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Reading Genesis after Darwin$
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Stephen C. Barton and David Wilkinson

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195383355

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195383355.001.0001

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“Male and Female He Created Them” (Genesis 1:27)

“Male and Female He Created Them” (Genesis 1:27)

Interpreting Gender after Darwin

(p.181) 11 “Male and Female He Created Them” (Genesis 1:27)
Reading Genesis after Darwin

Stephen C. Barton

Oxford University Press

Beginning with Darwin's almost religious awe at the wonder of natural selection, this chapter moves to an account of the ambiguous legacy of Darwin's views on gender, including the support they offered to a Victorian separate-spheres ideology and to theories and practices associated with Social Darwinism, such as eugenics. It then considers the wider history of gender before and after Darwin, running from the classical tradition through the biblical tradition, Hellenistic Judaism, and early Christianity to the universalizing tendencies of modernity and the postmodern destabilizing of gender in the interests of identity politics as represented by Judith Butler. A final section reflects on the possibility of reading and practicing "male and female" well in the light of this discomforting narrative. A Christological and eschatological hermeneutics is offered as a contribution to performing gender in ways that begin to do justice to the body's grace.

Keywords:   natural selection, sex, gender, Social Darwinism, separate-spheres ideology, Jesus, Paul, postmodernity, Judith Butler, reading in communion

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