Asikainen - Jesus and Other Men

Susanna Asikainen - Jesus and Other Men - Ideal Masculinities in the Synoptic Gospels
In her song Muhammad My Friend, singer-songwriter Tori Amos toys with the idea that the child whose birth in Bethlehem is described in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke was in fact a girl. The gender of the child is not the only difference between the Jesus of the Gospels and the messiah envisioned by Tori Amos. Whereas the Jesus of the Gospels is crucified naked, alone, and abandoned by his followers, Tori Amos’ crucified messiah wears Shiseido luxurybrand lipstick while her friends have gathered by her side to drink tea.
Tori Amos’ vision of a girl messiah certainly goes against the grain of the Christian tradition. After all, Luke mentions that the baby Jesus was circumcised. That Jesus was a man has been taken for granted in much of the study. But what kind of a man was Jesus? What did it mean to be a man in the ancient Greco-Roman world? In this study, I seek to answer these questions by examining the ideal masculinities in the Synoptic Gospels.
Interest in the study of masculinities in the Bible emerged in the mid-1990s and has since grown slowly but steadily. Nevertheless, studies on the masculinity of Jesus or masculinities in the Synoptic Gospels are still few and far between. There remains a need for further study on the masculinity of Jesus and ideal masculinities in the Synoptic Gospels. In particular, what we do not yet have is a study that concentrates on both the masculinities of Jesus and the other men in the Synoptic Gospels and compares the masculinity ideals of the Synoptic Gospels. How do the Synoptic Gospels address the same themes and issues concerning masculinity? What are the differences and similarities between the Synoptic Gospels? What are the characteristic features of their respective masculinity ideals?
In this study, I focus especially on the masculinity of Jesus, but I also examine the portrayal of the other male characters, as well as female characters, in the Synoptic Gospels. It is important to study both male and female characters, since masculinity is defined both in relation to femininities and in relation to other masculinities. I do not study the masculinity of the historical Jesus, but concentrate instead on how the Synoptic Gospels portray Jesus and the other characters. According to the two-source theory, Matthew and Luke have used Mark as their source. Do the changes that Matthew and Luke make to Mark’s text also reflect a different ideal of masculinity?
There are several definitions of masculinity. In this study, I define masculinity as gender ideology. In other words, masculinity means the ideal a man is supposed to fulfill. The ideal masculinities of the Synoptic Gospels are shown most clearly in the character of Jesus. In the ancient Greco-Roman world, ideal characteristics were masculine; thus, ideal human behavior was generally also masculine to some extent. From the point of view of the early Christians, Jesus was an ideal character, and one may suppose that the Synoptic Gospels sought to  portray  Jesus  as  ideally  masculine.  Therefore,  I  do  not  analyze  whether the Synoptic Gospels portray Jesus as masculine. Rather, I study what kind of masculinity the Synoptic Gospels present as the ideal. In addition to Jesus’ masculinity, I also examine the way in which presentations of other (male) characters reflect the ideal masculinities of the Synoptic Gospels. In order to analyze these ideal masculinities, I compare the Synoptic Gospels with other ancient Greco-Roman texts. What were the ideal masculinities of the Synoptic Gospels and how did they relate to other ideals of masculinity that existed in the ancient Greco-Roman world? As a result of the analysis, I suggest that the Gospel of Luke is the closest to the ancient Greco-Roman ideal of self-controlled masculinity. The Gospel of Mark, on the other hand, portrays both Jesus and the disciples as examples of voluntarily marginalized masculinity. Matthew enhances the depiction of Jesus by moving it closer to the ancient Greco-Roman  ideal  of  self-controlled  masculinity,  but  at  the  same  time  he maintains that the disciples should voluntarily accept the marginalized position of the early Christians.

Susanna Asikainen - Jesus and Other Men - Ideal Masculinities in the Synoptic Gospels

Boston: Brill, 2018 – 248
ISBN 978-90-04-36098-3 (hardback)
ISBN 978-90-04-36109-6 (e-book)

Susanna Asikainen - Jesus and Other Men - Ideal Masculinities in the Synoptic Gospels – Contents

1  Introduction
  •   Of Masculinities and Men
  •   A Reassessment of Connell’s Theory
  •   Theorizing Marginalized Masculinities
  •   Outline of the Study
2  Masculinities in the Ancient Greco-Roman World 
  •   Introduction
  •   Biological Sex in the Ancient Greco-Roman World
  •   Ancient Greco-Roman Gender Stereotypes
  •   Who is a Real, Hegemonically Masculine Man?
  •   Ideal Characteristics of Masculine Men
  •   Effeminacy and Lack of Self-Control
  •   Marginalized Masculinities in the Ancient Greco-Roman World
    •   Philo  
    •   Josephus
    •   4 Maccabees
    •   Rabbinic Judaism
  •   Conclusions
3  Jesus and His Opponents
  •   Introduction
  •   The Authority of Jesus  
  •   The Opponents as Negative Examples of Unmasculine Behavior
  •   Jesus’ Disputes with His Opponents
  •   Challenges to the Masculinity of Jesus
  •   Herod
    •   The Death of John the Baptist
    •   Other Mentions of Herod
  •   Pilate
    •   Pilate in Mark (15:1–15)  
    •   Pilate in Matthew (27:11–26)
    •   Pilate in Luke (23:1–25)
  •   Conclusions
4  Jesus and His Male Followers
  • Introduction
  • The Portrayal of the Disciples in the Synoptic Gospels
  • Peter in the Synoptic Gospels
    • The Messiah Confession
    • Peter in the Passion Narratives
  • Jesus’ Teaching on Ideal Behavior in the Sermon on the Mount
    • Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3–12)
    • Antitheses (Matthew 5:21–48)
    • Piety (Matthew 6:1–18)
  • Jesus and Family in the Synoptic Gospels
  • Service and Slavery as the Ideal Masculinity
  • Children as Examples for the Disciples
  • Matthew, Eunuchs, and Subordinated Masculinities
  • Conclusions
5  Jesus and Women
  • Introduction
  • Ideal Women in the Ancient Greco-Roman World
  • The Women Followers of Jesus
  • The Syrophoenician or Canaanite Woman
    • Mark’s Account of the Story (Mark 7:24–30)
    • Matthew’s Account of the Story (Matthew 15:21–28)
    • The Syrophoenician Woman’s Challenge to Jesus’ Masculinity
  • The Women Jesus Heals: The Hemorrhaging Woman
  • The Anointing Woman
  • The Ideal Woman in Luke
  • Feminine Jesus
  • Conclusions
6  Jesus and Emotions
  • Introduction
  • Emotions in Greco-Roman Antiquity
    • Grief and Tears in Greco-Roman Antiquity
    • Anger in Greco-Roman Antiquity
  • The Emotions of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels
  • The Tears of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke
  • The Incident at the Temple
  • The Emotions of the Other Characters
  • Conclusions
7  Jesus and Suffering
  •   Introduction
  •   Death and Suffering in the Ancient Greco-Roman World
  •   Jesus’ Teaching on Suffering
  •   Jesus in Gethsemane
    •   Mark 14:32–42
    •   Matthew 26:36–46
    •   Luke 22:39–46
    •   The Masculinity of Jesus in Gethsemane  
  •   The Arrest of Jesus
  •   The Jewish and the Roman Trials: The Silence of Jesus
  •   The Mocking and Scourging of Jesus
  •   The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus
    •   The Death of Jesus in Mark and Matthew
    •   The Death of Jesus in Luke
  •   Conclusions
8  Conclusions
  •     Primary Sources
  •     Secondary Literature
Index of Modern Authors
Index of Ancient Sources


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