REL 3260 Sex Lives of Saints: Sex, Gender and Ancient Mediterranean Religions

Ancient writings on sex and gender have had an enormous influence on modern Euro-American perspectives. This course explores how ancient Mediterranean religious traditions, including first century Judaism and early Christianity, constructed and regulated gender and sexuality. While the main focus is upon reading ancient primary sources, students will be introduced to contemporary gender theory as well as some of the ways in which ancient traditions continue to impact modern views on gender and sexuality.


4 sh

Course Types

Advanced Studies; Classical Studies Elective; Women's, Gender, and Sexualities Studies Elective; Jewish Studies Elective

Previous Course Number

REL 326

Course Outcomes

  1. • Students will utilize critical and theoretical tools in examining primary and secondary sources, developing their ability to understand and interpret diverse primary and secondary sources in a critical fashion.
  2. • Students will recognize and discuss how religious texts are shaped by their cultural contexts and they will recognize and explain the ways in which religious traditions and practices are embedded within cultural, political and economic systems.
  3. • Students will deepen their understanding of how the topics of sex, gender, family, marriage, etc. were constructed within early Christian traditions. They will recognize that discussions of these topics reflected broad cultural assumptions and discourses.
  4. • Students will recognize that discussions about bodies in religious discourses often manifest anxieties about identity, assimilation, and the like.
  5. • Students will articulate and investigate a critical research question in the field of religious studies.

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