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College course teaches students about ‘queering the Bible’

Class ‘destabilizes long held assumptions’ about what’s in the Bible; university refuses to comment

Swarthmore College is offering a course next year that will survey “queer and trans* readings of biblical texts” by using “queer and trans* theoretical approaches,” with faculty staying silent on the specifics of the course material.

“Queering the Bible” is set to launch next fall and will be instructed by Gwynn Kessler, an associate professor of religion, according to Swarthmore’s course catalog.

The course, which is being offered through Swarthmore’s Religion Department, promises to “[introduce] students to the complexity of constructions of sex, gender, and identity in one of the most influential literary works produced in ancient times.”

“By reading the Bible with the methods of queer and trans* theoretical approaches,” the catalog advertises, “this class destabilizes long held assumptions about what the bible–and religion–says about gender and sexuality.”

It appears that the Swarthmore Religion Department will offer no other Bible-centric courses next fall apart from this one. Out of around ten listed courses that explicitly involve Bible study at Swarthmore, “Queering the Bible” appears to be the only one taking place in fall of 2018. Only one other Bible-related course, a class teaching the grammar and vocabulary necessary to read the Old Testament in the original Hebrew, is offered during that time.

Repeated attempts by The College Fix to learn more about the course, and whether or not any additional Bible courses would be offered at Swarthmore next year, were met with silence. Multiple emails to Gwynn Kessler and the Swarthmore Religion Department, as well as phone calls to both, were not returned.

According to her faculty profile, Kessler’s research focuses in part on “rabbinic constructions of gender and identity.” Her work is also “situated within, and suffused with, postmodern, feminist, and queer theoretical approaches.”

In addition to “Queering the Bible,” Swarthmore College’s religion department also offers “Queering God: Feminist and Queer Theology,” a course that “examines feminist and queer writings about God, explores the tensions between feminist and queer theology, and seeks to stretch the limits of gendering-and sexing-the divine.”

“If we can point out places in traditional writings where God is nurturing, forgiving, and loving,” the course description asks, “does that mean that God is feminine, or female?”

MORE: After professors tell student to stop reading his Bible, university launches probe

MORE: Harvard employee rebukes student for discussing Bible verse on campus

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About the Author
Bethany Torstenson is a sophomore at Vanguard University of Southern California. She is double majoring in broadcast journalism, and in political science. Bethany has previously worked with the Republican Party of Wisconsin, and Americans for Prosperity. One day, Bethany hopes to become a multimedia broadcast journalist, and eventually run for president.

Add to the Discussion

  • jj

    I would hope the private college provides information on its course offerings to those paying the annual 66K tuition.

  • Ralph Davis

    The follow-on course is called “Tips for Surviving Your Eternity in Hell”.

    • Psalm 1

      Anyone going to hell need not worry about surviving it, it is for all eternity. It goes on forever. Everyone survives if you call Hell surviving.
      It doesn’t bode well for Swarthmore students if this article is an example of what is being taught there.

  • skillett

    Alumni making contributions would love to know about this class.

    • Psalm 1

      Apparently they are very proficient at brain washing the students otherwise there would not be any alumni.

  • JTLiuzza

    Good luck with that on the day of particular judgment. And Swishmore College has no standing for authoritative interpretation of Scripture. Every man his own exegete is a protestant error.

    What’s one more erroneous interpretation among the thousands that already exist.

    • Psalm 1

      And this school claims to have a religion department. Why.

  • Titus Andronicus

    “If we can point out places in traditional writings where God is nurturing, forgiving, and loving, does that mean that God is feminine, or female?”

    The answer is no, and the question is sexist. Men are just as capable of being nurturing, forgiving, and loving.

    God is a man. He is 6’2″. He is white. He has a long beard, thick grey hair, perfect teeth, blue-gray eyes, strong brow, high cheekbones. He dresses in a toga and carries a staff. He is also definitely not gay. He is straight but not promiscuous. He has a girlfriend, but He doesn’t talk about her much and lately they have been spending time apart.

    • torch621

      Jesus does not have a girlfriend.

    • BUZ

      “Men are just as capable of being nurturing, forgiving, and loving”

      This gets back to our wives and the honey-do list will quadruple!

    • Terri Horn

      You are joking about the description because none that see him survive.

  • MileHiBri

    Try Queering the Koran and get back to me.

    • Unmutual One

      She’ll be too blown up to get back to you.

      • BUZ

        c’est la vie

    • Math or Queering the Bible?

      Want a job after college?

      Make the progressive choice.

      • How about if they Bible the Queer?

  • Gadfly156

    I’m not even a believer and this totally pisses me off. LEAVE IT ALONE ALREADY!!! NOT EVERYTHING IN THIS WORLD IS, OR NEEDS TO BE, QUEERIFIED. You all didn’t want straight people telling you how the world is and who you ought to be, well? How about modeling those values in terms of how you treat others? HANDS OFF other people’s ways, just like you want them to leave you to yours. OMG!!! I can’t believe this most basic premise of pure logic even NEEDS to be spelled out.

    • Brian

      We warned you. They never wanted equal rights. None of them did. They wanted supremacy.

  • Xhristo

    Bet a dollar to a Donut they never offer a course on “Queering the Koran”

    • john

      You’re safe with a better bet than that.

  • Sodomites, your judgement is coming.

  • Brian D. Reeves

    As a believing Christian, I am not surprised when the Enemy and his “children” fear the power and the truth of the Word of God, and so try to corrupt it by changing it to what man believes or finds comfortable. Proverbs 16:25 tells us that “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death”. It is certainly interesting that this kind of garbage isn’t tried on a university level with any other religions. The Bible promises punishment for this kind of corruption in Revelation 22:18-19 : ” (18)For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: (19) And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Colleges have had nearly 50 years to become radicalized, so it isn’t surprising to me that this kind of trash is pushed as “higher education”. Sooo glad my son is going to trade school.

    • BUZ


  • Ghetto Tarzan

    Critical theorist at it again. The great thing about critical theory is that it allows you to see anything you want to see. Doesn’t matter that it’s completely ahistorical.

  • torch621

    Where’s de Torquemada when you need him?

  • RM

    God has made it plain what HE is. Only fools, who wish to risk their immortal souls to damnation, would purposely pervert God’s CLEAR will.

  • Traveler

    Mat 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
    Mat 24:10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
    Mat 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
    Mat 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

    This is where we are in the time line

  • gene4791

    Will she be applying these same standards to Muslim and Hindu texts? Or would that be considered “Offensive”?

  • Peter

    Is it possible that Joseph and Mary’s gender’s were reversed and Joseph was the real mother?
    These people get paid thinking up hypothesis” like these? My goodness—what some people will pay for—-movies only cost $14 and you’re out in 2 hours tops. These “fantasy courses” take 4 months and probably cost $7,000

  • Spectrum

    This is about sanitising and neutralising the prohibitions on homosexual acts that scripture unequivocally condemns. But they’re at least five years late on this…. there is ALREADY a bible that has whitewashed all those pesky embarassing verses, so that the deviants can now relax and have unfettered licence to continue their disgusting behaviour without fear of Divine accountability. Guilty conscience ? No problem, we’ll simply alter the verses to suit ourselves ; https://carm.org/queen-james-bible

  • Darren

    Yeah, complexity of sex. It was simple until the drug induced ‘60’s. And now we have those misguided fools as leaders and teachers.

    Funny how it’s taught that if it’s too complex then it’s most likely wrong. Well this complexity in teaching is not only wrong but insane.

    Pray, pray and pray for a conversion of hearts to basic human nature and natural law.

  • Wow… Where have actual intellectual courses gone? I’m not surprised that social justice is now becoming a major in some schools too! Colleges are going off the politically correct deep end! I hate to think future employers are looking at these absurd classes too, and not giving people jobs since all they studied were social justice courses! It’s amusing, but also embarrassing for any serious student and institution!

  • Robbins Mitchell

    Well,they should all be required to read my ground breaking book on the subject….”:The Erotic Inadequacies of the [email protected] Pee Pee”…it will straighten out their thinking right quick

  • Students are pushing back. Join their protest here: https://www.tfpstudentaction.org/petitions/swarthmore-college-attacks-god-with-queering-the-bible-course

    Enough is enough.