Queering Polymorphic Jesus in the Early Christian Acts of John and in Seventeenth- Century French Ursuline Lived Religion

Moona Kinnunen, Rose-Marie Peake

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The idea of Jesus as a hybrid of God and human forms the basis of Dyophysite Christology. The various forms and shapes Jesus takes on-their polymorphism-has been less studied, and never from a queer theoretical perspective.

In this article, we study the polymorphism of Jesus in two different marginalized sources. In the first section, we examine an early Christian source called the Acts of John, an extra-canonical text that as such has received little research. In the second section, we analyse a previously little-known seventeenth-century obituary notice describing the mystical experiences of Etiennette Guyot, a young French Ursuline nun. Guyot is part of a tradition of visionary women whose spiritual experiences earned her admiration within the Order and that can be termed as lived religion.

First, we argue that Jesus’ polymorphism makes them queer. In both sources the central manifestations of Jesus’ polymorphism include variation in age (an adult and a child), in stature (small and large), and from a material being to an immaterial being (including light and voice). In our view, this fits the description of queer and should be acknowledged as such.

Second, we argue that Jesus can be queered in the earliest Christian writings, and even more so in later Christian lived religion, where Jesus’ polymorphism held substantial potential for women mystics seeking spiritual authority.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-25
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Ursulines
  • French Ursulines
  • obituary notices
  • Christ Child
  • New Testament
  • Queer Theory
  • Polymorphism
  • Early Christianity
  • Mysticism
  • Bridal mysticism
  • Early Modern Catholicism
  • Genderqueer
  • Acts of John
  • Biblical Exegesis
  • Religious Studies
  • Jesus
  • Catherine of Siena
  • Marguerite de Saint-Sacrement

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 0


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