Talk:Sergius and Bacchus

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Patron of homosexual Christians[edit]

Regarding this edit], we've had similar discussions in the past, and the issue is that no one has provided any reliable sources indicating that Sergius and Bacchus are regarded as patrons of homosexual Christians. Such sources as have been found don't pass muster. At any rate, if such sources were found, the article body would be a better place to include it than the infobox.--Cúchullain t/c 14:28, 15 December 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm afraid I have to agree with Cuchullain on this one. No Church has officially recognised S&B as the patron saint of homosexuals, so it wouldn't be appropriate to reference in the article. Not least because the majority of churches retain a negative view of homosexuality per se. I accept that unofficially some liberal christians (and liberal catholics) might credit them with that role, but that seems to be very much a personal view. Contaldo80 (talk) 14:33, 15 December 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Actually, I've found a couple of sources that mention things similar to this. The majority of works, websites, etc dealing with it are unreliable, but there are a few that are reliable. This very reliable source mentions that post-Boswell, there exists merchandise of S&B as the "patron saints of same-sex unions"; however the book is pretty dismissive of this, regarding as a commercialization of Boswell's ideas that puts it on a level that no one, least of all Boswell, really takes seriously. This e-book mentions that under Boswell's influence the saints are highly regarded in the gay community as a "saintly, heroic, romantic couple", though no mention of patronage. This mentions that after Boswell, S&B "have been adopted as unofficial patron saints of the Roman Catholic gay community".
So, while it's too reaching to say all out that S&B are "patrons of homosexual Christians", these sources should be more than enough to add a line or two indicating that in the wake of Boswell's work, Sergius and Bacchus have become popularly venerated in the gay Christian community.--Cúchullain t/c 16:17, 15 December 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ah, yes indeed. Very helpful. Contaldo80 (talk) 16:28, 15 December 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Deletion of fringe theories[edit]

Concerning this paragraph:

"Sergius and Bacchus are noted as a classic example of paired saints; scholar John Boswell considers them to be the most influential example of such a pair, even better an example of such an archetype than Saints Peter and Paul.[5][6] In his book Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, Boswell further argues that Sergius and Bacchus's relationship can be understood as having a romantic dimension, noting that the oldest text of their martyrology describes them as erastai, which can be translated as "lovers".[3] He suggested that the two were even united in a rite known as adelphopoiesis or (brother-making), which he argued was a type of early Christian same-sex union or blessing, reinforcing his view of tolerant early Christian attitudes toward homosexuality.[3] However, Boswell's methodology and conclusions have been challenged by historians including David Woods, Robin Darling Young, and Brent Shaw.[4][7][8]"

This is a clear violation of wiki policy Fringe theories. I would like to call for a motion to either delete this paragraph, or to shorten it. I am setting to delete it in three months time if no responses are made. Please feel free to debate this. (talk) 13:54, 9 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It's not a violation of WP:FRINGE (which is a guideline, not a policy), as it doesn't make the argument appear more notable than it is. It also weighs Boswell's claim with direct responses from other scholars. It's also hard to imagine how that 4-sentence paragraph could be any shorter.--Cúchullain t/c 14:34, 9 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Indeed, I plan on adding a sentence or two, citing reliable sources, indicating that following Boswell's work Sergius and Bacchus have become popular among the gay Christian community. This was discussed a while ago and I forgot about it.--Cúchullain t/c 14:40, 9 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't doubt that Sergius and Bacchus are considered by some modern gay Christians as patrons, and that is worth mentioning (it currently isn't), just as it is indisputable and worth mentioning that St. Nicholas (a.k.a. Santa Claus) is said to bring Christmas presents on a reindeer sleigh. (cf. Christmas gift-bringer, which documents this, though fairly incompletely)
However, just as there is no evidence that St. Nicholas gave presents on Christmas (on a reindeer sleigh or otherwise), there is no evidence that Sergius and Bacchus were romantically involved or venerated as the patrons of homosexuals in their own time. Yes, John Boswell's Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe speculated that they may have been united by adelphopoiesis, and speculated that that may have represented a romantic same-sex union; but as of 2012, this position has not been adopted in mainstream historiography and has got to count as a fringe view. It is probably worth mentioning, but I don't see that it belongs in the lead of the article. --Macrakis (talk) 05:07, 29 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, it's absolutely worth mentioning, as it has been discussed in many reliable sources, including the ones given here. As to being in the lead, well, the lead is supposed to summarize the most important points of the article. This is one of them. The article does not imply that Boswell's claims are true or widely accepted.--Cúchullain t/c 13:17, 29 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As I say, mentioning Boswell's speculation in the body of the article makes sense. But putting it in the lead gives undue weight to a hypothesis that has been rejected by the academic community. And historiographical discussions (author A claims X; authors B, C, and D deny it) certainly don't belong in the lead. Mentioning the "gay patron" phenomenon, on the other hand, probably does belong in the lead. --Macrakis (talk) 15:29, 29 February 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The Boswell claim does belong in the lead, as whether it's true or not, it's clearly notable and is one of the most significant points in the article. In fact, Boswell's work led directly to the popular veneration of the pair in the modern gay Christian community. Perhaps we could say: "This closeness led the historian John Boswell to suggest that their relationship was a romantic one; this suggestion has been challenged by other authors, but has led to popular veneration of Sergius and Bacchus in the gay Christian community."
This sounds sensible. Incidentally does anyone know what the "mainstream" acdemic opinion actually is on this. I would have thought that some sensible historians must have had a look at this issue and drawn some conclusions? Contaldo80 (talk) 11:25, 1 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It's a bit hard to get a clear "read" on the consensus, because there is a lot of advocacy on both sides of this issue. As far as I can tell, pretty much every theologian who is not explicitly LGBT-friendly rejects the notion (often without addressing it seriously), and pretty much every theologian who is LGBT-friendly accepts it (more or less uncritically). But if we move from the theological to the historical literature, the picture seems clearer (my emphasis below):
  • "...John Boswell has erroneously approached the close relationship between Sergius and Bacchus in sexual terms..."[1]
  • "...the tendentious pages allotted to them by James Boswell..."[2]
  • Christopher Walter does not explicitly pass judgement, but his tone is extremely skeptical in The warrior saints in Byzantine art and tradition, passim
  • Elizabeth Key Fowden criticizes Boswell's interpretation[3]
So I think it's fair to say that the mainstream academic opinion is that Boswell at best greatly overstated his case. --Macrakis (talk) 17:31, 1 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  1. ^ Albrecht Classet, Marilyn Sandidge, Friendship in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age, [ p. 209]
  2. ^ Christopher Walter, review of Elizabeth Key-Fowden, The Barbarian Plain: Saint Sergius between Rome and Iran in Revue des études byzantines, 59-60:p. 279
  3. ^ [1]

I've found a number of reviews of Boswell's work as well (including this and this thru JSTOR) that I will try to sort through when I have some time. From what I've read so far, while there appears to be a general consensus that there is much value in Boswell's work, his case for what he calls "same-sex unions" may be overreaching. Specifically, both those reviews and some others I've seen indicate that Boswell's work made available much primary material on relationships between two men (he found less to say on relationships between women) and rituals relating to them, and made a good case about rituals that sanctioned a bond (not necessarily sexual) between men. However, both are skeptical about his wider argument that the "brother-making" ritual could be taken as constituting a "same-sex union" in the way he states.

In terms of this article, I think it should be said that (1). Boswell's arguments has been challenged by various subsequent scholars (though we should say "most scholars" unless we have a direct cite for it; (2). Regardless, Boswell's work gave new prominence to Saints Sergius and Bacchus, who had become fairly obscure by the 1990s (3). It's abundantly clear at this point that specifically due to Boswell's work, Sergius and Bacchus have gained popularity among gay Christians.--Cúchullain t/c 18:35, 1 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I largely agree with your edits. Re (1), though verifiability is critical for substantive claims, that doesn't absolve us of our responsibility as editors to judge the weight and quality of our sources: Wikipedia does not treat all sources alike. Boswell was of course a reputable scholar (tenured professor at Yale), but that doesn't mean that we are required to adopt his conclusions when they haven't been confirmed by other scholars with expertise in the domain (early Christian hagiography, history, and iconography). That is what WP:UNDUE is all about. Yes, "most scholars" may be the wrong phrasing (after all, we're not counting), but saying that his "conclusions have been challenged" really doesn't reflect what I've found in the literature (and apparently what you've found, too) -- we're talking about work which is not only gently challenged or undermined in the polite (but subtly nasty) tone of academic writing (e.g. tone in Key-Fowden and Walter's book), but explicitly (and rather exceptionally in scholarly writing) characterized as "erroneous" and "tendentious". As for (2) and (3), I agree, and as you see, I've added a reliable source about their status among gay Christians. --Macrakis (talk) 19:07, 1 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't take the current wording as adopting Boswell's conclusions. It merely says that he made those arguments and they are significant to the article's subject, and specifically indicates that they have been challenged by other scholars. We can further tweak the wording, but claiming that "most scholars" reject his view would require a reliable source that actually says that.--Cúchullain t/c 19:22, 1 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't agree that
"Boswell's methodology and conclusions have been disputed by many historians"
"have not been widely accepted by scholars"
are redundant. Something can be widely criticized, but also later widely adopted. If they are in fact redundant, then we might as well simply say:
"Boswell's conclusions have not been widely accepted by scholars"
--Macrakis (talk) 20:48, 1 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The problem with that is there's no source that actually says that. We have sources that challenge his arguments, but so far no sources that make a claim about a scholarly consensus regarding them. And at any rate, this isn't an article about Boswell or his book, so we don't need to keep hammering the point. It's enough to say that Boswell said some things about Sergius and Bacchus, they've been criticized by various scholars, but it's significant to the topic of the article.Cúchullain t/c 21:10, 1 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It is possible that there is a source that says that in so many words, but I believe you're interpreting WP:V too narrowly. For example, it would be wrong to say that "Boswell's conclusions are erroneous (footnote Classet), tendentious (footnote Walter), and precarious ([2])", even though each of those statements is supported by reliable, verifiable sources. As editors, we need to provide a fair overview of the sources, not just mechanically copy the claims made in them. --Macrakis (talk) 21:27, 1 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
At this point we're just talking semantics here. If we're making a claim about scholarly consensus, we need a source that actually says there's a scholarly consensus. Otherwise we much try to follow the sources as best we can. Saying the claims have been challenged by various other scholars does that appropriately.--Cúchullain t/c 22:07, 1 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Additionally, saying that the claims are rejected by scholars (or "not widely accepted") isn't really true either. Many scholars agree with much of the work even if they challenge the central thesis. For instance, no one is arguing that there were always men who loved men, or that the "brother-making" ritual he describes actually existed. What they challenge is his argument that this was basically a form of church-sponsored same-sex marriage.Cúchullain t/c 22:15, 1 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Wait a sec. Boswell's book as a whole is not the topic here. This is the article on Sergius and Bacchus, not on same-sex marriage or adelphopoiesis. The historians mentioned are unconvinced by Boswell's argument that S&B were in a sexual or romantic relationship. They doubt strongly that adelphopoiesis has any sexual or romantic implications. They question Boswell's interpretation of the iconography (which is in any case not contemporary with S&B) and the texts. Finally, they see no evidence that S&B even participated in an adelphopoiesis in the first place. Can we find any recent articles (in reputable historical journals, not theology or popular magazines) which argues that S&B were in a sexual or romantic relationship? --Macrakis (talk) 23:11, 1 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't know, and it hardly matters anyway, because the article is not claiming that Boswell's suggestions are accurate or accepted.
We're basically arguing over whether we can say that Boswell's claims have been disputed by various other scholars, or whether we can say that all or most scholarship rejects his claims. The former seems inarguable, and has been in the article for years now. However, the latter requires making an inference about an academic consensus that isn't found in any source we've seen so far, and doing that is something that WP:RS/AS specifically says to avoid. Barring some upswing of consensus for including this particular phrasing, I suggest we leave it out for now.--Cúchullain t/c 15:29, 2 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I separated the paragraph under legend into two as I felt it made the article easier to read - but I accept that it means the Woods reference becomes lost from the second para. But I wasn't clear why the dating of 303 from this section was removed. Otherwise the problem is that someone reading for the first time would have absolutely no idea of which time period the legend is set. Who dates the martrydom to 303 CE - is it Woods? Contaldo80 (talk) 12:31, 4 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Woods doesn't give the 303 date; in fact he says the passion narrative is full of contradictions and anachronisms that make trying to determine a date pretty meaningless. He says some descriptions seem to fit the Great Persecution of 303, but at the same time the text claims Galerius Maximianus was the emperor. However, he wasn't in the East at the time, nor was he the only emperor during his reign, despite what the text implies.--Cúchullain t/c 18:50, 4 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
What confuses me is that 303 C.E is in the info box at the top of the article. I agree dating is difficult so I think the first thing to do is to remove that - otherwise it gives a misleading introduction. The next question is how to anchor the legend text so it sits in some sort of dating context. Contaldo80 (talk) 09:24, 8 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I changed the death date in the infobox to "4th century" and added a line about it in the article body, attributed to Woods. Hopefully that helps.--Cúchullain t/c 13:04, 9 May 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Recent edit to lead[edit]

I'm afraid that this edit to the lead isn't going to work. For starters, the one source given is an unreliable blog post, and it doesn't say what is attributed to it. The author appears to have relied exclusively on this Wikipedia article for his "debunking" of Boswell. The statement about Robert Lentz has no source. The entire addition merely duplicates what is already better said in the article.Cúchullain t/c 17:38, 17 July 2012 (UTC) oldid=497573245 this edit] to the lead isn't going to work. For starters, the one source given is an unreliable blog post, and it doesn't say what is attributed to it. The author appears to have relied exclusively on this Wikipedia article for his "debunking" of Boswell. The statement about Robert Lentz has no source. The entire addition merely duplicates what is already better said in the article.Cúchullain [[User talk:Cuchullain|Reply[reply]

If you wish to accept a single person's book that two saints were homosexual and then have someone search to prove the negative - that there exists commentary to say that they weren't then it's very difficult. It's like you say there's a book out there that says St. Sergius was from Mars. And then to find a counter opinion that says he wasn't would be very difficult.

However if you want I can bring in general Orthodox opinion against homosexuality to show a consistency of teaching on the matter.

What would you suggest?

Do you not think a modernist rendering of an icon with hot pink togas is itself a POV? Montalban (talk) 08:01, 19 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

POV is to me taking a single gay historian who wished to reconcile his faith with his own sexuality (which is what Wiki says about him!) and then use this to give credence to an agenda that is contrary to the teachings of 2,000 years of the church. Montalban (talk) 08:05, 19 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Why is Boswell in the lede? His poorly received fringe theory hardly qualifies as "most important points" as required by WP:MOSINTRO. Shouldn't we exclude it from the lede? – Lionel (talk) 08:30, 19 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If it were just Boswell's theory, I would agree that it doesn't belong in the lede. But the popularity among gay Christians which flows from it is worthy of mention, and I think the single sentence addressing the point does a good job of that. It doesn't leave the reader with the impression that Boswell's theory is accurate or widely accepted, just signifies why it is notable. Perhaps it could be strengthened from "though the scholarly community has not followed his lead" to something like "though this theory has been widely rejected by other historians"?--Trystan (talk) 13:42, 19 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The content addressing the popularity in the gay community is 1 sentence long. So, mentioning this in the lede would run afoul of WP:MOSINTRO. IMO we should have 1 sentence in the body which addresses both Boswell's theory and resulting popularity in the gay community. And 1 sentence representing scholarly consensus. Nothing in the lede per MOSINTRO. The current paragraph about Boswell in the body violates WP:FRINGE and WP:DUE. – Lionel (talk) 18:39, 19 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Montalban, your edits were again problematic, so I reverted them. Please, let's discuss how best to address your concerns here on the talk page rather than revert warring. The source you included does not mention Sergius and Bacchus at all, and as a blog it falls afoul of WP:SELFPUB. It's also a no go to include material in the lead that doesn't appear in the article body.
Boswell is mentioned here because he demonstrably said the things attributed to him, and his claims are noteworthy enough that various other scholars, including the ones cited here, have commented on and criticized them. The article makes no claims that Boswell's ideas or accurate, and in fact specifically includes critical assessments. However, the claims are very noteworthy to the subject and have led to new prominence for Sergius and Bacchus. I doubt that any source on the saints written since Boswell's book was published neglects to mention them, even if only to dismiss them. The brief, 4-sentence mention in the body and the very brief mention in the introduction that summarizes the article constitute appropriate weight.Cúchullain t/c 19:04, 19 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'd support strengthening the wording as Trystan suggests.Cúchullain t/c 19:49, 19 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Cúchullain you must have missed the illustration on that site of the book; it has the icon of the two saints! It is his very theory! It very much discussed the issue. You then erroneously say that Boswell's idea is not discussed at all.

You said

The article makes no claims that Boswell's ideas or accurate::::

The article says "Part of this confusion stems from the book Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe by John Boswell. This book, published in 1994, asserted that certain Greek Orthodox medieval rituals were really ecclesiastical blessings of homosexual unions. Boswell especially singled out the Greek Orthodox Rite known as adelphopoiesis or "brother-making," as one such example.... The fiction created by Boswell is useful for sexually active homosexuals, both within the Orthodox Church and without

It clearly says his idea is false.

Furthermore you removed my request for a citation for the comment in the article about what Boswell believes. You seem to be operating on two principles here. That people can state anything about what Boswell says without reference, and then people have to reference matter to the contrary

Lastly you misrepresent the article.

The article which originally appeared on is not a mere blog page. It is an Orthodox information site.

Summary In summary you have an article that has one person's referenced opinion. You wish proof of the opposite. You dismiss that proof erroneously as not dealing with the book, which it does, nor his theory, which it does (whilst at the same time arguing against yourself by admitting it gives critical accounting of it). Montalban (talk) 05:05, 20 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Trystan you are missing the point. There are two Orthodox saints. Some modernists with an agenda come along and appropriate them for their own cause.

It's promoting POV.

Even the rules of citation are unfair here. I called for a reference for Boswell's opinion and this was removed. I'm also asked to prove the opposite Montalban (talk) 05:07, 20 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Montalban, it is beginning to look as if you haven't read the entire article. As has been pointed out to you here, Boswell's claims, and the response from other scholars, are already cited in the article body, where they belong. They don't need to be cited in the intro when they're cited in the article. It's in the Popularity and veneration section, in the very next paragraph from where you moved the material to. There, we have no fewer than six citations to sources that specifically criticize Boswell's take on Sergius and Bacchus. Each one of these is superior to the self-published blog you are trying to include, and each of them mention these saints specifically - which your blog still does not.
Your excising that material from the lead merely duplicates what is already said and cited in the next paragraph. This is not an improvement, so I will be restoring the original version. Please stop reverting and continue discussion here.Cúchullain t/c 13:22, 20 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Cúchullain I read the article and noted that the claims made at the beginning were different from the body of the text. Else you're admitting that the article simply repeats itself.
My excising that material either puts it where it should be, else again it's repeating itself
I also note you did not address any point I made about your 'refutation' of the site I cited... such as the fact it actually deals with the things you both claim it doesn't and does
However leaving ALL OF THAT aside, I have now provided further proof, and am happy with the edit of another person who removed the Boswell material from its own section (something you also don't seem to have noticed - that it's not just my edit)

Montalban (talk) 13:46, 20 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I would echo what Cúchullain just said. The text from the lede is a summary of what is said further down; this is what the lede is supposed to do. Copying the lede text into the body results in a complete duplication of this material. The Citation Needed tag is asking for sources for claims that are already sourced where they occur in the very next paragraph.
Regarding the claim that it is a violation of WP:NPOV to address this issue, I disagree. According to that policy, "neutral point of view does not mean exclusion of certain points of view, but including all notable and verifiable points of view." There are three main ones covered in the article: the historical (which can be succinctly stated as "there aren't any reliable historical sources regarding these figures"), the Catholic/Orthodox (which naturally dominates the article), and the Boswell/gay veneration (which appropriately receives a few sentences of coverage.) The coverage of the of the third POV is neutrally written, makes its relative prominence clear, and establishes very clearly that Boswell's theory is not accepted by other historians. But we cannot exclude it just because we feel that it is "someone with an agenda appropriating them for their own cause." Our dislike of or disagreement with a POV is not a valid reason to remove or curtail its neutral coverage in an article, that would be a violation of NPOV.--Trystan (talk) 14:10, 20 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, exactly. The material in the lead just summarizes, in one brief sentence, the later paragraph on Boswell's material. That is what the lead is supposed to do.
On the blog, first, it does not mention Sergius and Bacchus, the subject of this article. It's just a general criticism of Boswell's ideas; the mere fact that an image of the saints appear on the cover of his book is immaterial. Moreover, it's a self-published blog and not acceptable as a source here. Time to move on.
Your current addition of the Harvey is also redundant, as we already say that "Boswell's methodology and conclusions have been disputed by many historians" and include six citations for it. Ironically, you are only adding more weight to this particular part of the article.--Cúchullain t/c 14:57, 20 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A recent edit has added in texts such as Blessing Same-Sex Unions It simply repeats the point that the use of this icon has become popular in the gay community. What it does not note is that this book also questions Boswell. On the previous page to the one cited (on p134) it notes that "Boswell admits that the Byzantine theologians would never have consented to view adelphopoiesis as marriage"

This is available on Google Books

It is a case of citing a point that is not disputed - that the use of the icon has become popular, to ignore the actual criticism that book has of Boswell. This is promoting a POV. The issue isn't that it's gain popularity, the issue is whether Boswell's beliefs on this are criticized.

I have subsequently added this into the record Montalban (talk) 02:45, 21 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I came upon a mention of a conversy regarding language in the lede mentioned on the WikiProject Christianity noticeboard and read this version of the article. The brief mention of Boswell's work doesn't seem to violate WP:NPOV or WP:UNDUE, however, the worth of it would be whether (1) their veneration in the gay community is something widely accepted, widely believed, or widely practiced within the gay community and (2) a determination as to whether Boswell is a credible source. I do not know enough about the academic record to rule on Boswell's reliability. There are plenty of recognized theologians/reliable scholars in the historical revision column who have said worse. Further, I don't have enough knowledge of religious practices (and patron saints) in the gay community, to determine if is a trend that has gained traction. However, assuming good faith, as long as the lede is as uncontroversial, the source is recognized as reliable, and it is relevant/germane to the current interpretation of these historical saints, I do not see a problem with the text as stated in the version I saw moments ago (as listed above) with regard to WP's MOS and other policies.--ColonelHenry (talk) 03:13, 22 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thank you ColonelHenry. Boswell and his work certainly qualify as a reliable source by Wikipedia standards; he got his doctorate in history at Harvard and was a professor at Yale; the book was published by Villard Books. However, aspects of the book, including material on the subjects of this article, have been heavily criticized by other historians, and the article makes that fact very clear. This is what's really relevant here: this controversy is noteworthy to the subject; it is mentioned in nearly all sources on Sergius and Bacchus that have been published since, and is certainly worthy of this brief mention here. On the subject of the saints' popularity in the gay Christian community, I was against including it until we located some good sources. We currently have cites from three different books attesting to it, including the university-published work Blessing Same-Sex Unions by then Emory professor Mark D. Jordan, so it's worth this brief, neutral mention. I would object to including much more on either topic.--Cúchullain t/c 14:03, 23 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I strongly support the points made by Cuchullain. I would also be wary of relying too heavily on sources written from an Orthodox perspective - particularly if they do not take note of the prevailing historical opinion that Sergius and Bacchus were very unlikely to have existed as genuine historical figures. Contaldo80 (talk) 09:03, 24 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As I noted earlier, Boswell himself offers testimony against himself. I cited this in the article but it was removed.
Cuchullain mentions Mark D Jordan and cites
This is a resume of this person and not proof of what he says.
Contaldo80, can you support your statement re: the 'prevailing historical opinion'? What surveys of Historiography have you read? Further you fail to note the opening remarks of the article. They are considered saints not just by Orthodox but by Oriental Orthodox (Copts) and Catholics. That alone is the opinion of the largest and second largest Christian denominations.
Also Contaldo80, in one sense its irrelevant whether they existed or not. Both parties in this debate are using the icons so both agree with their existence. (Unless you have evidence of homosexuals using the icon as some kind of 'work of fiction'?

Montalban (talk) 16:58, 24 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You clearly have a serious misunderstanding of how Wikipedia works. It is not our place to offer "proof" of what Jordan or anyone else says. What is our place to identify reliable sources and include their viewpoints. Jordan is a reliable source for this topic by Wikipedia's standards.Cúchullain t/c 17:35, 24 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A simple examination of academic sources shows that it is extremely unlikely that the figures of Sergius and Bacchus really walked the earth in the terms presented in their hagiographies. Hagiographies - as any historian will tell you - are just stories, intended to fortify the faithful. At the very least we know that the miracles attributed to them are false, as they are scientifically impossible. I'm well aware that large christian denominations recognise them as saints, but that doesn't really the case for their existance any stronger. The sources I have read are the ones quoted in the text - if you think there is something equally good that makes the case for a historial S&B then very happy to see and read it. Finaly, I agree with Cuchaillain on the inclusion of Jordan.Contaldo80 (talk) 08:48, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Mark D Jordan[edit]

I cited what this person says, and another editor here notes that he's a professor and meets the criteria for Wiki as a source.

AND YET when I cited him critical of Boswell that citation was removed.

You guys either want him as a source, or you don't.

Which is it? Montalban (talk) 17:16, 24 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

We already use him as a source critical of Boswell, currently citation 12. We don't need to keep adding weight to this section with quotes, especially when it's connected with non-neutral language such as "Criticisms note that his interpretation of the word flies in the face of traditional theological interpretation which Boswell himself acknowledges".--Cúchullain t/c 17:31, 24 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oops, he was not being used to criticize Boswell (though there are already six other citations). I added the citation as well, though we do not need the quote. This should put the matter to rest.--Cúchullain t/c 17:38, 24 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Why do 'we' not need a quote? It is directly relevant to the information Boswell gives. If you want to have a prominent gay icon why not have ONE quote directly dealing with the information Boswell gives? Montalban (talk) 01:17, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

As I've said repeatedly, though you're not hearing, we already deal with the critical response to Boswell's ideas, this quote and your non-neutral interpretation of it are not necessary, and serve to give additional weight to this particular item. The burden of evidence is on you as the one re-inserting this challenged material to demonstrate there is consensus for it. Do not revert this material back in unless you can do so.Cúchullain t/c 03:04, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Please make up your mind what you objection is.

I cite Jordan and what he says about Boswell. You want to disupute this plus recognise him as a reliable source???

You note he has been 'referenced'. It's beside the point. I give a quote that deals directly with what Boswell says. He may in general agree with Boswell on gay-marriage, and/or gay-marriage in a Christian context of whatever. That's besides the point. On one point about what Boswell says he notes that Boswell's interpretation is 'unique' (my choice of word) because it's out of any context of 2,000 years of church commentary. He goes on saying that in that page and the following, that Boswell took a modern concept of marriage and has projected back.

If you have an alternate quote that deals directly with what Boswell says, why not cite it?

Yes, I accept that there are many references. It was never my point. I simply wished to give a quote that directly deals with Boswell's points.

Without discussing this first you started editing out what I have said. You even discount a source who's an authority on this issue because you claim he's not an historian

Montalban (talk) 05:01, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What you really seem to be objecting to is 'non-neutral' language you think I have inserted in the lead up to the quote, not the quote itself. Again your objection seems rather muddled and attempting everything at once. If you want me to edit the lead-in to that quote, I would be more than happy to do so. At present I don't see a problem with it because it is what the quote says - that Boswell's interpretation doesn't match 2,000 years of history.

But if you have a suggested lead-in, fine. I'm all ears. Montalban (talk) 05:04, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Who's "2000 years of history"? That of the church authorities? Just because someone has said something repeadtedly and loudly for a long time, doesn't make it any truer. Contaldo80 (talk) 08:51, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Conversely if someone comes along with a novel idea then it must be right?

However neither argument is the point. The point is that Boswell believes one thing, that is novel, and that this is countered by 2,000 years of opinion.

Which is right is not the issue here. I personally opt for one, but the point is that if you offer his opinion then it's right that one offer a counter-point for balance

That is balance. And, as noted the guy who points this out is also a professor. It's balanced to have Boswell with his novel opinion and a counter pointing out it's novel.

Montalban (talk) 09:30, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Your refusal to get the point is getting disruptive. I have been crystal clear with my objections to your addition. We already indicate that "Boswell's methodology and conclusions have been disputed by many historians"; this is simply not the place to pile in quotes critical of Boswell, especially when they're just cherry-picked and especially not with your totally non-neutral interpretation. Jordan is a reliable source, but he is only one of many who have written about Boswell.
You have already breached WP:3RR re-inserting this challenged material. It has become extremely difficult to try and work with you.Cúchullain t/c 12:48, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
At this point you have breached WP:3RR reinserting this challenged material.

I don't refuse to get a point you haven't made. You've made several arguments at once. I have noted these in sections above, like where you claim something doesn't address a point, and then note that it does. You were arguing before that the quote was not neutral now your objection has changed again.

You now try intimidation by posting on my page that I am involved in an editing war. Apparently you arbitrarily removing my material all the time is not an editing war. Apparently it's me 'not getting it'.

Let's try this again. Why do you challenge the material? It's a) directly relevant to the word cited as being used by Boswell b) from an historian you recognise c) why do you think it's cherry-picked? Did you even read the google books link I noted. He goes on throughout that page and the next decrying Boswell's use. I gave you the link direct to the page the quotes on. I've gone out of my way to provide you with evidence.

Why is it 'not the place' for a quote if you have Boswell's fringe theory here at all?

For my part I will allow you to respond before re-editing that pertinent quote back into the article. Montalban (talk) 12:57, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Not a single other person involved in this discussion has argued for the inclusion of your quote, and several have objected to it. You have now breached WP:3RR in unilaterally re-inserting this challenged material, which is a major problem. As I've explained, per WP:BURDEN, "the 'burden of evidence lies with the editor who adds or restores material". When material you've inserted is challenged, the next step is to discuss it, rather than just re-inserting it.
I've never objected to citing Jordan, I object to over-using him or any other source. Your insertion of that quote and the one from the priest gives far too much space to these viewpoints. You seem not to grasp that we already cite several other scholars who have criticized Boswell.--Cúchullain t/c 13:13, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What burden are you expecting me to prove?

Why do you think a quote is the same as a citation? You use the two interchangeably.

I quote Jordan and you say you're not opposed to citing him... which isn't what I was talking about. Do you know the difference between a reference and a quote?

Your objection has changed yet again. You say you're not against using him, but over-using him. Before this your objection was

a) the use of him was not neutral and then b) I had cherry-picked the quote

Now you're up to different objection #3.

That's just on this material.

I cited an article you said didn't address the book. I proved it did. You moved onto a different objection - that of attacking the source...a 'blog' as you called it.

You also seem to believe that a priest cannot be an historian. This is YOUR theory. I have cited his bio that shows him to be a writer in this field for decades. Even if he were not a card-carrying historian he can still be an expert in the field. Your objection with regards him has also changed. Now you've dropped your objection to him as a reliable source, to just using him at all in the context of weight of material.

If you could set out your objection clearly, that might help.

Montalban (talk) 13:27, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The "burden" you are expected to prove is that there is consensus to include your material. Currently there is none, and various other editors have objected to it. The difference between a "quote" and a "cite" should be obvious. I do not object to citing Jordan, I object to including a direct quote from him as it just adds more weight to this section. I further object to your non-neutral interpretation of the quote. I retain my objection to citing Harvey as a historian, when he was not one.--Cúchullain t/c 13:39, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I echo Cuchullain. I think these edits are unhelpful an disruptive. Contaldo80 (talk) 09:10, 26 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

John Francis Harvey[edit]

Someone in an edit stated John Francis Harvey is not an historian.

He was a priest and thus has some expertise on the subject of what the church believes

You can read his bio here Montalban (talk) 17:24, 24 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

He's not a historian, so he can't be cited as one. We already have citations to plenty of other historians.--Cúchullain t/c 17:27, 24 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What for you is an historian then? I for e.g have majored in history and write on history. This priest has a degree and has written on the history of the subject Montalban (talk) 01:15, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

He's recognised as an expert in this subject - as noted in his memorial Montalban (talk) 01:23, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

First, it doesn't matter what a historian is "for me" or for any other Wikipedia editor, it matters what others in the field think. To be cited as a historian on Wikipedia, he'd have to be regarded an authority on history, preferably in a closely related area, by other scholars in the field. Your link makes no indication that this was true of Harvey; it says that he was a theologian by training who evidently ran an ex-gay organization.--Cúchullain t/c 13:48, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A joke. I studied 4 years at the University of York for a modern history degree (speciliasing on the history of the church in Europe). If Harvey's books had ended up on our reading list we would have chucked it out of the window! Not a historian. A priest, with a very specific personal agenda. He cannot be respected for objectivity or meaningful analysis.Contaldo80 (talk) 09:14, 26 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]


In case people don't get it, the Boswell point in the article is on the meaning of adelphopoiesis

I cited a source that deals directly with his use of this word.

Boswell has his case. Others have theirs.

That is called 'balance'.

So far the history of this article is for someone to arbitrarily edit this out, and then make an argument about people as reliable sources, then admit Jordan is one.

Then there's people arguing that I've made his point 'subjective' when I've cited him in what he says.

Then people arguing that there's already 'enough references', when that's not my point.

In short every argument is made against having a quote in that directly deals with a point made by Boswell.

As I noted if people are unhappy about my lead in to that quote, then we can discuss it. If they're not happy with that quote and have another one dealing with it, fine.

I don't understand what the 'no consensus' objection is in the context of this article

Montalban (talk) 09:36, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

If you feel that a quote is necessary to expand on other historians' critical view of Boswell's theory, an effective one can probably be found. (Personally, I think the simple, well-cited statement that his views on this point are widely disputed is the most clear and effective; otherwise the article gets into "doth protest too much" territory.) But "Boswell admits that the Byzantine theologians would never have consented to view adelphopoiesis as marriage," is not that quote. It's out of context, so its meaning is unclear, but it is a point specifically about Byzantine theologians, i.e., as compared to Byzantine commoners. Further it's about whether adelphopoiesis was viewed specifically as marriage, which is an issue this article doesn't raise. So we're using a quote to establish that an extraordinarily specific historical group would have disagreed with a part of Boswell's theory that we haven't brought up. It's just perplexing for the reader.
As for the lead in, "flies in the face of" is not neutral, encyclopedic language.--Trystan (talk) 13:32, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agreed 100%.--Cúchullain t/c 13:41, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agreed. Contaldo80 (talk) 09:15, 26 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Too much Boswell: UNDUE[edit]

Boswell content has completely overwhelmed the article. The problem with Boswell is that he is totally debunked. This means to comply with WP:FRINGE we have to add criticism of his theory on a point by point basis. I.e.:

  • more so than even Saints Peter and Paul
  • erastai, which can be translated as "lovers"
  • united in a rite known as adelphopoiesis
  • a type of early Christian same-sex union or blessing
  • tolerant early Christian attitudes toward homosexuality

To add criticism to all of his thories would overwhelm the article more than it already is. His theories and extensive criticism are most properly placed in his article. I propose we leave his speculation about "romantic dimension", 1 sentence of criticism, and move the other elements of his theory to his article. – Lionel (talk) 09:59, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That's a good suggestion. Even Mark Jordan notes the mistakes in Boswell's book.

Montalban (talk) 11:37, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Lionelt, I strongly agree that we need to be mindful of WP:WEIGHT when it comes to Boswell. I've argued this for years, as you can see in the archived discussions. However, considering how much traction Boswell's idea has gotten - virtually every work on Sergius and Bacchus that has been printed since discusses it (very often criticizing it) - it does need a brief, neutral mention here. I believe that the stable version of the article did that - it indicated what Boswell said regarding Sergius and Bacchus, and then noted specifically that other historians have criticized his methodology and interpretations.
There is no need for a point-by-point evaluation of all claims Boswell makes regarding Sergius and Bacchus (additionally, not all those claims are disputed; for instance that Sergius and Bacchus were the most popular example of paired saints). Indeed, WP:FRINGE specifically says not to do this. It is enough to indicate that many other historians have rejected it.Cúchullain t/c 13:25, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

How is it 'neutral' to promote his theory without any address against it? Especially when that quote directly deals with the use of a word that is mentioned in the wiki article! Montalban (talk) 13:29, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Because there is an address to it already.--Cúchullain t/c 13:32, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Where? This would be cleared up in 30 seconds. Instead of just telling me I don't get it, why not tell me. Obviously I haven't seen it. Montalban (talk) 13:57, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Uh, in the sentence reading "Boswell's methodology and conclusions have been disputed by many historians" that we have referred you to repeatedly. It cites David Wood, Robin Darling Young, Brent Shaw, Christopher Walter, Albrecht Classet & Marilyn Sandidge, Elizabeth Key Fowden, and now Robert Jordan as scholars who have "addressed against" Boswell's claims.--Cúchullain t/c 15:03, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The suggestion that the article gives too much attention to Boswell in spurious. The fact is that no editors have seen fit to add anything to the rest of the article to strengthen content. I know this as I went to great pains myself to try and flesh out some of the history behind the legend. The romantic interpretation only looks so prominent because editors have carefully gone over the words repeatedly to make sure they are balanced and well sourced. I suggest editors channel efforts into the rest of this article if they genuinely want to improve it, rather than use it for the religion v homosexuality cultural-political debate that rages on and on. Contaldo80 (talk) 09:20, 26 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Let's look at it closer. All the Boswell material in the article body is discussed in one plump paragraph. One sentence is about Sergius and Bacchus as a famous example of paired saints, which isn't controversial. Two more sentences describe very briefly what Boswell said about Sergius and Bacchus (and depictions of them) in Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe. A third sentence indicates that other historians have been critical of this view. The final two sentences aren't even about Boswell, but rather about the popular veneration of S&B in the gay Christian community since his book came out; this also appears not to be controversial.
All this discussion is about three sentences, one of which specifically indicates that the ideas in the first two have been criticized by others scholars. I honestly don't know how it could be any shorter without sacrificing all context and excising the key points of information. No, these three conservative sentences give due weight to the subject, nothing more.
As Contaldo says, editors who truly want to improve the article will do better to expand the other sections to give them their appropriate weight. David Woods' article is a great source for the hagiography (we could track down the published edition if anyone takes issue with the online version) and Elizabeth Key Fowden's The Barbarian Plain: Saint Sergius between Rome and Iran is probably the best available resource for the saints' cult and its significance to the frontier region between Persia and the Roman Empire in Late Antiquity.--Cúchullain t/c 13:07, 26 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The offending reference[edit]

I have removed

Criticisms note that his interpretation of the word flies in the face of traditional theological interpretation which Boswell himself acknowledges, "Boswell admits that the Byzantine theologians would never have consented to view adelphopoiesis as marriage."[1]

I had stated above that I would leave it out pending further talk and was not aware that it hadn't been removed yet again. As it was my stated position to leave it out, I myself have removed it Montalban (talk) 14:03, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thank you for this show of good faith. This cancels your WP:3RR violation; hopefully we can now move forward in a more productive way.--Cúchullain t/c 15:03, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A move forward. Perhaps next we can debate whether Galileo's assertion that the earth goes round the sun "flies in the face of traditional theological interpretation". Contaldo80 (talk) 09:22, 26 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. ^ Jordan, Mark D. (2005). Blessing Same-Sex Unions: The Perils of Queer Romance and the Confusions of Christian Marriage. University of Chicago Press. p. 134. ISBN 0-226-41033-1. Retrieved February 29, 2012. {{cite book}}: Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)

And again[edit]

As I've explained to the editor on their and my talk page, the material removed here is relevant and cited, and should not be removed without discussion. Thanks,--Cúchullain t/c 17:27, 12 October 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I moved the article from Saints Sergius and Bacchus to simply Sergius and Bacchus per Wikipedia:Naming conventions (clergy), which says to remove the "Saints" title unless the subject is always known with it. That's clearly not the case here, so hopefully this is an uncontroversial move.Cúchullain t/c 17:08, 26 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Good stuff. Contaldo80 (talk) 10:19, 27 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

They're always known as Sts. Sergius and Bacchus.

Montalban (talk) 00:06, 28 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No, they're not. They're just "Sergius and Bacchus" in the Catholic Encyclopedia, and the published version of David Woods' article is titled "The Emperor Julian and the Passion of Sergius and Bacchus". The naming convention says to eschew "Saint" "unless they are only recognisable by its inclusion"; that's not the case here.Cúchullain t/c 01:17, 28 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Robert Lentz's 'icon'[edit]

when I clicked on the link to 'icon' below the image by Robert Lentz, I found that the article on 'icon' doesn't really match Lentz's image. The word 'iconic' as used in the last sentence of the lede seems more appropriate. --Richardson mcphillips (talk) 12:23, 7 October 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Seems perfectly consistent to me. Lentz paints icons. Where's the confusion? Contaldo80 (talk) 07:57, 8 October 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Did you read the article linked to? That article provides a clear definition of 'icon', which this image doesn't fit. According to the article linked to, Lentz does not paint icons. Either the article on 'icon' needs to be modified so as to include the image under discussion, or the link to 'icon' needs to be removed. --Richardson mcphillips (talk) 12:22, 7 October 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The article says "icon" not "iconic". Stop wasting my time. Contaldo80 (talk) 08:59, 13 October 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The reliable source cited in this article describes the work in question as an icon. I don't see any obvious way in which Lentz's icons don't qualify as icons, and that seems like it would be a matter of WP:OR for us to delve into.--Trystan (talk) 13:50, 13 October 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, the cited source calls it an "icon". I don't see anything in the general definition of "icon" that would exclude it, and, as Trystan says, it would be original research anyway.--Cúchullain t/c 14:21, 13 October 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Saint Sarkis the Warrior[edit]

Is Sergius the same person as Saint Sarkis the Warrior? Please can a subject expert take a look? I don't know enough about the subject to propose a page merge myself. If we do get a merged article then redlink Saint Sarkis, which has incoming links, should probably redirect to it. Thanks, Certes (talk) 20:13, 21 January 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Don't look to be the same. Contaldo80 (talk) 13:41, 23 January 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]


What is the problem with the Woods section? Why is it controversial? Contaldo80 (talk) 15:14, 2 October 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Sources kept but reverted info[edit]

The sources state that the name Sarjun is the syriac variant of the name sargon, even clearly linking it to its usage in context of sergius and bacchus, when this information is added, its reverted, but the sources are still kept. 2A01:C22:855F:9700:84FF:1620:8934:A73E (talk) 19:40, 17 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Please point to the place where the source says that an English name for Sergius is Sargon. Just because Syriac uses Sarjun both for the Roman soldier Sergius and the Persian ruler Sargon doesn't mean that English uses Sargon to mean Sergius. --Macrakis (talk) 16:28, 18 September 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]