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Ideologies of Male Beauty and the Hebrew Bible

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It might be expected that expressions of male beauty in the Hebrew Bible symbolise power, prestige and divine favour, in contrast to those of female beauty, which operates as the object of male desire and often expresses vulnerability. In this queer theoretical study of the use of the word when applied to men, it is argued that, contrary to the assumptions of successive (male) readers and commentators, such a binary distinction is subverted within the text itself. Of the three main examples of applied to named men in the Hebrew Bible, Joseph's beauty denotes vulnerability as much as divine favour, David's undercuts a conventional notion that male beauty=muscle and Absalom's is used to underscore his rôle as a tragic figure, who pays the price of David's failings.

Affiliations: 1: University of Exeter


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