• The notion that sexuality in the Greek and Roman periods was predicated on a
    social-sexual hierarchy that casts relationships in the binary terms of
    active/passive and penetrator/penetrated has been both influential and
    controversial over the last 30 years. Both the articulation of this hierarchy and its
    critique have been haunted by various gendered and identitarian investments,
    leading to several theoretical and historical impasses. This essay offers up a
    second century Christian text, the Acts of Paul and Thecla, as an intervention into
    this debate and the impasses it produced — that is, as an inquiry into the
    continuing predominance of penetrative models for relationality in contemporary
    theory, as well as the near-total subsuming of ancient erotic relations under the
    rubric of gender. Indeed I read the Acts of Paul and Thecla as an archive of erotic
    experiences that don’t fit comfortably within penetrative and active/passive
    frameworks, and do so with gender working as a language inflecting (but not
    determinative of) erotic life. I thus hope to widen our aperture for ancient
    sexuality, as well as for contemporary theories of sexuality that imagine
    penetrative wounding as primary models for sex and relational encounters at