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Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century

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John Boswell's highly acclaimed study of the history of attitudes toward homosexuality in the Christian West challenges received opinion and our own preconceptions about the Church's past relationship to its gay members, among whom were priests, bishops and even canonized saints. The historical breadth of Boswell's research (from the Greeks to Aquinas) and the variety of s John Boswell's highly acclaimed study of the history of attitudes toward homosexuality in the Christian West challenges received opinion and our own preconceptions about the Church's past relationship to its gay members, among whom were priests, bishops and even canonized saints. The historical breadth of Boswell's research (from the Greeks to Aquinas) and the variety of sources consulted (legal, literary, theological, artistic, and scientific) make this one of the most extensive treatments of any single aspect of Western social history. The product of ten years of research and analysis of records in a dozen languages, this book opens up a new area of historical inquiry and helps elucidate the origins and operations of intolerance as a social force.


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John Boswell's highly acclaimed study of the history of attitudes toward homosexuality in the Christian West challenges received opinion and our own preconceptions about the Church's past relationship to its gay members, among whom were priests, bishops and even canonized saints. The historical breadth of Boswell's research (from the Greeks to Aquinas) and the variety of s John Boswell's highly acclaimed study of the history of attitudes toward homosexuality in the Christian West challenges received opinion and our own preconceptions about the Church's past relationship to its gay members, among whom were priests, bishops and even canonized saints. The historical breadth of Boswell's research (from the Greeks to Aquinas) and the variety of sources consulted (legal, literary, theological, artistic, and scientific) make this one of the most extensive treatments of any single aspect of Western social history. The product of ten years of research and analysis of records in a dozen languages, this book opens up a new area of historical inquiry and helps elucidate the origins and operations of intolerance as a social force.

30 review for Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century

  1. 5 out of 5

    Conrad

    I can't imagine anyone reading this book and not being moved and stunned by the rewriting of history that has accompanied the reign of the queerbashers. This book makes the case that buggery was a pretty well-known and accepted part of life for a very long time, that biblical injunctions against it condemn buttsex with the same vigor that they condemn eating lobster and as such were routinely ignored until lately, and that anyone who says otherwise has bought into a big old lie. I've heard that I can't imagine anyone reading this book and not being moved and stunned by the rewriting of history that has accompanied the reign of the queerbashers. This book makes the case that buggery was a pretty well-known and accepted part of life for a very long time, that biblical injunctions against it condemn buttsex with the same vigor that they condemn eating lobster and as such were routinely ignored until lately, and that anyone who says otherwise has bought into a big old lie. I've heard that people have nitpicked at some of Boswell's footnoting procedures. These people are scabies that feast on fleas on the ass of a smelly camel, as is the ex-girlfriend of mine who ran off with my copy. Boswell is angry, ambitious, fair-minded, and an engaging anecdotal historian, too - Eve Sedgwick and Judith Butler and most of their queer theorist pals could stand a Boswell writing seminar or ten...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sophia

    Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality is an extraordinary piece of scholarship that I wished I finished reading sooner. I was reading with good momentum before I unwisely decided to leave it home during a roadtrip, leaving the book to languish on my nightstand for many weeks. Professor John Boswell of Yale University spent ten years on this groundbreaking study of attitudes towards gay people in Western Europe. Starting with ancient Greece, he shows how feelings swayed between celebr Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality is an extraordinary piece of scholarship that I wished I finished reading sooner. I was reading with good momentum before I unwisely decided to leave it home during a roadtrip, leaving the book to languish on my nightstand for many weeks. Professor John Boswell of Yale University spent ten years on this groundbreaking study of attitudes towards gay people in Western Europe. Starting with ancient Greece, he shows how feelings swayed between celebration, tolerance, indifference, and hostility up to the late Middle Ages. In scholarly, but engaging and civil prose, Boswell lets his interpretation do the arguing for him. Hostility to gay people is not inherent to Christianity, but due to conflation of homosexual acts with prostitution and rape, imprecise translation, and personal intolerant attitudes making its way into the public sphere and historical record. How revolutionary these arguments must have seemed in 1980—just before HIV/AIDS came to public attention—when this book came out! However, as a scholarly treatise with many long footnotes and foreign translations, it might not appeal to the average reader. Ultimately the lay reader has to trust the author on subtleties of context in classical languages to accept his thesis. I am pleased to know that this book won the 1981 National Book Award for history and would recommend it to any one interested in an intellectual account of history, religion, and homosexuality.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    This book more or less kicked off academic endeavors into this realm of research. For that fact alone it get more grace, than your typical book. Boswell's historical argument is way out of my league, but that isn't way I read the book. His argument as to the religious aspects of intolerance are over simplified and border on completely inaccurate, so much so that Crompton came along later and corrected Boswell's error in his book "Homosexuality and Civilization." The upside to this book was that This book more or less kicked off academic endeavors into this realm of research. For that fact alone it get more grace, than your typical book. Boswell's historical argument is way out of my league, but that isn't way I read the book. His argument as to the religious aspects of intolerance are over simplified and border on completely inaccurate, so much so that Crompton came along later and corrected Boswell's error in his book "Homosexuality and Civilization." The upside to this book was that personally it showed me that I was justifying my prejudice with the biblical text instead of drawing my convictions from the text itself. This might have been incidental to reading the book but every good trek into a bout of self understanding has to start somewhere.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Skylar Burris

    The author of “Christianity, Homosexuality, and Social Tolerance” begins his book with the odd claim that he is not supporting any particular moral position with regard to homosexuality. I say it is odd because the massive volume is clearly aimed at convincing the reader that Christianity is, if you really dig into history and read the Scriptures just right, supportive of homosexual love and the sex that is an expression of that love. Now, I have absolutely no problem with books with agendas. I The author of “Christianity, Homosexuality, and Social Tolerance” begins his book with the odd claim that he is not supporting any particular moral position with regard to homosexuality. I say it is odd because the massive volume is clearly aimed at convincing the reader that Christianity is, if you really dig into history and read the Scriptures just right, supportive of homosexual love and the sex that is an expression of that love. Now, I have absolutely no problem with books with agendas. I very much enjoy reading persuasive writing. But I find the claim that one is merely being scientific (and if the science happens to agree with my personal agenda, what a coincidence!) to be disingenuous. The book has a scholarly appearance and copious footnotes, but the author engages in a great deal of interpretative gymnastics with regard to Scripture, Christian tradition, and especially history. This is revisionism of the most agenda-driven variety. Boswell’s agenda is two-fold. First, he wishes to prove that homosexuality was generally accepted and approved of until about the 12th century and, secondly, he wishes to “rebut the common idea that religious belief -- Christian or other -- has been the *cause* of intolerance in regard to gay people." Boswell is considerably more convincing when arguing for the second point than when arguing for the first. This is not to say that he convincingly argues that Christianity did not condemn homosexual sex, but rather that he convincingly argues that Christians who condemn (and have condemned) homosexuals are more often motivated by their prejudices than by their religious devotion. (That is, they would likely condemn homosexual sex in the absence of any Christian tradition, and they are not concerned with honoring the Christian tradition in other respects that are inconvenient to them personally.) However, Boswell does not merely argue that Christianity as a belief system can be interpreted in such a way as to not condemn homosexuality; he actually argues that Christianity as a historical institution did not condemn homosexuality until relatively recently – and that is such an absurd claim that the mental contortions involved in supporting it are at times amusing. Where he is most convincing, however, is in attacking the “natural law” argument against homosexuality – which is pure persuasive writing and not an attempt at reinterpreting Scripture or history as part of a claim of being scientific. Despite its incredible revisionism, I do think the book worth more than one star, and if I could, I would even give it 2.5 stars. (When are we getting half stars on goodreads?!?!) Why? Because it did persuade me to rethink some of my ideas (always an interesting exercise) and because it gave me a fascinating perspective on the history of attitudes towards homosexuality.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Siria

    In his conclusion to Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality, John Boswell states that as such little work had been done on this topic before—which, at the time of this book's publication was certainly true—"the writer on this subject cannot hope to avoid leading his readers down many wrong paths or, occasionally, coming to a dead end", and begs the reader's forbearance in the hopes that future scholars will build on his work. From the perspective of several decades later, both Boswell' In his conclusion to Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality, John Boswell states that as such little work had been done on this topic before—which, at the time of this book's publication was certainly true—"the writer on this subject cannot hope to avoid leading his readers down many wrong paths or, occasionally, coming to a dead end", and begs the reader's forbearance in the hopes that future scholars will build on his work. From the perspective of several decades later, both Boswell's hopes and fears have been realised, to varying extents. Many younger scholars were inspired by his writings, and much work has been produced on the history of gender and sexuality since Boswell's death. Yet a lot of that scholarship has pushed back against CSTH, critiquing his analytical categories and terminology and his use of source material. They're criticisms which I share—the idea of a longue durée gay and/or homosexual cultural identity which he presents here is problematic, US-centric and presentist, women are almost entirely absent (and no, his statement that there simply aren't the sources doesn't really hold water any more), and at times Boswell's use of sources is highly frustrating. Often he seems to read them in the way which bests supports his thesis, and as Boswell was an out gay man who was also a devout convert to Catholicism and wished to both argue for the validity of his sexual orientation and of his place within the church, this requires a lot of inconsistency and contortions on his part. Still, it would be churlish to deny the enormity of Boswell's achievement in helping to pioneer a new area of study, the importance of some of the things he points to here, or the bravery it took to be so open about his sexuality. For that CSTH is still worth reading.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Johnny D

    There is no way to overstate the cultural import of this book. It may seem that we are living in a dark age after the passage of prop 8 in California (and other anti-gay referendums across the country) but consider the existence of MCC churches, the controversial progressiveness of the Episcopalians, and the closing gap even among young Evangelicals when it comes to accepting and affirming gay relationships. Boswell is responsible for much of this religious enlightenment. His landmark book, rele There is no way to overstate the cultural import of this book. It may seem that we are living in a dark age after the passage of prop 8 in California (and other anti-gay referendums across the country) but consider the existence of MCC churches, the controversial progressiveness of the Episcopalians, and the closing gap even among young Evangelicals when it comes to accepting and affirming gay relationships. Boswell is responsible for much of this religious enlightenment. His landmark book, released in 1981, dared to challenge conventional wisdom regarding the history of the church and homosexuals. Boswell (Doctor of Medieval History at Yale, now deceased) reveals that the medieval church affirmed an early form of gay unions and that mistakes in translation inform much of the current "scriptural" bias against LGBT persons. A dense read, but an important addition to the library of any gay person struggling with their religion or, indeed, any person interested in the history and future of true equality for all persons.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    For my Intro to Christianity course back in college, I decided early on that I wanted my term paper to focus on gays in early Christianity. This was one of the books I chose as a reference, one the professor was actually surprised I used (in a good way). This is an excellent book, covering far more information than I could have ever dreamed finding. John Boswell lifts the rug to display the dirt and dust-motes that the church has been sweeping aside for centuries.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Wayne

    An imperfect work, and one where I couldn't entirely follow the scholarship. But a cornerstone of interpreting scripture in a way that strips off centuries (millennia) of misinterpretation. Couple this with "The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology" by Mark. D. Jordon and "HOMOEROTICISM IN THE BIBLICAL WORLD" by MARTTI NISSINEN

  9. 5 out of 5

    Justin Lee

    There is something fantastic about this book. It's dense as hell, more text book than easy reading, and ridiculously well researched, but I loved it. Back story: When I first came out, I was having a hard time dealing with the fact there isn't a lineage of gay history. We've been around forever but we're not a community with historical traditions and tales that have been told from generation to generation. This book comforted that part of me. Boswell gives proof that homosexual persons existed a There is something fantastic about this book. It's dense as hell, more text book than easy reading, and ridiculously well researched, but I loved it. Back story: When I first came out, I was having a hard time dealing with the fact there isn't a lineage of gay history. We've been around forever but we're not a community with historical traditions and tales that have been told from generation to generation. This book comforted that part of me. Boswell gives proof that homosexual persons existed and that homosexual love did exist. I can't begin to describe the emotional effect this had when reading it. It's really an amazing feeling to read about gay people in the early Christian era. I'm still dubious of the idea of gay sub-cultures during this time, but this book goes a long way in showing what was. I want to say that this book, written in 1980, was one of the first that explored gay and lesbian studies. Being an age where not all the information was readily available, I can only imagine how difficult this book was to produce. Boswell goes above and beyond what little expectations I had. That being said, I would love to have seen Mr. Boswell speak before his passing and hear his thoughts on how "Queer Studies" has evolved since his book was released. I picked up the book because this wasn't an area where I had a lot of knowledge but that I was extremely interested in. How did gay people get by? Was Christianity always so intolerant? These questions were answered and pleasantly so. I feel much more informed than I once did. I feel closer to my community and a little closer to my religion. Understanding man's role in how religion changes and the philosophical changes is so interesting and Boswell gives wonderful information. Because it was one of the first, I feel that there are many trails that he goes down where, at the time, might have been uncharted, but might be considered dead ends today after more research has been done. I can understand people's issue with his analytical takes on his research. Another issue is that as a modern reader, it's hard for me to apply modern terms and modern ideas to older/ancient societies. I'm not sure if I wholeheartedly support the idea that there was a gay subculture, but I also don't know if it's my personal definition I have a problem with. This book is not for everyone. It is dense, challenging, and hard to read at times. For those with an interest in this area, the rewards are immense though. Lastly, I must add that I am not a scholar in the academic sense, but rather a casual reader. My opinion is that of a casual reader.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lizabeth Tucker

    Subtitled " Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century". This is an extremely dry and slow look at how the prejudices against gays embedded in the modern religions developed over the centuries and were not part of the original liturgy. Many works of the time were and continue to be edited in regards to gender where romantic, sexual, emotional relationships. I have a few problems with this work. First, the footnotes may or may not be translated, Subtitled " Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century". This is an extremely dry and slow look at how the prejudices against gays embedded in the modern religions developed over the centuries and were not part of the original liturgy. Many works of the time were and continue to be edited in regards to gender where romantic, sexual, emotional relationships. I have a few problems with this work. First, the footnotes may or may not be translated, putting at a disadvantage a reader who doesn't have the knowledge of the language involved, whether it is Latin (which I do know), Greek, Italian, Persian, etc. Secondly, I found the amount of time spent discussing terminology to be excessive even for a technical paper. Would I recommend it? Possibly for those looking for additional research material and a discussion of how literature, poetry and historical documents have been censored and edited. But for the casual reader simply looking for information on gays in history, no.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    A Catholic apologist attempts to recuperate Catholicism (and Christianity in general) in terms of its treatment of gay people until approximately 1500. This book is important, but it's also important to note that Boswell, a gay man, was also a Christian. Apparently, much of his scholarly work is an attempt to reconcile his gay identity with his Christian identity. He cautions against a reductive reading that blames all anti-gay intolerance on Christianity, but I think he misses (and perhaps even A Catholic apologist attempts to recuperate Catholicism (and Christianity in general) in terms of its treatment of gay people until approximately 1500. This book is important, but it's also important to note that Boswell, a gay man, was also a Christian. Apparently, much of his scholarly work is an attempt to reconcile his gay identity with his Christian identity. He cautions against a reductive reading that blames all anti-gay intolerance on Christianity, but I think he misses (and perhaps even consciously ignores) the fact that Christianity has always been and will always be anti-gay. I'm glad I was assigned to read this book because I would never have read it on my own. It's interesting, well written, and a formative text in the history of sexuality.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Albert

    I'm reading this again-- I just can't imagine a more healing gesture than clarifying the rift between Christianity and gays, maybe the last remaining non-religious minority it thoroughly marginalizes-- and one of the most important, powerful, and inspiring groups in society ever. Pre-medeival Christianity, in many ways, seems to take all that talk about love a lot more seriously, along with interpreting Scripture in a much more context-specific, or at least more subtle, or at least far less unan I'm reading this again-- I just can't imagine a more healing gesture than clarifying the rift between Christianity and gays, maybe the last remaining non-religious minority it thoroughly marginalizes-- and one of the most important, powerful, and inspiring groups in society ever. Pre-medeival Christianity, in many ways, seems to take all that talk about love a lot more seriously, along with interpreting Scripture in a much more context-specific, or at least more subtle, or at least far less unanimously hateful way. It becomes possible o understand the New Testament as fairly anti-imperialist (in spite of Karl Barth, whom I love)-- kind of a first-century Wretched of the Earth.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    This crossover (written for both educated laypeople and for academics) is highly informative (especially if your read the zillion footnotes), bursts a lot of preconceptions about European society of the times, and is an appealing read, also. It's going to take me months to get through because it's rich in info and is not a fast read even by nonfiction standards. Update in February '09: Whew! Finally finished! Very good resource for adult religious/social education, discussion (and debate!)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kersplebedeb

    Brilliant medieval Church history; the author's controversial thesis is not only that elements in the Church were pro-queer, but also that the Roman Catholic hierarhcy in some circumstances acted as a protector against popular homophobia.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ray Lang

    Very scrupulously documented and copiously footnoted history of attitudes surrounding homosexuality in the Christian tradition, from very early times to the present. It was surprising to me how recently the current very hard line on homosexuality emerged.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jerry

    Great book. Meticulously researched, although it reads like a textbook. My partner and I actually met Mr. Boswell several times. He also researched and wrote a book on gay marriage from ancient to modern times.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ted

    An amazing academic study, incredibly well-researched, about how Christianity changed for all time Greco-Roman paragigms of homosexuality.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Fred

    My brain really, really hurts now, but I think I am a better person for reading this. It is not a beach read-Boswell invented O.C.D.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    Extremely dense but incredibly insightful again, to the views of a literal interpretation versus an analytical interpretation of the bible. Brilliant.

  20. 5 out of 5

    srevans

    (added to amazon.com "Curious About These" list, c. March 2007.)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    Pioneering, brilliant, ultimately flawed.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    An absolutely fascinating read that scratches the proverbial itch on the relationship between Christianity and homosexuality. The main thrust of Boswell's argument is that homophobic sentiments manifested through religious institutions (i.e. the Christian church) were responses to, rather than the source of, popular attitudes. By revealing the historical trajectory of social tolerance in early societies, Boswell convincingly demonstrates that Christians were not always intensely anti-gay and suc An absolutely fascinating read that scratches the proverbial itch on the relationship between Christianity and homosexuality. The main thrust of Boswell's argument is that homophobic sentiments manifested through religious institutions (i.e. the Christian church) were responses to, rather than the source of, popular attitudes. By revealing the historical trajectory of social tolerance in early societies, Boswell convincingly demonstrates that Christians were not always intensely anti-gay and such rabid oppression of a social/sexual minority was an outgrowth of a particular context that enforced uniformity and condemned deviance. This is not to extricate Christianity from any blame or moral responsibility, but to show that it doesn't have to be the way it is today because it sure wasn't like that when the Church was first established. Every Christian should read Chap. 4, which puts the scriptural references that supposedly forbid homosexuality all in context, before hurling Bible verses to justify hate. If you're interested in the philosophical or theological basis (or frailty) of moral arguments against gayness, Chap. 11 is a real gem because it explains how the concept of "nature" evolved to signify moral goods. In short, where did the connection of "nature=good" come from, and is this equation justified? Still processing all the information, but I loved the historical, philosophical, and even literary depth of this book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ethan

    Doesn't promise to answer many questions and doesn't. It DOES however provide the in depth context required to make educated guesses. The major thrust of the book seems to be an attempt to prove that the early Christian Church didn't consider homosexuality as terrible as they seem to presently. If this was the author's goal he fell short. Although, this is primarily an academic work with no room for editorializing. Let me do that: even if the early Church wasn't as hostile to gay people as they Doesn't promise to answer many questions and doesn't. It DOES however provide the in depth context required to make educated guesses. The major thrust of the book seems to be an attempt to prove that the early Christian Church didn't consider homosexuality as terrible as they seem to presently. If this was the author's goal he fell short. Although, this is primarily an academic work with no room for editorializing. Let me do that: even if the early Church wasn't as hostile to gay people as they are today - they did go out of their way to reinforce political and popular prejudice as the arm of the Inquisition reached out to rot the whole world. Rather than coming away with a more appreciative opinion of the efforts of the faithful I was left with an even more bitter taste. It would seem by evidence both past and present that Christianity poisons morality and will continue to do so until finally toppled. That day (and I say that as a person of faith) cannot come soon enough. Traditional religious structures are dangerous, cruel and amoral. Faith in an of itself is beautiful and beneficial to society but the institutions established in the name of god are corrupt and constantly seeking destruction.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brynne

    Exhausting to read, but in the best possible way. I grew up in an anti-gay Christian environment and thus have carried a lot of shame and anxiety about my queer identity. Reading this book helped me to let go of it thanks to Boswell's excellent analyses of primary religious texts and his understanding of them within their specific literary and historical texts. From a scholarly point, I see why this was so foundational in studies of pre-modern sexuality: Boswell took on a massive task in writing Exhausting to read, but in the best possible way. I grew up in an anti-gay Christian environment and thus have carried a lot of shame and anxiety about my queer identity. Reading this book helped me to let go of it thanks to Boswell's excellent analyses of primary religious texts and his understanding of them within their specific literary and historical texts. From a scholarly point, I see why this was so foundational in studies of pre-modern sexuality: Boswell took on a massive task in writing this book, but managed to see it through admirably. He uses a huge range of sources and analyzes them exceptionally well, contextualizing everything very clearly. The conclusion does fall a little bit flat, but overall, this is an amazing work that anyone interested in pre-modern sexuality and/or anyone studying Christianity needs to read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn Wilmotte

    “[The author’s] comfort must subsist in the belief that he has at least posted landmarks where there were none before and opened the trails on which others will reach destinations far beyond his own furthest advance.” A trailblazing work, and, as such, subject to many of the flaws and mistakes that come with pioneering a new field. Many scholars have since responded to Boswell, correcting his approaches, re-defining his categories, and challenging his conclusions. Boswell is certainly at his most “[The author’s] comfort must subsist in the belief that he has at least posted landmarks where there were none before and opened the trails on which others will reach destinations far beyond his own furthest advance.” A trailblazing work, and, as such, subject to many of the flaws and mistakes that come with pioneering a new field. Many scholars have since responded to Boswell, correcting his approaches, re-defining his categories, and challenging his conclusions. Boswell is certainly at his most convincing when he quietly and skillfully interrogates his sources (such as Thomas Aquinas), and at his least convincing when he forces those sources to fit his pre-determined meaning (The Bible, monastic poetry). But no one can deny his importance in what was, in the 1980s, the nascent field of LGBT+ studies. Read for a graduate course on homosexuality in the Middle Ages.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Thomas

    This is fascinating for most of its length. As Boswell charts the history of the Church's approach to homosexuality, the book is fascinating. As he moves into arguing specifically with Thomas Aquinas's arguments about homosexuality, Boswell lost me. There is a startling limit to his approach, though. Because Boswell is looking for prohibitions or even general discussions of homosexuality in general and as such, he omits opprobrium aimed at homosexual activity in specific, such as male/male rape, This is fascinating for most of its length. As Boswell charts the history of the Church's approach to homosexuality, the book is fascinating. As he moves into arguing specifically with Thomas Aquinas's arguments about homosexuality, Boswell lost me. There is a startling limit to his approach, though. Because Boswell is looking for prohibitions or even general discussions of homosexuality in general and as such, he omits opprobrium aimed at homosexual activity in specific, such as male/male rape, pederasty, etc.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alena Barczak

    It took me 9 months to get through it, but I feel like I learned a lot. Boswell does a very in-depth examination of not only why homosexuality somehow became the most taboo and hated sin in the Church, but also how the church started interpreting scripture (plus, the linguistic issues with interpreting the original text the way we have) in order to justify their stance. This was the first step in a journey for me. I'll be seeking out other similar historical and critical accounts as well.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen

    A unsurprisingly dense text, and one that admits it can't give a complete answer to why and when the Church came to condemn homosexuality so severely as it did (and to an extent still does). The theories and history was interesting, nonetheless, and I will be side eyeing St. Thomas Aquinas hard from now on.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Cranney

    Similar thesis to his "same-sex unions in premodern Europe." Once again interesting, but I don't have the background to really critique it in any meaningful way.

  30. 5 out of 5

    michael audet

    pretty cool. love boswell's archival werk even if his theory of a continuous homosexual identity has fallen outta favor tho i love to think it's right

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