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Misogyny in L.114?

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  • Michael Grondin
    Bibliobloggers Tony Burke and Rob Bowman have had an interesting exchange lately on Th.114. It started with Burke s article in SBL forum titled Heresy Hunting
    Message 1 of 9 , Nov 17, 2010
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      Bibliobloggers Tony Burke and Rob Bowman have had an interesting
      exchange lately on Th.114. It started with Burke's article in SBL forum
      titled "Heresy Hunting in the New Millenium", which apparently appeared
      in Aug, 2008, but to which Bowman began responding only lately. Burke's
      article covered more than GTh, but the relevant point here is that he
      quoted Ben Witherington as writing that L.114 was "misogynist".
       
      (Burke's article and Bowman's relevant response are linked from here:
       
      From what I gather, Burke's objection to labeling L114 'misogynistic' is
      that the label is overly-simplistic and anachronistic. (My own objection
      would be that it's a misuse of language.) Burke's initial target was conservative
      apologists like Witherington, but Bowman shows that liberal scholars like
      Pagels, Meyer, Patterson, and Marjanen also view L114 as non-egalitarian.
      With respect to the label 'misogynistic', however, only Meyer uses it. Bowman
      seems to be implying a dichotomy between 'egalitarian' and 'misogynistic',
      so that, if a scholar finds L114 to be non-egalitarian, they must be inferring
      that L114 is misogynistic. Such a dichotomy has no basis in linguistic
      usage. 'Misogyny' is defined as a hatred of women - or perhaps dislike, to
      weaken it a bit. To regard women as second-class members of a group,
      as L114 apparently does, is not to hate/dislike them per se. So I would
      fault Bowman for blurring the line between non-egalitarianism and outright
      misogyny. Unfortunately, Meyer (in one of his writings) also uses the term,
      but he seems to have a theory about women being associated with the
      lower realms. Whether or not that excuses his use of the term is open to
      question, but in my view the label 'misogynist' ought not to be thrown
      around so loosely as it apparently has been in some quarters.
       
      There is another question about L114 that I found to be of interest, viz.
      which Mary (or better, Mariam) is in view there? Myself, I think that it
      must be the Magdalene, since the question at issue in L114 is whether
      that Mariam should be included in the Boys Club of the disciples. But
      the name 'Mariam' also occurs in L21, asking Jesus who his disciples
      are like. I've always considered the Mariam of L21 to be J's mother, on
      the grounds that her question seems to distance her from J's disciples
      in a way that the Magdalene presumably would not have been presented.
      But others seem to think that the two references to a Mariam must be to
      the same person. Any thoughts on this matter?
       
      Mike Grondin
      Mt. Clemens, MI
    • William Arnal
      Hi Mike: Neat set of observation. Speaking personally (and only personally) . . . 1) I do think misogyny is coming more and more to mean, in actual usage,
      Message 2 of 9 , Nov 17, 2010
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        Hi Mike:

        Neat set of observation. Speaking personally (and only personally) . . .

        1) I do think "misogyny" is coming more and more to mean, in actual usage, "anti-female," and so an egregiously negative portrayal of women can be described thus. But . . .

        2) I think for the term to retain its "punch," it's more helpful to reserve it for characterizations of what is essentially a pyschopathology, rather than simple unthinking (and socially mediated) sexism. In the case of any ancient texts, though, that means that accusations of misogyny will always be speculative. I can say, for a fact, that the author of the Pastorals is sexist; I happen to think that his sexism is misogynistic, but I could never demonstrate that as a fact.

        3) I have always felt that -- especially in the context of ancient assumptions about gender -- the essential point of saying #114 is not really anti-female at all, and CERTAINLY not misogynistic. This strikes me as a misreading of the text in its cultural context. The point of the saying is that women CAN attain salvation, and that they CAN attain maleness, in spite of the "defect" of the accident of their birth. The basic sexist assumption is left in place (as it is, in, say, Gal 3:28), but Jesus is held out as a mechanism for transcending sex/gender. So also in #22. The two sayings seem to me to fit together quite well, in spite of minor differences of argument.

        4) Re. Mary (and again, this is just off the cuff), it seems to me that Mary is also distinguished from "the disciples" in 114, so I see no reason to avoid identifying her with the Mary of saying #21. HOWEVER, I also note that the figures in Thomas who are generally presented as positive (Mary, Salome, Judas Thomas, James) all have claims to being members of Jesus' biological family. If this is so, it would militate toward the Mary here being either Jesus' mother, or one of his sisters.

        cheers,
        Bill
        ______________________
        William Arnal
        University of Regina




        To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
        From: mwgrondin@...
        Date: Wed, 17 Nov 2010 14:25:59 -0500
        Subject: [GTh] Misogyny in L.114?

         

        Bibliobloggers Tony Burke and Rob Bowman have had an interesting
        exchange lately on Th.114. It started with Burke's article in SBL forum
        titled "Heresy Hunting in the New Millenium", which apparently appeared
        in Aug, 2008, but to which Bowman began responding only lately. Burke's
        article covered more than GTh, but the relevant point here is that he
        quoted Ben Witherington as writing that L.114 was "misogynist".
         
        (Burke's article and Bowman's relevant response are linked from here:
         
        From what I gather, Burke's objection to labeling L114 'misogynistic' is
        that the label is overly-simplistic and anachronistic. (My own objection
        would be that it's a misuse of language.) Burke's initial target was conservative
        apologists like Witherington, but Bowman shows that liberal scholars like
        Pagels, Meyer, Patterson, and Marjanen also view L114 as non-egalitarian.
        With respect to the label 'misogynistic', however, only Meyer uses it. Bowman
        seems to be implying a dichotomy between 'egalitarian' and 'misogynistic',
        so that, if a scholar finds L114 to be non-egalitarian, they must be inferring
        that L114 is misogynistic. Such a dichotomy has no basis in linguistic
        usage. 'Misogyny' is defined as a hatred of women - or perhaps dislike, to
        weaken it a bit. To regard women as second-class members of a group,
        as L114 apparently does, is not to hate/dislike them per se. So I would
        fault Bowman for blurring the line between non-egalitarianism and outright
        misogyny. Unfortunately, Meyer (in one of his writings) also uses the term,
        but he seems to have a theory about women being associated with the
        lower realms. Whether or not that excuses his use of the term is open to
        question, but in my view the label 'misogynist' ought not to be thrown
        around so loosely as it apparently has been in some quarters.
         
        There is another question about L114 that I found to be of interest, viz.
        which Mary (or better, Mariam) is in view there? Myself, I think that it
        must be the Magdalene, since the question at issue in L114 is whether
        that Mariam should be included in the Boys Club of the disciples. But
        the name 'Mariam' also occurs in L21, asking Jesus who his disciples
        are like. I've always considered the Mariam of L21 to be J's mother, on
        the grounds that her question seems to distance her from J's disciples
        in a way that the Magdalene presumably would not have been presented.
        But others seem to think that the two references to a Mariam must be to
        the same person. Any thoughts on this matter?
         
        Mike Grondin
        Mt. Clemens, MI

      • Bob Schacht
        At 12:25 PM 11/17/2010, Michael Grondin wrote: [snip] ... I ve got a slightly different take on this. Is it misogyny if the entire culture is misogynistic ?
        Message 3 of 9 , Nov 17, 2010
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          At 12:25 PM 11/17/2010, Michael Grondin wrote:

          [snip]

          ...From what I gather, Burke's objection to labeling L114 'misogynistic' is
          that the label is overly-simplistic and anachronistic. (My own objection
          would be that it's a misuse of language.) Burke's initial target was conservative
          apologists like Witherington, but Bowman shows that liberal scholars like
          Pagels, Meyer, Patterson, and Marjanen also view L114 as non-egalitarian.
          With respect to the label 'misogynistic', however, only Meyer uses it. Bowman
          seems to be implying a dichotomy between 'egalitarian' and 'misogynistic',
          so that, if a scholar finds L114 to be non-egalitarian, they must be inferring
          that L114 is misogynistic. Such a dichotomy has no basis in linguistic
          usage. 'Misogyny' is defined as a hatred of women - or perhaps dislike, to
          weaken it a bit. To regard women as second-class members of a group,
          as L114 apparently does, is not to hate/dislike them per se. So I would
          fault Bowman for blurring the line between non-egalitarianism and outright
          misogyny. Unfortunately, Meyer (in one of his writings) also uses the term,
          but he seems to have a theory about women being associated with the
          lower realms. Whether or not that excuses his use of the term is open to
          question, but in my view the label 'misogynist' ought not to be thrown
          around so loosely as it apparently has been in some quarters....

          I've got a slightly different take on this. Is it misogyny if the entire culture is "misogynistic"? If the entire culture considers women to be second-class citizens, then what is the point of calling a certain statement of someone from that culture misogynistic?  Isn't this a form of ethnocentrism?

          Misogyny implies an abnormality-- an unusual dislike or hatred of women-- does it not? But if the cultural norm is that women are second-class citizens, then it seems out of place to use the term. As you wrote, "To regard women as second-class members of a group, as L114 apparently does, is not to hate/dislike them per se."

          We need a term like "anacronistic" that applies to cultural differences, and "ethnocentric" is close. Misogyny, when applied to patriarchal societies, is ethnocentric. It is not an objective term, but a value judgment.

          BTW, I am not defending the fairness of L. 114; in my system of values, women are not second-class citizens. But in the case of L. 114, the writer is probably expressing a normative thought for his/her time and place.

          Bob Schacht
          Northern Arizona University
        • William Arnal
          ... does it not? But if the cultural norm is that women are second-class citizens, then it seems out of place to use the term. As you wrote, To regard women
          Message 4 of 9 , Nov 17, 2010
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            Bob Schacht writes:

            >Misogyny implies an abnormality-- an unusual dislike or hatred of women--
            does it not? But if the cultural norm is that women are second-class citizens, then it seems out of place to use the term. >As you wrote, "To regard women as second-class members of a group, as L114 apparently does, is not to hate/dislike them per se."

            JUST what I was trying to say, but more clearly put. Thanks, Bob!

            cheers,
            Bill
            ______________________
            William Arnal
            University of Regina

          • Michael Grondin
            ... Hmm. I have to say that this seems rather flimsy to me. I m used to Jack Kilmon theorizing that all sorts of NT characters had family ties to Jesus, but et
            Message 5 of 9 , Nov 17, 2010
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              > ... I ... note that the figures in Thomas who are generally presented as
              > positive (Mary, Salome, Judas Thomas, James) all have claims to being
              > members of Jesus' biological family. If this is so, it would militate
              > toward
              > the Mary here [L114] being either Jesus' mother, or one of his sisters.

              Hmm. I have to say that this seems rather flimsy to me. I'm used to Jack
              Kilmon theorizing that all sorts of NT characters had family ties to Jesus,
              but et tu, Bill? (:-) Anyway, in order to buck the consensus for MM in 114,
              I think that the suggested pattern needs to be pretty strong, and I just
              don't
              see that it is. Aside from Mary (who can't be considered because she's the
              one in question), there's only three in the list, and two of them (Salome
              and
              Thomas) are questionable at best, as I think you'll agree.

              Best,
              Mike
            • William Arnal
              Hey Mike: Just tossing it out there as a possibility that would have an effect who we understand Mary to be. I agree that the speculation is especially thin
              Message 6 of 9 , Nov 18, 2010
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                Hey Mike:

                Just tossing it out there as a possibility that would have an effect who we understand Mary to be. I agree that the speculation is especially thin re. Salome. In the case of Thomas, I think it's stronger -- all this talk about "Judas the twin" suggests a family relationship to me, and there does seem to be church tradition to this effect (canonical Jude; non-canonical Acts of Thomas). But this is not a position I'd want to go to the wall for, and besides, I'm off to Altanta in a few minutes.

                cheers,
                Bill
                ______________________
                William Arnal
                University of Regina




                To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
                From: mwgrondin@...
                Date: Thu, 18 Nov 2010 02:13:33 -0500
                Subject: Re: [GTh] Misogyny in L.114?

                 
                > ... I ... note that the figures in Thomas who are generally presented as
                > positive (Mary, Salome, Judas Thomas, James) all have claims to being
                > members of Jesus' biological family. If this is so, it would militate
                > toward
                > the Mary here [L114] being either Jesus' mother, or one of his sisters.

                Hmm. I have to say that this seems rather flimsy to me. I'm used to Jack
                Kilmon theorizing that all sorts of NT characters had family ties to Jesus,
                but et tu, Bill? (:-) Anyway, in order to buck the consensus for MM in 114,
                I think that the suggested pattern needs to be pretty strong, and I just
                don't
                see that it is. Aside from Mary (who can't be considered because she's the
                one in question), there's only three in the list, and two of them (Salome
                and
                Thomas) are questionable at best, as I think you'll agree.

                Best,
                Mike


              • sarban
                ... From: Michael Grondin To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com Sent: Wednesday, November 17, 2010 7:25 PM Subject: [GTh] Misogyny in L.114? From what I gather, Burke s
                Message 7 of 9 , Nov 18, 2010
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                  ----- Original Message -----
                  Sent: Wednesday, November 17, 2010 7:25 PM
                  Subject: [GTh] Misogyny in L.114?

                   

                  From what I gather, Burke's objection to labeling L114 'misogynistic' is
                  that the label is overly-simplistic and anachronistic. (My own objection
                  would be that it's a misuse of language.) Burke's initial target was conservative
                  apologists like Witherington, but Bowman shows that liberal scholars like
                  Pagels, Meyer, Patterson, and Marjanen also view L114 as non-egalitarian.
                  With respect to the label 'misogynistic', however, only Meyer uses it. Bowman
                  seems to be implying a dichotomy between 'egalitarian' and 'misogynistic',
                  so that, if a scholar finds L114 to be non-egalitarian, they must be inferring
                  that L114 is misogynistic. Such a dichotomy has no basis in linguistic
                  usage. 'Misogyny' is defined as a hatred of women - or perhaps dislike, to
                  weaken it a bit. To regard women as second-class members of a group,
                  as L114 apparently does, is not to hate/dislike them per se. So I would
                  fault Bowman for blurring the line between non-egalitarianism and outright
                  misogyny. Unfortunately, Meyer (in one of his writings) also uses the term,
                  but he seems to have a theory about women being associated with the
                  lower realms. Whether or not that excuses his use of the term is open to
                  question, but in my view the label 'misogynist' ought not to be thrown
                  around so loosely as it apparently has been in some quarters.
                   
                  I agree that the term misogynist carries problematic modern baggage 
                  However I think we need a term for overt hostility towards the femimine
                  (a hostility that certainly need not involve any hostility towards individual women)
                  and I think misogynist may be the best term available.
                  Passages like Zostrianos "Flee the madness and the bondage of feminity and and choose
                  for yourselves the salvation of masculinity" seem clearly misogynist in this sense.
                  L.114 is not as strong as Zostrianos but probably reflects the same ideas.
                   
                   
                  There is another question about L114 that I found to be of interest, viz.
                  which Mary (or better, Mariam) is in view there? Myself, I think that it
                  must be the Magdalene, since the question at issue in L114 is whether
                  that Mariam should be included in the Boys Club of the disciples. But
                  the name 'Mariam' also occurs in L21, asking Jesus who his disciples
                  are like. I've always considered the Mariam of L21 to be J's mother, on
                  the grounds that her question seems to distance her from J's disciples
                  in a way that the Magdalene presumably would not have been presented.
                  But others seem to think that the two references to a Mariam must be to
                  the same person. Any thoughts on this matter?
                   
                  Mike Grondin
                  Mt. Clemens, MI

                • sarban
                  ... From: sarban To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com Sent: Thursday, November 18, 2010 8:54 PM Subject: Re: [GTh] Misogyny in L.114? There is another question about
                  Message 8 of 9 , Nov 18, 2010
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                    ----- Original Message -----
                    From: sarban
                    Sent: Thursday, November 18, 2010 8:54 PM
                    Subject: Re: [GTh] Misogyny in L.114?

                     

                     
                     
                     
                    There is another question about L114 that I found to be of interest, viz.
                    which Mary (or better, Mariam) is in view there? Myself, I think that it
                    must be the Magdalene, since the question at issue in L114 is whether
                    that Mariam should be included in the Boys Club of the disciples. But
                    the name 'Mariam' also occurs in L21, asking Jesus who his disciples
                    are like. I've always considered the Mariam of L21 to be J's mother, on
                    the grounds that her question seems to distance her from J's disciples
                    in a way that the Magdalene presumably would not have been presented.
                    But others seem to think that the two references to a Mariam must be to
                    the same person. Any thoughts on this matter?
                     
                    Mike Grondin
                    Mt. Clemens, MI

                    (This part of my original reply somehow vanished sorry)
                    There has been a lot of relatively recent debate over whether the Mariam
                    in various Gnostic texts is the Magdalene or the Mother of Jesus
                    "Which Mary ?" edited by Stanley Jones is a good collection of essays with
                    an important paper by Shoemaker (who proposes that the Mother of Jesus is
                    meant) and various replies. 
                     
                     
                    Andrew Criddle
                  • Michael Grondin
                    ... One might add Woe to you all who love intimacy with womankind and polluted intercourse with them! from Thomas the Contender (NHL, p.206). No wonder this
                    Message 9 of 9 , Nov 18, 2010
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                      [Andrew Criddle]:
                      > I agree that the
                      term misogynist carries problematic modern baggage
                      > However I think
                      we need a term for overt hostility towards the femimine 
                      > (a
                      hostility that certainly need not involve any hostility towards individual
                      > women) and I think misogynist may be the best term available. Passages
                      > like Zostrianos "Flee the madness and the bondage of feminity and and choose
                      > for yourselves the
                      salvation of masculinity" seem clearly misogynist in this sense.
                      > L.114 is not as strong as Zostrianos but probably reflects the
                      same ideas.

                      One might add "Woe to you all who love intimacy with womankind and
                      polluted intercourse with them!" from Thomas the Contender (NHL, p.206).
                      No wonder this brand of Gnosticism died out, and good riddance to it!
                      (This comment from one who welcomes the suffering of such woes!)
                      But what I see in GTh is a much more moderate view on this and several
                      other matters. The only hostility in L.114 comes from Peter, and his view
                      is refuted. Elsewhere, there is hostility expressed towards one's natural
                      parents, but that's both genders. There's even a hint of a heavenly mother,
                      in addition to a heavenly father. The two women in the text, Salome and
                      Mariam, are treated with respect by the Jesus-character, not hostility. Not
                      to mention the talk in L22 of making the male and female one and the same.
                      All of this seems to me to markedly conflict with the material you and
                      I have quoted from external texts. Perhaps those later texts were an out-
                      growth of the earlier, more moderate GTh?
                       
                      Mike Grondin
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