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Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe Paperback – May 30 1995

4.0 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe
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  • Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century
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  • God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprinted edition edition (May 30 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679751645
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679751649
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #354,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

The acceptance and sanctification of homosexual relations in Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches during Medieval Europe are examined in this scholarly work.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Not since Boswell's Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality (Univ. of Chicago Pr., 1981) have Christians of all creeds confronted a work that makes them look so closely at their notions of the relationship between the church and its gay and lesbian believers. Diligently researched and documented, this immensely scholarly work covers everything from the "paired" saints of Perpetua and Felicitas and Serge and Bacchus to lesbian transvestites in Albania. Examining evidence that the early church celebrated a same-sex nuptial liturgy, Boswell compares both Christian same-sex unions to Christian heterosexual unions and non-Christian same-sex unions to non-Christian heterosexual unions. Appendixes contain, among other things, translations and transcriptions of cited documents. Whether or not minds are changed on the matter will probably fall along sectarian lines, according to current attitudes on homosexuality. However, the work will provoke dialog. A groundbreaking book for academic, public, and theological libraries.
--Lee Arnold, Historical Society of Pennsylvania., Philadelphia
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In this book, which was not well received by scholars, Boswell deals with two entirely different types of surviving documents. One is the relatively unknown "making of brothers" ceremony, which made two men brothers in Christ -- with no sexual implications at all.
The other document type is a simple wedding ceremony, meant to be used between men and women.
Amazingly, Boswell confuses or conflates these two totally different types of document! It is almost impossible to explain why Boswell reproduced a "brothers" ceremony in four sections, and then somehow appended a traditional heterosexual wedding ceremony as sections five and six of the "brothers" ceremony. He either made an incredible blunder, or was trying to pull wool over people's eyes....
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Format: Paperback
Friends of mine who had been familiar with Boswell's first book, 'Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality', from its initial publication in 1980 waited impatiently for the follow-up volume. In the end, it took fourteen years to produce, and sadly, did not live up the expectations that had been given it.
Firstly, it did not in fact reveal (if such places exist, the not-always-so-hidden charge behind the disappointment) communities that had continued the practice of tolerance to same-sex couples through the last millenium within the structures of Christendom.
For part of the book he covers old ground, talking about the milieu of the Greco-Roman world, and talks about the development of the idea of marriage and liturgical practices for that. He then proceeds to give examples of liturgies which, Boswell claims, are proof that the church did recognise and bless same-sex unions. This claim is still debated, as there is no blantant 'I now pronounce you husband and husband (or wife and wife)' kinds of statements or liturgies here, but rather testimony to friendship, companionship, communal support, of a sort that is ambiguous.
While this book is important for liturgical forms and narrative discussion (although the narratives can be reinterpreted as something different from Boswell's), it failed to deliver the knock-out punch readers of the first book had been waiting for, i.e., conclusive proof the church was up to no good.
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Format: Paperback
I came to this work from Boswell's famous 'Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality', and found it quite a different sort of book - less panoramic in scope, less assertive, and somehow lacking the zealous excitement of the former work. Maybe that is just an indication of the impact 'CSTH' has had on our understanding of gay history. I would advise the general reader to read CSTH first, and - if you only read one book by Boswell - for CSTH to be it. 'Marriage of Likeness' is probably one for the more specialist library. Having said that, I found 'Marriage of Likeness' fascinating - and very relevant to the current debates of 'gay marriage' - in the way it focusses on identifying the real nature of heterosexual marriage, in order to open the way to a recognition of the true significance of same-sex unions. Finally, if you are planning a 'union' ceremony, 'Marriage of Likeness' contains an extensive selection of historic texts, with plenty of words that still resonate.
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Format: Paperback
Acceptance of homosexuality is already a rich source of heated talk, but discussion on gay marriage certainly does not help in dampening spirits. To bring some new perspective to the possible sanctioning of gay unions, historian John Boswell tried to look for evidence of same sex blessed unions in the early European middle ages. Certainly homosexuality was viewed quite differently in earlier times and Christian faith condemned it rather late, somewhat simultaneously with the advent of celibacy in the clergy. In this book, Mr. Boswell presents us his findings and comments. Indeed there is some serious evidence that same sex union were at least more than tolerated a millenium ago. The book is thus an interesting read and helps us consider in a different light some specious arguments presented today to deny civil recognition for homosexual unions. Unfortunately, the book suffers from wanting to say more than what the findings warrant. A pity since the mere fact of finding evidence for same sex unions is already quite telling even if it is not clear in some cases whether it was only a special friendship recognition or a bona fide carnal union recognition. Perhaps the haste at which the book was written and edited explains this, since Mr. Boswell was sick and died around the time of publication. That haste might be deduced from the fact that 25% of the book are notes, and the feeling that ones get upon finishing it that the book could have been at least 50 pages shorter. Still, a convincing case for getting out of today's conventional parameters for marriage is hinted by this book: clearly Mr. Boswell shows us that marriage and homosexuality were not that contrary centuries ago, and did not hinder the development of Western Civilization. And I might add, this book makes us wonder where Mr.Read more ›
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