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Envisioning fire theophanies as gender-neutral expressions of selfhood

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The Bible is not an obvious source of affirmation for non-binary or agender identities. Commentaries on gender in the Bible focus on narratives in which gender is foregrounded by the text, and queering these narratives requires negotiation around binary categories of gender. This article proposes that biblical narratives which portray God through gender-neutral images may speak especially to non-binary and agender identities. This premise can be demonstrated by applying a genderqueer hermeneutic to two biblical fire theophanies: Moses’ encounter at the burning bush (Exod 3) and the arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2). Exodus 3 and Acts 2 describe encounters with the divine in which divine selfhood is revealed in gender-neutral or ungendered terms. The deeply personal nature of divine self-disclosure within these encounters is underpinned by expressions of selfhood which exist outside binary categories of gender—indeed, beyond gendered categories altogether. Far from being irrelevant to the discussion of gender, gender-neutral images in the Bible offer a method of “re-imaging” divine selfhood in ways which affirm genderqueer expressions of self.


Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)40-60
Number of pages20
JournalJournal for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2020

    Research areas

  • Genderqueer, Agender, Non-binary, Theopanies, Exodus, Acts, Burning bush, Pentecost, God, imago Dei, Personhood, Fire imagery

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