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date: 12 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The curious ‘career’ of Genesis 19 in the Anglican Communion offers in microcosm the broader complexities involved in analysing the cultural and religious reception of biblical texts. This article sketches those complexities in three steps, first with reference to the resilience of sodomy in the religious imagination and Western jurisprudence, a resilience that need not rely on the actual content of the biblical text. Second, it places that resilience of sodomy's popular meaning more particularly in the context of shifting and unstable relations among the provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Lastly, it suggests that early 21st-century controversies in the Anglican Communion turn not on ‘homosexuality’ per se but on the gendered ordering of human relations. Highlighting the theological construction of gender in today's debates not only sheds light on the peculiar reception history of Genesis 19; it also suggests a renewed reading of that biblical text in which idolatry emerges as a better definition of that ancient city's sin known as sodomy.

Keywords: Anglican Communion, biblical texts, homosexuality, human relations, gender, Western jurisprudence

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