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27th Nov 2022

Worshippers ‘left in tears’ as Cambridge dean claims Jesus was trans

Steve Hopkins

‘I am contemptuous of the idea that by cutting a hole in a man, through which he can be penetrated, he can become a woman’

A University of Cambridge dean has suggested Jesus could have been transgender, after a row broke out over a sermon in which a research student claimed Christ had a “trans body”.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Dr Michael Banner, the dean of Trinity College backed the view as “legitimate”.

In what has been reported as a “truly shocking” address last Sunday at Trinity College chapel, Joshua Heath, a junior research fellow, displayed Renaissance and Medieval paintings of the crucifixion that depicted a side wound that the guest preacher likened to a vagina.

Worshippers later told the Telegraph the address left them “in tears” and that one person shouted “heresy” at the Dean when they left.

The newspaper said the sermon displayed three paintings, including Jean Malouel’s 1400 work Pietà, with Heath pointing out Jesus’s side wound and blood flowing to the groin. The order of service also showed French artist Henri Maccheroni’s 1990 work “Christs”.

Heath also reportedly told worshipers that in the Prayer Book of Bonne of Luxembourg, from the 14th century, this side wound was isolated and “takes on a decidedly vaginal appearance”.

The student, whose work is supervised by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, also drew on non-erotic depictions of Christ’s penis in historical art, which “urge a welcoming rather than hostile response towards the raised voices of trans people”.

“In Christ’s simultaneously masculine and feminine body in these works, if the body of Christ as these works suggest the body of all bodies, then his body is also the trans body,” the sermon concluded, according to The Telegraph.

A compliant letter was later sent to Dr Banner, the newspaper reported, where one congregation member told him they “left the service in tears” and were “too distressed” to discuss the matter at the time.

“I am contemptuous of the idea that by cutting a hole in a man, through which he can be penetrated, he can become a woman,” the letter read.

“I am especially contemptuous of such imagery when it is applied to our Lord, from the pulpit, at Evensong.”

The worshipper said the audience and choir at the service, where children were also present, were “visibly uncomfortable” at the “truly shocking” sermon.

The Telegraph said it had seen Banner’s response to the complaint in which he defended the sermon, writing that it had “suggested that we might think about these images of Christ’s male/female body as providing us with ways of thinking about issues around transgender questions today”.

A Trinity College spokesman told the publisher: “The sermon explored the nature of religious art, in the spirit of thought-provoking academic inquiry, and in keeping with open debate and dialogue at the University of Cambridge.”

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