Bible & The Arts
Biblical Commentaries
Biblical Languages
Hebrew Bible / Old Testament
History of the Biblical Period
Literature of the Bible
New Testament
The Trauma Bible
Theology of the Bible
Bible Bibliographies
Bible in the Modern World
Biblical Reception
Classic Reprints
Critical Commentaries
Dictionary of Classical Hebrew
Dictionary of Classical Hebrew Revised
Earth Bible Commentary
Hebrew Bible Monographs
Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism
New Testament Monographs
Readings: A New Biblical Commentary
Recent Research in Biblical Studies
Text of the Hebrew Bible
The Social World of Biblical Antiquity, First Series
The Social World of Biblical Antiquity, Second Series
Click here for titles coming soon...
Click here to view the latest titles
Click here to view the complete catalogue
Search Books & Journals
About Us
For Authors
For Customers
Contact Us

201 pp.

£25 / $32.50 / €27.50
Scholar's Price

£50 / $65 / €55
List Price

Ancestral Queerness
The Normal and the Deviant in the Abraham and Sarah Narratives
Gil Rosenberg

What would it look like to be queer in the time of Abraham and Sarah? What is normative and what is deviant in their stories? What does this have to do with queer lives today?

In Ancestral Queerness, Gil Rosenberg uses a careful comparative method to develop a cross-cultural queer category (‘Queer’). He applies this category to Abraham and Sarah and argues that, Abraham and Sarah may usefully be regarded as ‘Queer’.

Rosenberg’s comparisons draw on a variety of contemporary queer stories, scholarship, and theories. These include a lesbian mother trying to support her partner and newborn daughter, Australian polyamorous families, Lee Edelman’s figure of the Child, and gay men building families through surrogacy.

These comparisons lead Rosenberg to surprising new interpretations of several key passages in Genesis 11–21. For example, he argues that Abraham wants to hide his marriage to Sarah because their relationship is a queer one, and that Sarah may not actually be wanting a biological child. Rosenberg also highlights the combination of normative and deviant elements in Abraham’s strategies for obtaining an heir, and the role of ethnic and class difference in Abraham’s and Sarah’s efforts to become more normative.

Bold in its conclusions but careful and precise in its method, Ancestral Queerness breaks new ground by developing a queer theory applicable to diverse cultures, revealing the bias in previous scholarship on Abraham and Sarah, and opening up new paths of interpretation in their narratives.

Gil Rosenberg is a PhD of Iliff School of Theology and the Universtity of Denver, and Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Landmark College, Putney, VT.

Series: Hebrew Bible Monographs, 80
978-1-910928-53-0 hardback
Publication June 2019

Chapter 1
Identifying Queerness in an Ancient Text: Comparison
   Comparative Queerness
The Comparison Begins
Modern and Ancient Norms
   Identifying Biblical Norms
Queer, but not Same-Sex
   Queer Heterosexuality
   Queer Sociality

Chapter 2
Description: The Wife-Sister Stories
   Genesis 12
   The Passing of Genesis 20
   Passing Problems
Description: Contemporary Queer Passing
   Hillary Goodridge
   Alice and Soulla9
   Married Bisexual and Polyamorous Women
   Polyfamilies at School
Comparison of Genesis 12 and 20 with Queer Passing
   Hidden and Disguised Relationships
   Oppression and Shame
Redescriptions of Biblical and Queer Passing
   Why Abraham Passed
   The Deviance of Queer Passing

Chapter 3
Description: Abraham’s Heirship Strategies
   Adoption (Gen. 15.1-7)
   Having a Child with a Secondary Wife (Genesis 16)
   Heirship Strategies and the Larger Abraham Narrative
   Biblical Parallels for Abraham’s Heirship Strategies
   Ancient Near Eastern Parallels for Abraham’s Heirship
   Scholarly Reception of Abraham’s Strategies
Description: Queer Couplehood Institutions
   Heteronormative Marriage
   Couplehood Institutions
Comparison: Legitimate Alternatives to a Familial Norm
   Alternativeness 8
Redescription: Queering Abraham’s Strategies and Legitimizing
      Queer Relationships

Chapter 4
Description: Sarah’s Childlessness
   Sarah’s Childlessness in Context
Description: Queer Families and Their (Lack of) Children
   Rosemary Rowe
   Brian Day
   Cultural Associations between Queerness and Childlessness
Comparison: Childlessness
   Why Childless?
Redescription: Sarah as Childfree
   The Meaning of עקרה
   Re-reading Sarah’s Childlessness

Chapter 5
Description: Sarah’s Laughter
   The Meaning of Laughter
Description: Inverted Tragic Queer Representation
   Dustin Goltz and Representations of Gay Futures
   Lee Edelman and the Figure of the Child
Comparison: Inverted Tragic Representation
Redescription: Sarah’s Tragic Laughter
   Joyful Laughter
   Mocking Laughter
   Who Is Isaac’s Father?
   Ambiguous Representations, Recipe for Happiness, and Foundational Texts

Chapter 6
Description: Hagar’s Narrative
Description: Indian Commercial Gestational Surrogacy
   Queer Liberalism and Race
Comparison: Benefits and Inequalities
   Increased Normativity and Breeding Relationships
   Ethnic and Class Inequalities
Redescription: Inclusion in Normativity Constituted by Ethnic
       and Class Difference

Chapter 7
Summaries of Supporting Redescriptions
Final Redescriptions
Queerer and Queerer
The Scholar’s Purpose

[T]his study offers several contributions to queer biblical scholarship. First, it provides a cogent analysis of texts that are not usually considered relevant to queer studies because of the traditionally heteronormative assumptions in interpretation.… Second, the study shows how contemporary queer communities can draw support from the biblical narrative, which is often used against them. Third, Rosenberg appropriates and uses a clear methodology of cross-cultural comparison that could have applicability in further studies.

[Rosenberg] seeks to increase the ambiguity of readings and to offer some alternative ways to fill gaps. In these latter aims, Rosenberg succeeds. The book is written in a clear and engaging style, and it provides several interesting readings of both biblical and contemporary narratives, laying the groundwork for future studies.
Susan E. Haddox, Review of Biblical Literature.

Rosenberg’s Ancestral Queerness offers a provocative queer reading of the Abraham and Sarah narratives that evaluates their relationship, childless status, and reproductive strategies as non-normative acts. Rosenberg’s work also helps redefines what makes something “queer.” His suggestion that Abraham and Sarah undermine gender normativity by deviating from non-sexual acts broadens the scope of queer biblical scholarship. … Ancestral Queerness is a thought-provoking work that, at the very least, challenges the assumptions about what makes someone queer in both ancient Near Eastern and contemporary contexts. David Schones, The Bible and Critical Theory.