Over the past two decades a strong trend in theology has been the retrieval of patristic and medieval traditions, often for radical purposes. Whereas much (above all Protestant) theology during modernity sought to be progressive by means of distancing itself from tradition, recent currents within both Anglican and Catholic theology seek progress through the retrieval of hidden, forgotten or suppressed aspects of the tradition. Examples range from Sarah Coakley’s daring retrieval of ascetic practices for feminist purposes to Gerald Loughlin’s gathering of radical analyses of the biblical tradition in his monumental Queer Theology: Rethinking the Western Body.
This conference will explore the remapping of masculinities and femininities that these developments have generated in contemporary theology. On the one hand, the aim is to further enhance the radical analyses of the biblical tradition in order to continue along the emancipatory track set out by feminist and queer theologians in the past decades. On the other hand, the aim is also to investigate possible flipsides of this fascination with tradition. In focusing our attention on liberating symbols and practices in the past, is there a risk that we lose sight of existing gender stereotypes on a concrete societal and ecclesial level? Are conservative patterns regarding gender and sexuality sometimes even being reproduced under the guise of seemingly radical historical metaphors?