Joachim Kuegler

Routledge Focus Series: Rape Culture, Religion and the Bible

Joachim is Professor of New Testament at the University of Bamberg in Germany, as well as an ordained priest of the Catholic Church. His book in the series is Zeus Syndrome: A Very Short History of Religion-Based Masculine Domination, which was first published in 2023. It is a fabulous one-of-a-kind book that begins with the MeToo movement and the abuse of religious power in the Catholic Church, and then presents a concise selection of ancient case studies that illuminate and account for some of the reasons why rape culture today looks the way it does. The book demonstrates how a specific construction of the relationship between sex/gender, power and religion not only excludes women and every other person conceived as feminine or effeminate from power but also produces – almost automatically – a rape culture that uses and excuses violent sexuality as an appropriate manifestation of masculine power. Joachim constructs what he calls here ‘the Zeus Syndrome’ and draws examples from Egyptian, Hebrew, Greek and Roman worlds and texts. It’s such an invigorating read!

How do you reflect back on writing your book? 

It was a great adventure – not least, because I had never written a complete book in English before. Furthermore, it was a challenge, as the topic of masculine domination involves my self (including my roles as professor and priest) and my self-understanding as a man.

What has been the response to your book?

Although I wrote mostly about men and the question of masculinity, most responses have come from women. Those who have contacted me directly love the book and cherish it as enlightening and liberative. 

How and where are you now and what are you doing or working on at present?

I am still at the University of Bamberg, working in New Testament studies and on the Bible in Africa studies project (which I co-founded in 2009). My retirement is around the corner, and I am happy that my successor will be a female scholar of high reputation.

Do you have any advice for authors of future publications in this series?

Not really much. Everyone has to find their own way. It is important with a series topic like this (rape culture and religion) not to shy away from getting your self involved and to let yourself be challenged. 

What topics in the area of rape culture, religion and/or the Bible would you like to see a book on?

I would like to see a book on the images of Christ as rapist in Revelation and on their biblical prototypes in prophetic books of the Hebrew Bible. [Johanna: Joachim has just explored some dimensions of this topic in his chapter on the book of Revelation for Bible and Violence (forthcoming with Bloomsbury).]

Do you have a shout-out to anyone working in this general area? Please shout about them!

Maybe Canisius Mwanday could write about the distressing topic of abuse of female bodies and corpses and how the Bible has functioned in such abuse. It is a shocking topic but one we should not ignore. 

[Johanna: Canisius Mwanday: if you are interested in proposing a book for the series, please get in touch.]

Joachim’s book is available from Routledge. It is soon to appear in paperback. Like the eBook version, this will cost just under £16. 

Tags : Bible and masculinityJoachim KueglerZeus Syndrome

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