Straight White American Jesus

A podcast on religion and politics hosted by Daniel Miller and Bradley Onishi, ex-ministers who are now scholars of religion.

Biblical Commas? On Controlling Textual, National, and Physical Bodies

Last weekend theologian and former head of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood Owen Strachan tweeted that taking away even one comma from the Bible would demean it. This let to a Twitter storm and many folks pointed out the misguidedness of attributing things like commas to the original composition of the biblical texts.

Brad digs deeper into this controversy to show how Strachan’s approach to the biblical textual body lines up with his complementarian theology and his White Christian nationalist approach to social justice and history.

Strachan’s comments on ‘biblical commas’ are easily debunked. There is no historical case for them. The deeper question is what such rhetoric does for him and other biblical literalists. Strachan is clearly someone who wants to control borders and bodies. His theology of gender, marriage, and family is based on a strict patriarchal order. His new book resists any examination of the American social body’s structuring, labeling “Whiteness” an imaginary category. Read in this context, the “biblical comma” tweets reflect a desire to put clear borders and boundaries around the biblical text just as he has sought to do with marriage, family, and the nation. For him, the Bible is scary if it offers permeable categories and ambiguity; complex texts and difficult histories. Instead, a fortified virginal text protected from any intrusion. A wall built around Scripture in order to make it–or keep–it sacred. This, as a whole, is a theology of fear.

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