Religious Studies Faculty Publications

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Publication Source

Phallacies: Historical Intersections of Disability and Masculinity


This chapter draws upon the conceptions of gendered bodily suffering found in the ancient medical corpus (Hippocrates, Galen and inscriptions), martyrdom literature, and the Roman judicial rhetoric of punitive suffering to read apocalyptic depictions of bodily suffering as “effeminizing” punishments, which in turn utilized masculinity and bodily normativity to police behavior, and equated early Christian ethical norms with masculinity and bodily “health.” By highlighting the different types of bodies found in these texts, as well as the ways in which Christian norms interacted with Greek and Roman notions of the body, the chapter shows how masculinity and ancient notions of bodily normativity worked in concert to mark sin in early Christian hell, in turn creating an ancient Christian culture of bodily normativity. These early Christian texts expanded the existing frameworks of bodily suffering as a disciplinary performance and focused on the non-normative body as a punitive spectacle and pedagogical object.

Phallacies: Historical Intersections of Disability and Masculinity is a collection of essays that focuses on disabled men who negotiate their masculinity as well as their disability.



Document Version



This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in the above-named book following peer review. The version of record is available online at

It is provided in compliance with the publisher's policy on self-archiving. Permission documentation is on file.

To purchase the entire volume, see the publisher's website.


Oxford University Press

Place of Publication

New York, NY




ethics, masculinity, effeminizing, punishment, health, suffering, apocalyptic, Hippocrates, Galen, Christian, hell

Link to published version