Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality

book cover

Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century (2015)

Format: Paperback

ISBN-13: 9780226345369

Amazon UK: Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality

Language: English

Standpoint: 1 Fully inclusive and affirming

Genre(s): Academic writing and History

Topic(s): Discrimination against and hostility towards LGBT+ people, Homosexuality in the Bible, Sex and sexuality in Ancient Rome, and Studies in Religion

Especially suitable for: Academics

John Boswell’s National Book Award-winning study of the history of attitudes toward homosexuality in the early Christian West was a groundbreaking work that challenged preconceptions about the Church’s past relationship to its gay members – among them priests, bishops, and even saints – when it was first published in 1980.
The historical breadth of Boswell’s research (from the Ancient Greeks to Aquinas) and the variety of sources consulted make this one of the most extensive treatments of any single aspect of Western social history. Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality helped form the disciplines of gay and gender studies, and it continues to illuminate the origins and operations of intolerance as a social force.


“John Boswell’s book brought to light a great deal of new evidence about varied attitudes towards homosexuality in the Christian church in ancient and mediaeval times, and was very useful to pro-gay activists in the 1980s. However, the reactions of many of his fellow historians were critical, particularly of his tendency to embrace his own interpretations of the evidence to the exclusion of other possibilities. Some of his conclusions need to be taken with a pinch of salt.” – Phil Gardner

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