Re: [Norton AntiSpam] Re: [Norton AntiSpam] Re: Vatican

From: janice matchett <>
Date: Fri Nov 11 2005 - 16:29:11 EST

At 01:12 AM 11/9/2005, Jim Armstrong wrote:
>You take it wrong - I just suspect that the perspective of the time would
>have a hard time ascribing anything other than a male attribute to an
>authority figure. In the absence of a reasonably good space/time
>understanding, there would be perhaps a little more justification for
>anthropomorphizing God than in our own time. If God is living, and
>sentient, and in some way like us, then the choosing of some personal
>pronoun is probably irresistable, though its appropriatenss might be
>questioned in the longer view.

#1#1# You appear to be contradicting yourself.

"...The commonplace manner in which Christians address the Almighty as
Father comes from [Jesus] [He] actually used a more intimate word, Abba or
“Daddy.” ... Anyone who wants to fiddle with how we talk of God must
reckon with Jesus.

Undergirding Jesus’ teaching about God as Father is the idea that God has
revealed Himself as to be such and that His revelation should be normative
for us. God, in other words, calls the theological shots. If He wants to be
understood primarily in masculine terms, then that is how we should speak
of Him. To do otherwise, is tantamount to idolatry­fashioning God in our
image, rather than receiving from Him His self-disclosure as the Father. ....

Why the Masculine Language to Begin With? Which brings us to a more
fundamental issue, namely, “What is the masculine language about in the
first place?” Since Christianity, as St. Augustine was overjoyed to learn,
holds that God has no body, why is God spoken of in masculine terms? ...

When we call God Father, we use both metaphor and analogy. We liken God to
a human father by metaphor, without suggesting that God possesses certain
traits inherent in human fatherhood­male gender, for example. We speak of
God as Father by analogy because, while God is not male, He really
possesses certain other characteristics of human fathers, although He
possesses these in a different way (analogously)­without creaturely

With this distinction between analogy and metaphor in mind, we turn now to
the question of what it means to call God “Father.” The Fatherhood of God
in Relation to Creation .... [details snipped]

But what if God had never created the world or man? Would He still have
been Father? Or what about before God created the world or man? Was God
Father then? ... [answers snipped] ...

Jesus’ Father is God the Father and He alone. That is why Jesus refers to
God as “Abba”­a highly personal and intimate form of paternal address.
Jesus’ existence in time and history parallels His eternal, divine
existence as God the Son. For this reason, we must not speak of God as
Jesus’ Mother, as if the terms “father” and “mother” are interchangeable
when it comes to Jesus’ relation to God. ....

Jesus tells His followers to address God as Father (Mt 6:9-13).... God is
not merely like a father for Christ’s followers; He is really their Father.
In fact, God’s Fatherhood is the paradigm of fatherhood. This is why Paul
writes in Eph 3:14-15, “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from
whom every family in heaven and on earth is named . . .”

"...there are good theological reasons for why we call God “Father,” not
the least of which is that such language is not ours to adapt or abolish to
begin with. God gave us this language­admittedly through a particular
culture and its images­but it was God who nevertheless gave it. ....."
~ Mark
Brumley ~

>There is also that troubling passage, in part "...neither male nor
>female. .... JimA

#1#1# "Neither male nor female" was merely ONE of the "troubling"
concepts to the ancients, but why so today?

How Not to Start an Ancient

Scroll down to

Factor #10 -- No Class!

"Neither male nor female, neither slave not free." You might be so used to
applauding this sort of concept that you don't realize what a radical
message it was for the ancient world. And this is another reason why
Christianity should have petered out in the cradle if it were a fake.

Malina and Neyrey note that in the ancient world, people took their major
identity from the various groups to which they belonged. Whatever group(s)
they were embedded in determined their idenitity. Changes in persons (such
as Paul's conversion) were abnormal. Each person had certain role
expectations they were expected to fulfill. The erasure or blurring of
these various distinctions -- stated clearly in Paul, but also done in
practice by Jesus during his ministry -- would have made Christianity seem
radical and offensive.

Note that this is not just to those in power or rich; it is an anachronism
of Western individualism to suppose that a slave or the poor would have
found Christianity's message appealing on this basis. For one thing, even
from a Western perspective, joining the group did not do anything to
alleviate their condition in practical terms. For another, in the ancient
world, it would have been foreign to the mind to not stand in some sort of
dependent relationship. "When ancient Mediterraneans speak of 'freedom,'
they generally understand the term as both freedom from slavery to one lord
or master, and freedom to enter the service of another lord or benefactor."
[163] It would also not have occurred to such persons as a whole that their
situation could be changed, since all that happened was attributed to fate,
fortune, or providence. [189] You did not fight your situation, you endured
it, and to endure it was the most honorable thing. [Hence the joke of Job's
wife saying, "Job, get a job!" is funnier than we think!] In other words,
it was not a matter of whether you were in service to another, but who you
were in service to!) Shattering these social distinctions would have been a
faux pas of the greatest order -- unless you had some powerful cards to play.

By the same token, a Christian's Jewish neighbors would be no happier.
Strict observance of the Torah became Judaism's own "defense mechanism"
against Roman prejudices, their way of staying pure of outside infuences. A
convert who ceased to observe the law, and began to associate with
Gentiles, would receive a double-whammy -- especially with memories still
fresh of the era of Antiochus, when Jews often capitulated to Hellenism. He
had in essence given up "spiritual showering"!

Christianity turned the norms upside down and said that birth, ethnicity,
gender, and wealth -- that which determined a person's honor and worth in
this setting -- meant zipola. Even minor honor signs like appearance and
charisma were dissed {2 Cor. 5:12).

The group-identity factor makes for another proof of Christianity's
authenticity. In a group-oriented society, you took your identity from your
group leader, and people needed the support and endorsement of others to
support their identity. Christianity forced a severing of social and
religious ties, the things which made an ancient person "human" in
standing. (It did provide its own community support in return, but that
hardly explains why people join in the first place!) Moreover, a person
like Jesus could not have kept a ministry going unless those around him
supported him. A merely human Jesus could not have met this demand and must
have provided convincing proofs of his power and authority to maintain a
following, and for a movement to have started and survived well beyond him.
A merely human Jesus would have had to live up to the expectations of
others and would have been abandoned, or at least had to change horses, at
the first sign of failure.

Factor #11 -- Don't Rely on Women!

This one has been brought up many times, but it bears repeating and
elaboration. If Christianity wanted to succeed, it should never have
admitted that women were the first to discover the empty tomb or the first
to see the Risen Jesus. It also never should have admitted that women were
main supporters (Luke 8:3) or lead converts (Acts 16).

Many have pointed out that women were regarded as "bad witnesses" in the
ancient world. We need to emphasize that this was not a peculiarity as it
would be seen today, but an ingrained stereotype. As Malina and Neyrey
note, gender in antiquity came laden with "elaborate stereotypes of what
was appropriate male or female behavior." [72] Quintilian said that where
murder was concerned, males are more likely to commit robbery, while
females were prone to poisoning. We find such sentiments absurd and
politically incorrect today -- but whether they are or not, this was
ingrained indelibly in the ancient mind. "In general Greek and Roman courts
excluded as witnesses women, slaves, and children...According to
Josephus...[women] are unacceptable because of the 'levity and temerity of
their sex'." [82] Women were so untrustworthy that they were not even
allowed to be witnesses to the rising of the moon as a sign of the
beginning of festivals! DeSilva also notes [33] that a woman and her words
were not regarded as "public property" but should rather be guarded from
strangers -- women were expected to speak to and through their husbands. A
woman's place was in the home, not the witness stand, and any woman who
took an independent witness was violating the honor code.

It would have been much easier to put the finding of the tomb on the male
disciples (as seems to have been emphasized, based on the 1 Cor. 15 creed,
though that serves a different purpose of establishing that the church's
leadership was a witness to the Risen Christ, not so much an avoidance of
the female witnesses), or someone like Cleophas or even Nicodemus, find the
tomb first, or to mediate the witness through Peter or John. But they were
apparently stuck with this -- and also apparently overcame yet another stigma.

Factor #12 -- Don't Rely on Bumpkins, Either!

But before you go out and join NOW, we have more. It wasn't just women who
had a problem. Peter and John were dismissed based on their social standing
(Acts 4:13) and this reflects a much larger point of view among the
ancients. We have noted above the problem of having Jesus hail from Galilee
and Nazareth. This was as much a problem for the disciples as well -- and
would have hindered their preaching. The Jews themselves had no trust in
such people, if we are to believe later witness in the Talmud: of men such
as Peter and John, called "people of the land," it was said: "...we do not
commit testimony to them; we do not accept testimony from them." Though
this is a late witness, it represents an ancient truism also applicable in
the ancient world as a whole. Social standing was intimately tied to
personal character. Fairly or unfairly, a country bumpkin was the last
person you would believe. Only Paul may have avoided this stigma among the
apostolic band. (Matthew may have as well, if he were not a member of a
group despised for different reasons: a tax collector!) Very few messengers
of Christianity would have been able to avoid this stigma.

There's another complexity to this factor: Christianity held none of the
power cards. It was not endorsed by the "power structure" of the day,
neither Roman nor Jewish. It could have been crushed merely by authority if
necessary. Why wasn't it, when it made itself so prone to be in the
business of others? You think no one would care? Don't be sure: [snip]

Then there's this for good measure:

Why Bible Critics Do Not Deserve the Benefit of the

The Old Testament
The New Testament

~ Janice

>janice matchett wrote:
>>At 11:18 PM 11/8/2005, Jim Armstrong wrote:
>>>I'm still stuck here, Janice.
>>>While there is a lot of specialty language here, as well as a good bit
>>>of historical perspective, one outstanding question seems easy enough to
>>>articulate without invoking them. If our understanding of God is that
>>>he/she/it transcends our universe of space and time, existing before
>>>that universe came into being (or perhaps form, comprising only the E
>>>part of the E=mc^2 equation), why does it make sense that whatever image
>>>and/or likeness to God that may be expressed necessarily has anything to
>>>do with the physical? ...And in particular, comprises something that
>>>would be put at risk by a physical evolutionary creation
>>>process? Baffling! ~ JimA
>>#2#2# "He/she/it"???? I take it you reject the Scriptures. Maybe
>>that's why you're "stuck".
>>Do you think that the Creator doesn't know the end from the beginning and
>>"takes risks"? ~ Janice

Received on Fri Nov 11 16:30:43 2005

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