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Friday, July 20, 2007

Hen Scratches 19-07-07

Welcome to David Lang who also writes on the Accordance blog. I enjoyed his excellent initial post and I hope that he will contribute many more.

Peter's post on Study New Testament for Gay, Lesbian, Bi, and Transgender attracted many comments, especially those of Daniel Reed. His last comment is worth reading. He wrote,
    It's clear that we disagree on how to approach the Bible, and what a study of culture, history, and worldview can provide us in our exegetical process. It's not that I don't believe that the Bible has things to say that transcend culture, but I think that the primary interpretation for any text should be the one which makes the most sense to the culture of the original audience. ... when I read Paul, ... I expect him to be referring to the way that homosexuality was conceived in the Greco-Roman world - the pederasty, domination and inequality.
I assume that anyone immersed in the works of Greek philosophers would be aware of the diverse sexual practices in an society where everyone was basically heterosexual but participated in a variety of other sexual activities along the way. I was myself, as a teenager, puzzled about why I should sing the psalms of a old man who thought teenage girls were best used as hot water bottles.

On a similar topic, Peter has an excellent essay on 1 Corinthians here.

Iyov has a post in Latin on why we should learn Hebrew. John offered a citation in French in the comments and I have found a related citation here and a more recent explanation here. (No need for us all to pretend we understand Latin if we don't.)
    Because it is the language of sacred texts, Hebrew itself was often considered sacred. In post-biblical times, it was referred to as lashon ha-kodesh, the holy language. Hebrew was often thought to be the language of the angels, and indeed, of God. According to rabbinic tradition, Hebrew was the original language of humanity. It was spoken by all of humankind prior to the dispersion described in the Tower of Babel story in Genesis. In addition, the Hebrew language was thought of as the tool that God used to create the world. A midrash states that, “Just as the Torah was given in lashon ha-kodesh, so the world was created with lashon ha-kodesh.” Similarly, the mystical book Sefer Yetzirah, describes the creation of the world through the manipulation of the Hebrew alphabet.
Kevin and Iyov have both written very powerful essays on how to read the scriptures in a different tradition. They gave me a lot to think about.

There is a post here and here on the HCSB. I'd like to know what others think of my policy of not reading a Bible in which 2 Tim. 2:2 has "men" in it and 1 Cor. 7:7 has "people" in it. Does that seem unreasonable?


At Fri Jul 20, 08:57:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can honestly say it truly and deeply saddens me to see that a commandment of God from both Testaments and through various cultures can be reduced to putty by anecdotal evidence and semantics. I can only pray that the eyes of the many fine people here will be opened. I will sign off with this link, in the hope that it may help:


At Fri Jul 20, 09:25:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I am sorry if I offended, Teknomon.

I didn't intend to promote any particular view point. However, I felt that Daniel's comments were insightful.

I have recently read My Name is Red, a heterosexual love story, which takes place in a culture with supposedly no homosexuality but based on institutional pederasty. The men in the book were not homosexual in any way that we would recognize but they all used their young male apprentices for sexual purposes. Much like ancient Greece.

I don't think we are called on the resolve issues of application here, but this is a valid translation issue. Does αρσενοκοιτης mean homosexual in identity or practicing homosexual. That is at least an issue in mainstream Bibles , and very relevant to Daniel's point.

However, it is not likely that we are going to make any further headway on this - so I apologize for any offense. Thanks for the link, it's a clear article.

At Sat Jul 21, 05:53:00 AM, Blogger David Lang said...


Have to defend David here. It wasn't his idea to use Abishag the Shunammite to keep warm, but his servants' (1 Kings 1:2). Not that he seems to have argued with the practice! ;-)

At Sat Jul 21, 09:02:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Hi David,

I was just relating some of the tensions I felt when I read through 1 and 2 Sam. as a kid. I remember thinking, oh wow, there are all these stories about David, let's see how Michal fared - not too well ... in fact, better not be a woman at all during the monarchy.

Often the naive reaction of young people to the Bible is not represented.

At Sat Jul 21, 10:12:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

better not be a woman at all during the monarchy

I'm not sure that is fair. Some of the women come out rather well, like Abigail and Bathsheba (who is not to blame for David's sin, I am referring to 1 Kings 1-2), also much later Huldah. Of course Michal, Jezebel and Athaliah do not do so well, but the majority of men mentioned are either condemned or come to a bad end. So I don't think there is any systematic bias against women here, beyond an accurate description of a patriarchal society.

At Sat Jul 21, 11:20:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

So I don't think there is any systematic bias against women here, beyond an accurate description of a patriarchal society.

No, no, I wasn't suggesting anything like that. I do think it was a more or less accurate description of how it was. But - it was just a thought - maybe Bathsheba loved her husband. Who knows, stranger things have happened. Maybe Michal loved her second husband, afterall, he loved her.

I am just trying to say that the OT as presented in Sunday school makes David's life look so exciting, but when a girl sits down with the text she is hard-pressed to read these stories in the same naive way - as if it was all a grand adventure about giant-killing and all that. You see what I mean, a boy can get a great deal of fun out of David - as presented in Sunday School - but a girl, not so much - she starts to think of Tamar and Michal and so on - better to be poor, no doubt, for a woman.

At Sat Jul 21, 02:48:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

I see your problem, Suzanne. Of course a girl might always dream of finding a husband like David, or like Solomon as described in Song of Songs. But I realise that this is gender stereotyping. These days, however, if not in the past, it is possible for girls also to dream of being like David. After all, why shouldn't they also kill giants? For there are always Deborah and Jael, and Judith in the deuterocanonical books, to look at for role models.

At Sat Jul 21, 04:30:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


I guess I didn't make that clear, that, of course, the girl dreams of "being David" and killing the giants herself. It is just that Jael is not so well taught in Sunday School, but David is - that's the problem. And when a girl goes looking for the female counterpart it takes some time to find one. That is what I meant, girls looking for role models in Sunday School lessons - not husbands, that didn't cross my mind in Sunday school - not so much.

Sunday school is full of David and Samson, and Joseph - and the women involved are all somewhat compromised. I don't remember one Sunday school lesson on Deborah, or Jael, but Delilah, oh sure, who doesn't know what she did.

At Tue Oct 02, 12:26:00 PM, Blogger karen said...

I lurk here, but Suzanne, you're correct. I have my children's bibles from the 60's. They are "Reader's Digest" versions of the Bible with pretty pictures of white people.
The story of Deborah and Jael are not in them.

At Tue Oct 02, 10:45:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Hi Karen,

I hope I am not being unfair to my Sunday school teachers!


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