An author is planning to re-invent the Bible… by putting it in a “queer context”.
Robert Whitehead, who describes himself as a poet and translator, is crowd-funding the new project, which aims to radically re-invent the religious text in new ways.
He explains: “The Queer Bible is my reclamation, through translation, of the queer mythic potential of Biblical stories.
“I want to make an inclusive, celebratory space within the text that undoes the implicit sexism, misogyny, heterosexism, hierarchical oppression, slut-shaming, etc. and reconstitutes the feminine, the queer, the outcast, the strange.”
He added: “This project is in no way an argument against one religion or another… instead, I am working in the poetry, the language, the narrative technique, the myth, and the mystery of the Bible to determine how it can work in the context of queer theory, progressive politics, and contemporary poetry aesthetic.
“I am making a radical translation that is radically inclusive.”
The author explains he will “make shifts to pronouns, word choice, and rhetoric that will allow for queer representation” in the text, adding: “I will revise metaphor, allegory, and narrative in order to undo the problems of male gaze, redistribute attention to marginalized characters, and scrub heterosexist ideology from the stories.”
“The Bible was not written in a vacuum; like any other myth cycle, it was written as part of the (often pagan, tribal, or cultural, and frequently queer) traditions that came before it– incorporating some, rejecting others, but responsive, ever-changing.
“Embedded within the history of the text is the possibility of change. As I work through the language in my translations and expository essays, I will be changing the literary and mythic content. “
He told Dazed Digital: “[The Bible] denies the possibility of queer expression. And it does so on moral grounds.
“My hope is to reconstitute what, for queer people like myself, more closely resembles our truth. And to make the literature of the Bible correspond to my experience of being queer.
“I also hope to involve other queer thinkers, writers, and artists in this project, because I know I can’t be the only one defining what it means to be queer.
“Plurality of expression is key to the concept of this project, and as a queer person I want to ensure that my entire community is represented in all our many shades and varieties.”
Whitehead outlined some of the stories that will be in the firing line – and unsurprisingly referenced Sodom and Gomorrah.
He said: “Obviously Leviticus has some stand-out verses that are exceptionally violent to the queer body, and the story of Sodom and Gomorrah typically associates queerness with the destruction of that society (even though that’s not explicit in the text).
“But there are also some queer moments in the Bible, such as the relationship between David and Jonathan in the Books of Samuel or the relationship between Ruth and Naomi in the Book of Ruth – those can be made much more explicitly queer and show the possibility of a Biblical queerness.”
The project has already passed its funding target – raising $2,720 in just a few days.
He isn’t the first to try and ‘queer the Bible’, however. Art book Passion of Christ, pictured above, had attracted controversy in 2014 for featuring Jesus as a gay figure.