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Genesis 1-2 & 4G

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  • Joseph Codsi
    ... From: Q Bee To: Sent: Saturday, July 31, 2004 6:51 PM Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Genesis 1-2
    Message 1 of 10 , Aug 1, 2004
      ----- Original Message -----

      From: "Q Bee" <artforms@...>

      To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>

      Sent: Saturday, July 31, 2004 6:51 PM

      Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Genesis 1-2 & 4G


      Dear Elaine,

      I apologize for the inconsistency in the way I refer to the two creation
      stories. If we consider the textual order, 1C is first and 2C second. But if
      we consider the historical order, then 1C becomes second and 2C first. It is
      in the historical order that 2C is "primitive" in relation to 1C.

      So you are right, I should have said: "1C corrects the "primitive" way man
      conceived of himself in 2C."

      You wrote:

      >Also, I think there were other cultures that were egalitarian prior to the
      > formulation of 1C and 2C scenarios. The system that was built upon the
      Iron
      > Age myth of 2C was fairly recent in the earth's history. Even according
      > to 2C, there were other towns nearby in order for Cain to find a wife. 1C
      > appears to be its predecessor both in its placement in Genesis and in the
      > earth's actual timeline of cultural development.


      I do not feel competent to discuss this assessment of extra-biblical
      sociology. But I think there is room for an in-depth discussion of your
      central concern for the regrettable influence 2C has had on the way women
      were perceived and treated in the Judeo-Christian culture.

      WHAT IS IN THE TEXT AND WHAT WE PUT IN IT

      When we read biblical texts such as 1C and 2C, we tend to project our modern
      concerns upon them. This is, in a sense, unavoidable. We cannot make
      abstraction of our own views. As a result, we tend to read the biblical
      texts under the modality of rewriting the creation story. 4G did the same
      thing. This is how the creation story was christianized. Along the same
      line, I would say that Teilhard de Chardin rewrote the creation story in his
      "Phénomène Humain". His central concern was with the question: "How did man
      appear on planet earth?" You are doing something similar, when you revise
      the male chauvinism of 2C by going beyond its Iron-Age culture to more
      egalitarian myths that predate 2C, and of which 1C is a rediscovery of
      sorts.

      I think you are entitled to your theory exactly as Teilhard is entitled to
      his. But we should have enough critical sense for refraining from putting
      our modern views in old texts. We should distinguish here between what is in
      the text and the various ways in which it has been exploited, throughout
      history, by Jewish and Christian thinkers.

      I propose, therefore, to read 2C not as Jews or Christians or feminists, but
      as an ethnologist or anthropologist is likely to read it. All ancient
      cultures have creation myths. We have now the means of reading them
      intelligently. So let's do a "professional" reading of 2C2. Although I am
      far from being an expert in this field, I will suggest a possible way of
      reading it. Hopefully my text will be posted tomorrow.

      So long,
      Joseph
      ===================
      Joseph Codsi
      P.O.Box 116-2088
      Beirut, Lebanon
      Telephone (961) 1 423-145
      joseph5@...
      Yahoo discussion group: Historical Jesus
      Home: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/historical_jesus
      E-mail: historical_jesus@yahoogroups.com
    • Joseph Codsi
      I had a problem with my computer. I was unable to post in a timely fashion the following reading of Genesis 3. Please excuse the delay. THE STORY OF THE FALL
      Message 2 of 10 , Aug 10, 2004
        I had a problem with my computer. I was unable to post in a timely fashion
        the following reading of Genesis 3. Please excuse the delay.

        THE STORY OF THE FALL (Genesis 3)

        In this story, there are two couples: GOD-MAN and SERPENT-WOMAN. The serpent
        is the counterpart of God, and the woman the counterpart of man. Morally
        speaking, the first couple is good and the second couple is bad. But this is
        only one side of the story. The other side goes usually unnoticed. It
        recognizes to the second couple some merits. They do not abide by the law,
        because they dare question it. And the story shows that they were correct,
        at least in one respect. Let me explain this point.

        First of all, the serpent is introduced as follows: “The serpent was more
        crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made” (3:1). This
        means that we are not dealing with an idiot. As we shall see, he is smart
        enough to expose the divine precept as being the expression of pure
        authority, whose allegation is false or at least partially true.
        In his conversation with the woman, he brings her to state the divine
        precept: “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle
        of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die” (3:3 parallel to
        2:17).
        Thereupon the serpent attacks the truth of this statement. “You will not
        die”, he says. The truth is that “when you eat of it your eyes will be
        opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
        This is an initiation scene, in which the initiation genie, the serpent,
        challenges the woman to stop thinking and behaving as a child, and to become
        an adult. The difference between the child and the adult is that the latter
        is mature enough to think independently. He no longer relies on the precept
        to know what is good and evil. He can now use his own judgment and decide
        what is good and evil. This is all the more fundamental that many things are
        forbidden to the child that are perfectly moral for the adult. Sexual
        relations are here a good example. Besides, the moral sense evolves with the
        evolution of cultures and civilizations. There is a time when somebody must
        take the initiative of change. And this takes the form of debunking the
        authority.
        The myth exposes here the dark side of authority, divine and human. Those
        who govern rely on the law to control the people. But their authority should
        not go unchallenged. It is sometimes necessary to desecrate what is
        considered sacred.
        The woman listens to the serpent and forms her own mind. She reconsiders the
        facts. She realizes that the forbidden fruit is good. She no longer
        considers it as bad. She associates it with the gift of wisdom. Her
        initiation is now complete. She transgresses the precept and eats the fruit.
        In a second step, she initiates the man into the world of human and
        spiritual maturity.
        Maturity and freedom are always a risky business. One has to die in order to
        be born again transformed and wiser. The adult must bare the consequences of
        his acts. The choices he has to make are never easy ones. All this is part
        of the human condition as the myth is telling it.
        It is true that the serpent, the woman and the man are punished. But the
        punishment takes the form of entering the real world as we know it, with all
        its contingencies. God acts as a ruler who resents seeing his authority
        challenged and being treated as a liar. In this respect, the serpent is
        proven correct in his assessment of the situation. The forbidden fruit does
        not cause the death of those who eat it, as God had said. On the contrary it
        opens their eyes, so they can become more mature and wiser.
        The couple GOD-MAN represents the law and its arbitrary authority. The
        couple SERPENT-WOMAN represents the spirit of discernment, which is
        associated with wisdom. The human condition as we know it is defined by
        those two components. Nothing is clear and simple. Everything is complex.
        Ambivalence and ambiguity are the elements in which we exist. Life and death
        are the inseparable terms of our existence. If salvation consists in
        breaking the vicious circle of life and death, the biblical myth does not
        see any salvation. The Christian myth, which sees salvation in Jesus Christ,
        is the exact counterpart of 2C2. Its great weakness is that the human
        condition remains unchanged in spite of all its claims. The final
        transformation it promises is as remote and unreal as the mythical life of
        the first couple in paradise. There is no way we can overcome the
        contradictions of our existence other than in our dreams. This is wisdom
        speaking. To be wise is to act within the limitations of our existence.

        If we now turn to the feminist concern, we must recognize that 2C is imbued
        with a patriarchal culture, which subordinates the female to the male. In
        this respect, we must criticize it today. At the same time, however, let us
        be fair and recognize that it maintains the vital complementariness between
        the sexes. The need for the other sex is paramount. This is expressed in the
        rejoicing of man when he first meets the woman. He recognizes that she is
        exactly what he needs. We should keep this in mind when we read what is said
        about the woman: “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule
        over you” (3:16). Things are far from being simple in this old myth. If the
        man is the biological father of the woman, because she is taken out of him,
        she is his spiritual mother, because she initiates him into adulthood.
        One final remark. The text speaks of enmity between the serpent and the
        woman, not between man and the woman. Sometimes I get the impression that
        certain feminists put an enmity between men and women. I find this very
        regrettable.

        Joseph
        ===========
        Joseph Codsi
        joseph5@...
        PO Box 116-2088
        Beirut, Lebanon
      • Q Bee
        ... (snip) Dear Joseph, Your assessment of 2C is in line with many mainstream religions in some respects. It points out: 1. The male is paired with God while
        Message 3 of 10 , Aug 10, 2004
          On 8/10/04 7:37 AM, "Joseph Codsi" <joseph5@...> wrote:

          > I had a problem with my computer. I was unable to post in a timely fashion
          > the following reading of Genesis 3. Please excuse the delay.
          >
          > THE STORY OF THE FALL (Genesis 3)
          >
          > In this story, there are two couples: GOD-MAN and SERPENT-WOMAN.

          (snip)

          Dear Joseph,

          Your assessment of 2C is in line with many mainstream religions in some
          respects.

          It points out:

          1. The male is paired with God while the female is paired with craftiness.
          2. The male considers himself to be a father figure over the female even
          when they are supposedly partners in some respects.
          3. There is some 'truth' in the female, but it is not reliable.

          (snip)

          > The couple GOD-MAN represents the law and its arbitrary authority. The
          > couple SERPENT-WOMAN represents the spirit of discernment, which is
          > associated with wisdom. The human condition as we know it is defined by
          > those two components. Nothing is clear and simple. Everything is complex.
          > Ambivalence and ambiguity are the elements in which we exist. Life and death
          > are the inseparable terms of our existence. If salvation consists in
          > breaking the vicious circle of life and death, the biblical myth does not
          > see any salvation. The Christian myth, which sees salvation in Jesus Christ,
          > is the exact counterpart of 2C2.

          OK.

          > Its great weakness is that the human
          > condition remains unchanged in spite of all its claims. The final
          > transformation it promises is as remote and unreal as the mythical life of
          > the first couple in paradise. There is no way we can overcome the
          > contradictions of our existence other than in our dreams. This is wisdom
          > speaking. To be wise is to act within the limitations of our existence.
          >
          Here's where I find a great problem. It is a rather 'Deist' view of the
          effects, or rather non-effects, of the 'Christian myth'. If one remains in
          a position of reliance upon an end times scenario and instead, sits back and
          entertains Sophistry rather than developing the inner spiritual life of
          mysticism the result would certainly be as you are claiming in your
          statement above. For the person who chooses to intellectualize the
          'Christian myth' the result is that the only evidence of the possibility
          would be occasional reminders of its existence in dreams.

          > If we now turn to the feminist concern, we must recognize that 2C is imbued
          > with a patriarchal culture, which subordinates the female to the male. In
          > this respect, we must criticize it today. At the same time, however, let us
          > be fair and recognize that it maintains the vital complementariness between
          > the sexes. The need for the other sex is paramount. This is expressed in the
          > rejoicing of man when he first meets the woman. He recognizes that she is
          > exactly what he needs.

          Very astute! She's just what he need - she's an object that satisfies his
          ego, not an equal.

          > We should keep this in mind when we read what is said
          > about the woman: ³Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule
          > over you² (3:16). Things are far from being simple in this old myth. If the
          > man is the biological father of the woman, because she is taken out of him,
          > she is his spiritual mother, because she initiates him into adulthood.
          > One final remark. The text speaks of enmity between the serpent and the
          > woman, not between man and the woman. Sometimes I get the impression that
          > certain feminists put an enmity between men and women. I find this very
          > regrettable.
          >
          I think you should read more widely on what feminism actually is. It is
          egalitarian in most of the forms that I have encountered. Quite often men
          are convinced by their lack of information, i.e., that women seek to reverse
          the situation and take power in place of men. What the majority of women
          seek, as far as I can ascertain, is a shared equality. This is in line with
          Jesus' teaching. An egalitarian society is the real goal and aligned to
          true Christianity.

          Women do not need a father after they are grown. Their original father is
          enough to get them through to adulthood just as it is enough for a man.
          And, by the way, the idea of one's partner being a father figure smacks of
          incest. :-)

          Peace,

          Elaine

          > Joseph
          > ===========
          > Joseph Codsi
          > joseph5@...
          > PO Box 116-2088
          > Beirut, Lebanon
          >
          >
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        • Joseph Codsi
          ... From: Q Bee To: Sent: Tuesday, August 10, 2004 8:09 PM Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Genesis 1-2 &
          Message 4 of 10 , Aug 12, 2004
            ----- Original Message -----
            From: Q Bee <artforms@...>
            To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Tuesday, August 10, 2004 8:09 PM
            Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Genesis 1-2 & 4G

            Dear Elaine,
            I will begin with a clarification. Towards the end of your post you wrote
            the following paragraph:

            "I think you should read more widely on what feminism actually is. It is
            egalitarian in most of the forms that I have encountered. Quite often men
            are convinced by their lack of information, i.e., that women seek to reverse
            the situation and take power in place of men. What the majority of women
            seek, as far as I can ascertain, is a shared equality. This is in line with
            Jesus' teaching. An egalitarian society is the real goal and aligned to
            true Christianity."

            You wrote this in relation to my following statement:
            "Sometimes I get the impression that certain feminists put an enmity between
            men and women. I find this very regrettable."

            I am speaking here of the leftist wing of the feminist movement. I have
            carefully worded my statement so as not to include in it all the feminists.
            My daughter Renée is a feminist. My reproach is not addressed to her. It is
            not addressed to you either.
            You speak of "shared equality" as opposed to the enmity I was talking about.
            I like that. I appreciate, on the other hand, your need to bring
            Christianity in line with this goal. I share with you the desire to
            introduce important changes in our world and in the Christian world in
            particular. Your search for greater authenticity is welcome. But I have a
            problem with the way you read ancient texts and myths. I do not think it is
            fair to judge them from our modern point of view. Let me rephrase this. I
            think it is legitimate to do this, but only as a second step. The first step
            must be for the scholar to espouse the views of the ancient world and so to
            speak to become one of its inhabitants. Our modern concern with equality (a
            slogan of the French revolution) was foreign to them. Let me say, if you
            will, that all this was premature at that time. Their main concern was with
            the inequalities among people, not only among men and women.
            Ancient China can be here a very good example. The Chinese conception of the
            family emphasizes the differences between the members of the same family.
            There are first the differences between parents and children. But there are
            also noticeable differences between siblings. Thus the oldest son ranked
            before his younger brother and was considered superior to him. Speaking of
            the parents, their respective roles were seen as different. The ancient
            Chinese would not try to eliminate those differences, which were seen as
            part of the human condition. Their interest was to establish a certain
            harmony within the family, so that each member had his or her distinctive
            place and role in the household. An ancient Chinese would be appalled by our
            modern insistence on equality. In his eyes, this would contribute to the
            creation of an inarticulate society.
            Speaking of the difference between man and woman, the ancient world, from
            Mesopotamia to India and to China, to speak only of the cultures I have some
            knowledge of, ranked man and woman on opposite sides in their list of
            opposites, such as positive and negative. They assigned to the male the
            positive role and to the female the negative role. It is on the basis of
            this classification that I have paired the couples God-Man and
            Serpent-woman. They conceived of the male as active and of the female as
            passive. This is how they perceived the sexual act. The male penetrates the
            female and inseminates her, as the plough penetrates the earth in
            preparation for its insemination. The earth is passive and the plough is
            active. By analogy, the male is active and the female passive.
            I was reading, one day, an art book. One of those richly illustrated books
            that are published nowadays. The picture of an Indian statue caught my
            attention. It was male on one side and female on the other side. In the
            caption, the explanation specified that on the right site was the female
            part and on the left side the male part. This statement struck me as highly
            heretical, for, in ancient cultures, the male was associated with the right
            side considered as positive and the female with the left side, considered as
            negative. A closer look at the picture proved me right. So I called my
            daughter Renée (she was at that time seven or so) and told her to look
            carefully at the picture and to tell me what was peculiar about it. After
            she noticed the presence of boobs on one side and their absence on the other
            side, I asked to tell me if the boobs were on the right or left side of the
            statue. She turned her back to the picture and looked at it over her
            shoulder and said, "the left side". The commentator had failed to look
            carefully at the picture. Besides, if he had any familiarity with Indian
            culture, he would not have made such an absurd statement.
            I think we should try to reconcile our modern need for the creation of an
            egalitarian society with the ancient understanding of the human condition,
            which is based on the recognition of all the differences among us. Those
            differences are based on sex, age, function within the family and society.
            An egalitarian society is OK provided it does not make abstraction of the
            hierarchical structures that are inherent to any well-organized society.
            The notion of equality among people is a philosophical abstraction. It can
            be retained as a legal notion, based on the rejection of any discrimination
            among people for sex, racial, ethnic, religious or cultural reasons. Here,
            it is not enough to change the laws. It is just as important to change our
            prejudices and the way we are conditioned to think.
            Elaine, you speak of "true Christianity". I suppose you are speaking here of
            Christianity as you understand it and as you wish to see it one day. This is
            a perfectly legitimate desire. The Christian world is in permanent change.
            Forces from within and from without make certain changes necessary. But as
            long as the mythical nature of the Easter faith has not been recognized, the
            confusion will remain between dream and reality. Our understanding of
            Christianity will remain naïve. You propose to take refuge in mysticism. In
            this respect you follow the path of the Muslim theologian Al-Gazaly
            (1058-1111). But the path of atheism is not the only other alternative. A
            greater spiritual and human maturity can lead to a critical and deeper
            understanding of the Christian phenomenon, understood as a human phenomenon.
            Peace
            Joseph
            ==========
            Joseph Codsi
            PO Box 116-2088
            Beirut, Lebanon
            Telephone (961) 1-423-145
            Email: joseph5@...





            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Jack Kilmon
            ... From: Joseph Codsi To: Sent: Friday, August 13, 2004 1:13 AM Subject: [John_Lit] Genesis 1-2
            Message 5 of 10 , Aug 13, 2004
              ----- Original Message -----
              From: "Joseph Codsi" <joseph5@...>
              To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
              Sent: Friday, August 13, 2004 1:13 AM
              Subject: [John_Lit] Genesis 1-2 & 4G


              >
              > ----- Original Message -----
              > From: Q Bee <artforms@...>
              > To: <johannine_literature@yahoogroups.com>
              > Sent: Tuesday, August 10, 2004 8:09 PM
              > Subject: Re: [John_Lit] Genesis 1-2 & 4G


              I have not approved the latest lengthy post in this thread since the thread
              is now totally off topic. Let us return to discussions of Johannine
              literature.

              Jack Kilmon
              Moderator
            • Q Bee
              On 8/12/04 11:13 PM, Joseph Codsi wrote: Dear Joseph, If we look at the sequence of events after Jesus began to gather disciples around
              Message 6 of 10 , Aug 13, 2004
                On 8/12/04 11:13 PM, "Joseph Codsi" <joseph5@...> wrote:

                Dear Joseph,

                If we look at the sequence of events after Jesus began to gather disciples
                around him we have a good idea of how he was perceived to have a radical
                ministry by his contemporaries. The disciples who are named in the first
                chapter of John are all men. This is normal course of the written material
                of the time. Men are named and women are nameless. It is likely that there
                were just as many women as men from the very start. Indeed, it is mentioned
                later that there were women who had followed him throughout his mission
                since Galilee.

                In John 2 the first major miracle takes place at a wedding. This first
                miracle is prompted through dialog with his mother and shows that the way
                things had been in the past are no longer in play. He listens to her and
                acts to provide the wine of gladness. Societal norms are being demolished.

                He goes on to cleanse the Temple, preparing the way for establishing that
                the 'Temple is within'. And this is followed by the first great story of
                evangelism which is carried out by a Samaritan woman who has been formerly
                marginalized both by being female and outside of the strict sense of
                Judaism.

                It is obvious right from the start of Jesus' mission that he is leveling the
                playing field. One could easily say that right from the beginning, Jesus is
                a feminist.

                You speak of ancient cultures, mentioning the Chinese, and the emphasis on
                differences within the family. These 'differences' are largely superficial,
                having been assigned rank and status by groups of men who did not allow
                women to participate in the dialog in order to have any say in the structure
                that would be imposed upon them. This is the course of events in warring
                societies where physical strength rules over intelligence. It is the
                primitive beginnings of societies where only men are educated or have a
                voice. We continue to see this in play from all quarters. The current
                missives from Rome, for example, that continue to hammer on the 'role of
                women' are all created by men in isolation who have not dialoged with a
                single woman in formulating the opinions they propound as 'the way it is'.
                These missives inevitably resort to placing women in the context of 'child
                bearers and nurturer', denying any other possibility, while it is so
                obvious that - if women's primary role is child bearing and nurturing then
                men's primary role must also be generative; for one half of humanity cannot
                be assigned a primary role without a reciprocal assignment to the other.
                This stance would then preclude a celibate priesthood.

                In John 8 there is another example of Jesus leveling the playing field. A
                woman is caught in adultery. Where is her partner? The accusers are the
                men of the village. They stand accusing her while her partner is not even
                charged. Jesus says, "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first
                to throw a stone at her." He has corrected the imbalance by directing the
                men's attention to their own culpability. If she stands alone to bear the
                punishment it is not right to judge her.

                In John 11 it is the women, Martha and Mary, who call forth Jesus'
                compassion and tears by their declaration of faith in him as the messiah.

                In John 12 it is a woman who anoints him.

                In John 19 it is women who stand at the foot of the cross while not a single
                man is mentioned except for soldiers.

                In John 20 it is a woman who is first to see the risen Christ and it is a
                woman who is first as bearer of the Good News.

                These examples stand in stark contrast to the men who deny and betray.

                Your post made a point of showing male and female in ancient traditions as
                opposites. One should take a strong, hard look at this language of
                opposites and understand that it is opposed to the 1st Creation Story. 'In
                the divine image he created them, male and female he created them.' so,
                they are not opposites, but reciprocal, necessary parts of a cohesive whole
                with neither being more of less - partners in every respect.

                The business of 'left and right' in the Indian imagery you offered is also
                an Eastern understanding of lesser and more in the mindset of a culture with
                one side representing light and the other darkness. The notion in the
                middle east of a punishment for theft is a good example: The right hand of
                the thief is cut off so that he cannot receive food and will starve since
                the left hand is used for toilet purposes and cannot receive food. Even
                today, we have the expression 'right hand man'. What would be the impact of
                calling someone the 'left hand man'? It would be a grave insult.

                John Noble's post today has made a good case for 'mysticism' wherein he
                speaks of the term 'we saw his glory'. Perhaps your culture or studies have
                assigned a negative connotation to the term 'mysticism' by placing it in the
                context of something other than what it actually is. For you, it may have
                some connotation of Zoroastrianism or some occult practices. It is hard to
                tell. But, mysticism is the path which every believer must take in order to
                return to the Source. It is a relationship with the Beloved, not strictly
                intellectual knowledge of the precepts of faith, but living in it so that
                all that the believer does is done relationally to the Divine. This did not
                originate in the 12th century or in any particular sect, but is within all
                religions from ancient times to the present. A true faith is not
                compartmentalized as one of the things humanity does. A true faith
                permeates every aspect of that life. It is evidenced in Moses' direct
                conversation with God, in the dreams of the prophets, in the lives of the
                great saints of all major religions. Certainly John of the Cross and many
                other examples can be cited.

                Peace,

                Elaine
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