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  1. #131
    Oberon
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    Quote Originally Posted by nebbykoo View Post
    I stated an opinion. If you find it injurious, then block me. you have the power, little mouse.
    Well, I wouldn't want to block you over a misunderstanding. Though it looked to me as though you were being purposely offensive, I wasn't sure, and I still am not.

    Quote Originally Posted by nebbykoo View Post
    That your question may represent a fallacy seems on-target for this thread.
    I'm wrong twenty times a day at least, but I'm deliberately obnoxious somewhat less frequently. I struggle harder against pride than malice.

    But if I were being malicious to you, I would tell you so.

  2. #132
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Take Five View Post
    That could just be an old habit of referring to God as He. It's been that way since before the biblical books were written and old habits die hard, if they die at all. It's not realistic to expect people to break an timeless habit because contemporary society all of a sudden has a feminist awakening. It's what they've been taught forever. All mature reasonable believers understand that God is not the old man with the beard.
    It is surprisingly insidious for "just an old habit". Society has broken many such "timeless habits" in recent generations. The fact that this one is hanging on shows how much more deeply seated it is.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiltyred View Post
    Coriolis: I feel it's unnecessary to talk about He or She when we talk about God. It seems completely extraneous to the conversation and puts an emphasis on something that doesn't belong. I know this is a feminist issue and I understand and to some extent agree with the ideas about gender equality being reflected in authoritative texts, but if we're really going to talk about God, God has no gender. And to me it's important to find common ground to talk about God, rather than reasons to criticize other religions. So this insistence on a divine feminine being represented in the Christian church (or any other) seems to me to be a red herring. Also to the extent the female is represented in the Catholic church, with all respect, that is not my idea of the perfect woman, either, so I don't especially see it as an improvement over no female figurehead at all.

    But again, to anthropomorphise God to such an extent seems to me to somewhat miss the point.
    In theory, you are quite correct. In practice, most languages have pronouns that are masculine, feminine, or neuter, and we must choose one to refer to God. More descriptive terminology like Lord or Father (or Lady, or Mother) similarly carries gender connotation. To paraphrase the Bible, "male and female God created them". The idea of male and female is coded into creation. Representation of a divine feminine in any church might be a red herring, if there were not an almost exclusive reliance on a divine masculine.

    Anthropomorphizing God does to some extent miss the point, but to me, it is a point that we cannot entirely "hit", at least not in this earthly life. We as humans cannot completely and accurately know God. We can do our best to understand and relate to the divine from our human perspective, a perspective deeply influenced by distinctions of gender, age, race, ability, culture, etc. etc. While we might correctly say our common humanity transcends all this, many of us strive not to ignore these distinctions, but to embrace and appreciate them in our human diversity. Acknowledging and appreciating the diversity in God using terms familar and accessible to us as humans is similarly useful to many, but best not done with blinders on.

    As for Catholic representations of female perfection, I am not Catholic, and have no particular attachment to Mary, or other feminine representations promoted within this faith. My observations on Mary were simply historical.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peguy View Post
    The Gnostic texts generally date from the second century onwards. The Nag Hammadi texts themselves date from the third and fourth centuries, and they did not have much of a wider impact on the Christian world, as partially can be seen by the fact they weren't mentioned at all by Church Councils when determining the Biblical canon.
    There is disagreement on the exact date of these writings, with many scholars placing them during or shortly after the life of Jesus (mid-first century), and others placing them in the second century. The dating of manuscripts themselves is misleading since the texts may very well have existed in earlier manuscripts or oral traditions much earlier. Given that these writings were not simply ignored but actively suppressed at times, it is no wonder that the copies discovered are few and incomplete. Yes, their impact on the Christian world was indeed limited by the actions of church councils in determining canon, often for reasons more political than spiritual. This is my point.

  3. #133
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    There is disagreement on the exact date of these writings, with many scholars placing them during or shortly after the life of Jesus (mid-first century), and others placing them in the second century. The dating of manuscripts themselves is misleading since the texts may very well have existed in earlier manuscripts or oral traditions much earlier.
    Except there's little(if any) actual evidence to date them before the second century. Everything else is speculation.


    Given that these writings were not simply ignored but actively suppressed at times, it is no wonder that the copies discovered are few and incomplete.
    Actually scholars don't even know why the Nag Hammadi library ended up where they did. They were simply lost for a very long time. The actual conditions that lead up to their burrying are shrouded in mystery, so you can't just say they were necessarily suppressed.

    Yes, their impact on the Christian world was indeed limited by the actions of church councils in determining canon, often for reasons more political than spiritual. This is my point.
    The Gnostics were very secretitive and selective by nature, so even on that score they weren't going to make much impact. The fact the Church Councils didn't mention any of these texts seems to reflect they weren't really well known anyways, in contrast to other texts that were more well known. It also speaks against the argument that they were necessarily suppressed.

    For the most part the Church Councils simply confirmed what was already generally regarded as the accepted canon within the Church, so I don't really know where politics comes in here. The politics that usually are involved concerns those who try to claim the Gnostics towards their own ends. Socialists, Feminists, Occultists/New Age, Esoteric Fascists, you name it. They've all propped up the Gnostics as the true carriers of Christ's message, which not surprisingly coincides with their particular ideological agenda. The Feminist interpretation seems to get the most attention nowadays, which of course is highly ironic as Philip Jenkins has noted:
    Among the most prominent advocates of certain Gnostic Gospels have been radical feminist scholars. Yet, according to Jenkins, these scholars seem to ignore the fact that although Gnostic texts had much to say about women, the Gnostic religious system regarded women as being used by evil beings to keep humanity enslaved through their childbearing. For example, Gnostic texts repeatedly express the idea that the Savior came to "destroy the works of the female." Jenkins concludes, "The willingness to claim such texts as part of a lost women's canon is troubling testimony to the ideological character of some modern interpretations of the hidden gospels" (p. 147).

    Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost Its Way | Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society | Find Articles at BNET

  4. #134
    Supreme Allied Commander Take Five's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    It is surprisingly insidious for "just an old habit". Society has broken many such "timeless habits" in recent generations. The fact that this one is hanging on shows how much more deeply seated it is.
    The "He" is just a figure of speech. It' just like seeing someone you sort of know walking down the street and reflexively saying "How ya doing?" It doesn't really mean much.
    Johari Nohari

    "If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared. "--Niccolo Machiavelli

  5. #135

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    :17026:

    Oh seriously, the whole God is a "He" business?! Seriously?! We're onto that now?!

  6. #136
    Ginkgo
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    The Gnostics were intentionally esoteric.

    The entire point of Gnosticism was to be "Illumined", and set aside from the rest of humanity.

    To evangelize would be to strip themselves of their elite status as knowledge bearers.

    Whether they were/are actually illumined is up for debate.

    I think this fixation on the particular can be dangerous.

  7. #137
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    A main idea of the Gnostics, if I recall, is that knowledge of the divine (gnosis) must be gained by each individual directly, and not through a priest or other intermediary. Such a perspective is at odds with the idea of a church hierarchy, where priests and bishops set themselves up as the authority on spiritual matters, expecting believers to approach the divine through them and their institutional rituals and procedures.

    The Gnostics, and other "non-mainstream" early Jesus movements should not be judged by the use or misuse to which their ideas are put by modern-day feminists, socialists, etc. Similarly, it is not a valid criticism simply that their groups were small, or their methods different from the larger contemporary Jesus groups that became the mainstream. Quantity is not necessarily quality, and difference is not necessarily wrong. It would appear that the goal of the Gnostics was less making a broad impact than aiding those so inclined to pursue their spirituality in the Gnostic way. (If more religious groups held less expansive aims like this, there would probably be far less religious conflict.) The point is that there was considerably more diversity in the very early church (< 200 BCE) than afterward, and much of the diversity was deliberately suppressed.

    As for the politics, that seems to have predated the official church councils in much the same way that de facto selection of presidential nominees precedes the official convention. The councils codified what their membership had worked to put into practice. There would be no need or benefit at that point to document the positions of the “also-rans”, except to vilify them. Suppression, by definition, excludes any substantive discussion of what is suppressed. The Gnostics were no more the “true carriers of Christ’s message” than any other group was. Each has a piece of the puzzle, much like the blind men and the elephant. Excluding the views of one group or another denies that the elephant has a tail, or a tusk, or a trunk.

  8. #138
    i love skylights's Avatar
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    not to be an ass (actually this is completely to be an ass)

    the mystifying question:

    did jesus poop?





    on an... er... cleaner note, i'm enjoying reading this thread. interesting stuff.

  9. #139
    Supreme Allied Commander Take Five's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skylights View Post
    not to be an ass (actually this is completely to be an ass)

    the mystifying question:

    did jesus poop?

    .
    yes.
    Johari Nohari

    "If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared. "--Niccolo Machiavelli

  10. #140
    Senior Member swordpath's Avatar
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    Just as women don't poop, I think Jesus is another that is an exception.

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