Homophobia and Rape Culture in the Narratives of Early Israel

  • James E. Harding
Part of the Religion and Radicalism book series (RERA)


In this chapter James Harding considers the threatened gang rape of the Levite in Judges 19 and the consequent explosion of gendered violence committed against multiple women within this and subsequent chapters. Harding notes that this narrative is often discussed in connection with biblical attitudes to the homoerotic; as such, it is not only an example of the kind of gendered subjective violence with which the Hebrew scriptures are replete, but also a key part of the process by which the scripturalisation of works such as Judges has helped to shape the later attitudes and prejudices of those who hold it to be Scripture; in this case, it is part of the genesis of the symbolic violence of Jewish and Christian homophobia. Yet to focus on this threatened act of male rape (and its role in constructing certain forms of religious homophobia) obscures the value of the text for interrogating the complex intersections that exist between religion and violence. Taking a close look at this biblical tradition, Harding argues that the threatened rape of the Levite, and the actual rape of his concubine, must be read in light of the subsequent abduction of the virgins of Jabesh-Gilead (Judges 21:8–12) and Shiloh (Judges 21:19–24). These narrative events all reflect the pervasive influence of what Pierre Bourdieu has called “masculine domination,” which both drives the acts of subjective violence in the text itself and also directs the symbolic violence of the narrative’s homophobic and patriarchal language.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • James E. Harding
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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