Was Jesus Intersex?

Was Jesus Intersex? March 8, 2012

I learned via Jerry Coyne’s blog that Susannah Cornwall (a theoblogger and biblioblogger) had made an argument for gender equality in ministry by pointing out that we do not know whether Jesus was biologically male. This led to the Telegraph picking up the story, as well as some negative responses which largely missed the point.

Do we know that Jesus was genetically, chromosomally, biologically male? No. We don’t know with respect to most people we encounter today whether they suffer from Klinefelter syndrome (XXY condition), whether they have multiple genitalia and if so of which kinds, whether they did in the past but had surgery, and so on and so on. One in every 500 males (should “males” be in quotation marks in that context?) has an extra X chromosome, often with no side effects. There is simply no way that anyone today could claim to know whether Jesus did or not.

Of course, if you are happy to decide the matter based on whether his image has a beard when it appears on your tortilla or toast, then the above discussion may not seem relevant to you.

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