview to orient them to the resources that follow—in the hope that, as they engage the scholarship, they will reorient it from their own queer and trans perspectives.

Perspectives for LGBTI/Queer Hermeneutics

LGBTI/Queer Hermeneutics bring a diverse range of perspectives to biblical literature. This section presents scholarship that is especially characteristic of particular approaches to LGBTI/Queer Hermeneutics. Each perspective begins interpretation from a different starting point, whether that point be based in the identity and social location of the reader, confronting queer/transphobic interpretations, queer theory and studies, or the methods of LGBTI/Queer history and historiography. Although each starting point yields different inquiries and conclusions, this vast array of perspectives is characteristic of and essential to LGBTI/Queer Hermeneutics.

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