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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Sex Working and the Bible
Ipsen, Avaren

London: Equinox, 2009 pp. x + 237. $95.00


Description: Sex Working and the Bible interprets stories of biblical prostitution with activist sex workers and incorporates their social theory of prostitution to engage existing liberation and feminist readings. By reading with sex worker rights activists, unique and challenging interpretations were produced. The Sex Worker Outreach Project (SWOP-USA) conducted group readings of four biblical narratives: the story of Rahab in Joshua 2 and 6, the story of Solomon and the two prostitutes of 1 Kings 3:16-28, the anointing woman traditions (Jn 12:1-8/Mk 14:3-9/Mt 26:6-13/Lk 7:36-50) and the apocalyptic vision of the whore Babylon in Revelation 17-19. Rahab is read as a rebellious police snitch who sides with the revolutionaries. The story of Solomon's riddle is interpreted as a parody according to sex worker experiences of a corrupt justice system. Anointing woman is explored as a prostitute avatar of the Goddess of love who performs an act of erotic worship with Jesus. The whore Babylon is examined in light of the violence experienced by sex workers. This study also demonstrates and challenges interpretive trends that make sex workers invisible in feminist and liberation readings of biblical prostitution. The book concludes with recommendations for an inclusive liberation hermeneutic that engages sex worker standpoints.

Subjects: Methods, Literary Approaches, Hermeneutics

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Review by Ronald Clark
Published 9/16/2010
Citation: Ronald Clark, review of Avaren Ipsen, Sex Working and the Bible, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2010).


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