Friday, September 26, 2014

Blaming Original Sin on Adam

The following lecture was presented at the July 2014 conference of the American Scientific Affiliation in Hamilton, Ontario.

Original Sin Revisited: An Inevitable Theological Paradigm Shift?
By Denis O. Lamoureux


"The doctrine of original sin has been a foundational belief of the Christian faith throughout most of church history. It is a complex doctrine that is intimately connected to the fall of humans as presented in Genesis 3 and later interpreted by the apostle Paul in Romans 5:12–21. The essence of the doctrine of original sin can be summarized by two basic tenets: (1) Original sin is the very first sin committed by the very first man created, whom the Bible identifies as Adam. (2) Original sin includes the notion that all humans who have ever lived descend from Adam and that the sin of Adam has been transferred through sexual reproduction to everyone as his own. Recent scientific findings in genetics have called into question the historicity of Adam, and by implication the historic doctrine of original sin. Remarkably, this discussion is even occurring within evangelical circles. For example, a landmark issue of Christianity Today in June 2011 featured a cover with a Neanderthal-looking male and the title “The Search for the Historical Adam: The State of the Debate.” The cover blurb commented, “Some scholars believe that genome science [i.e., genetics] casts doubt on the existence of the first man and first woman. Others say that the integrity of the faith requires it.” To be sure, rejecting the historicity of Adam will have resounding implications for the doctrine of original sin. If Adam did not exist, then he could never have committed the first sin. And if Adam never existed, then all of humanity did not descend from him and his sin could never have been passed on to every human being through sexual reproduction. Or to cast this problem in the form of a question: If indeed there was no Adam and as a consequence no original sin, is it inevitable that Christian theology will experience a theological paradigm shift, no different than those scientific paradigm shifts that have been seen in the history of science? 

This paper unfolds in three parts. First, we will examine some of the most important documents in church history dealing with the doctrine of original sin in order to feel the weight of questioning the historicity of Adam and by implication the truthfulness of this foundational doctrine. Second, biblical passages by the apostle Paul related to original sin are presented to further intensify the gravity of this problem. Finally, I will offer one approach toward a possible solution of moving beyond the historicity of Adam and the traditional doctrine of original sin. I will assume an evolutionary creationist view of human origins as well as a nonconcordist hermeneutic of biblical passages dealing with the creation of the natural world. Furthermore, by embracing a biblically based approach to natural revelation (theology), I will attempt to cast human sinfulness within the framework of an evangelical Christian evolutionary psychology."--Denis O. Lamoureux

Dr. Lamoureaux does not explore the alternative to the Western view of original sin. The Eastern Church never speaks of sin being passed from Adam and Eve to their descendants. Instead, it is held that each person bears the guilt and shame of his or her own sin. What then is the inheritance of humanity from Adam and Eve if it is not guilt? It is not guilt that is passed on, but rather a condition, or more accurately, a disease. This disease results in corruption and death, which St. Paul also points to in I Corinthians 15:21. St. Cyril of Alexandria teaches that humanity became “diseased… through the sin of one." And if we attend to the Biblical text closely, that is the sin of Eve, by whose action of submitting her will to the will of a base creature, inverted the hierarchical order in creation, so that all of the creation is subjected to decay.

Related reading: St. John Chrysostom on Eve's SinOriginal Sin or Inheritance of Death?Adam and Eve: The Blood and the Birther; Answers to High Schoolers' Questions about Adam and Eve; Are Adam and Eve Real?; The First Verifiably Historical Persons in Genesis; The Biblical Meaning of Eve

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Wisdom in Genesis

Alice C. Linsley

When we consider ancient wisdom literature, we tend to think of books like Job, Proverbs, or the Wisdom of Ben Sirach. The word "wisdom" does not appear in the book of Genesis so some might assume that the first book of the Bible does not touch on this subject. However, from an anthropological perspective, Genesis reveals the antecedents of wisdom literature in the Bible.

Leon Kass touches on wisdom in Genesis in his book The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis. He explores the ethical dimensions of Genesis as a physician committed to teaching it as a defense against the "antiwisdoms" of modernity (p. 4). He hopes his book will help Jewish “children of skeptics” to understand why their predecessors found Genesis compelling and illuminating. Kass is critical of how science abandoned "the large metaphysical-theological questions and spiritual-moral concerns that preoccupied" ancient Man, and most especially Abraham's people (p. 5). He explores the Genesis text as a coherent whole. His approach is to gain practical wisdom for today and his method is dependent upon psychological insights and insights from the Talmud.

Kass sees the patterns in Genesis and explains that Genesis speaks not about "what happened, but what always happens" (p. 10). He maintains that Genesis is "instructional narrative" (p. 79). Joseph and Solomon married women of the royal Egyptian court and both men embody wisdom in the Old Testament. On closer examination, we see that these rulers had much in common.

Imbued with wisdom from God, Joseph is recognized by Pharaoh as wiser than all the royal wise men. He speaks as one with authority. Solomon also is a wise teacher, as is evident in the Proverbs.  Indeed, the 3000 year old Egyptian text Teaching of Amenemope suggests that Solomon's Proverbs were based on an older tradition whereby royal sons were taught. Solomon married Pharaoh's daughter and there was a close relationship between the Egyptian court and Solomon's court (Currid, 1997: 159-171). It is likely that Solomon had royal advisers, but the biblical text places emphasis on Solomon as the righteous ruler imbued with divine wisdom (another Messianic allusion). The similarities between Proverbs and the Teaching of Amenemope can be explained by the fact that the Hebrew (Habiru) were blood relatives of the Nilotic rulers and priests who preserved the tradition received from their Horim. Ibn Erza holds that the phrase al-tifra-u in Proverbs 8:33 means "don't change the order." The verse says: "Listen to my instruction and become wise. Don't change the order." The rulers and priests felt constrained to preserve the tradition of their Horim (Horite ancestors).

In the minds of the rulers named in Genesis, wisdom is the Lord's instrument by which He created all things (Psalm 104:24). "God founded the earth by wisdom; by understanding he established the heavens; by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down dew" (Prov. 30:20).

Wisdom “came forth from the mouth of the Most High and covered the earth like a mist” (Sirach 24:3). Here we have an allusion to Genesis 1:1 which speaks of the Spirit (ruach/wind/breath) going forth from the Creator to establish order in the chaotic deep. In Job 32:8, Elihu declares that it is the spirit in a man, the breath of Shaddai, that gives him wisdom.

Such wisdom is given to righteous rulers who seek it. God rewards the ruler who seeks wisdom above power and wealth (2 Chronicles 1:11). Wisdom expresses itself in good governmental administration (Gen. 41:8-43). It is demonstrated in mathematics, engineering, architecture, as expressed in this statement: "Wisdom builds her house" (Prov. 9:1).

Wisdom/skill is chokmah (hokma) in Hebrew and is related to chakam (hakam) which refers to a wise or skillful royal official. Hakam is the word found in the Genesis 41 narrative, where we are told that Pharaoh called for his wise men and, after they failed to interpret his dreams, he called for Joseph. Joseph interpreted the dreams and also gave Pharaoh unsolicited advice on how to prevent catastrophe. The king of Egypt than declared that there is none so wise and discreet as Joseph. Joseph was elevated to a position that made him like a "father" to the king (Gen 45:8). Joseph never claimed to have wisdom of his own. He relied on God to give the meaning of the king's dreams. If Pharaoh was regarded as a "son" of God and a deified ruler, how much more would Joseph as Pharaoh's "father" have been regarded as deified? So Joseph, rather than Pharaoh, becomes the archetype of Christ.

Kass notes that both Joseph and Solomon, the wisest men in the Old Testament, are attached by marriage to the royal house of Egypt. He sees this as the reason for the moral failure of both rulers. However, these were not "foreign wives" who led their husbands astray. Joseph and Solomon were of Horite ancestry, and by marrying into that caste, they were reconnecting with the Horites of Egypt. These were the keepers of the wisdom they received from their Nilo-Saharan ancestors at Nekhen. They preserved the ancient science and technologies that made Egypt great.

The Horites of Edom (Gen. 36) built a temple in honor of Pharaoh's daughter. This was Petra's central temple and it was called Qasr al-Bint al-Faroun, which means "The Fortress of the Daughter of Pharaoh." The walls rose to over 75 feet. At its height of glory, Petra rivaled the grandeur of Herod's Jerusalem. The skill exhibited here is the wisdom of the Horites.

The Horites traced blood line through the mother. Married women held and bequeathed property, and a few even ruled over their clans. Anah is listed as a "chief" in Genesis 36. Her name is also spelled Anat and Anath. Joseph married the daughter of a Horite priest of Heliopolis, the most prestigious shrine city of the ancient world. Her name was Asenath, a variant of Anath.

In 2010, the tomb of a Horite priest was discovered south of the cemetery of the pyramid builders at Giza. It belongs to a priest named Rudj-Ka (or Rwd-Ka). Rwd-Ka was a purification priest serving the house of Khafre (2520-2494 BC), the pharaoh who built the second-largest pyramid at Giza which was aligned to the obelisk of Heliopolis. This was an important priest and scribe of the Egyptian royal court as evidenced by his several titles. Rwd-Ka means "deified ruler of the sphere or realm."

The Horite priest was purified before entering the temple. His purification involved fasting, abstinence from sexual relations and alcohol, ritual bathing, and an intense period of prayer. Korah, Moses' half-brother, was a priest according to Numbers 16:17,18. His name means "shaved one." Horite priests shaved their heads and bodies as part of the purification ritual. Joseph shaved before he appeared before Pharaoh (Gen. 41:14).

Monday, September 15, 2014

Huge Nubian City

A large Nile temple was found in this ancient Nubian city in Sudan. This Kushite temple was dedicated to the Creator God.

Related reading: The Urheimat of the Canaanite Y; The Nubian Context of YHWY

Saturday, September 6, 2014

More Revisionist Scholarship

Biblical Archaeology Society is marketing a lecture series with "new interpretations" of sex and gender in the Bible. These really are not new, but they are popular.

Sex, Gender and the Bible

In this compelling lecture series, new interpretations of sex and gender in the Bible confront traditional Judeo-Christian understandings of human sexuality and identity. In addition to highlighting the Bible’s often explicit celebration of sex, these lectures tackle critical questions that are still debated today, including the Bible’s views on homosexuality and the appropriate role of women in society. They even challenge our received assumptions about God’s gender and ask how and why “God the Mother” was erased from the Jewish and Christian faiths.

“Sex in the Bible: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in This Legacy We Cannot Escape”
J. Harold Ellens, Theologian and Psychologist (43 minutes)

“Homosexuality in the Bible: The Case of David and Jonathan”
J. Harold Ellens, Theologian and Psychologist (48 minutes)

“He Will Rule Over You: The Status of Women in Biblical Times”
Michael D. Coogan, Harvard Divinity School (47 minutes)

“What Happened to God the Mother in the Trinity”
April D. DeConick, Rice University (36 minutes)
From here.

Related reading: Bunk from BAR

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Isaac's Wealth

Alice C. Linsley

Now Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. And the LORD blessed him, and the man became rich, and continued to grow richer until he became very wealthy; for he had possessions of flocks and herds and a great household, so that the Philistines envied him. (Genesis 26:12-14)

Isaac was Abraham's proper heir, and as such, he inherited Abraham's territory that extended north-south from Hebron to Beersheba. That territory was entirely in the region that the Bible calls "Edom." Edom was under the control of Horite ruler-priests. The Edomite rulers are listed in Genesis 36.  Jews call their ancestors "Horim," which is a variant of Horite. Both Hebron (where Sarah lived) and Beersheba (where Keturah lived) are in Edom (Idumea in Greek). Abraham's territory extended between the settlements of his two wives, and included mountains and lowlands.

This passage from Genesis 26 speaks of Isaac's great wealth and conveys the idea that his prosperity came as divine blessing. There is little doubt that Isaac was more prosperous even than Abraham as he received a territory from his father and apparently was able to make this land productive. Isaac kept herds of cattle on the lowlands and flocks of sheep on the hillsides. He "reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them" (Gen. 26:18). Wells were essential to his herds and flocks for by Isaac's time (c. 1987-1888 B.C.) Edom was more arid.

Abraham dug wells in the area of Gerar, on the western side of his territory (Gen. 20:1). The wells were dug by hand through solid limestone. Often steps were carved in the limestone and the people went into the well with their containers. Some wells required ropes and water skins to draw out the water. Only the wealthy owned wells. Abraham's wealth was passed to Isaac. Beer-Sheba means the well of Sheba. Keturah, Abraham's cousin bride, was of the noble house of Sheba. Many Horite rulers met their wives at wells.

The Philistines

Genesis 10:13, 14 names the Philistines and the Caphtorim as descendants of Mizraim, which is Egypt. There is no doubt that these coastline peoples were culturally Egyptian (as was the island of Tyre in the time of David). The Philistines occupied territory on the Mediterranean coast. Their northern boundary reached to the border of Ekron, and their southwestern limit was the brook of Egypt (Wadi al-'Arish), as described in Joshua 13. Their territory was a wide, fertile plain bordering the Judean hills and Edom. This was very productive land. Genesis 26 tells us that Isaac's territory was so prosperous that the Philistines envied him.

The Philistines are linked to the "sea peoples." The sea peoples included peoples from Libya, the islands of the Mediterranean, and contiguous lands. Scholars have identified at least nine people groups as "sea people." The Denyen; the Ekwesh; the Antaolian Lukka; the Peleset, the Shekelesh; the Sherden; the Teresh, (ancestors of the Etruscans); the Tjeker; and the Weshesh. These people were not called "Philistines" during Isaac time.

About six hundred years after the time of Isaac a coalition of sea peoples attempted an invasion of Egypt. This happened during the reign of Merneptah (1213-1203 B.C.), but they were repulsed. Their defeat is described in King Merneptah's stele. Here is a portion of that description:

Their archers abandoned their bows,
The hearts of their runners grew weak as they sped,
They loosened their water-skins, cast them down,
Their packs were untied, thrown away.
The vile chief, the Libyan foe,
Fled in the deep of night alone,
No plume on his head, his feet unshod,
His wives were carried off from his presence,
His food supplies were snatched away,
He had no drinking water to sustain him.
The gaze of his brothers was fierce to slay him,
His officers fought among each other,
Their tents were fired, burnt to ashes,
All his goods were food for the troops.

Since 1873, based on etymological evidence, the Philistines and the Peleset they have been connected with the Aegean "Pelasgians." This identification is held by many Egyptologists and archaeologists.

Israel Finkelstein maintains that archaeological research to date has not corroborated a mass settlement of Philistines during the Ramesses III era (c. 1187-1064 B.C.), about seven hundred years after Isaac. In Isaac's time there were many "sea peoples" but probably not a ethnic group known as "Philistines." This term is likely an anachronism and comes from a time later than Isaac.

Related reading: Thoughts on Calculating the Dates of the Patriarchs; Two Named Esau; Edo, Edom and Idumea; Isaac's Second Marriage; The Kushite-Kushan Connection; Wells and Brides; Abraham and Job: Horite Rulers

Monday, August 18, 2014

Are Feminists Correct About the Church?

Alice C. Linsley

I have never been a fan of feminist ideology or feminist theology. I was one of the few at my liberal eastern university who thought that the Equal Rights Amendment was bad news and bad legislation.

My first venture in 1978 into the Feminist arena was not positive. I was living in Greece and was invited by a friend to attend a gathering where a prominent American feminist was speaking in Athens. After the speech, there were breakout groups. In my group there were about 15 women, mostly disgruntled Americans or Brits who were married to Greek or Middle Eastern men. I was happily married and felt fulfilled in my life, so I found it difficult to identify with these angry and hurting women. I also was uncomfortable with the Marxist-atheist tones of the speech. I knew enough history to recognize that wherever Marxism has taken root, it has meant trouble for committed followers of Jesus Christ.

Defining Feminism
In the most general sense, Feminism as a political ideology that sees the relationship between males and females as one of inequality, maintaining that there is universal oppression of females by the dominant males in society.

Feminism is a Marxist-socialist-atheist ideology which focuses on gender struggle. The Feminist concern is voiced in public about equal legal rights, equal pay for equal work, harassment in the workplace, abuse and trafficking of women and children, and global awareness of women's health needs.

As we consider the importance of these concerns, we are able to see why Feminism has advanced into all areas of our life. It speaks in the lexicon of fairness and justice and it is difficult for a Christian to speak against Feminism and not sound bigoted, reactionary, or dim-witted. If Christians lack understanding of the importance of male-female gender differences and are unskilled in our engagement of Feminist rhetoric, we are easily marginalized.

Marginalization is a political tactic that Feminists have employed successfully and which gay activists learned from feminists. This tactic is used by those who already have gained sufficient control to be able to marginalize those who don't agree with them. For example, gay activists have used marginalization in many states to silence opponents of gay marriage bills. Marginalization takes many forms, but one of the most common is to misrepresent your opponent as small-minded and backwards.

Feminism, as an ideological thread in the weave of 20th century American life, poses a significant challenge to Christianity. It influences our outlook on family, church, education and politics, and while politically vocal Feminists often succeed in marginalizing their opponents, the Feminist agenda clearly is not good for the Church.

While I have been asked to address Feminism in the context of today's society, I want to speak more directly to the challenges that Feminism poses to the Church as the Body of Christ. My thesis is this: What is good for the Church is good for society. What is bad for the Church is bad for society. Simply stated, I regard the Church's welfare and edification as a litmus test for the innovations that appear in society. To narrow the scope, I will speak primarily about western society, although many of the points I wish to make apply to all societies.

The paradox of Feminism
Before we consider the impact of Feminism on the Church, let us consider the paradox of Feminism itself.

Feminism is oppressive. This is seen in the way that Feminists attack those who do not agree with them. Feminists use the same methods of subordination, oppression and marginalization that they find so hateful when exercised by men in patriarchal societies. Also, were elective abortion the Feminists' single issue, the movement would never have gotten off the ground. No matter how polished the speech, it can never be "fair" to the unborn to be terminated. It is instead the most severe oppression.

Feminism is unnatural. This is seen in the way that Feminists push for elective abortion. It is unnatural for a woman to destroy the life that is developing within her. That which the Church judges to be unnatural is also judged to be sinful or evil. Thus, John Climacus states in Step 1 of his Ladder of Divine Ascent that "A lover of God is one who lives in communion with all that is natural and sinless." Sodomy and lesbianism are evil because they are unnatural. It is evil when a Muslim father, out of anger at his daughter, arranges for her to be gang raped. It is evil when, out of selfish delusion, a mother drowns her children or a husband murders his pregnant wife. That the media lends great attention to such acts underscores that these are anomalous to what is natural. Most fathers are protective of their daughters, most mothers are protective of their children, and most husbands are protective of their pregnant wives.

Feminism is inherently illogical. One of the objectives of Feminists is to achieve harmony between the sexes by requiring equality. Yet Feminism is premised on an unswerving belief in universal inequality. To express this another way: Would Feminists be content were they to finally achieve universal equality between the sexes? Not likely. To exist, Feminism needs inequality and instances of unfairness to women. This goes back to the unnaturalness of Feminism. As the feminist psychology professor, Carol Gilligan, showed in her book In a Different Voice, females naturally desire unity and harmony within their social and familial circles. Yet Feminists' strident speeches about inequality, separation and injustice only exacerbate the conditions that they deplore.

Feminism does not align with the facts.
Fact #1: Males and females are different and their differences are "supplementary" (to use Jacques Derrida's term). Supplementary means that one cannot exist without the other, but it does not mean that the two share equal properties of strength and size or that their God-assigned roles are interchangeable. That being the case, the only basis of speaking ontologically about gender equality is the Bible and the Church Fathers' affirmation that both male and female are made in the divine image (Gen. 1;27) .

Fact #2: Patriarchy is the universal order. In advocating social reversal, Feminists often point to soft patriarchies as examples of matriarchies, but a true matriarchy requires the following conditions to exist in a society:

* line of descent must be traced through the mothers
* rights of inheritance must be figured through the mothers
* political power must be vested with ruling females
* females must have the final say in deciding matters for the community

It is a matter of fact that, after eighty-five years of ethnographic studies, no matriarchal society has ever been identified by cultural anthropologists.

Fact #3: History shows that wherever Christianity has spread, the treatment of women has improved. Allow me to cite but one example. My great grandfather was a pioneer missionary in India. He established a seminary there, but after time it became apparent that Christian men could not evangelize Indian women who lived sequestered lives. Therefore, my great grandfather decided to train women converts to be midwives and nurses so that they could minister to Indian women at a critical time. So he established a nurse training center and even today the majority of nurses in India are Christian females.

The Feminist grudge against Christianity
Feminists often use the Bible to illustrate the horrors of patriarchy. They call attention to the story of the Levite who cut his defiled concubine into pieces and sent her severed parts to the 12 tribes as a call to war (Judges 19). They want us to see how horrible patriarchy is that the Levite would surrender his concubine to the sodomites. Is this not misplaced judgment? Why not instead be critical of the evil sodomites who sought to defile the Levite and killed his concubine? After all, this is the point of the story!

Feminists despise St. Paul, who they consider to be the arch oppressors of women because he teaches that women should be submission to their husbands. Katherine M. Rodgers in The Troublesome Helpmate: A History of Misogyny in Literature (1966) writes, "The foundations of early Christian misogyny - its guilt about sex, its insistence on female subjection, its dread of female seduction - are all in St. Paul's epistles. They provided a convenient supply of divinely inspired misogynistic texts for any Christian writer who chose to use them; his statements on female subjection were still being quoted in the twentieth century opponents of equality for women."

The Feminist approach to the Bible largely is imbalanced and intellectually dishonest. In this case, Paul's qualifying statement that husbands and wives are to be in submission to one another is ignored. Paul's exhortation that women in Corinth remain quiet in the service of worship is not balanced by his assent to women prophesying in the assembly on the condition that they wear a head covering as a sign of their submission to God. They accuse Paul of limiting women's opportunities in the Church and ignore the evidence that he opened opportunities for women, even assigning them risky duties, such as having Phoebe carry his epistle to the Romans, and the use of Lydia's home as a base for outreach in Philippi.

Feminist critique of the Bible focuses on the stories of abuse of females and paints the societies presented as evil patriarchies. They seem to be unaware of the anthropological studies which demonstrate that at least 80% of the women named in the Bible were the wives and daughter of high ranking priests and as such, they exercised considerable influence in their community. Today it is also known that the rulers among Abraham's people traced line of descent through the mothers. The Feminist critique fails to acknowledge the contribution of female leaders such as the Samaritan women, Photini, the first evangelist and a woman regarded in the Eastern Church as "equal to the Apostles." There is Huldah, to whom the king's advisers turned for counsel, Deborah who judged between Ramah and Bethel, and Priscilla who taught in the early church.

Feminist literature portrays the Church as an example of institutional oppression. They cast the lack of women's ordination in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches as subordination and oppression by the Church. They actively seek to subvert the received tradition of the Church concerning the male priesthood.

Feminism has also pressed for reform of God language. Here are some Feminist proposals for speaking of the Trinity:

* Mother, Child, and Womb
* Lover, Beloved, Love
* Creator, Savior, Sanctifier
* Rock, Redeemer, Friend
* King of Glory, Prince of Peace, Spirit of Love

Note how the designation of Jesus as the "Son" of God has been excised. Children often understand complex matters better than adults. They understand that sons and daughters are different. Even in a society where children are exposed to gender confusion, they recognize that it is simply wrong to speak of Jesus as the “daughter of God.”

In excising "Son of God," revisionist language such as this distorts the Gospel. The long-awaited one was a son, the "Seed" of the Woman (Gen. 3:15); "for unto us a son is given" (Isaiah 9:6) "and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." It is the Son of God who is described here, and the Evangelists are in agreement that saving faith requires believing that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus said, "If you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins" (John 8:24).  "God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).

In regard to these proposed revisions, seminary professors Andrew Purves and Charles Partee have said, "We not only lose the ground for our language of God, we in fact lose the Trinity. We lose God. We do not need a diluted, metaphorical Trinity; rather, we need our confidence in the Christian doctrine of God to be restored." Feminists also attempt to conform the Church to their worldview through gender-neutral Bibles. One example is Today's New International Version. No less than sixty-two recognized Bible scholars have stated that this Bible distorts the meaning of the text. Here is their published statement: "In light of troubling translation inaccuracies - primarily (but not exclusively) in relation to gender language - that introduce distortions of the meanings that were conveyed better by the original NIV, we cannot endorse the 2005 TNIV translation as sufficiently accurate to commend to the church."

Is the Church misogynistic?
It is easy to test the Feminist thesis that the Church is an institution that enshrines "guilt about sex," "insistence on female subjection" and "dread of female seduction." If this is indeed the case, we should find evidence of misogyny at the time of Christianity's legal establishment under Emperor Justinian. Instead we find that the Justinian Law Code improved the condition of women, slaves and children. With the implementation of the Justinian Code the following practices quickly disappeared:

* Infanticide
* Polygymy (the practice of maintaining multiple wives)
* Incest
* Cultic prostitution
* The 3-tiered caste system that limited women's marriage options
* The practice of fathers selling their daughters into slavery.

The Code also made it legal for:

* Slave owners to grant liberty to as many slaves as they wanted.
* Families to retain the estate in cases where the father died intestate.
* Noble women to exercise political power.

While it is evident that Christianity has not solved all societal problems, it has largely improved the conditions of women. Where, then, is the evidence that women have been oppressed under Church rule? Not much of a case can be made based on historical evidence. Why do Feminists hold a grudge against the Church if the Church is not the voice of all this misogynist sentiment? The answer is found in the history of western philosophical thought. It is from mostly secular writers that Feminists have learned to hate the Church. Let us consider how this is so.

Misogynist voices in history
The most outspoken misogynists in history are western philosophers who had little understanding of Christianity and a great deal of animosity for the Church. Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) wrote an essay "On Women" (Über die Weiber), in which he claimed that "woman is by nature meant to obey." He regards women as "decidedly more sober in their judgment than men", but he regards their sympathetic attendance to the suffering of others as weakness rather than a virtue. Schopenhauer's ideas influenced writings on psychology, aesthetics, ethics, and politics which, in turn, influenced Nietzsche, Wagner, Wittgenstein, and Freud. And none of these philosophers held women in high regard.

In his Beyond Good and Evil, Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) maintained that higher forms of civilization require stricter controls on women. Nietzsche seemed to gain pleasure from insulting women. He was known for his statements such as these, "Women are less than shallow" and "Are you going to women? Do not forget the whip!" Perhaps his view of women is best summed in this statement: "And finally, woman! One-half of mankind is weak, chronically sick, changeable, shifty - woman requires . . . a religion of the weak which glorifies weakness, love and modesty as divine: or better still, she makes the strong weak - she succeeds in overcoming the strong. Woman has always conspired with decadent types - the priests, for instance - against the "mighty," against the "strong," against men. Women avail themselves of children for the cult of piety.."

In his book Sex and Character, written shortly before he killed himself, the philosopher Otto Weininger (1880-1903) wrote, "No men who really think deeply about women retain a high opinion of them; men either despise women or they have never thought seriously about them."

What Feminists Fear
The evidence of history exposes the lies that the Church is misogynist and Christianity contributes to the oppression of women. Instead, we find that Feminist political ideology oppresses, is un-natural, inherently illogical, and contrary to the facts. The Feminist grudge against the Church is irrational and subjective. So what is it about the Church that most profoundly troubles Feminists?

In part, it is the message that some church people send that females, as a class, are subservient to males as a class. Dorothy L. Sayers said it so well: "What is repugnant to every human being is to be reckoned always as a member of a class and not as an individual person." (Unpopular Opinions: Twenty-One Essays)

Another explanation is fear of divine love. The most adamant Feminists are women who have known only the lower expressions of love and this "love" has caused them pain and suffering. They are rightfully angry about the failings of love. We all live with the expectation that love will satisfy our deepest longings, and we have had to learn that no human can fulfill this expectation. Every failure of love brings disillusionment and anger. In this, we find the most important contribution of Feminism to the Church: the criticism that, all too often, the Church has failed in Love. When the Church fails in love, it fails in every way. As Christians we have a long way to go to embody the virtues of Faith, Hope and Love, and St. Paul reminds us that the greatest of these habits is love.

Related reading: Blood and Gender Distinctions; Why Women Were Never Priests; The Feminization of Anglican Orders; The Virgin Mary's Ancestry

Friday, August 1, 2014

Were Rachel and Leah half-sisters?

Diagram of Genesis 11:16-27

Alice C. Linsley

Analysis of the Genesis king lists reveals that the Horite ruler-priest lines intermarried according to a distinctive marriage and ascendancy pattern. This is the case for the lines of Cain and Seth, the lines of Ham and Shem, and the lines of Nahor and Abraham.

In the diagram above there is at least a 4 generation gap between Dedan and Abraham that can be reconstructed when we take into consideration that Abraham's cousin wife, Keturah, was the daughter of a Horite ruler named Joktan. This is confirmed by the fact that she named her first born son Joktan, after her father (the cousin bride's naming prerogative). Keturah represents the Arabian Horites. Sarah, Abraham's half-sister wife, came with him to Canaan from Harran. She represents the Aramean Horites. Jacob's two wives appear to follow the pattern of Abraham's two wives, suggesting that they were not sisters.

Rachel and Leah represent two lines that share a common Horite ancestry: the Aramean and the Dedanite (Arabian) lines. Rachel's son's name, Benjamin, suggests that she is of the Dedanite line. Ben-jamin means "son of the south" (or "son of the right hand" as one faced the rising sun). The name of Leah's first born son is derived from the name Reu, one of the founders of the Aramean kingdom (Gen. 11:16-27).

Leah was the mother of six sons and at least one daughter. Her first born son was Reuben. Genesis identifies her as Rachel's "sister" and yet her name and the name of her first born son suggest that her lineage was not the same as Rachel's. The term "sisters" may mean that they were of the same Horite caste, or if their father had two wives, Rachel and Leah would have been half-sisters.

It is often repeated that "Rachel" means female sheep (ewe) in Hebrew. However, the Hebrew word for ewe is kivsah and sometimes talia (the "Even-Shoshan" dictionary). Instead the name Rachel/Rahel is derived from Ra-heli. This is evident in the spelling of the name in other languages: Ráhel (Magyar/Hungarian); Raheli (Swahili); Rahil (Arabic). Ra-hel is likely a reference to the Horite name for the Creator - Ra.

The name Heli appears in the ancestry of Jesus Christ. These names are found in the lineage of Joseph: Melchi, Levi, Matthat, and Heli. Matthat and Heli are names pertaining to the Horite ruler-priest caste. The royal hat is found in the names of Egyptian rulers such as Amen-em-hat, Hat-shep-sut, Merytre-Hat-shep-sut and in the name of one of Isreal’s great rulers, Yeho-shep-hat/Jehoshephat (Matt. 1:8). One of Yehoshephat’s sons was Shep-hat/Shephatiah (II Chron. 21:2).

Leah's Edomite Ancestry

There is speculation that the name Leah is related to the Hebrew le'd, meaning "cow." However, it is more likely that the name is linked to the "Letushim" and "Leummim" who are descendants of Dedan, the son of Joktan (diagram above). Dedan is associated with Uz in the hill country of Edom. Uz was the homeland of Job. One of Job's inquisitors, Elihu, was a descendent of Nahor by Buz. Buz and Uz were Nahor's sons by Milcah (Gen. 22:20). Uz the Elder's grandson (by his daughter) was Uz the son of Dishan (I Chron. 1:42). Uz the Younger was Seir's grandson. Here is Seir's Horite family:

When there are two names that are very close, there is usually a third. The third is Huz, so that Uz, Buz and Huz represent another 3 clan confederation. I Chronicles 5:14 mentions that the son of Buz was Jahdo and Jahdo's son was Yeshishai, the Aramaic form of Yeshua/Jesus. This connects the name of Jesus with the devotees of Horus who are called "Horites."

Buz is related to Uz and is grouped with the peoples of Dedan and Tema in Jeremiah 25. This is probably why this Horite confederation is not identified as Uz, Huz and Buz, but rather as Dedan, Tema and Buz. The oldest Arabic script emanated from the Afro-Arabian oases of Tema and Dedan in the Hijaz.

Did Isaac follow the marriage pattern of is ancestors?

It is likely that Isaac also had two wives, following the pattern of the Horite rulers. Rebecca would have been his second wife, taken shortly before he ascended to the throne of his father. Isaac's first wife would have been a half-sister living in the area of Beersheba, where Keturah resided. Isaac's second marriage took place in Beersheba because as the heir to Abraham's territory, Isaac was not permitted to leave his territory. Note the contrast between Isaac’s admonition to Jacob to leave and not marry a local girl (Genesis 28:1-4) and Abraham’s admonition to his servant never to take Isaac from his territory, but instead to fetch a wife for him from his own Horite people in Padan-Aram (Genesis 24:4-8).

Related reading: Why Rachel Didn't Trust Laban; Peleg:  Time of Division; Abraham's Complaint