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Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe by John…

Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe (original 1994; edition 1995)

by John Boswell

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Title:Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe
Authors:John Boswell
Info:Vintage (1995), Paperback, 464 pages
Collections:Your library

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Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe by John Boswell (Author) (1994)



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Despite a certain amount of enlightenment, I did not enjoy reading this book one bit. It was too academic for me and how could it be anything other than that seeing as it contained 20 pages of ancient Greek text, pages and pages of translated documents and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of footnotes.

A large part of this book was about trying to understand the meaning of words, such as brother or sister, in the context that they were used and attempting to put aside the modern meaning. It also had to deal with previous interpretations of the subject and explain how they came to the wrong conclusion in certain circumstances.

This book is not for the casual reader.

Although the sub-title of this book claims it to be an examination of same-sex unions it also looks at the entire topic of marriage, heterosexual and homosexual, plus all the other forms of relationships. Combine this with an unclear writing structure, this book is just one hard slog and there were many occasions I just wanted to through it out the bus window.

Has it changed my out look on things? Not really and may have re-enforced the views I currently have about religions in general. Here is the place to express those views.

It is hard to recommend this to anyone other than those doing an in-depth examination of the subject of same-sex unions or marriages. ( )
1 vote Balthazar-Lawson | Mar 30, 2013 |
Boswell has drawn on a wide range of sources from a number of countries which seem to describe same sex unions which were santified and sanction by the church and other legal and administratove bodies. Accessible read supported by very thorough footnotes! ( )
  ruric | Dec 29, 2012 |
This huge work of scholarship brings to light pre-modern documents concerning heterosexual marriages and same-sex unions. Don't be fooled by the title! Our modern sense of the phrase "same-sex unions" sometimes gets interpreted as "same-sex marriages," which really isn't the case with this book.

Sure, there may have been same-sex unions that entailed more than strong friendship or spiritual unity, but reading this book made me realize how diluted our sense of friendship - and how uneducated our knowledge of marriage - can be.

This book covers ancient attitudes on men and women, as well as the history of marriages and ceremonies, from the pre-Christian era through to modern times and would be of great interest to heterosexuals wanting to know more about the strange history of wives, concubines, prostitutes, slaves, and everything in between. This work includes how attitudes have differed between ancient civilizations concerning love, marriage, and the distinctions (and sometimes non-distinctions) between hetero- and homosexual love and unions.

As with all of Boswell's work, there is a tremendous amount of footnotes - well worth reading - and many different languages are brought into the entire discussion (as well as thoughts on proper translations), all incredibly fascinating. In the back, there are pre-modern Christian ceremonies for both heterosexual marriages and same-sex unions that have been translated and could actually be used for anyone interested. This is another piece of Boswell's work that leaves you with an incredible depth of knowledge and appreciation. Highly recommended.
2 vote Aerow | Aug 15, 2011 |
Really amazing research, especially for those looking for an historical review of medieval homosexuality and the church. surprising religious-sexual findings, indeed. ( )
  EThorelli | Mar 15, 2011 |
Someone once asked me what this book was about, and went on to ask whether I was persuaded by it. I had to say then, and I still think now: I rather wish it were true - but I can't quite think that these liturgies which look to me as if they are consecrations of some kind of 'missionary companionship' bear any very obvious comparison with whatever we might mean by 'gay marriage'. I do believe in equality: but whether we should all want equality within the confines of 'marriage' seems to me to be a question worth asking in itself. ( )
2 vote readawayjay | Feb 11, 2011 |
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This book is dedicated with gratitude and affection to James Meehan, without whom it would not have been completed. And with sadness to Mac and David, and all the others who did not live to see it finished.
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Three peculiar features of the psychological landscape of the modern West particularly influence any modern reader's understanding and perception of romantic love and coupling patterns (for either or both genders) in ancient societies.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679751645, Paperback)

Both highly praised and intensely controversial, this brilliant book produces dramatic evidence that at one time the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches not only sanctioned unions between partners of the same sex, but sanctified them--in ceremonies strikingly similar to heterosexual marriage ceremonies.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:58 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The author traces same-sex unions from Platonic Greece, to Rome, to Christianized Europe, including Catholic and Orthodox liturgies to bless same-sex unions.

(summary from another edition)

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