Was Jesus Masculine?

I ran across this interesting passage in an essay I was reading today by, Tat-siong Benny Liew. The article, "Re-Mark-able Masculinities", attempted to explore Mark's definition of masculinity. At one point, Liew says this:

"If Plato and Seneca criticize the masculinity of Achilles and Hercules as reckless, ruthless, or even a kind of madness, it is because dominating others may easily turn into an excuse to kill or destroy without control or to be out of control. Note that Mark’s masculinity also demands death as a proof, although it is now the death of oneself rather than that of others. The masculinity that is demonstrated and demanded by Mark’s Jesus before the parousia is partly determined by whether one is willing to endure persecution, suffering, and death."

For the sake of argument, granting that this view is correct, it raises a number of questions for me, in terms of both antiquity & modernity, however, the ones that sit at the fore of my mind are: How might Mark's definition of masculinity challenge and/or affirm our definitions? And how, then, should we respond to Mark's defnition / model? Further, how might this affect one's view of femininity as well?


  1. I would say, from a sociological perspective, that Jesus would throw our definitions of masculine out the window, if not even throw out the term almost entirely except in usage regarding relationships with females.

    The "masculine" ideal is an overemphasis upon power, strength, and courage, the things related to the things males are more naturally gifted with, physical power. Defining it along the terms of the usage of physical power, Jesus was decidedly not masculine, but in terms of courage he was. The article you quoted from shifts from the external force to an internal state of mind.

    However, that is more emotive, which also corresponds more with "femininity." Men are physically stronger, but women are better with their own emotions and those of others (notice I didn't say control, with neither men or women are stereotypically proficient at).

    What we see in Jesus' mind set is the conjoining of "masculine" and "feminine" ideals. The courage to face a distressing end is masculine in one sense, but feminine in the other. Likewise, trust in God's power has a masculine aspect (power) and a feminine aspect (trust in others, where dependence is typically more "feminine").

    I think Jesus throws the necessity of the distinctions out the window, at least in using the words to describe proper behavior (it can still describe gender propensities, justified or unjustified). But he goes beyond being masculine or feminine, but doing something that is not common to either gender, a true control of one's emotions. Particularly, anger which men stereotypically struggle and anxiety for women (although again, not exclusive to those genders).

    Hope this is kind of what you were looking for.

  2. Owen,
    Good thoughts. Your comments are well-recieved and this is kind of what I was going for. I guess I'm wondering about how much we are supposed to let Mark's interpretation of Jesus' masculinity, etc. influence ours also? Further, are we to adopt Mark's view wholesale?