‘Holy Hustlers’ of the Levant
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Published in: January-February 2007 issue.


Jacob’s WoundJacob’s Wound:  Homoerotic Narrative in the Literature of Ancient Israel
by Theodore W. Jennings, Jr.
Continuum. 288 pages, $26.95 (paper)


TO PROPOSE, on the one hand, that “the narratives of the Hebrew Bible lend themselves to a queer reading” is to make a carefully modulated statement, one for which the critical reader will be eager to examine the evidence. To refer, on the other hand, to the sacred ephod as Yahweh’s “jockstrap” and to cultic objects as “sex toys”; to Yahweh as a “top” who possesses the dick of death and to Joseph as a “sissy boy”; to cult temple prostitutes as “holy hustlers” and ecstatic prophets as “dancing queens”; or to the prophet Ezekiel as the inventor of the porn industry’s “money shot” and the retreat of Jephthah’s daughter to the wilderness in the company of other female virgins as an early “wimmin’s music festival”—this risks imposing a facile contemporary relevance upon ancient texts whose complex meanings seek to be recovered, and raises questions regarding the audience for whom the author is writing.

There is much in Jennings’ book that I admire.

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