Thinking Sex with the Great Whore (Rev 17-18): Deviant Sexualities in the context of Empire
Revelation Studies approach the Apocalypse of John as literature resistant or complicit with the Roman Empire. Scholars seek to apply their conclusions to the current political situation without a proper contextualization of Empire in the present. Supplementing the current debate on the ideological, ethical, cultural, political and theological uses of the Bible, I approach Revelation as a political document whose virtual potential for political action and resistance in the present needs to be contextualized in terms of contemporary imperial formations. More specifically, I study Babylon/The Great Whore as a sexual trope referring to Empire. Although scholars have exposed the political implications of the metaphor (Babylon is Rome) as well as the patriarchal language deployed (Babylon is a woman), the sexual aspect of the trope is usually elided leaving its moralizing implications in place (Babylon is, after all, a whore). An ethical evaluation of the figure of Babylon as Empire will be put in dialogue with imperial formations in the present. My dissertation pursues an ideological critique of the figure of the Great Whore that takes into account contemporary understandings of sexuality in order to advance a demoralization of the sexually deviant both in the present and in the past.