May 28, 2013 at 1:59 pm #2042Forgiving VictimParticipant
2.4 The final edition
In this session we get an overview of some Old Testament history and a glimpse of the development of monotheism as it emerged in Scriptures.
Receiving a new story
Share ways in which you have noticed the content, questions or insights from the previous Module showing up in your lives.
Let’s talk about… the Old Testament
El Elyon First Temple El-Shaddai YHWH Northern Kingdom Maccabees 597 BC 164 BC Joshua Southern Kingdom Babylon Monotheism Exile Omri Moses 720 BC 2nd Isaiah Masoretic Text Henotheism Adam Monolatry Polytheism Solomon Judah Assyria
Share your answers to the following questions:
- Which terms are familiar to you?
- Which terms or dates are unfamiliar?
Now choose a term or date that is unfamiliar to you, and prepare to listen for it in the unit’s video. Share which terms and dates you will be looking for as well.
Food for thought
- Share what you learned about the unfamiliar term you chose to listen for in this video.
- Does learning about the editing process of Scriptures change your relationship to the text? If it has been edited, how does it remain an act of communication from God?
- How does learning that the Bible is not strictly monotheistic affect your relationship to the Scriptures?
If you were creating a newspaper version of the Scriptures, what stories would be on your first page? What stories are hidden on the inside pages? What would be your lead story?
May 5, 2014 at 6:55 pm #5423AnonymousInactive
I am familiar with all terms except monolatry and henotheism.
May 8, 2014 at 7:11 pm #5445
These two words have a similar meaning, that is the worship of one god while acknowledging the existence of other gods.
June 22, 2014 at 3:03 pm #5826AnonymousInactive
It’s a bit premature to come up with newspaper headlines for the a newspaper version of the Scriptures even though the creativity of the proposal is quite fun. This course is having such a profound impact on my interpretation of the Scriptures that the assignment is quite difficult at this stage. I will offer a VERY rough draft subject to change without notice – lead story: Crucified rabbi defies death; front page: Freedom March of Israel; Youth beats giant with a sling; Prophet Elijah calls down fire from heaven; Flood covers earth, one family saved; and on the inside pages I would want to hide Cain and Abel and the first murder, Korah’s stoning with family, Golden Calf incident, David and Bathsheba, Sagas of evil kings, Sacrifice of Isaac, David’s census etc…
June 23, 2015 at 1:36 pm #6134
I don’t know how I missed this post, my apologies. I find you newspaper headlines most imaginative and do hope that you are continuing to discover ever more marvellous ways of seeing the Scriptures.
June 11, 2015 at 7:02 am #6127
In the Discussion Forum, share ways in which you have noticed the content, questions or insights from the previous module showing up in your lives.
A couple of weeks ago my wife and I attended an overnight event with friends on their farm in northeastern Iowa’s rugged terrain. The occasion was a party and fundraiser for one-room Campton School’s new roof. Long since a real school, local folks work now to preserve Campton School as ‘museum in the making.’ We spent most of the evening and following morning on Hugh and Janine’s eighty acre, wooded homestead bidding in the silent auction; listening to live music from a hayrack stage and marveling at a bonfire leaping twenty feet into the still, cool twilight.
This was no religious or spiritually oriented happening, so I was quite surprised, confounded even, when soon after arriving I felt a sense of the holy creeping into my awareness. This can’t be right, I thought. How could this woodsy, noisy but convivial, time and place be holy for me? I can’t explain it, other than in terms of presence. We were a diverse group who came together at that place and time who were just present and enjoying each other’s company.
I’ve reflected on that experience every day since, thinking regardless of the circumstances: “I can be present here too. I can be silent. I can listen to what others are saying. I can bring my voice to ‘this party’ too!”
How do I connect all this with the content, questions or insights from the Forgiving Victim course? I’m not completely sure; but I think the connection with the Forgiving Victim course comes in real time, where we are free to pay attention to glimpses of the world God offers through God’s alternative Interpretive Center. Glimpses, which tell us that individual identity no longer is, nor was it ever really, dependent upon rivalry between persons, groups, nations, races, genders. No. True identity comes from that Holiness Who found me centered present in the woods of eastern Iowa. I think the connection comes in real time where, knowing I am always free to attend to Holiness present in all circumstances, I Am found centered present.
June 23, 2015 at 2:02 pm #6136
Yes, Rich. I think that true identity comes from the realisation that we are children of God, made in God’s image and loved unconditionally, despite all our defects and the mess we make of things. Our identity has nothing to do with being over and above, or in competition with, any other person.
June 21, 2015 at 7:40 am #6133
El Elyon First Temple El-Shaddai YHWH Northern Kingdom
Maccabees 597 BC 164 BC Joshua Southern Kingdom
Babylon Monotheism Exile Omri Moses
720 BC 2nd Isaiah Masoretic Text Henotheism Adam
Monolatry Polytheism Solomon Judah Assyria
I have the odd feeling that the list of words for this lesson, like icons, reads me, and not I them. The persons, events and philosophies encapsulated in the words once stamped embodied individual awareness with their ‘social other’ image; just as persons, events and philosophies now imprint their social other likeness onto me.
And so while the term ‘social other’ is missing from the lesson’s list of words, yet social other forms the compost in the historical soil from which these words emerge. Abraham Joshua Heschel once wrote something like: ‘Where is the tree that can say fully the silent passion of the soil.’ This lesson’s words, now reading me like icons, reside in the soil holding my life in being. And yet, how the social other distorts my voice and biases my statement of their silent passion.
But I am free to respond not only to the presence of the social other in my life, but also to the presence of an ‘other other!’ My concept of what it means to be free has evolved through reading and writing this online course. More and more I think of freedom not through the conflict-laden text on offer by the social other. No. I am coming to think of freedom as the ability to respond to human being: life created by God; anchored by the silent passion of the soil; upright in the sunlight, and the dark night, of God’s presence.
In the video I’ll be listening for monolatry, monotheism, henotheism and Adam.
June 23, 2015 at 1:53 pm #6135
I think there is Holiness or wholeness in both of these circumstances, Rich. James is showing us that the Gospels are an anthropology and that we find God in the other, and that the text of the other is not always conflict-laden. But those that are, deserve our compassion. Girard describes the conversion process as ‘the redirection of desire towards God”. In other words we detach from the ‘Great Beast” or the world, the ‘social other’ with all that is ego driven and narcissistic. But we remain interdividual, not individual. We also find wholeness in the scene you describe in ‘the silent passion of the soil’. I think God is in both places and even with those who are conflict-laden. I think we must avoid the dualism of ‘us’ and ‘them’.
June 24, 2015 at 6:11 am #6137
Sheelah, Thank you for your response. Not just this response, but all your responses, which I find reinforcing and challenging. What you said here helped me to see that I have more elements of my emerging understanding of freedom to ‘unpack.’ I didn’t mean to imply an ‘us against them’ dualism, but I see how what I wrote may reflect that understanding. What you wrote about Girard’s description of the conversion process is very helpful; as are your comments about finding God in those who are conflict-laden, which is all of us to one extent or another. And yet I am free to live into new awareness as an ‘interdividual’ who remembers that ‘even the darkness is as light to God.’ That’s from Psalm 139:12, which has long been a kind of ‘star in the East’ verse for me. God is equally present in both the darkness and the light, reflecting the embodied realities of actively loving those I may at first perceive as ‘other.’ So while the conversion process can feel ‘like being dragged through a bush backwards’ (which I remember is how James put it in I think the Joy of Being Wrong,) well, I’m free to volunteer! What’s on the other side of that bush is glorious … and yet I sense the glory is equally present on both sides of the bush, but apparently I can’t truly integrate that understanding without being ‘dragged backwards through that bush!’
June 28, 2015 at 7:04 pm #6140
Rich, thank you for your words.
Digressing to something quite different, I though as I read the heading of your June 21st post with its reference to ‘El Elyon First Temple El-Shaddai YHWH Northern Kingdom Maccabees 597 BC 164 BC Joshua Southern Kingdom’ etc.etc. you might enjoy the work of the British Hebrew scholar Margaret Barker, who writes about Jesus’s constant referral to First Temple Judaism. Her thesis is absolutely fascinating and it is extraordinary how many things become clear about Jesus’s teaching. James is also an admirer of her work. ‘Temple Theology’ is a very good introduction to her thought. I highly recommend it.
July 4, 2015 at 6:37 am #6142
Sheelah, Thank you for recommending Margaret Barker’s writing. I bought “Temple Mysticism” as an Amazon ebook. I have wondered how Christianity emerged as it did in such a coherent manner. So, Barker’s insights are just what I’ve been looking for, even though I didn’t know how to frame the question! Thanks again!
July 5, 2015 at 8:04 am #6144
Rich, ‘Temple Theology’ is also excellent as an introduction to her thought. So glad that you like it.
July 4, 2015 at 6:29 am #6141
“Does learning about the editing process of Scriptures change your relationship to the text? If it has been edited, how does it remain an act of communication from God?”
What follow compares an insight about auditing that I discovered before retiring from the Revenue Service with my new and unfolding discoveries about Scripture facilitated by this course.
When I ran across Texas Tech law professor Bryan Camp’s article: “Tax Administration as Inquisitorial Process …” I was still employed as an IRS revenue agent. The article made a lot of practical sense to me. Camp asserts that tax administration is inherently inquisitorial, not adversarial. Camp’s position validated what I had known and practiced intuitively. After reading Camp’s article, I occasionally shared his insights with taxpayers during audits; but these discussions never proved to be good ideas!
Now as I learn about the ‘lack of external evidence’ for David’s and Solomon’s kingdoms; about the non-occurrence of Joshua leading the Israelites into the Promised Land; and on top of that, no external evidence for the existence of Moses, I find a similar ‘adversarial vs. inquisitorial‘ insight once again flooding my consciousness. And yet, merely recognizing the lack of ‘history’ does little to mitigate the sense of loss that I feel. Reading Bible stories as historical truth provided a kind of orienting backdrop in my daily life. Now I’m acting in front of new scenery, where the rear-curtain for the stage of my life no longer matches the old scripts. New scenery for old scripts always requires reconciliation and rewriting!
Why would the change from historical to metaphorical interpretation of the Bible impact me like the change from an adversarial to an inquisitorial approach to auditing? I learned that tax administration is inherently inquisitorial because of the information asymmetry between government agent and individual taxpayer. Auditors need to know not only transactional details, but also the context in and through which those transactions were undertaken. How else does one discover deception and fraud?
The adversarial approach sees the taxpayer as uncooperative antagonist. The inquisitorial approach sees the taxpayer as contributing participant. Without taxpayer self-disclosure augmented by the use of legal tools to uncover hidden information, auditors cannot enhance overall tax system equity; a necessary but always moving target. In the larger scheme of things, the auditor’s role as taxpayer inquisitor not adversary is always a challenging one!
So now I’ve learned that I’ve been uninformed about the historicity of scripture, which is much more narrative metaphor than history. All Scripture’s narrative metaphor reflects God’s self-revelation, albeit within the particular author(s) historical circumstances (but, not necessarily the history of the time reflected in the details of the narrative itself.) Once again a backdrop for the script of my life changed, just like the auditing backdrop change from adversarial to inquisitorial.
And so, while scripture reflects varying scope and depth of anthropological and theological understanding, all scripture has the common, if incompletely understood inspiration of God’s self-revelation. The hermeneutical key to discovering personal meaning is Jesus, the true Grand Inquisitor, Who its seems is always offering help reconciling and rewriting the scripts of our daily lives!
July 9, 2015 at 5:38 pm #6145
If you were creating a newspaper version of the Scriptures, what stories would be on your first page? What stories are hidden on the inside pages? What would be your lead story?
It’s summertime, which makes travelling stories timely; so my Page One would lead-off with the story of Balaam’s donkey in Numbers, Chapter 22:
“But the donkey said to Balaam, ‘Am I not your donkey, which you have ridden all your life to this day? Have I been in the habit of treating you in this way?’ And he said, ‘No.’
Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam , and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road … … …“
Through exploring the question of hubris in Balaam’s story, I’d draw the reader’s attention to other stories inside the paper. How becoming aware of intentional or unintentional lack of caring for companions along the way brings new insights to life.
Luke’s Road to Emmaus story and his ‘Journey to Jerusalem’ narrative (Chapters 9-19) would inform other page one stories. Caravaggio’s ‘Supper at Emmaus’ (http://bit.ly/1JRhm8t); and images from http://www.InvisiblePeople.tv a website about homelessness in America (http://n.pr/1HPptVv) would make up page one graphic images.
A feature article inside the paper, reflecting a recent personal experience, would shine a spotlight on Nora and mimetic scapegoating. The article would celebrate her grit and determination as she stuck to her position for meeting after meeting of our church building committee. Nora’s ideas for fixing the roof required research and time to fully understand. Others on the committee, including me initially, wanted to do cosmetic repairs, rather than rebuilding the roof, which Nora insisted was necessary. Rather than focusing on the facts of the matter, the committee focused on Nora, making her the cause of the committee’s failure to make progress.
Finally the light came on for me. Our committee had scapegoated Nora as a way of deflecting unresolved conflicts. The toll of this treatment on Nora was high. Mimetic scapegoating became existentially and very immediately real for me. I began listening carefully to Nora, responding in ways I hoped would redirect the committee’s energy away from Nora and back to the roofing issues at hand. We solved the roofing problems quickly once the committee stopped making Nora the issue, and gave her ideas the respectful consideration they deserved.
Nora was Balaam’s donkey for me, a long-time friend, who I, for a time, made the object of my frustration. At some point her words spoke to a self larger than my mean-spirited self sitting at that building committee table. Listening to Nora helped me see and hear the angel standing in the pathway ahead. Now I understand on a deeper level that when a group labels an individual ‘the problem’, often, but not always that is the symptom of larger dysfunction. Understanding this frees me to be present, to listen and to respond in obedience, as did Balaam in the the Bible story:
Balaam said to Balak, ‘I have come to you now, but do I have power to say just anything? The word God puts in my mouth, that is what I must say.’
July 14, 2015 at 3:01 pm #6148
An excellent example of scapegoating Rich, and as you so intuitively observed, at some point in the discussions, the issue ceased to be the roof and became Nora. How often we all do this! Thank you for these thoughts.
March 4, 2019 at 2:52 pm #47308andrewMember
Which terms are familiar to you?
I have at least heard of all of each of these.
Which terms or dates are unfamiliar?
I would be hard pressed to distinguish between henotheism and monolatry. If I were to run across either term by itself, I would have thought it referred to the devotion to one god over and above all others. Now, seeing them side by in a grid, I can’t begin to think how to distinguish one from the other.
I know Omri was a king of either Israel or Judah, but I have no idea what makes him unique from others.
I know that El Elyon and El-Shaddai are divine names. If the meaning of Hebrew roots are similar to the Arabic roots they resemble (which certainly isn’t always the case), then I could hazard a guess the Elyon means “highest” and Shaddai means “strengthened,” “fortifier,” or something along those lines. I am aware that many English translations make no effort to inform readers that some such divine names are in all likelihood older than even the most ancient of Israelite traditional religions. Whether that is the case with either of these names, I have no idea.
Now choose a term or date that is unfamiliar to you, and prepare to listen for it in the unit’s video. Share which terms and dates you will be looking for as well.Share what you learned about the unfamiliar term you chose to listen for in this video.
Omri is the earliest Israelite king about which there is extra-textual historical evidence.
I had heard that there was archeological evidence suggesting that YHWH had acquired a female consort in some areas, but I didn’t know that YHWH might possibly have appropriated the name of a female divinity with the name El-Shaddai.
March 8, 2019 at 9:11 pm #47310
You seem to have an extremely good grasp of all that Andrew. These two definitions may be helpful:
Monolatry, literally, worship of one god alone. As a modified form of polytheism, the texts of scripture bear witness to monolatry, meaning “Plenty of gods exist, but you are to worship only one of them.” This is also indicated in the first Commandment.
Henotheism , effectively synonymous with “monolatry”– attention to a single god. Also as Indicated in the first Commandment, which takes for granted the existence of other gods.
I believe in Hebrew El-Shaddai means the godess with breasts. Have you read Margaret Barker’s “Temple Theology” ?
March 11, 2019 at 6:58 pm #47313andrewMember
Sheelah, thank you for clarifying those terms which were unfamiliar to me in your response. It would appear my guess at El-Shaddai was way off! I don’t actually know any Hebrew but sometimes, while studying the Bible, I try to connect Hebrew words to one of the smattering of Arabic roots I’ve learned. I did a little poking around in dictionaries on this one. It looks like the /sh/ sound in the Hebrew El-Shaddai became a /th/ sound in a very similar Arabic root.
I saw Barker referenced in an article of James’ I read about a month ago. I had never heard of her before. I visited her website briefly that day, but I have yet to have an opportunity to read anything. She has written many books. Do let me know if you have a recommendation for a good entry point into her work.
March 13, 2019 at 6:24 pm #47314
Yes, Barker is very prolific, but I think “Temple Theology” is a very good place to start. I am rereading it at the moment. It’s an early work of hers but you will understand immediately what she is about. She is, by the way, a formidable Hebrew scholar.
Do keep me informed.
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