Sunday, April 02, 2006
Jesus is a feminist
This church rocks.
Scripture reading: Genesis 1:26-27:
God spoke: "Let us make human beings in our image, make them
reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself,
and every animal that moves on the face of Earth."
God created human beings;
he created them godlike,
Reflecting God's nature.
He created them male and female.
(-- from The Message)
Prayer of Confession:
"Lord of Life, help us to overcome the long and sad legacy of treating women as second-class citizens. Forgive us for not understanding the equality of creation, and for abusing and controlling women. Mich of what we do is born of fear and insecurity. Help us to recover the teachings of Jesus -- the world's greatest liberator of women. Amen."
Note, forthcoming book by the pastor of this church:
Why the Christian Right is Wrong.
I'm surprised you didn't answer me with the patriarchical creation story in the next chapter -- interesting that there are two distinct creation stories. Hmmm. How could the "World of God" contradict itself!?!
As you know, we disagree on many points, and I don't think Jesus was a feminist. He treated all with respect (Acts 10:34-36), and He didn't have to be a feminist to do it. Not only if men treated women the same way, but if we all treated one another that way, there'd be a lot less unhappiness.
Having said that, I reject the perpetuation of a patriarchal society, or ANY OTHER societal more, just because "it's in the Bible."
My faith is informed by the Bible, not limited or totally defined by by it. That's superstition.
Our three-personed God is complex enough -- and even THAT idea is only one, although the most prevalent one, held by Christians.
I respect the Bible, I take it seriously; I neither take every word of it literally nor worship it, which is idolatry.
You've expressed it in this space as outrage at the religious right for mixing Jesus up in a world He wouldn't be mixed up in -- but that's precisely what this book (written from a religious left vantage point) appears to do. So, I'm curious, honestly, whether you really feel it wrong to cite Jesus as a reason for advocating a political position (which I've heard you say many times in complaining about the likes of Focus) or whether it's just wrong to do so when the political position you're advocating is a conservative one.
Read all about her:
Now this stuff never made it into Southern Baptist Sunday school, I'll galdurn gaurantee you.
Looking for Lilith*
First publication: Jewish Free Press Feb. 6 1995.
J. Dan, The Hebrew Story in the Middle Ages, Jerusalem, 1974.
J. D. Eisenstadt, ed., Ozar Midrashim, Israel, n.d.
The feminist critique of conventional values has not overlooked the Jewish tradition. Whether or not one acknowledges the validity of all the charges that have been leveled against the treatment of women in Jewish law and theology, it is hardly possible to ignore these issues.
As one who is normally sympathetic with feminist aspirations, I have often been disappointed with the scholarly standards of the debate, especially when it has been directed towards the classical texts of Judaism. In the course of polemical ideological exchanges, I find too frequently that sweeping generalizations are being supported by flimsy or questionable evidence, with a disturbing disregard for factual accuracy and historical context.
As an example of this sort of scholarly sloppiness, I wish to discuss an intriguing Hebrew legend that has found its way into dozens of recent works about Jewish attitudes towards women.
The legend in question was inspired by the Bible's dual accounts of the creation of the first woman, which led its author to the conclusion that Adam had a first wife before his marriage to Eve. Adam's original mate was the demonic Lilith who had been fashioned, just like her male counterpart, from the dust of the earth. Lilith insisted from the outset on equal treatment, a fact which caused constant friction between the couple. Eventually the frustrated Lilith used her magical powers to fly away from her spouse. At Adam's urging, God dispatched three angels to negotiate her return. When these angels made threats against Lilith's demonic descendants, she countered that she would prey eternally upon newborn human babies, who could be saved only by invoking the protection of the three angels. In the end Lilith stood her ground and never returned to her husband.
The story implies that when Eve was afterwards fashioned out of Adam's rib (symbolic of her subjection to him), this was to serve as an antidote to Lilith's short-lived attempt at egalitarianism. Here, declare the feminists matronizingly, we have a clear statement of the Rabbinic Attitude Towards Women!
There is only one slight problem with this theory: The story of Lilith is not actually found in any authentic Rabbinic tradition. Although it is repeatedly cited as a "Rabbinic legend" or a "midrash," it is not recorded in any ancient Jewish text!
The tale of Lilith originates in a medieval work called "the Alphabet of Ben-Sira," a work whose relationship to the conventional streams of Judaism is, to say the least, problematic.
The unknown author of this work has filled it with many elements that seem designed to upset the sensibilities of traditional Jews. In particular, the heroes of the Bible and Talmud are frequently portrayed in the most perverse colours. Thus, the book's protagonist, Ben-Sira, is said to have issued from an incestuous union between the prophet Jeremiah and his daughter. Joshua is described as a buffoon too fat to ride a horse. King David comes across as a heartless and spiteful figure who secretly delights in the death of his son Absalom, while putting on a disingenuous public display of grief. The book is consistently sounding the praises of hypocritical and insincere behaviour.
So shocking and abhorrent are some of the contents of "the Alphabet of Ben-Sira" that modern scholars have been at a loss to explain why anyone would have written such a book. Some see it as an impious digest of risqué folk-tales. Others have suggested that it was a polemical broadside aimed at Christians, Karaites, or some other opposing movement. I personally would not rule out the possibility that it was actually an anti-Jewish satire--though, to be sure, it did come to be accepted by the Jewish mystics of medieval Germany; and amulets to fend off the vengeful Lilith became an essential protection for newborn infants in many Jewish communities.
Eventually the tale of Lilith was included in a popular English-language compendium of Rabbinic legend, and some uncritical readers--unable or unwilling to check after the editor's sources--cited it as a representative Rabbinic statement on the topic. As tends to happen in such instances, subsequent authors kept copying from one another until the original error turned into an unchallenged historical fact.
Certainly there are volumes of real texts and traditions that could benefit from a searching and critical feminist analysis, and it is a shame to focus so much intellectual energy on a dubious and uncharacteristic legend of this sort.
"Some Scholars" need to understand the existence of Satan, a very powerful entity, who perverts the truth for his own selfish interests, which are rooted in his desire to be God. And incidentally, can convince mortals that there are inaccuracies and apparent contradictions in God's Word. Even so-called scolars, and pastors with their own perverted agendas.
That's APPARENT contradictions. There are no actual contradictions in the Bible.
As far as my first comment is concerned, ER, I was being sarcastic. I note that you rarely refer to Jesus as Jesus Christ, but only as Jesus, which would seem to, at least psychologically, reduce Him to the level of a mortal man, which I am sure you would agree that He is not. In addition, you appear to continually attempt to divorce the Bible, God's Holy Word, from Jesus and from God Himself. No offense intended. It's just the impression you leave.
But consider this, if Lilith was "invent" by Rabbi X in the 13th century why is she depicted in a Sumerian tablet in about 1950 to 2000 BCE, known as the Burney Relief.
The picture is from a terracotta relief, Sumeria, c2,000 to c1950 BCE? The tablet..." shows a winged Woman with owl feet, holding noone knows what in both hands (a ring and a staff is one unlikely suggestion; trumpets is another). Around Her are owls. She is trodding on two lions, each facing opposite directions. Lilith is the "She Demon" of ancient Babylonian, Sumerian, Hebrew, and early Christian myth."
And consider that she did make one appearance in the Chiristian old testament. But was "mis-translated" in the almighty's KJV.
but check out this literal translation and these other translation varieties.
Isaiah 34:14, describing the desolation of Edom, is the only occurrence of Lilith in the Hebrew Bible:
Hebrew (ISO 259): pagšu ṣiyyim et-ʾiyyim w-saʿir ʿal-rēʿhu yiqra ʾakšam hirgiʿah lilit u-maṣʾah lah manoḫ
literal translation: "yelpers meet-[perfect] howlers; hairy-ones cry-[imperfect] to fellow. liyliyth reposes-[perfect], acquires-[perfect] resting-place."
KJV: "The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest."
Schrader (Jahrbuch für Protestantische Theologie, 1. 128) and Levy (ZDMG 9. 470, 484) suggest that Lilith was a goddess of the night, known also by the Jewish exiles in Babylon. Evidence for Lilith being a goddess rather than a demon is lacking. Isaiah dates to the 6th century BC, and the presence of Jews in Babylon would coincide with the attested references to the Līlītu in Babylonian demonology.
The Septuagint translates onokentauros, apparently for lack of a better word, since also the saʿir "satyrs" earlier in the verse are translated with daimon onokentauros. The "wild beasts of the island and the desert" are omitted altogether, and the "crying to his fellow" is also done by the daimon onokentauros.
Hieronymus of Cardia translated Lilith with lamia, in Horace (De Arte Poetica liber, 340) a witch who steals children, similar to the Breton Korrigan, in Greek mythology described as a Libyan queen who mated with Zeus. After Zeus abandoned Lamia, Hera stole Lamia's children, and Lamia took revenge by stealing other women's children.
The screech owl translation of the KJV is without precedent, and apparently together with the "owl" (yanšup, probably a water bird) in 34:11, and the "great owl" (qippoz, properly a snake,) of 34:15 an attempt to render the eerie atmosphere of the passage by choosing suitable animals for difficult to translate Hebrew words.
Later translations include:
night-owl (Young, 1898)
night monster (ASV 1901, NASB 1995)
night hag (RSV 1947)
night creature (NKJV 1982, NLT 1996)
A Hebrew tradition exists in which an amulet is inscribed with the names of three angels and placed around the neck of newborn boys in order to protect them from the lilin until their circumcision. This practice lends weight to the argument that Lilith had existed in earlier Hebrew mythology and is not the creation of later medieval authors. There is also a Hebrew tradition to wait awhile before a boy's hair is cut so as to attempt to trick Lilith into thinking the child is a girl so that the boy's life may be spared.
Dead Sea scrolls
The appearance of Lilith in the Dead Sea Scrolls is somewhat more contentious, with one indisputable reference in the Song for a Sage (4Q510-511), and a promising additional allusion found by A. Baumgarten in The Seductress (4Q184). The first and irrefutable Lilith reference in the Song occurs in 4Q510, fragment 1:
"And I, the Instructor, proclaim His glorious splendor so as to frighten and to te[rrify] all the spirits of the destroying angels, spirits of the bastards, demons, Lilith, howlers, and [desert dwellers…] and those which fall upon men without warning to lead them astray from a spirit of understanding and to make their heart and their […] desolate during the present dominion of wickedness and predetermined time of humiliations for the sons of lig[ht], by the guilt of the ages of [those] smitten by iniquity – not for eternal destruction, [bu]t for an era of humiliation for transgression. "
"Even so-called scolars, and pastors with their own perverted agendas.
That's APPARENT contradictions. There are no actual contradictions in the Bible"
Perhaps not in the Bible, but in those that interpret the Bible, or those who originally voted on what was included in the Bible? Which version of the Bible do you know to be inerrant?
When the Children of Israel were carried off to Babylon, they came back with less and more than they went with. Understanding this is important to one's depth of faith.
I believe, blind faith, is no faith.
Steel that is not tempered will shatter like glass.
I maintain that FOTF is wrong, and that Jesus, IMHO, would have none of it. There is no conflict in my positions.
The right is wrong. How clearer can I be? It's "OK," in this government and society for FOTF and its PAC to do what it damn well pleases. But it's wrong.
I get accused of "using Jesus" to make political arguments. No. Jesus example and what few admonitions we have from Him cause me to take certain political positions. I daresay: I cannot fathom how one can take the example of jesus, and His wordas, and come up with very many politically conservative positions.
Churches, parachurch organizations, other issue groups -- many of them base their positions on some religious idea, some of themn from the Bible even.
But that ain't Jesus. He's bound and gagged in a closet somewhere in most of those organizations.
" ... for when he wished to lie with her, she took offence at the recumbent posture he demanded. 'Why must I lie beneath you?' she asked. 'I also was made from dust, and am therefore your equal.' ... Lilith, in a rage, uttered the magic name of God, rose into the air and left him."
That was about the time I made the connection between the "strange women" mentioned in Proverbs and the women I was bringing home. EPIPHANY!
"it is a shame to focus so much intellectual energy on a dubious and uncharacteristic legend of this sort."
Note: I do, in fact, concentrate these days on the Son of Man aspects of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, more than the Son of God aspects. Why? Because most of the right wing -- those who haven't ignored Him and His words completely -- have gone to the other extreme and made Him into some sort of unapproachable superhero.
The whole dang point of the Incarnation was God bringing Himself down to size, so to speak, for my sake. For our sake.
What a Friend I have in Jesus! What a Friend we have in Jesus!
Amen, oh my -- and here, here!
Re, "What will our children bring back from Babylon (Iraq)?
More than they went in with, and less than they went in with.
Re, "If the "money changers" have taken over the temple again, should we not follow Christ's example?"
I DID used to be a bouncer ...
If this actually happend to you man, it wasn't your women, it was your drugs.
"I note that you rarely refer to Jesus as Jesus Christ, but only as Jesus, which would seem to, at least psychologically, reduce Him to the level of a mortal man, which I am sure you would agree that He is not."
Respectfully, Mark, Jesus reduced HIMSELF to the level of mortal man -- for our sake. Instead of ER accepting Jesus as God -- which I believe he does -- perhaps you who also accept him as God might consider embracing his humanity as well. A real flesh and blood human being who confronted the same feelings you confront. Getting in touch with the thinking, feeling, angry, frustrated and compassion-filled Jesus, the Palistinean Jew, who was born into poverty and oppression, can only increase your love and appreciation for his sacrifice.
GP, right on.
ER: "Drlobojo has gone into Hebrew equavalents of the Gnostic GGgospels and ha put up a bunch of stuff about Lilith, 'Adam's first wife.' "
Dr. ER: "Adam who?"
ER: " ... "
Dr. ER: "Of Eve?"
ER: "That's the one!"
It was at Life, and Life includes being a freelance video game journalist and now that I've had a taste of success, trying to pursue that success to greater ends.
Now, as to the mother of my kind:
Mark mentioned Satan perverting the truth. I will whole-heartedly agree that truth perversion is a common tactic of those who do wrong, namely politicians.
And for numerous ancient texts to reference Lilith? That's one big truth perversion for most people to not believe in it.
Satan or whomever the Dark One is doesn't waste time on tactics that don't work.
B) Jesus is totally a feminist
C) It isn't all that difficult to imagine why mention of Lilith has been expunged from ancient Jewish texts.
Off topic: I tried to e-mail you because you asked a question on my blog and I wanted to be certain you received the answer. Please go back for it when you have the time. I don't think it's right to take up more space here on a subject that has nothing to do with this post. :)
We differ on the full purpose of the pulpit: I want no partisan messages from a pulpit, but I do expect to see occasional admonishing on public policyt questions and issues!
Abolition was preached from Yankee pulpits. The social gospel, as well. Civil rights, too, from Southern pulpits.
All of which makes me LOL when right-wing parachurch organizations and conservative churches try to lay claim to the rich heritage of church-led social change in this country. And they do. Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family draws a direct line from all those great church-led social movements to the current efforts of Focus on the Family in his book, "Why You Can't Stay Silent" -- and his claims are preposterous.
"And for numerous ancient texts to reference Lilith? That's one big truth perversion for most people to not believe in it."
Is this a pro or con statement?
ER said to Dr. ER: "Drlobojo has gone into Hebrew equavalents of the Gnostic GGgospels and ha put up a bunch of stuff about Lilith, 'Adam's first wife.' "
Naw, I've gone back to 2000 BCE and referenced a Mesopotamian Succubus Deamon that Jewish folk lore led to her being considered Adam's first wife. The Gnostic sites just put her in a better short hand. Lilith goes back most certainly to the Gilgamesh cuniform tablets, so it is not like she is a modern "invention". None other than C.S. Lewis gave her credance when in 'The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe' he made the White Witch a decendent of Lilith.
Oh yes, and ER, the Qumran (4Q 184)indentifies Lilith as that "Strange Woman" of Proverbs (2: 18-19), so you should recognized her after all, it wasn't just the drugs.
I thought I had argued all of the Marys and Christ stuff and no gender in Heaven stuff several times before so that's why I took off on the earlier version of almost Biblical feminism and Lilith.
If people want to limit themselves to being Constantinian Christians so be it, but for some that's simply not enough, Christ is much larger than that.
Constantine was sort of the George W. Bush of his day. Think about it.
And I AM consciously seeking the pre-Constantine Jesus.
Is this really what you think Jesus had in mind when He came to redeem and liberate all of us?
26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
GOD said let US make MAN in OUR IMAGE...MALE and FEMALE he created THEM.
Our Image? Male and Female? Did we loose half of God's image somewhere along the way? God had a Female image?
Sophia as Ashera (Cananite Earth Mother)
Ashera consort to Yahweh
Ashera as the Egyptian Isis
There are lots and lots of connections.
Sophia was supposedly the name of Christ's daughter by Mary Magdalene.
And of course Sophia is a main character in the now popular 'Davinci Code'.
Then find a picture of Ashera from about 3,500 years ago at: http://www.sacredsource.com/prodinfo.asp?number=ASH
Little loaves of bread were made into this figure by women wanting to please her and gain her blessing.
Then look at the picture of the 20 to 30,000 year old neolithic statue from Wilendorf, Austria: thehttp://www.sacredsource.com/prodinfo.asp?number=W
Notice that the hair style didn't even change. She's been around a long long time.
I've no problem praying to "Our Mother-Father, who art in heaven ..."
Honestly, I don't know how any mama's boy, who neither hates nor fears any woman -- or women -- could.
In my own spirit, soul and thinking, I think God the Creator transcends gender, in all forms.
So when we approach God we tend to see him in our image rather than see ourselves in His/Her image.
And I just feel the need to pick a nit here. Gender (the traits which we associate with maleness or femaleness) is not necessary to reproduction--sex (xx and xy chromsomes) is. God transcends both.