Sexual Violence in History: A Bibliography

compiled by Stefan Blaschke


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First published: October 1, 2023 - Last updated: October 1, 2023


Speaker: Stephen Young

Title: Sexual Assault as Divine Punishment

Subtitle: The Son of God's Martial Rape of Jezebel

Conference: Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (November 18-21, 2023) - Online Program

Session: S18-224: John's Apocalypse and Cultural Contexts Ancient and Modern. Theme: Revelation 2-3

Place: San Antonio, Texas, United States

Date: November 18, 2023

Language: English

Keywords: Ancient History: Israelite History | Types: Rape; Representations: Religious Texts / Book of Revelation


Link: -


Speaker: Stephen Young, Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures, Appalachian State University -

Abstract: »In Rev 2:18-29, the Son of God punishes 'Jezebel' by throwing her onto a bed and murdering her children. Modern commentators often construe the scene as a punitive infliction of sickness, often translating as "I am throwing her onto a sick bed." Recently, a number of Feminist scholars have identified the gendered violence to a woman's body effaced by the usual interpretation (eg, Pippin, Frilingos). Others have further argued that nothing in the literary context suggests sickness. Instead Jezebel's sexual deviance and enticement heighten the transgressive sexual volume, setting the stage for the Son of God to punish Jezebel as her works deserve (in the passage's logic) via sexual assault (eg, Conway, Frankfurter, Emanuel, Stewart Lester, Warren). This paper coordinates wider imagery of warfare, gendered polemics, and cosmic hierarchies in Revelation to argue that the writer depicts the Son of God more specifically as a conquering masculine subordinate of the high God who punishes his defeated enemy via martial rape, subjugating and feminizing her. First, I demonstrate the critical shortcomings of parallels commonly adduced to suggest that Rev 2:22's ball? aut?n eis klin?n is an established idiom in Jewish literary cultures for inflicting sickness. Next, the paper illustrates the wider cultural scripts in mythological, prophetic, and historical writings for the martial rape of defeated enemies as an expected and even top-down goal of warfare. Finally, John's mythmaking repeatedly depicts Jesus as a conquering divine warrior. He defeats his divine boss' enemies and is accordingly given authority over the nations and the ability to bestow blessings on his subjects, whom Revelation 2-3 consistently portrays as those who conquer and receive authority from their victorious ruler. Such martial and hierarchical imagery amplify Rev 2:18-29's transgressive and feminizing sexual language about Jezebel to create a more suggestive setting for how "I am throwing her onto a bed" would have resonated. The Son of God is a masculine conqueror who humiliates his defeated feminized enemy by raping her and decimating her lineage. Revelation 2:18-29 then emerges as another instance of violent sexual polemics deployed competitively by a writer (John) to delegitimate his opponents while naturalizing his preferred social hierarchies and norms.« (Source: Online Program)

Wikipedia: Ancient history: History of ancient Israel and Judah | Bible: New Testament / Book of Revelation | Sex and the law: Rape / History of rape