An acquaintance asked where this came to me from.
Actually, it began with a simple question, “Could the couples in Luke 17:34-35 be gay and lesbian?” Once I had established that they were, using standard exegetical methods, I was left with a couple of questions, “What does it mean? Why is it even there?”
So I tracked down a reference to the most important Pharisee of the era, Yohanan b. Zakkai, whose years in Galilee overlapped those of the historical Jesus. Reading the Talmudic material vetted by Jacob Neusner, I saw that his anti-homosexual hermeneutics, and numerous other characteristics, made him the likely agent of legal gay and lrsbian persecution. During the Siege of Jerusalem he later emerged as a leading establishment figure, but seemed to come out of nowhere. This prompted me to investigate his airbrushed Galilean tenure.
Once I identified Rabbi Yohanan as the agent of law enforcement persecution I realized that the popular Christian understanding of Pharisees was faulty. I investigated Josephus for his narrative portrait of Pharisees, who were conventionally political Jews.
Next I studied Philip the Tetrarch (also in Josephus) and next the city of Bethsaida. Little by little all the pieces of the puzzle began to fit together. The geopolitical situation in which R. Yohanan and Philip the Tetrarch found themselves, and the overall picture of persecution during the “gospel era” fell into place last.
When I first looked at gays and lesbians in Luke 17, my computer searches turned up nothing. It seems that my blog posts and my months-long debate on SermonIndex.com ignited what is now a common topic on conservative Christian websites and Q&A sites.
An acquaintance on Linked In observed that my thesis is not necessarily beneficial to gay and lesbian Christians, and is moreover directly negative to Dispensationalists. The point was well taken, and I continue to grow comfortable with the logic of my research.
I usually feel more comfortable when I’m the most liberal person in the room, not the most conservative. But I’m growing more comfortable acknowledging the fact that I am not a theist, and that I really do tabernacle, mentally at least, among intellectuals and rationalists whom I used to consider the enemy. It’s still a little weird, though.