v + 210 pp.
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Abject Bodies in the Gospel of Mark
Manuel Villalobos Mendoza
Basing himself on Judith Butler’s notion of gender, abjectness, vulnerability, and the precariousness of the human body, Manuel Villalobos offers a compelling study of a number of characters in Mark’s passion narrative whom he finds to be transgressing boundaries and disrupting their assigned gender roles. He then applies the same methodology to Jesus, queering the Markan passion narrative, and concludes that because it was subject to all kinds of physical abuses Jesus’ body is the way by which God becomes identified and fully implicated in the life of those who live at the margins of society.
The whole book, exegetically rich and imaginative, is grounded on a hermeneutic which Villalobos terms Del otro lado / from the other side, because it celebrates the kind of ambiguity produced by gender, racial, cultural, and ethnic otherness, interweaving (often harrowing) tales of village life in Mexico with interpretations of specific Markan episodes. In so doing he hopes to initiate a dialogue between the Northern and the Southern hemispheres, a dialogue that crosses the boundaries that separate and exclude people because of economic and legal statuses and, specially, sexual orientation. The end product is a fresh and totally destabilizing reading that accomplishes the difficult task of bringing to the fore those voices neglected by the history of the interpretation of the text.
Manuel Villalobos Mendoza is the founder and director of Instituto Bíblico Claretiano de las Américas (IBICLA).
1. I Confess…That my Body Has muchos lados / Many Angles of Exclusion
2. Marimachas, descaradas, malcriadas, y hociconas / The Dykes, the Shameless, the Ill-bred and the Loudmouths
3. No somos machos pero somos muchos / We Are Not macho but We Are Many
4. Jesus’ Abjected, Precarious, and Vulnerable Body
5. La Muerte de un Hijo de la Chingada / The Death of a Son of a Bitch
Epistolary Epilogue: First letter of Manuel Villalobos Mendoza to the Markan
[Villalobos Mendoza] makes visible and gives voice to characters in the text who often seem insignificant, especially if their importance is measured by the paucity of scholarly engagement with these women and men. Villalobos Mendoza not only names these characters and rehearses their stories but also identifies their actions as central to discipleship in Mark’s Gospel because, as he also demonstrates, Jesus’ crucified and abject body appears in solidarity with these persons del otro lado. The connections he draws between such insights and his poignant stories of modern women and men del otro lado display the importance of this hermeneutic. James M. Hoke, Biblical Interpretation.