God....He or She

Jane-Q

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God . . . He? or She?

The priests of the Jerusalem Temple, during the century of Hezekiah, introduce into the world a remarkably unique and pure form of spirituality. A sense of holiness unique in the ancient Eastern Mediterranean. God is the only god. God is invisible. And God has no humanlike characteristics.

4. Why, then, were the biblical prophets so pissed off at God's priests?

This sums up how Israel Knohl explains it:

The Temple sits at a central place at the center of the community. (For Solomon's kingdom this Temple sits upon the hilltop at the heart of the capital city, Jerusalem.) This is God's house. And like with polytheistic deities, this patron deity lives at the very center (the inner sanctum) of the Temple. And frequently, early in the monarchic era, a sculpted calf adorns the Tabernacle entrance. The calf signifies prosperity and sacrifice, but also indicates that sacred ground lies beyond. Just as such calves had traditionally adorned the Canaanite temples to the high god El, in this land. Like the sculpted calf, the priests view themselves as intermediaries between the people and God. Intercessors. No one, not even someone as lofty as King David, is pure enough to enter the innermost sanctum.

What offends the prophets during Hezekiah's time about this Tabernacle-model is not just the hollowness of burnt-offering sacrifices. It has to do more with the role of priests (or role of sculpted calves, for that matter) as intercessors with the divine. And the prophets point to the stories of Moses in the wilderness to back-up their protest . . .

Moses builds his Tent of Meeting not at the center of the Israelite encampment, but outside the encampment. At a distance. God does not live in this Tent, but "He" - from time to time, as needed - beams-down into the Tent of Meeting in a fiery shaft of light. Down, from out of the stormclouds overhanging the mountain up above. "He" would meet with any Israelite (whether Levite high priest or lowly herder) who has issues he or she wishes to discuss with God. No intermediaries. A person could, like Moses (if he or she summons the courage), meet God face-to-face - "voice to voice" (Numbers 12:6-8).

The prophets do not believe in an immanent god, living inside a temple. They do not accept that God is invisible and is unapproachable except through priestly intercessors working on this or that person's behalf. They look to Moses and the Tent of Meeting. The prophets believe, instead, in a transcendent God. Living in the heavens. Who would meet with anyone, anywhere, at anytime. Wherever God stands would become (for a moment) sacred ground, a Tent of Meeting. To the prophets, God will also reward good behavior and punish bad. However, God is also merciful in doing so (like a loving father).

But the prophets' vision of God is very anthropomorphic. To meet God, one has to see God. To picture God before oneself (usually as this merciful father-figure).
But to the Aaronite priesthood of the Jerusalem Temple, this not only goes against their long-developed sense of piety, but this also is appalling to their sense of ritual purity. 180-degrees counter to their sense of what is "holy." One must love God, entirely lacking any desire or expectation of reward. Serving God is reward enough.
(The one true invisible God materializing, willy-nilly, amongst the filth of the mundane world? Making personal appearances among the noisy, pleading Israelite commonfolk? . . . Inconceivable!)
This smacks of blasphemy, of a return to polytheism. Of profaning God.

The prophets do not want a "spiritual" god, aloof and closeted away from all Israelites (with the high priests the sole exception). The prophets want a God who is approachable and moral.
God, who interacts with all the people of Israel.
An all-powerful fatherlike figure who will listen to all their mundane concerns ("we need rain or the crops will fail"), as had the old Canaanite gods before.
But a God who will also forgive their oversights, their impurities, their "humanness."

A gentle Father who will listen, be patient, and ultimately reward them.

During or (more likely) after Hezekiah, the Holiness School within the priesthood tries to nudge the Temple more in the direction of the common people. Later, down in Roman times so did the Pharisees, letting the masses into the Temple at festival time, or bringing the menorah outside where it could be seen and experienced by all. The Israelite people loved their festivals. And the Pharisees talk about reward at the end of days, when the righteous dead shall rise again. God, to the Pharisees, is a just judge and a forgiving father.
But the Sadducees are old school. And see this all as blasphemy. The profaning of a deep spiritual truth: to serve God and God alone. Nothing else in life matters. No messiahs, no last judgment, no afterlife. No payoff for devotion.
The wish of the Pharisees - to also serve humankind - is sacrilege by Sadducee accounting. To love public festivals, or even to enjoy life, is sacrilege. To picture God in human terms (as a gentle father, or in any anatomically human form) is sacrilege.

Christianity emerges trying to juggle the whole panoply of beliefs which existed within First Century Jewish Monotheism (and would spend centuries sorting these out).
Jesus is a moral teacher. Paul is a spiritual thinker, but promoting spirituality of a new kind unlike that of Aaronite priests or Sadducees.
(God may or may not be abstract and invisible, but He is definitely transcendent. Yet God's spirit also exists - by grace - within each and every individual believer.)
Paul makes spirituality work within a "profane" world.

Judaism emerges, a bit later, as a stripped-down legalistic version of Phariseeism.
(God wrote the rulebook. But we rabbis down here on earth decide what is morally right and wrong - by majority rule. God is in heaven and He no longer has a say. He's done his job: the Torah.)
And it is the act of studying Torah which eventually gets spiritualized.

Either way God is no longer immanent in a stone Temple.
Religion stemming from Jewish Monotheism is reaching back to something more like Moses' Tent of Meeting for its conception of "God," but a conception which is modernized:
After the First Century, the God of Jewish Monotheism exists (is immanent) in the heart of every Christian believer. Or exists (is immanent) within Judaism's sacred law-book.

The prophets of Hezekiah's time have won.

God . . . He? or She?
In Christianity and Judaism? . . .
He.
But a "He" growing increasingly abstract and invisible - into and through the Middle Ages.

 

LincolnSpector

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God is not reffered to as male in Islam

the 'He' of Islam in reference to God is a gramatical gender word and not one of natural gender

Peace

and the answer to wether God is a he or a she is simple; these two terms only refer to the creation, thus God is neither

I just jumped into this discussion, years after you posted this. But I have to say...amen.
 
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I feel like if God created the very concepts of "male" and "female" then he must be beyond and above said concepts.

Seems incomprehensible to us, as our little human minds love to make sense of everything... but doesn't it make sense that God DOESN'T make sense?
 
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I just jumped into this discussion, years after you posted this. But I have to say...amen.

Haha, seconded. But also I see God being refereed to as "We" a lot in the Quran. (Though I'm not sure how it relates to the original Arabic). I like "We" because it doesn't specify male or female and doesn't create an instant mental picture (at least in my mind). I mean, how does one imagine "We" as being One entity. Like God, it is incomprehensible...
 

Tadashi

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I refer God as ‘He’ most of the time... I think it’s because that’s what Jesus did too. But I don’t necessarily conjure the image of God having a male personality only per se...

Every time I see the sun, the word ‘God’ comes to my mind. Probably due to my culture (Japanese) embracing the sun as the symbol of a deity... Every morning when I open my curtains and see the sun, I can’t help but greeting “Good morning, God”... and when I step outside and feel the brightness and warmth of the sun, “I love you too, God”...

An interesting thing is, when I talk to the sun, I don’t know why, but I tend to imagine a beautiful smile of a woman... maybe because of the term ‘Mother Nature’...?

So, to me, God is both male and female and God is neither, all at the same time...


And Welcome to the forum, thenewnewworldorder!


Tad
 

Jane-Q

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Thomas
I rather admire the avatar you are currently using:




{For those of you who don't "see" it, it is an invisible rectangle without a hard-edge border containing it.}
I find this avatar both shrewd and modest, a quiet but sophisticated statement about your personal spirituality. The kind of intelligent but non-strident statement which might well have appealed to medieval Scholastic theologians.
The Divine as invisible and non-specific.

In my 3rd and 4th answers (above) to the question
God . . . He? or She?
I lay out what I believe are the two trends which made Jewish Monotheism a novel development in human history:
3. That God is abstract and invisible, i.e. non-anthropomorphic. (The God of the Jerusalem Temple priests.)
4. That God is transcendent, i.e. not bound to one place or one people. (The God of the biblical prophets.)

I am arguing that the God of both Jesus and Hillel was the God of the prophets.
(The negative side of which is a return to an anthropomorphic conception of the Divine, a father figure, a source of comfort and sagely wisdom.)
My parting remark in the 4th essay:
God . . . He? or She?
In Christianity and Judaism? . . .
He.
But a "He" growing increasingly abstract and invisible - into and through the Middle Ages.
Here, I am looking into the future of Monotheism . . . when the abstract and invisible (i.e. non-anthropomorphic) God of the Jerusalem Temple priests begins to be rediscovered (at least in elite Scholastic circles).

Which is why I am so confused by your statement:
Nonsense.
You mean, you don't see it, so no-one else does, either.
You know the Middle Ages better than I do, Thomas.
Are you saying that Scholastics continued to see God in "transcendent" but also in "anthropomorphic" (i.e. visible) terms - like the prophets? . . . But this only?

It seems to me that the glory of the Christian (and Judaic and Islamic) Middle Ages was that God came to be conceived not only as "transcendent" (i.e. not fixed to one place) but conceived also as "abstract and invisible" (i.e. non-anthropomorphic).
That (a bit like your invisible avatar) . . . the Scholastics merged the two conceptions into a single concept.

But if you are saying otherwise - i.e. that the Scholastics needed their "visible" image of a fatherly God just as much as medieval common people did - I will bow to your superior knowledge on the subject.
But frankly, this doesn't make sense to me.

Jane.

 

Thomas

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Hi Jane-Q

I rather admire the avatar you are currently using
You do me too much credit.

And it's generous of you, since I think I was somewhat 'robust' in my response to your previous posts.

I am arguing that the God of both Jesus and Hillel was the God of the prophets.
But Jesus speaks of God as Father, and in the most anthropomorphic terms. As you have pointed out, 'Abba' is more akin to 'Dad' than 'Father'.

But a "He" growing increasingly abstract and invisible - into and through the Middle Ages ... when the abstract and invisible (i.e. non-anthropomorphic) God of the Jerusalem Temple priests begins to be rediscovered (at least in elite Scholastic circles).
Well you're covering a lot of ground, so let me give you an overview as I see it:

The God of Israel was always transcendent, always invisible, but I don't think He was ever 'abstract' in the sense of the term as we see it, but you'd have to ask a Rabbi that one.

But it seems to me that He spoke on the tongue of the prophets in the most anthropomorphic ways, and they referred to Him in anthropomorphic terms.

As my old course tutor once said, "Christianity is the Salvation History of the Jews through the lens of the Greek Philosophical Tradition". Or, as the notable Orthodox scholar the Very Rev. John Meyendorff (1926-1992) said, 'when the Fathers think, they Platonise'.

From the very earliest, the Fathers spoke of God making full use of the Greek philosophical lexicon, stretching some of the terms to their limit and beyond. Logos is an obvious example.

Another is the idea that they saw the God the Father as arche anarchos (Principle without Principle) and God the Son as arche (Logos or Principle). Or Anaximander's arche and apeiron (The Principle and The Boundless).

There is a general rule in the Church that although the Fathers are fallible, when they are unanimous on a point, one can safely take that teaching to the bank, as it were. But I think it's right that there is only one Father (St John Damascene) who has never been found in error on any point, and being the author of An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, that's no small achievement!

I cite St John the Theologian because a quick look at his chapter heading tells us much: "That the Deity is incomprehensible, and that we ought not to pry into and meddle with tire things which have not been delivered to us by the holy Prophets, and Apostles, and Evangelists" and "Concerning things utterable and things unutterable, and things knowable and thinks unknowable."

I would say, as a rough guide, the Scholastic Era can be pegged as beginning around the start of the first millennium, although East and West had begun to separate long before then.

Within 'our' circles, there is a tension between East and West. The Greeks (by which I mean all Orthodoxies) suggest the Latins are too focussed on the physical person of Christ, the man who is the Son of God, whereas the Latins suggest the Greeks tend to drift off into almost tritheist abstractions ...

But the disputes about the Eucharist that occurred in the West circa 1000AD led to the 'sacrifice of the Mass' being described in most physical terms, indeed aspects of the Mass sound like an excerpt from the Saw franchise! (Not that I've ever seen one.)

The Eucharist was spoken of in the most visceral terms, and one might imaging altars running with blood as His flesh is torn apart ... some theologians really got quite carried away!

But, speaking for the Latins, the Scholars saw God in anthropomorphic terms because they had the Incarnate Son in mind, but that's not to say they did not see or know of God as Transcendent.

Are you saying that Scholastics continued to see God in "transcendent" but also in "anthropomorphic" (i.e. visible) terms - like the prophets? . . . But this only?
No, because the prophets never saw Christ.

But more importantly, I'm suggesting the idea of God as transcendent, infinite, beyond-being, etc., was never lost in the transition from Hebrew to Hellenic thinking, if anything, God's utter transcendence was expressed more forcefully than ever Judaism had done.

And remember that those 'philosophical Jews' like Philo of Alexandria, were forged by the intermingling of Hebrew and Hellenic thought. I fact the 'Wisdom Books' of the Bible, those considered non-canonical by the Jews (because they were written in Greek and not Hebrew) show how Greek ideas were beginning to seep into Hebrew streams of thought two centuries before Christ.

And again, the assumption that St John's use of the word 'logos' in the prologue of his gospel showed a Hellenic or gnostic influence has now been debunked by modern scholarship which has revealed Hebraic mystical speculation was far more nuanced than the assumed pharisee/sadducee/essene categories that scholars had been happy with for so long.

It seems to me that the glory of the Christian (and Judaic and Islamic) Middle Ages was that God came to be conceived not only as "transcendent" (i.e. not fixed to one place) but conceived also as "abstract and invisible" (i.e. non-anthropomorphic) ... the Scholastics merged the two conceptions into a single concept.
I'm not saying no, but rather that the holistic concept of God as infinitely transcendent and utterly immanent was received by the Scholars from the Fathers before them.

But if you are saying otherwise - i.e. that the Scholastics needed their "visible" image of a fatherly God just as much as medieval common people did - I will bow to your superior knowledge on the subject. But frankly, this doesn't make sense to me.
Two things then.

As said above, the Greeks have always accused the Latins of being too focussed on the 'visible', too personalist and too subjective, they're not at all happy with Augustine for that very reason, and some of our saints, like St John or the Cross or St Theresa, they accuse of superstitious and over-emotional sensationalism.

And the Latins accuse them of being too focussed on the invisible and the speculative, with a tendency to drift off into 'up-the-wazoo' abstractions and fantasias, like the hesychast's pursuit of the Light of Mount Tabor ...

Lastly ... in defence of 'common people'.

Not aimed at you, but generally, there is a tendency among sophisticates to look down their noses at the simple, assuming simple faith to be shallow.

My dad once said he felt closer to God working in the garden than he did when at Mass. I can understand that, he was growing things, he was back to his roots (rural Irish), and he was working with nature.

But my dad never assumed, as some do, that working the land is more Godlike, or closer to God, than the Liturgy. That's just sentimentalism. He'd miss a day in the garden, but he'd never miss Mass.

What he meant was, the Mystery of the Liturgy is so profound it goes beyond his comprehension. But you don't have to understand something for it to be efficacious.

Most people dismiss the Mystery of the Liturgy because they think it's mere sentimentalism, or magic, or this or that ... but then what do most people really understand about electricity? About how it gets to the light switch, or about how a microwave cooker works? Investigate that, and you'll find 'blind faith', 'superstition', 'sentimentalism' and 'magic' in abundance.
 

Jane-Q

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Thanks, Thomas.
Makes sense, and pretty much aligns with what I've picked up over the years.

Particularly like the ongoing duel you describe between Greek Christianity and Latin Christianity, during the First Millennium.
I'd like to toss the two other major languages of Christianity into the mix: Syriac Christianity and Germanic Christianity and see what this then says about Christian theology as a whole, or at least about its 1,984-year evolution.
But I will leave that inquiry for a future thread.

The God of Israel was always transcendent, always invisible, but I don't think He was ever 'abstract' in the sense of the term as we see it, but you'd have to ask a Rabbi that one.
--Thomas.​

Here, however, I do strongly disagree.
(Emphasis being on "always.")
The Greek and Latin churches evolve theologically, often aided by disputation within and between each sect. But so too, during the 1200 or so years, BCE, prior to Jesus:
The early, archaic Israelite cultic rites evolve - in fits and starts - into the Jewish Monotheism of the 1st century CE, then from there into two major modern religions.
This seems obvious to me, Thomas.

(To my ear, "always" is not only an ahistorical word. It is also a "once upon a time" fairytale word.)

The "God of Israel" #1 (Yahweh - translated in the Bible as "Lord"):
In the days before the formation of Saul's/David's/Solomon's kingdom (the southern half of Canaan minus the Philistine and Phoenician coastlines), Yahweh is a minor deity in the Canaanite pantheon, a storm god linked to this or that mountain in the south of Canaan.
Yahweh, specifically, is a clan-god - a "god of the Father" - the totem deity of the Patriarch who founded the clan. Say, the totem god of Jacob, in the case of Israelite transhumant herders. Hill-people tracing their ancestral lineage back to Jacob, people continuing to follow Jacob's god Yahweh. They would gather together and hold seasonal festivals at sanctuaries like Shiloh. Make sacrifices, pledge loyalty to each other, set up marriages, and work-out territorial and pasturage disputes.
Yahweh, as deity, is just one step above Neolithic ancestor worship. "He" is a nature deity largely fixed to a handful of sanctuary sites. And Yahweh is rarely witnessed directly outside of a Tent of Meeting at the foot of the local mountain overlooking the sanctuary. Yahweh is indirectly witnessed in the clouds at the mountain-top, in the storm which passes over it (also witnessed as leading the charge in battles against mutual enemies), but Yahweh is not to be found everywhere.
Other nomadic peoples in other territories of the region each name a quite different deity as the god of their patriarch. At these distant locations, Yahweh is nowhere to seen.
Yahweh is barely transcendent, moving from one tribal sanctuary to another within a defined region. And He may be obscured by clouds and lightning but He is never invisible.

The "God of Israel" #2 (El, or Elohim - translated in the Bible as "God") is the high god in the Canaanite pantheon, in the days before David's kingdom reigns over the southern half of Canaan. This pantheon of gods and goddesses is shared by all of Canaan's citystates - communities found in the rich farmland of Canaan's coastal plain and interior valleys. Each citystate cleaves to a different patron deity.
Sacrifices are conducted in large temples with a fulltime professional priesthood who ritually bathe and clothe and feed the local patron-deity, everyday. The temple is the "House of the God," and the sculpture at its holy-of-holies is the god. The god is perceived as "immanent" within the sculpture. Not transcendent. As sculpture, it is very visible. But only to the highest of the temple priests - except at festival times when the god might be paraded through the streets. The temples to El, throughout Canaan, are fronted by Solar (golden) Calves.
When farmers needed rain, they would sacrifice to El's son Baal, a storm god. El is the semi-retired chairman-of-the-board in this pantheon, Baal is the CEO.

During the second half of the 2nd millennium BCE, the Egyptians are the overlords of these Canaan citystates, but the Egyptians allow each Canaanite citystate to freely perform cultic rituals to its local deity, as long as these cities pay tribute to Egypt and swell its military ranks in times of war. But by the 1100s BCE, times get hard for the Egyptians. They can no longer afford these colonial client-states. So, with the exodus of Egypt from Canaan, the hill-country herders and the valley farmers begin to assimilate (this is the so-called "conquest"). They join ranks out of need to defend themselves against opportunistic invaders.

In this cultural assimilation process, Yahweh takes the place of Baal as CEO of the pantheon. The other gods, bit by bit, disappear, and the new Father/Son relationship of El/Yahweh starts to meld into a single deity: "the Lord your God" (Yahweh your High God).

By King David's time (and largely due to David's leadership), Yahweh rules over a mini-empire from Upper Galilee to Sinai. Yahweh's movement has greatly expanded in scope, no longer limited to Canaanite hill-country. Not exactly transcending a specific "place," but the idea of God's potential transcendence of borders starts to look credible.
A long-running debate breaks out between (on the one side) Mushite priests of Shiloh who want to keep Yahweh mobile, in a Tent of Meeting, and (on the other side) Aaronid priests of Bethel who want to install Yahweh within a Canaanite-style stone temple. Under David's son Solomon, the Aaronid priests win. But what is brand-new is that, unlike the former Canaanite temples, there is no sculpture of Yahweh in the holy-of-holies. And this invisibility of God is not an easy concept to deal with. Conceptualizing this . . . is done via-negativa, but done not intellectually but by means of a strongly emotional piety (something close to our modern sense of "spirituality"). The archaic polytheistic world needs to see things in "concrete" terms. So it takes a very stern piety to sing praises to a deity which you can't see. "The Lord your God" is now invisible, to these priests. He is something abstract and without features . . . and thus radiating something brand new to the ancient world. The presence of something more than merely "sacred." Something unimaginably pure. "Holy."

But this is a spirituality for the elite, the priestly families and the rich.
The biblical prophets complain, "What about the People?" And alongside their voice is the emerging national sagas of "Moses and the Exodus" and of "Joshua and the Conquest." God is pictured as leading this process. Nostalgia for nomadic herding days and Tent of Meeting and tribal sanctuary festivals is undergirded with a fierce social criticism against the Temple and the Kingship and the emerging Class Society of rich and poor.
Here once again is Yahweh - visible, anthropomorphic, but who is even broader in scope than His earlier "God of the Father" role. Yahweh now not merely ethically "judges" the people but feels "loving kindness" (hesed) to all the Jewish people, rich or poor, pious or impious, righteous or struggling - those deserving of God's providence or undeserving.
All the people of Canaan. All the Jewish people!

By the time of the 2nd Isaiah (the Babylon exile), there is a first inkling of the scope of Yahweh as even transcending the Jewish people and maybe pointing to "the Nations" - to all peoples everywhere.
So by Jesus' era there must have been some Jewish Monotheists inclined to think in just this way - God as transcendent of all national and mundane boundaries.
Mix in some ideas from Chaldean Babylon, Zoroastrian Persia, and Greece of the Philosophers, and you have a very volatile mix ready to explode within the archaic polytheistic world.
A ritual cult is ready to "up the ante" . . . and to transform into a full-scale modern religion.
(One or more of them. But as God becomes perceived as transcendent and universal, some of God's abstract and invisible "holiness" - fought for by the Sadducees - is abandoned in this process.)

Thomas,
My point is . . . that God did not emerge full-formed to Abraham - as a Sunday School reading of the Bible would have us believe. What God does, God is.

God went through a long evolution, a long gestation period, before "He" emerged as the God of Christianity and as the God of Judaism.
(A long and tough birth, a struggle. If it had been such an easy and inevitable - indeed, instantaneous - gestation . . . what then would have been the big deal about Monotheism?)

Change in the world is difficult and very real. Courageous, hard-earned.
To deny change is to make a mockery of life. God is what God does . . .
Romantic notions of "always" (of "eternity") belittle the struggle within theology, belittle the pain of human history, and ultimately - it seems to me -
. . . belittle the presentness of God.

the prophets never saw Christ
. . .
"when the Fathers think, they Platonize."

The piety of the Jerusalem Temple priests - being entirely focused upon Holiness - made a virtue out of "not seeing" the mundane.
The biblical prophets, by contrast, refused to not-see suffering - insisting upon the availability of God's mercy. ("Mercy" - hesed - was a word never used by the priests.) So, in that sense, the prophets actually did (fore)see Jesus. The divine . . . incarnated.
Yes, you are correct. There is nothing invisible in that!
That's the thing about Jesus, isn't it, Thomas? His humanness, his suffering, yet his willingness to sacrifice, his choice. Theology without words. But visually manifested to all witnesses. A transcendental act.

If you would convince a man that he does wrong
do right.
But do not care to convince him. --
Men will believe what they see.
Let them see.

--Henry David Thoreau, Letters (March 27, 1848, to Harrison Blake).​

The mental gymnastics which the Church Fathers pulled-off in order to build a consistent theology out of so many disparate threads within 1st-century Jewish thought . . . is nothing short of amazing, isn't it?
Yet . . .

From the perspective of the 21st century - for me anyway . . . Jesus' manifest suffering still resonates. Powerfully.
The eternity-contemplating Plato doesn't begin to. His morphine "reality" is too unworldly. Too painless.

 

A Cup Of Tea

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This discussion I enjoy, even though most of it is over my head. Is it fair to say that one comes from a purely theological perspective and the other for a mostly anthropological one? Very interesting when two perspectives mix and even more enjoyable when they actually agree on some things.
 

Thomas

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Hi Jane —
Really nice post, and I'm pushed for time, so haven't the bandwidth to discuss the points you raise as they deserve ... one thing I did want to say:

My point is . . . that God did not emerge full-formed to Abraham - as a Sunday School reading of the Bible would have us believe.
Absolutely! One of my favourite names is El Shaddai. It's a local Canaanite deity who ends up as Christos Pantocrator.

More later ...
 

Thomas

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Particularly like the ongoing duel you describe between Greek Christianity and Latin Christianity, during the First Millennium
Tragically the foundation of that duel was largely political, and the impediments to a union of the churches remains a political one.

I'd like to toss the two other major languages of Christianity into the mix: Syriac Christianity and Germanic Christianity and see what this then says about Christian theology as a whole, or at least about its 1,984-year evolution. But I will leave that inquiry for a future thread.
Phew. That's a relief! But Antioch (Syria) was one of the two influential seats of learning, the other being Alexandria.

Here, however, I do strongly disagree.
OK. And I find your thesis credible, so I'll revise the 'strength' of my assertion back a ways.

I'll even throw in that one of my favourite 'Divine Names' is El Shaddai, a very local, and sometimes quite war-like, deity to begin with.

My point is . . . that God did not emerge full-formed to Abraham - as a Sunday School reading of the Bible would have us believe.
Oh, I quite agree.

The mental gymnastics which the Church Fathers pulled-off in order to build a consistent theology out of so many disparate threads within 1st-century Jewish thought . . . is nothing short of amazing, isn't it?
It's certainly that ... one of my own amazements is that the Church survived becoming the state religion, in that, in the west at least, it was never dictated to by the emperors. The East weren't so lucky, in that regard.

I think the Fathers pulled their theology together from the by then Orthodox Tradition and Scripture, which was not so disparate as people like to think. We tend to look back on conflicting orthodoxies, and assume each had equal weighting with regard to the other. I think that's an over-simplification.

What I admire (apart from their evident spirituality) is the philosophical rigour they applied to the task: That if Christianity is true, it can be reasoned philosophically.

Remember, your insights on the development of monotheism is far more informed than theirs. The Fathers were, by majority, not Jewish, their world was Greek. I don't think of it as mental gymnastics, but as rigour and inspiration.
 

The Adept

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The Office of Supreme Deity of the Fanciful Human Mammals allways has to be Male. It is a species thing.

This created a problem for the Semite cults of YaHweH and AllaH; which were rebellions against Baal the Good God.

Yahweh seems to be a hebrewization of Yaw the demon anti-Baal.
Al Elah or Baalah spawned the name Allah which are feminizations of EL and Baal.
Such might have made sense to the ancient nomadic Hibiru mercenaries to have an oppositional deity but soon became impracticable as having a lesser god or goddess did not suit their predisposition to grandeur.
 

wil

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a figment of your imagination
god is male but he has a female counterpart. that's the truth.

When it comes to creation of living things...females are often in charge of this in our world... but with a male dominated society (one that only counted able bodied men in it census) I am sure a female god would not have sold so easily...


but he has a female counterpart....truth?

Where does this 'truth' come from?

Have you some supporting documents for our perusal?
 

A Cup Of Tea

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Why do people keep asking her that, she has been here forever and she always say the same things.
 

wil

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G!d don't care (but that is another subject) whether you say she, he, or it...just please...not all at once.

Who says god doesn't care? Never heard him say he doesn't care. It amazes me how simple things are but some try to make things more complicated than they are. Fact : The original hebrew(you can ask a rabbi if you dont believe me) said And HUMAN was created in the image of the CREATOR(s). Creator(s) is singular and plural as well as being three.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

The original translation did NOT say GOD or him. It said So the Creator(S) made human in their own image. Creator(s) in the hebrew is two: one male and one female that even though are two are also one as well and even being three. A very complex being. Human beings were in this likeness before the fall. The fall was caused by a split of the male and female pairs and now wholes were halfs. Saying that god is some sexless being as some suggest is grossly inaccurate. I think god does care, not only that people know he has gender , but also that he does have a female counterpart that is half of what he is as a whole. I am not trying to be rude so I hope you do not take my comments that way. I am simply saying that its fairly simple and people tend to make things more complicated than they are.

You think G!d does care, I think G!d doesn't care... have you heard her say she cares?
 
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