From Gender Reversal to Genderfuck: Reading Jael through a Lesbian Lens

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Colleges, School and Institutes


This paper demonstrates what happens when the story of Jael is subjected to a lesbian-specific engagement; and how disciplinary boundaries between biblical scholarship and other types of scholarship are blurred or troubled in the process. While it might owe much of its theoretical development to feminist biblical scholarship and share many similarities with it, the site-specific interests and concerns of a lesbian approach mean that it is never fully at ease within that disciplinary boundary. A lesbian reading engages with different and unlikely dialogue partners to asserts its own voice. In this illustration, the paper argues that the language of gender reversal is inadequate for dealing with the gender confusion provoked by Jael’s story. The terminology of gender reversal reinforces the two-sex, two-gender binary of male/female and masculine/feminine, merely shifting the ground from one to the other. Genderfuck, however, is the language and business of queer theory and its confrontational, uncompromising stance is one of resistance to such binaries; subverting, undoing, deconstructing the normalcy of sex/gender regimes, cracking them open, focussing on the fissures that expose their constructedness. When interpreted from such a standpoint, the story of Jael reveals unexpected but joyous resonance for some lesbian, transsexual and transgender readers.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBible Trouble: Queer Reading at the Boundaries of Biblical Scholarship
EditorsTeresa J Hornsby, Ken Stone
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010

Publication series

NameSemeia Studies


  • lesbian queer bible hermeneutics jael