Joshua Heath, a junior research fellow at the college, using medieval and Renaissance art for examples, said Jesus’s body is both masculine and feminine and that the crucified Christ’s side wound “takes on a decidedly vaginal appearance” during a sermon at the Anglican evensong service at the Trinity College chapel, the Daily Telegraph reported.
“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,” Heath reportedly said.
The sermon drew outrage from congregants, who complained to Trinity College Dean Michael Banner about what they said was a heretical sermon that made many of them uncomfortable.
“I am especially contemptuous of such imagery when it is applied to our Lord from the pulpit at evensong,” one person told Banner. “I am contemptuous of the notion that we should be invited to contemplate the martyrdom of a ‘trans Christ,’ a new heresy for our age.”
But the dean defended the sermon and his invitation to Heath.
“I think that speculation was legitimate, whether or not you or I or anyone else disagrees with the interpretation, says something else about that artistic tradition, or resists its application to contemporary questions around transsexualism,” Banner told the Telegraph, adding that he “would not issue an invitation to someone who I thought would deliberately seek to shock or offend a congregation or who could be expected to speak against the Christian faith.”
A spokesperson for Trinity College told the Daily Mail that neither Banner nor Heath “suggested Jesus was transgender.”
“The sermon addressed the image of Christ depicted in art and various interpretations of those artistic portrayals,” the college said. “The sermon’s exploration of the nature of religious art, in the spirit of thought-provoking academic inquiry, was in keeping with open debate and dialogue at the University of Cambridge.”
The latest controversy at the historic university comes just weeks after it was reported that Cambridge was encouraging students studying German to use gender-neutral words exclusively despite the vast majority of German words having a male or female inclination.
The effort was ridiculed by German speakers, one of whom said that anyone who tried to use gender-neutral nouns “would stand a good chance of making a fool of themselves.”