Arie Cornelis Troost (Religious Studies) will defend his PhD thesis Exegetical Bodybuilding: Gender and Interpretation in Luke 1–2 in the University Hall.
In biblical exegesis it is customary to carefully analyse the text for what it actually says. An attempt is then made to approach the author's intention as closely as possible, after which a statement is made about the message of the text for our time. On closer examination, however, interpretation appears to work the other way round.
The reader brings to the text her own biography and assumptions, on the basis of which all kinds of choices are made. In particular presuppositions of what kind of person the author would have been appear to play a role. This is particularly remarkable, because in the case of biblical texts we know virtually nothing about the author, except what is derived from the texts themselves.
Montesquieu already wrote in 1721 that biblical interpreters "are searching the Scriptures for what they believe themselves." By means of a case study—the first two chapters of the Gospel according to Luke—the role of the reader in biblical interpretation is examined. The aim is to break through the claim of objectivity, to explain the role of the interpreter, and to create space for surprising new insights. The focus is on gender and how the body is constructed as male or female in biblical interpretation.
The masculinity of Jesus
In the debate about whether the masculinity of Jesus is a relevant fact and whether modern "gender theory" contradicts the Bible's testimony, a modern body-based understanding of gender is used that does not apply to Antiquity. What we would like to call gender in the ancient world is really a pattern of moral behaviour in the service of stability and reliability.