Gender balance across the entire human continuum is one of today's most urgent needs. For most of the world's societies gender balance involves raising the status of the woman to equal validity with the man and acknowledging all of the gender variations between the two sexes.
Through the past several millennia there has been a struggle over that gender balance. Religion has played a major role in this dialog. That is why I have made an intensive study of the underpinnings of many of the Western World's religions - the texts of the Bible.
I have found a number of misperceptions that significantly alter our understanding of the biblical text. Those I note are ones that skew the text away from feminine material to the direction of a patriarchal interpretation. Those misperceptions can be grouped into 12 large categories:
1. The current belief that “God,” the Deity, is masculine and a “Father” only;
2. A misperception that the Bible is a patriarchal relic, full of the suppression of women, wars and brutal doings, and that it is no longer relevant to human development either spiritually or psychologically because it has no insights about gender balance;
3. The belief that women weren’t influential, or independent in biblical times - that women’s rights were limited;
4. The belief that in biblical material there are no women prophets, priestesses or ministers;
5. The idea that a woman’s deed wasn’t to be memorialized or held in honor;
6. The belief that men were the most important actors in the biblical story – that the biblical material was totally patriarchal;
7. The conviction that there were inviolable rules about marriage, and most favored men;
8. The lack of knowledge that in the biblical story, Mary, the mother of Jesus, symbolically negated Eve’s deed. Also, the misperceptions that Mary never had normal sexual relations with Joseph and never bore other children besides Jesus;
9. The belief that it is acceptable to obscure a story such as the story of Mary of Bethany, who performed the sacramental act of anointing Jesus;
10. The idea that many of the laws in the Pentateuch were to control women and they weren’t ever negated;
11. The belief that all biblical translations are similar and no important differences or changes have been made that might affect women;
12. The additional assumption that parts of some biblical books, and other books, labeled the Apocrypha, are unacceptable.
CORRECTIONS TO THESE MISPERCEPTIONS
1. The current belief that “God,” the Deity, is masculine and a “Father” only
Today most people believe the Hebrew/Christian religion is centered around a “God.” Although some people claim that that word doesn’t necessarily connote a masculine entity, the pronouns used to translate “God’s” doings are the singular masculine “He.” My eBook, A Gender Neutral God/ess, and a body of material in my book I Will Love Unloved question and challenge that belief.
BCE - Before Current Era
CE - Current Era
IWLU - I Will Love Unloved
LXX - Greek Septuagint
MT - Masoretic Text
Ample material about a masculine/feminine Deity is in my first book and my eBook is completely about it. I Will Love Unloved traces the biblical story of the Deity's creation of MALE and FEMALE, as OUR MALE LIKENESS and as OUR FEMALE LIKENESS. A Gender Neutral God/ess picks up where I Will Love Unloved leaves off. It contains more textual evidence that the early theological writers were attempting to express the belief that the Deity was an inclusive He/She being, albeit without a physical presence. I discuss at great length how early Hebrew writers tried to describe that concept through the use of various literary devices.
A Gender Neutral God/ess also demonstrates, with pictures of actual artifacts, that Goddess worship was a major early religion. I then explain how the concept of an imageless Deity arose approximately when language and writing had developed to the point that one could express inclusive abstract ideas. I trace the transition of inclusive ideas from early Goddess cultures into the Old Testament and then on into the New Testament. In my books, I show that, from about 600 B.C.E. to 1 C.E., Wisdom, She, the Spirit, a feminine hypostasis of the Deity, was biblically predominant. That development was followed by a masculine backlash/backsliding. Jesus of Nazareth was born approximately 4 B.C.E. He typified a new version of the human male - one who stood up to the now patriarchal, legalistic religion of his day. Jesus championed women, the poor, ill, weak, stranger, dispossessed, and young, rather than following the warlike and domineering inclinations of his forbears. Many of the metaphors concerning him indicate that he was looked upon as a neuter inclusive being – the psychological concept of both masculine and feminine attributes within one person.
In my books there are examples of inclusive/feminine expressions of Deity that have been lost through translation decisions by the choices of an increasingly male dominant world.
Some examples are:
- How the name YHWH evolved from the ancient Goddess IO who was from a mythological androgynous line;
- How the Hebrew words “HIM-HER” referring to the Deity have been subtly altered to exclude the “Her”;
- How a plural inclusive name for Deity, ELoHIM, used approximately 2222 times in the biblical text, has been changed to the singular, masculine EL and then translated as the singular masculine “God”;
- How “mother” is eliminated from a “mother/father” text about the Deity;
- How the word “Shaddai” “breasts,” relates to the concept of the Deity;
- How feminine Wisdom and Spirit were hypostases of the Deity;
- How the “new” human being, Jesus, included the neuter '”fullness,” “wholeness” of male and female alike. (When human thought had developed to the point that people could contemplate the inner psychological dimension of human nature);
- And how plurals, poetic parallelism, similes, and metaphors were used to convey this inclusive concept.
2. A misperception that the Bible is a patriarchal relic, full of the suppression of women, wars and brutal doings, and that it is no longer relevant to human development either spiritually or psychologically because it has no insights about gender balance
A first observation that may be made about the Bible is that there was an awfully lot of fighting going on. Some questions can be posed about this. Why were people fighting? Defense or offense? What were they fighting for? Or against? Were there voices promoting war? Were there voices criticizing war?
In my book, I Will Love Unloved, I clarify the role that Goddess worship played in the ancient world's early struggles. For, one of the developments prior to biblical literature was a predominant Goddess worshipping culture. It is only in recent years, when archaeological discoveries have made this fact clearer, that some keys to biblical passages make sense. Then, if one is sensitive to feminine gender use and knowledgeable about various forms of Goddess worship, and Hebrew and Greek words used for various Goddesses, one can begin to understand a lot of biblical material heretofore incomprehensible. One can see the back and forth struggle between early Goddess (and to a lesser extent God) religions and the neophyte Hebrew religion.
This raises a question. Were early Hebrews just fighting Goddess worshippers in an attempt to eliminate a feminine element in Deity and to dominate and control women? That idea seems to be today's prevailing opinion. The early Hebrew society was very male dominant and warlike in striving to overcome the earlier Goddess religions, and women subsequently suffered. Many biblical stories are about that clash. However, there are voices in the Bible explicitly saying what practices in the Goddess cultures were causing the disapproval. This wasn't just a war against women. Jeremiah was one prophet who articulated what should be humanity's aims instead.
Jeremiah railed against: (1) "making and worshipping lifeless idols of wood, stone, and metal"; (2) "indiscriminate sexual relationships in the name of fertility rites"; (3) “the concomitant adultery and prostitution"; (4) "burning sons and daughters in fire as offerings to deities"; (5) "lies, greed, warlike behavior, injustice, oppression, extortion, murder"; and, (6) “worshipping the sun, moon, and stars as deities."
Instead, Jeremiah proclaimed the desires of the Hebrew YHWH/ELoHIM. They were (1) justice, kindness, righteousness, and truth/fidelity; (2) not to oppress the widow, orphan, or alien, and not to shed blood; (3) rest on the Sabbath; (4) save the robbed from the oppressor; (5) defend the needy and the poor; and, (5) set slaves free.
One of Jeremiah's final conclusions was that: "YHWH has created a new feminine (thing) in the land, a female shall change/encompass a warrior male." (Jeremiah 31:21 MT) That hardly sounds like a blanket devaluation of all females.
The book of Hosea also contains an important inclusive passage. This passage has been puzzled over by many male theologians and scholars because they have not been knowledgeable about Goddess worship and its accompanying rites. (This passage is also where the title of my book, I Will Love Unloved, comes from.) In these verses YHWH instructs Hosea to take and love a wife "of fornication." Also, Hosea was to "bargain" and pay for her. If one reads the Greek text of Hosea, one finds that this woman, Gomer, is a temple prostitute and "she made silver and gold for Baalath." Baalath is the generic name for a Goddess.
After Hosea "takes" Gomer, YHWH asked two factions of the Israelite populace, the males and the females, to plead with Gomer to renounce the Goddess fertility religion and its fertility rites and return to the original male and female balance. Then a covenant with the peoples would be made:
And I will break bow and sword and battle from the earth,
And [I] will cause them to lie down safely.
And I will betroth you (the feminine element of Deity) to myself forever;
And I will betroth you (the feminine element of Deity) to myself
In masculine righteousness and masculine judgment, and masculine kindness
And feminine (of womb) loves….and feminine truth;
And you (the feminine element of Deity) shall know YHWH (I.e. that YHWH is inclusive).
….And I Will Love Unloved (the feminine element of the human population),
And I will say to Not My People (the masculine element of the population),
You are My People.
And he/she shall say, my ELoHIM (plural word for the Deity).
Hosea 2:21-25 MT
So, there were always biblical voices trying to express other ideas - ideas that humanity, male and female, were meant to live in harmony and that the Hebrew Creator/Creatress was an inclusive entity.
There are also passages expressing opinions against violence. One finds expressions of this in the story of Noah and the Ark. The Deity was going to destroy all of humanity because the ELoHIM disapproved of violence. (Gen. 6:13 MT) Next YHWH was angry when the Israelites reverted to worshipping "molten images” and called them a "stiff-necked people." (Exod. 33:3 MT) Another man, Jephthah, sacrificed his daughter to fire. (Judges 11:39 MT) Sometime later, a man, to save his own skin, put his concubine out where she could be gang raped and abused until she died. (Judges 20:5 MT) Later Israelites fought against other Israelites and forcibly carried off virgins from one of the tribes. These actions were not condoned. One text says: "In those days no king [was] in Israel; a man did what was right in his own eyes." (Judges 21:25 MT) In King David's story, YHWH disapproved of how David treated women and said: "now a sword shall not turn aside from your house forever; because you have despised me, and you have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be a wife to you." (2 Samuel 12:10 MT) Next, there is the story of the man, Solomon, who desired feminine Wisdom instead of the lives of his enemies. A further story tells how a wise man, Daniel, vindicated Susanna, when lecherous old men were persecuting her.
3. The belief that women weren’t influential, or independent in biblical times - that women’s rights were limited
Women and their deeds played a prominent role in those early struggles. Much of that material is not known because it has been mistranslated, misunderstood, eliminated, or downplayed. I tell many of these stories in I Will Love Unloved. There is Sarah, who overturns an ancient Babylonian law about her marital position and gains rights as the "legal wife." Rachel and Leah spoke of “our money.” (Gen. 31:15 MT) Tamar also stands up for her legal marital rights and wins her point. The prophetess Miriam sings a victory song. Zelophehad's daughters are given portions of land, as is Achsah. Ruth, a woman from a foreign tribe, adopted the religion of the ELoHIM and made a well known statement to her mother-in-law - not woman to man as is often believed: "Do not beg me, to leave you, to return from following you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge, your people my people, and your ELoHIM my ELoHIM." (Ruth 1:16 MT) Judith was wealthy and had a woman overseer for her property. (Jth. 8:4-8 LXX) A Jewish woman, Mibtahiah, of about 486-465 B.C.E., had papyri records of deeds to property she owned. Other records of the time list Jewish women as contributing to the Jewish Temple, showing that they were financially independent. In the book of Job, Job gave his daughters “inheritance rights like their brothers (Job 42:15 LXX), and brothers and sisters ate and drank wine together. (Job 1:13, 18 LXX and MT) In Proverbs 31 a woman buys land. Susannah was taught Mosaic Law by both her parents. (Susannah 1:3 LXX)
In one conflict a woman threw a millstone down on an invaders head "and crushed his skull." (Judges 9:53 MT) Women such as Deborah ordered officers to battle in defense of the Israelites. A woman, Jael, killed an attacker, Sisera, and was called "most blessed among women" while Barak, Deborah's male military officer, behaved in a cowardly way. Deborah judged/oversaw the Israelites for 40 years and was given lasting acclaim. The biblical text says that: "Powerful men in Israel failed they failed until Deborah arose, until she arose a mother in Israel." (Judges 5:7 LXX). Most readers of the English translation remain unaware of Deborah's prowess because the words "Powerful men" have been translated as "rustics ceased."
Rahab saved two Israelite spies. (Joshua 2:4 MT) There was a “wise woman” of Tekoa. (2 Sam. 14:1ff. MT) Another “wise woman” negotiated with King David’s commander and said: “you [are] seeking to destroy a city and a mother in Israel.” (2 Sam 20:19 MT) Judith was an Israelite heroine who advised men, outwitted an enemy, beheaded him, and saved her people. When questions are asked today about women in the military and whether they will be competent, these ancient texts could be kept in mind.
Esther was a Jewish Heroine who risked her life for her people and wrote the edict that saved them “with all authority/power.” (Esther 9:29 MT) Zorobabel won a wager by describing women as having the ultimate power (1 Esdras 4: 14-17 LXX) and dominion over men. (1 Esdras 4:20-22 LXX)
In New Testament times women “ministered, served, performed the duties of a deacon”….”out of their properties, possessions, means.” A woman argued with an unscrupulous judge. (Luke 18:1-5 Greek NT) A Samaritan woman spoke to Jesus and then to all her people about him. Mary and Martha of Bethany had a very close relationship with Jesus, as did Mary the Magdalene. A Canaanite woman won her point with Jesus. (Matt. 15:27-28 Greek NT) Even a servant girl felt free to talk to the Apostle Peter. (John 18:17 Greek NT)
4. The belief that in biblical material, there are no women prophets, priestesses or ministers
Women participated in religious rituals. Hannah went before the altar to pray. (1 Sam. 1:9 LXX) Samuel spoke to feminine prophetesses (1:Sam. 19:20 LXX), and Isaiah spoke of “going to a prophetess. (Isa. 8:3 MT) Huldah was a prophetess. (2 Kings 22:14 MT) Women are included along with men in a passage about serving/ministering in religious services (Isaiah 56:6 LXX) and giving offerings on the altar. (Isaiah 56:7 LXX) Yet this is not commonly known because the text, although it is in the Greek Septuagint (LXX), is absent from the more recent Hebrew text and many English translations.
There is a feminine preacher in Ecclesiastes 7:28-30 LXX. Daughters “prophesy” in Joel 3:1-2 MT. Women, like Anna, were priestesses in New Testament times and served/ministered and gave offerings on the altar. (Luke 2:37 Greek NT) Tabitha of Dorcas was a disciple. (Acts 9:35 Greek NT) Junia was called an Apostle. (Rom. 16:7 Greek NT) Phoebe was a “minister.” (Rom. 16:1-2 Greek NT) Martha “ministered” at a cult meal. (John 12:2 Greek NT) Mary of Bethany performed a sacramental act when she anointed Jesus at the Supper in Bethany. (Mark 14:3-9 Greek NT) Another little known fact is that the biblical texts contain material about 12 women being important in Jesus’ ministry, just as there are 12 men. (See chart on p. 292 of IWLU)
WOMEN AROUND JESUS
The female followers of Jesus were:
1. Mary, the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:38 ... etc, etc, etc ... John 19:25)
2. Mary's sister, Jesus' aunt (John 19:25)
3. The mother of James and John Zebedee (Matthew 27:55-56)
4. Mary Magdalene (John 20:16)
5. Joanna, wife of Chuza (Luke 8:3)
6. Salome (Mark 15:40-41)
7. Susanna (Luke 8:3)
8. Mary, wife of Cleopas (John 19:25)
9. Simon Peter's mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14)
10. Martha, sister of Mary and Lazarus (John 11:27, 12:2)
11. Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha and Lazarus (John 12:3)
12. The Samaritan woman (John 4:39)
5. The idea that a woman’s deed wasn’t to be memorialized or held in honor
There are a number of passages specifying that a woman was to be memorialized. Judith was to be established “to the eternal eminence” and was “blessed…for evermore.” (Judith 13:18-20 and 15:9-10 LXX) A woman in Maccabees, after her heroic behavior, was spoken of: “the mother was remarkable and worthy of honorable memory” (2 Maccabees 7:20-21 LXX), “thou nobler in endurance than males, and more manly than men in patience….guardian of the law” (4 Maccabees 15:2-3, 29-32 LXX), and “honorable before God.” (4 Maccabees 17:5, 8-10 LXX) Jesus said of Mary of Bethany: “Truly I tell you, wherever in all the world this gospel is proclaimed, also will be spoken what this woman did in her memory.” (Matthew 26:13 Greek NT)
6. The belief that men were the most important actors in the biblical story – that the biblical material was totally patriarchal
Esther disobeyed a king's edict that “all women will henceforth bow to the authority of their husbands - an edict that was not to be changed. (Esther 1:20-22 MT) The king condoned Esther’s disobedience and instead made her “the blameless partner/sharer of authority.” In that way the biblical ruling that the male “he will lord it over you” found in Genesis 3:16 MT was overturned. As a reinforcement of this, Jesus is quoted as saying “But do not you be called rabbi, for one is your teacher, and you are all brothers and sisters.” (Matthew 23:8-12 Greek NT) Also, “You know that the rulers of nations lord it over them and the great ones have authority over them, but it is not thus among you; but whoever among you wishes to become great will be your servant.” (Matthew 20:25-28 Greek NT)
There are additional passages throughout the text reassuring women about male persecution. One is in Isaiah 51:12 MT: “who [are] you (feminine) that you (feminine) should fear on account of man, he shall die….” A New Testament example is a passage in which Jesus says: “ Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me but weep over yourselves (feminine) and over your children….(Luke 23:27 Greek NT). Additionally, in the New Testament there are a number of texts critical of men for discounting the importance of women.
7. The conviction that there were inviolable rules about marriage, and most favored men
Many passages discuss woman’s role as wife and mother. The story of Sarah, Abraham, and Sarah’s maid Hagar, made clear Sarah’s rights as the legitimate wife. Tobit’s story and statement about his wife Sara presented her as a sister and companion into old age. (Tobit 8:7-9 LXX) A passage in Wisdom 4:1 LXX refuted the notion that a woman must bear children: “Better it is to have no children, and to have virtue….” Jesus echoed this idea when a woman said: “Blessed the womb, the one having born you and [the] breasts that you sucked.” He replied: ” No, rather blessed the ones hearing and keeping the word of the Deity.” (Luke 11:27-28 Greek NT)
There are also passages giving evidence that a woman could divorce her husband. One is in Mark 10:12 Greek NT: “and if she having dismissed her husband….” Mary Magdalene, and Mary of Bethany, who are often characterized as “harlots” are misrepresented because the Greek word translated as “harlots” actually means that they were considered to be irreligious or heathens. The Apostle Peter had a mother-in-law, which means that he had a wife –an Apostle was married. Men who “from birth or by nature” were not capable of marrying a woman and begetting children” were not required to marry women. This viewpoint could be considered a favorable statement about homosexuals. Finally, when Paul wrote his supposed statements about marriage he said that they were just “opinions,” not rules. (1 Corinthians 7:6, 25, 39 Greek NT)
8. The lack of knowledge that in the biblical story, Mary, the mother of Jesus, symbolically negated Eve’s deed. Also, the misperceptions that Mary never had normal sexual relations with Joseph and never bore other children besides Jesus
First there is the passage in Ecclesasticus 25: 24 LXX: “Sin began with a woman (Eve), and thanks to her we all must die.” Later, the biblical story tells of the New Testament Mary. Mary’s response to her ministerial vocation and becoming pregnant out of wedlock was: “may it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38 Greek NT) In other words, Mary was obedient to YHWH’s commands. Thus she is a participant in the passage: “As so therefore through one offense condemnation to all humans, so through one righteous act justification of life to all humans.” (Romans 5:18-19 Greek NT) Biblically, overturning Eve’s condemnation is one of the purposes of Mary’s story.
There is also a widespread misunderstanding about Mary’s supposed virginity. The book of Matthew contains a verse speaking of Mary’s husband Joseph and that he “knew her not until she bore a son….” (Matthew 1:24-25 Greek NT) “Knew her not” is a common idiom for sexual relations. Both the gospels Mark and Matthew also refer to Jesus as Mary’s son and say that he was the “brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon….and his sisters….”
9. The belief that it is acceptable to obscure a story such as the story of Mary of Bethany, who performed the sacramental act of anointing Jesus
Mary of Bethany’s story is told in all four gospels. That is not general knowledge because two Greek words are translated differently in the different texts. Also, two of the texts have Mary anoint Jesus’ head and two say that she anointed his feet. However, if the four texts are put side by side the sequence of events is made clear. Moreover, this Supper in Bethany just prior to Jesus’ death is virtually as important as the Last Supper with the men. Jesus acknowledged that by saying: ”for this woman putting this ointment on my body for my burial she did. Truly I tell you, wherever in all the world this, the gospel is proclaimed, also will be spoken what this woman did in her memory.” (Matthew 26:6-14 Greek NT)
10. The idea that many of the laws in the Pentateuch were to control women and they weren’t ever negated
Most of the laws in the Pentateuch spoke equally of men and women. Only six laws were discriminatory toward women. They had to do with ritual uncleanness related to menstruation, adultery, a woman’s vows, a woman’s worth, uncleanliness after childbirth, and male’s right to divorce. It is noteworthy that in the New Testament story Jesus addressed these six laws and negated them.
11. The belief that all biblical translations are similar and no important differences or changes have been made that might affect women
I found that a key to understanding much of the biblical material and gaining understandings that overturn the above misperceptions was a working knowledge of Hebrew and Greek precisely because so many later changes to the text have been made - mostly in the direction of downplaying, discrediting, or eliminating words, concepts, or stories involving women. It is also necessary to compare the Greek Septuagint (LXX), text, which was a translation made about 300 B.C.E., and the Hebrew text that was finalized about 90 C.E. A lot of material involving feminine concepts is found in the LXX (which was the Bible of the early Christians) that is not found in the later, finalized, Hebrew text.
Another important key to understanding early biblical writings is knowledge about Hebrew, the language in which the Bible was first written, and the Greek language of 300 B.C.E. Hebrew is basically the root language of today’s English language. It was in Hebrew that the symbols and order of our alphabet took form. Hebrew was so early that it was only written with symbols representing consonants. (About five of those symbols were used as weak vowels, the 'a', 'e', 'i', 'o', 'u'.) Also, the Hebrew language only had ways of indicating whether a thing, or idea was masculine or feminine – not neuter. Nevertheless it was in Hebrew that humanity could express more complicated thoughts than had until then been possible. That is when the concepts and literature of the biblical culture could be written down.
The Greek language developed after the Hebrew language and drew on Hebrew for the order and names of the alphabet. Greek was then further developed by the addition of symbols for vowels. Also, a way of indicating neuter gender in addition to masculine and feminine genders was made. Some centuries later, between 500 and 1000 C.E., scribes devised a system of little marks to add to the early Hebrew words to show what vowels they thought that early Hebrew should have – this was in a time when patriarchy was becoming stronger.
When one thinks of these early language stages, one must realize that symbols, gender, and vowels used to express the writer's ideas were very important to those early writers. When writers specified that a particular noun or idea was feminine or masculine or neuter they must have meant it. They weren't being haphazard in their decisions as to how to express themselves. So, when a contemporary person translates the biblical text into another language, the early written forms that indicated that a word is to be feminine or masculine or neuter, or singular or plural, must be taken seriously. That is where many biblical translators, who were, and are, predominantly male have gone astray - particularly in respect to feminine material in the Bible. Then, they have variously called feminine material "odd," "out of place," "needs correcting," "unusual," "an error," etc.
Next, translators have often puzzled over passages that contain feminine material, or have made theological decisions about what they "think" the stories mean - and I have found much evidence of a masculine bias in those decisions. This has led to what one person called "masculine misinterpretations" or misperceptions of the biblical text. This has drastically influenced the general public's ideas of the feminine role in biblical stories. Consequently, it has severely influenced the treatment of women from the early centuries C.E. even until today, both religiously and in the secular world.
I have found evidence, through my study of the most accepted Hebrew and Greek biblical texts, that women and the feminine aspect of the Deity played larger roles in the biblical story than is commonly believed. That material has been lost through translation decisions - either unintentional or intentional.
12. The additional assumption that parts of some biblical books, and other books, labeled the Apocrypha, are unacceptable
I have also found that it is important to include the apocryphal books in the biblical text, as they are present in the LXX. The Apocrypha contain feminine oriented stories - which is perhaps one reason why they are excluded from many more recent Bibles.
All of the biblical books, written over about 1100 years, by a number of people, are a dialog. They are different expressions by different people about the world, how it was created, humanities' role in the world, how society should be ordered, and which ideas, peoples, or sexes should be dominant. It is a record of the ancient struggle over issues that still occupy us today. Some of the battles are not so different from those we have recently fought because of the bombing of the twin towers, or the killings of ambassadors, or the taking of oil field hostages. We are still having trouble in the Middle East. We still debate woman's role in society and in the home. We still ask if a woman should participate in battle. Or if people should go to war at all. And, we still are trying to deal with the ideas of corrupt priests and rape in the army. There is a trite saying to the effect that "If one doesn't know one's history, one is bound to repeat it." This why biblical material is important - it is a record of the development of early human thought and similar struggles taking place during those times.
Unfortunately the Bible has been approached in many other ways. One of them is to declare that it is the word of God and must be strictly followed. Then biblical passages are selectively chosen to prove one's point with a particular “rule.” It is easy to do this with the Bible because various writers expressed various viewpoints. It was a DIALOG. Writers didn't all agree with each other.
Another approach is to dismiss the Bible entirely, saying: "How can anyone believe in a book that has so much blood and gore in it - that has a God of destruction and vengeance. That approach is not acknowledging that there are other voices in the Bible speaking against the blood and gore and warfare. There are passages in which the “Deity” condemns violence.
A third approach is to say that the Bible is a totally patriarchal book - that women are virtually absent from the text, and that when they are present they are in positions of subjection. That approach ignores the above material.
Finally, there is an approach that believes that biblical material is just a book of religious hocus pocus and nonsense akin to ancient mythologies. That is an unfortunate belief. It is important to consider the Bible as a history of thought, a dialog about humanities’ problems. Those peoples were trying to work out answers to some of the questions we still haven't solved today. We still don't know how the world began. We still don't know how to have men and women get along. We still don't know how to care for the earth and everything in it. We don't know how to stop warfare or whether to have children and keep populating the earth. Or how to help alleviate climate change and adapt to it. So, in seeking to resolve the most complex and critical issues currently facing humanity, it would be instrumental to have a better understanding of the wisdom contained in ancient biblical texts.
Extensive bibliographies are in both of J. J. McKenzie's books:
Some useful dictionaries, lexicons, concordances and grammars for the study of the Masoretic (Hebrew/Aramaic), Septuagint (LXX), and Greek New Testament texts are:
Barr, J. Comparative Philology and the Text of the Old Testament. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968.
Bauer, W., Trans by William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich (Second Edition Revised and aug. by F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker ed.). A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1979.
Brown, F., S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs. A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979.
Brenton, S. L. C. L. The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1851.
Burrows, Millar, Ed. The Dead Sea Scrolls of St. Mark’s Monastery, Vol. 1. New Haven: The American Schools of Oriental Research, 1950.
Davidson, B. The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1981.
Elliger, K., & W. Rudolph. Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelstiftung, 1967/77.
Green, J. P., Sr., Editor. The Interlinear Bible: Hebrew/English. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1983.
Hatch, E. and Henry Redpath. A Concordance to the Septuagint. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1983.
Kautzsch, E., & A. E. Cowley. Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar (2nd English Edition). Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982.
Klein, E. A. Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language for Readers of English. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1987.
Wigram, G. V. The Analytical Greek Lexicon of the New Testament. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1983 (Orig. pub. 1852).
Young, R., LL.D. Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Jan. 1980 Edition Ed.). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1980.
Zondervan. The Zondervan Parallel New Testament in Greek and English. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Bible Publishers, 1975.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer J. McKenzie is an independent scholar who resides in Wisconsin, USA. For many years she has been doing research, with a focus on feminine material, on the biblical text. The results of her research is in two books – the recently published eBook: A GENDER NEUTRAL GOD/ESS: Be Inclusive but MAKE NO IMAGES was the Religious Change and an earlier book: I Will Love Unloved: A Linguistic Analysis of Woman’s Biblical Importance. In both books, the author has attempted to write in a style accessible to the interested layperson and yet provide ample documentation of her findings.
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