Race-ing Toward Nicea part 2: Constantine, DuBois, & Lynching

                                                                                                                                    Whither, Eusebius of Caesarea?

For part one see: Race-ing Towards Nicea part 1: The Incarnation

I am continuing to wrestle with Peter Leithart’s Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom. Simultaneously I am working through James Cone’s The Cross and the Lynching Tree and today I would like to present a potential inter-textual reading of both works.

In Defending Constantine (Chapter 10 “Justice For All”), Peter Leithart goes through the nitty gritty details of Constantine’s views on justice as well as his executive decisions when it came creating laws. Among some of his peculiarities was Constantine’s contention, much like Liberation Theology, that justice must be served to the oppressed. In those days, the Roman court system was oppressive and heavily biased towards the rich and powerful. Some of Constantine’s laws worked against this. In addition, Constantine outlawed crucifixions. The theological imagination for the secular philosopher/emperor Constantine was attracted to Christianity, and in that move, ended a murderous practice. However, Constantine still kept capital punishment itself around; Leithart just notes that Constantine just found more “creative” ways of executing criminals.

Torture and gory body-policing activities sponsored by the state such as the cutting off of thieves’ hands were acceptable Constantinian practices. Back then, these were social norms. It was expected that Constantine not to be able to transcend his cultural milieu. Like the Christian realists of the mid-20th century and even today, Constantine achieved what they would consider a “proximate justice.” The death penalty was such the norm back then that Constantine joked with Arius that the Emperor considered Arius and his fellow dissidents to be “gallows rogues,” or persons who found ways, time and again from being hung from the gallows ala Mordecai in the Book of Esther.

One interesting move that Leithart makes (as part of his larger Dominionist agenda in looking at the theological & social conservativism of the Global South) is to point out the African context from which the Donatist and Arian cotnroversies arose. In both instances, Christian bishops INVITED Emperor Constantine to help resolve these disputes. In the case of the Donatists, property rights were at stake. Radical Libyan Christians who took an uncompromising stance against bishops and laity who gave in to Roman persecution by denying Jesus as their Savior to save their own hides. The conflicts were so intense that Donatists were sometimes murdered for their beliefs. Appealing to political powers that be (an outside third-party) seemed to be the realistic approach to these issues.

James Cone’s The Cross And The Lynching Tree is written at the intersections of atonement theory, theodicy, and the struggle against White Supremacy. As Cone is making his argument in favor of USian Christians looking at the Cross through the history of the lynching tree, he notes that it was poets and artists during the Harlem Renaissance that first made the connection. Jim and Jane Crow was institutional, legal white supremacy maintained by placing black bodies on the gallows. One such writer, novelist and Christian scholar was W.E.B. DuBois DuBois’ Christian anti-racist imagination enabled him to use theological imagery to work to dismantle White Supremacy. Lacing his Christian prayers with appeals to the Prince of Peace, commenting on the race riots started by White Supremacists by referring to the book of Psalms, DuBois lived as an example of liberating Christian orthopraxis.

A few years ago in seminary, a group of African American students (including myself) protested against the injustices done to the Jena Six. The Jena Six situation was a high school fight started because someone hung a noose around the tree where the white kids usually sit. Under the murderous threat from the history of imperialist, racist KKKristianity which includes Emperor Constantine who himself had threatened an African man (as a joke) with lynching, the black high schoolers had little choice but to STAND THEIR GROUND.

No one can do an honest assessment of the Nicene-Chalcedon tradition without acknowledging its enforcement through, at minimum, the threat of violence (i.e., the anathemas and damnations and exiles etc.).  However, the Nicene-Chalcedonian formulas are not beyond the liberating grasp of the Holy Spirit.  In fact, Nicea & Chalcedon & the Apostles’ Creeds are are important to the extent that they remind  us Gentile Christians of our metanarrative that we find in Scripture, and that our stories are not our own, and that THE story is not about us. Tradition (with a capitol T) ideally should be used to keep our nationalistic desires in check, but when it fails to do so, history and Scripture witnesses to the fact that God uses outsiders, the rejects to prophesy deliverance to the Body of Christ.

No one represents this moreso than the the U.S. American prophet W.E.B. DuBois.  Living in the 20th century context where white Christians could recite the Creeds by rote memory, and then in the very next breathe, call a black person n*gger before lynching her, W.E.B. Dubois embodied Nicene-Chalcedonian orthopraxis as a testimony to Jesus Christ Our LORD and Liberator. In his essay, “The Gospel According To Mary Brown,” Dubois writes the Gospel narratives for his time, with a mulatto man portraying Jesus. Joshua is lynched because of his message of peace and anti-White Supremacy. As his mother Mary is found weeping, Joshua appeared to her, with his hair shining, white clothes (biblical language for holiness of the martyrs), “for his voice was the Voice of God.” When Mary asked where did Joshua go, Joshua tells her, “I was crucified, dead, and buried. I descended into Hell. On the third day, I rose from the dead. I ascended into Heaven and sit on the right hand of my Father, from whence I shall come to judge the Quick and the Dead.”

In an earlier post, I was mistaken to suggest that Constantine and Athanasius represent two different kinds of Christianity. It would be better for me to have said that Eusebius of Caesarea and the bishops and presbyters that made room for the devil by inviting Constantine to the table represent the imperial version of Christianity, the one where the nation-states’ story matters more than the Resurrection itself.

Eusebius and Athanasius represent two types of Christianity that we all have to struggle with. Eusebius and the Christian empire/dominionist tradition that Leithart favors is obsessed maintaining power over others (coercion, violence, war, white supremacy, lynching). The Nicene-Chalcedonian orthopraxis of Clement & Athansius of Alexandria and W.E.B DuBois offers a different way of being & doing in the world, that of living on the margins of exile, and pointing to the Logos as our Teacher & Prince of peace.

Other posts of interests:

Nestorianism Returns: Tea Party Politics vs Hypostatic Unity

Book Review: W.E.B. DuBois: American Prophet

Emperor Constantine and the Conservative Case for Reparations

h00die_R (Rod)

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Clement on Romans 8:38 & 39

It is inevitable, then, that those who confess themselves to belong to Christ, but find themselves in the midst of the devil’s works, suffer the most hostile treatment. For it is written, ‘ Lest he deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officers of Satan’s kingdom.’ [Luke 11:17-19] ‘For I am persuaded that neither death,’ through the assault of persecutors, ‘ nor life’ in this world, ‘nor angels.’ the apostate ones, ‘nor powers’ (and Satan’s powers is the life which he chose, for such are the powers and principalities of darkness belonging to him), ‘nor things present,’ amid which we exist during the time of life, as the hope entertained by the soldier and the merchant’s gain, ‘nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature,’ in consequence of the energy proper to a man,— opposes the faith of him who acts according to free choice. ‘Creature’ is is synonymous with activity, being our work, and such activity ‘shall not be able to separate us from the the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our LORD. [Romans 8:38, 39]

-Clement of Alexandria, The Carpets [Stromata], Book 5, Chapter 14

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:

Engrafted Into the Story: Romans 11 and Reconciliation

Clement of Alexandria, Romans 11, and Interreligious Dialogue

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If White Supremacy Is God, Count Me as an Atheist: Religion & the #GeorgeZimmerman trial

“For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”- Ephesians 6:12, NRSV

 

“Jesus said to her [Martha], “I am the resurrection and the life.”- John 11:25 NRSV

Today, I would like to do a thorough theological examination of the religion, race, and the Trayvon Martin George Zimmerman trial. I would like to start briefly with a story, an encounter that happened to me in church just two days ago. It all starts really July 14th, the Sunday after George Zimmerman was acquitted for murder. In solidarity with the #MillionHoodies movement, and a protest against white supremacy and racial profiling, I put on my church clothes blue khaki pants, dress shoes, and a collared polo shirt, with a hoodie over top of it. God blessed Texas that day because all week it had been sunny and awfully hot, into the triple digits, but Sunday, it was cold and raining, and I couldn’t stop smiling. The weather gave me an opportunity to demonstrate my love for people and justice. In church, I kept on my hood, and several people asked me, “are you cold? is it cold in here?” I just nodded yes and smiled. Only the pastor was aware that I was wearing my hoodie for Trayvon. After church, a member commented that it was just like me, to wear a hoodie in church and smile all through service. I was filled with joy, in spite of, and I even sang my least favorite CCM song, “Days Of Elijah; don’t get me started. Yet it was only this Sunday, a whole week after the fact, one of the church members ran into me, and told me, “I saw you last Sunday, you were wearing a hoodie for brother Trayvon.” I said, “Yes sir.” He asked me, “Did you know anything about him? Didn’t he have marijuana in his system?” I responded, “Well, did you know Trayvon Martin was an honors student, with a 3.7 GPA?” I didn’t want to bring up the celebrity who had died of a drug overdose, but I did say about the marijuana, that no one was perfect. The church member, I remember, had a stunned look on his face. He could hardly believe that Trayvon in fact, was successful in school work. I had a feeling that this person had only heard/read one side of the story, so I encouraged him to do some research.

So who is talking about God and religion when it comes to the Trayvon Martin George Zimmerman? First batter up, it was George Zimmerman himself who said it was God’s plan for him to act on his racist assumptions, profile an unarmed 17 year old, and then murder him in cold blood. Zimmerman’s capricious god not only hates black people; it has chosen them to experience nothingness and death at the wrath of white supremacy.  Christian pastors, especially of the white evangelical stripe, did nothing to condemn Zimmerman’s abuse of God’s name.  In fact their silence + their blaming of the victim, a child wearing a hood, reveals their commitment to white supremacy far more than any notion of the sanctity of life.  For example, evangelist Pat Robertson said that it was Trayvon’s fault that he, as a teenager, wasn’t wearing a dress suit instead of a hoodie.  One of Robertson’s co-hosts tried to reason with him, questioning Robertson’s assumptions, but he remained stubborn, and dedicated to the white supremacist mode of thinking. Trayvon deserved what he got because of his skin color and his clothing style. It is just not the far right of white evangelicalism that has a soft spot for white supremacy; even the more “moderate, progressive” Emergent church has yet to deal with its racism.

For example, author Donald Miller pointed to African Americans as the ones who let their emotions get in the way of truth; whites are the objective subjects of reason. The idea that blacks are incapable of being rational, and that we have always clinged to this race-based group think is a false myth of white supremacy.  How come Miller doesn’t address the emotional arguments of “self-defense” and the fact that Zimmerman’s whole defense was based purely on emotion and the subjective feelings of the all-white jury? Miller’s post is nothing more than white supremacist whitesplaining of race-relations, that his knowledge and  his experience (which is of course more objective than the blacks) is the solution to the problem.  Miller denies the existence of racial injustice in the name of colorblindness and the racial hierarchy that comes with it.

The weeks leading up to the verdict and on into the following days have felt like moving days for People of Color. All over social media as well as in IRL, George Zimmerman’s supporters celebrated as well as cautioned that blacks would riot, and we know when blacks riot, it gets really violent (RE: people with darker skin are more criminal, once more). It was the uncritical defenses of racial profiling and violence that lead a number of writers to air their concerns, especially to the whereabouts of God on high.

The blogger, Anti-Intellect:

“How many more Black people have to die before we realize that that we are on our own? There is no god looking out for out race. There is no god protecting Black youth like Trayvon Martin and Aiyana Jones. There is no god protecting Black adults like Marissa Alexander and Marco McMillian. It should outrage Black people when someone tries to rationalize the violence visited upon us daily with an excuse as disrespectful as the notion that a god is on our side. I love Black people too much to see us disrespect ourselves with continued belief in some White man in the sky, supposedly looking out for us. I want Black people to believe in each other. I want Black people to call on each other.”- from Where Was God?

Other religious thinkers from the Black American communities have chimed in from Religion Dispatches blog:

Anthea Butler’s piece, which apparently hurt the feelings of white conservative evangelicals (crocodile tears?):

“The lamentation of the African-American community at yet another injustice, the surprise and disgust of others who understand, stand against this pseudo-god of capitalisms and incarceration that threaten to take over our nation.

While many continue to proclaim that the religious right is over, they’re wrong. The religious right is flourishing, and unlike the right of the 1970s, religious conservatism of the 21st century is in bed with the prison industrial complex, the Koch brothers, the NRA—all while proclaiming that they are “pro-life.” They are anything but. They are the ones who thought that what George Zimmerman did was right, and I am sure my inbox will be full of well-meaning evangelical sermons about how we should all just get along, and God doesn’t see race.”

The Zimmerman Aquittal: America’s Racist God

Willie Jennings:

“We especially need Christians who believe that God is known not only by God’s gracious actions of solidarity with those feared and despised in this world, but also by our actions of solidarity.

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, not against the George Zimmermans of this world, but against those powers and principalities that teach the George Zimmermans of this world that weapons are gifts given by god, that violence is a good quick solution to our fears, and that there is a God-given natural racial order to this world. Anyone who accepts these precepts is following a god who is powerful, flexible and moves around America as if he owns it. That god is, as Dr. Butler pointed out, a white racist.”

- What Does It Mean To Call God A White Racist

J. Kameron Carter:

We must struggle against this “American god” or the idol of the white, western god-man. Indeed, we must struggle against this god with an eye toward a different social order and under the realization that things don’t have to be this way—and that they must change.

What I’m in effect calling for is a Christianity uncoupled from this nation-state project, from the project of social purity or “proper” Americanness, with its (racially inflected) legal protocols and its vision of racialized criminality and institutions of incarceration. I’m calling for a Christianity that no longer provides religious sanction or the cloak of righteousness to the political project of U.S. sovereignty and its vision of who is normal (and in the right place) and who is abnormal (and thus out of place). I’m calling for a Christianity whose animating logic is no longer tied to that false “god-man.” The “god” of (or that is) whiteness is a god toward which we must be thoroughgoing atheists and religionless.

- Christian Atheism: The Only Response Worth Its Salt To The Zimmerman Verdict

In each piece, the four blog posts above, both the atheist and Christian view is shown to be that white supremacy is an active principality in the United States. This principality is something that has received honor and recognition, through institutionalized racism in our judicial system. George Zimmerman pulled the “god-card,” and played the media as a devout man while the white supremacist media portrayed Trayvon as someone who didn’t go to church, a criminal and violent person who liked “street fights,” oh, and he used the N* word alot on twitter, that definitely points to him being damned for eternity. An unrepentant murderer was shown as an angel of light. What kind of god is that? That is the god called white supremacy. White Supremacy of deity is worshipped by dedication to hierarchy, “law and order,” and self-righteousness. For example, same Christo-fascist white supremacists in Arizona who took down “racist” Mexican/Black studies programs are the same people who take away the rights of persons who choose atheism. The White Supremacist god is on their side, and they will force you to believe in him, or you will not get your high school diploma.

White Supremacy whitewashes history, and ignores the plights of historically oppressed people groups. White Supremacy believes that the U.S. Constitution was divinely inspired, and it was, by the god named White Supremacy. How else could we explain the 3/5’s “compromise” as if the full humanity of real persons is something to be bargained with? I have been told that I have used too harsh language in discussing White Supremacy. Let me be honest: I really do not care. White supremacy does not want to be named. White supremacy is the god that will not be named. White supremacy tries to hide, white liberalism is the white Jesus of Luther’s Deus Obsconditus,the hidden cruel divinity lying just beneath Jesus’ white flesh. Any god that is unnameable, is unknowable, & therefore stands in as the invisible hand that transforms into a fist, in favor of the status quo, and against the livelihood of the oppressed.

There are many well-meaning believers, like Emergent Christians, who want us to turn to a god who is ineffable mystery. What makes your god any different than Thomas Jefferson’s white supremacist divinity? Given the fact that some of the (now basically irrelevant) emergent church’s leadership is very much committed to white supremacy in all things theology, it should come as no surprise.

Over 2000 years ago, the Roman Empire felt threatened by a group of women and men they called “atheists.” These atheists proclaimed that the one Creator of us all revealed Godself to us in the body of a Jewish day-laborer, and when that rabbi was killed, in three days, God raised him from the dead. No god can ever be that good. Jesus’ mission was to be raised from the dead so that we could all experience resurrection. Many Christians act like Jesus said, “I am the crucifixion and the death,” and all they care about is his suffering. In fact, a group of Christians talk about “cruciformity” and “cruciform hermeneutics.” The oppressed simply cannot adopt worldviews that will endorse their suffering. That would be no better than bowing to the god of white supremacy. The cross comes from the greek term, Stauros, and it was a method of Roman-style execution. Basically, the electric chair; would it make sense for POC, who are the most likely to receive capital punishment, to base an entire system on death, and the death penalty? Jesus is the Resurrection, and our hope, he came so that we may live, and live more abundantly. White supremacy tells us that we are not meant to survive, that we were meant to die. Being an atheist in the 21st century means, from a Christian standpoint, to celebrate the victory of Christ, and to resist any and all forces of death.

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Emperor Constantine And the Conservative Case For Reparations

Metropolitan Museum of Art # 26.229 Photograph...

Metropolitan Museum of Art # 26.229 Photographer: Katie Chao (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One really doesn’t have to go far to see what political talking heads have done with the issue of reparations for enslaving Africans, making it a race-baiting issue, since no one is talking about it but idjits like Rush Limbaugh. I mean when I was in undergrad, and I did research on the issue to find out what people were saying, there was literally a dearth of resources on both sides about reparations and African enslavement. Maybe perhaps some people want to move on from the Civil War but certain unnamed PaleoConfederates keep bringing it up?

Any how, I am reading Peter Leithart‘s rereading of Emperor Constantine’s history and impact, Defending Constantine. At church, when I introduced a few ideas from this book, I was accused of siding with Constantine to the point of almost laudatory praise. Just proof to me that I am trying to give Constantine and Leithart a fair hearing. As I was thinking about Constantine, I noticed that conservative Christians in the USA claim Athanasius of Alexandria (for his doctrine) and Constantine (for his political triumphs) alike, even though the two men were enemies in their life times. In Defending Constantine, in Leithart’s chapter in debunking the myth of the “great” Edict of Milan (the big event of tolerance for Christians), Leithart mentioned what separated Constantine’s reign from that of his rival & brother in law Licinius was that Constantine (who Leithart calls “the Christian Constantine” time and again) redistributed wealth among the Eastern and Western people. How? By intervening in the economics of his day, Constantine used his political authority to order the properties of churches and Christians to be restored. “Even those who had received church properties as gifts from another party must return them to the Christians.” I just wonder how much this contradicted the Roman pagan legal tradition of private property rights.

If one is to follow this mythology of persecution, and follow the way of Constantine, and under Constantine, it was Christians who have lost property to receive restitution, then would not one who claims Constantine to be a hero in the Church’s history advocate for perhaps another group of Christians who had lost their property and their rights? No, I am not trying to essentialize the enslaved Black population as all Christian, but the precedent of Constantine has been set. Why do we have to pick the worst of his example as Roger Olson points out, his violence? But then again, I share the ambivalence, even antipathy for the idea of reparations as a whole, since you can’t fix a price on what was lost, but some sort of Truth and Reconciliation commission would be enough for me personally.

The fear of reparations but the endorsement of Faith-Based Initiatives (the government giving funds to religious organizations) is a rather strange way of continuing the economics of Constantine’s legacy. FBI forces the church to compromise its values with the state, to let the state define its role. I believe in the separation of church in state because just as God does not favor people, so should the state not favor one religious organization over the other. Constantine and Athanasius represent two types of Christianity that we all have to struggle with. Constantine and the Christian empire/dominionist tradition that Leithart favors is obsessed maintaining power over others (coercion). The faith of Clement & Athansius of Alexandria, W.E.B DuBois, and John Howard Yoder offers a different way of being & doing in the world, that of living on the margins of exile, and pointing to the Logos as our Teacher & Prince of peace.

Choose ye this day which one you will follow.

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The Bible, Homosexuality, and Christianity: How We Read and Interpret Scripture

This is the Eighth post in a series. I highly encourage that you read those previous posts before reading this one. The preface is here. The guidelines are here. A discussion of relevant Hebrew Bible texts is here. A study of Romans 1:26-27 is here. A Study of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10 can be found here. A discussion about marriage in the Bible is here. A few notes about gender in the Bible can be found here.

The issues in this post are more important and far reaching than the last 7 combined. And the discussion has much farther reaching implications as well. Boiled down, what we discuss today is the big reason why discussions (or lack thereof) around homosexual practice tend to be so divisive in many churches. That is because no matter how Christians feel about homosexual practice, they feel more strongly and passionately about the Scriptures. The reason we are taking a bit of time to discuss Scripture itself near the end of a discussion about Homosexual practice is that how we read scripture ultimately determines how we use scripture to inform our discussion and our decisions.

What is scripture? Why do we believe it? In what sense is it the Word of God? Where does the authority of Scripture lie? And lastly, how do we use it?

The Bible is a collection of books. It isn’t one, very large book. It has many different human authors as well. It might be more helpful to think about the Bible as a bookshelf, like you would have at home. And this bookshelf is labelled “God stuff.” Now, this “God stuff” shelf only has books written between a certain number of years. Further, this shelf has a few books on it written by the same author, covering different topics. It also has books on the same topic, written by different people, with different points of view.

By the time of Jesus, the books of the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) were considered holy texts by Jesus ans his people. This is because they narrated the story of God’s interactions with humanity, and gave them a context in which they could participate with God in healing the world.

The New Testament tells the story of Jesus, and then also collects a series of letters and writings by Jesus’ followers afterwards. Those in the early church, while Christianity was  not yet an accepted religion, circulated and used the same books we have in our Bibles for worship, teaching, and growing in their faith.

Hundreds of years after these books initially began their circulation, Christianity became not only legal, but the preferred religion of the Roman Empire. And councils were called for various purposes to get the leaders of the universal church to come to conclusions on various matters. One of these matters was which books are we going to officially endorse as “scripture?” And thus they codified the books that were already in use. Sure, there were discussions about other books that didn’t make it in, but these books were never used as widely, never regarded as authentic, nor were they ever seen as useful in worship. The books we have were the same books used in the late first century, only a generation removed from the authors and events.

But is all scripture equal? Some, who believe that every word in the Bible is factually true, perfect, and given by God to a human, word-for-word, would say yes. Others disagree. To answer this question, we must ask ourselves where the authority of scripture comes from. If you said “God,” you would be in good Christian company, but that isn’t the whole story. To frame the question in a different way, “In what way is the scripture authoritative on God’s behalf?” Is every word in scripture inspired by God? Were the authors who wrote the scripture inspired by God, and so whatever they wrote is considered scripture? Perhaps. But, regardless of what a televangelist or a small town country preacher would tell you, the Bible does indeed have contradictions. It has errors. It even blatantly disagrees with itself. If you take the view that every word in the Bible is inspired, you have a serious problem there. Also, what do you make of words in the Bible where Paul says this: “To the rest I say—I and not the Lord…” Paul is saying that these words are NOT God’s, but PAUL’s. If ALL scripture is God’s words, then Paul is lying, or is it God lying?

Perhaps the Bible’s words aren’t inspired, but perhaps the authors of scripture are. For example, if we all of a sudden found a manuscript written by the Apostle Paul that was unknown to us before, it would make sense to include it in scripture, right? Maybe not. The problem with this view is that the authors of scripture disagree with each other. Not only that, but they actually SAY that they disagree with each other. For example, Paul says in Galatians 2, “But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned.” Interesting that two people who spoke on God’s behalf, being inspired and all, would disagree with each other…

But what if there is a third option? What if the Bible is inspired, not in the authors, not in the actual words, but in the events that they bear witness to? What if the inspiration of Scripture is when God interacted with humanity in various ways, touched the lives of people, did amazing and wonderfully loving things, and people wrote them down, and wrote about what they meant. That would not mean God was any less involved, nor would it mean that the Bible is any less important for the churches or the believers. In fact, it allows the Bible to speak on its own terms, allows the authors to speak with their own authentic voices, and makes the Bible an indispensable witness to what God has said and done. And it still means the Bible is inspired.

But it also means that the Bible doesn’t stand or fall on the contradictions it contains. If many people bear witness to an event, and a few details are wrong, in our world we would not discount the event. Rather, we would take the inconsistencies as hints that the actual event did in fact take place, and was not just words rehearsed by conspiratists.

But what does this mean for how we read it? If the Bible bears witness to what God is doing, perhaps we should let the Bible speak for itself. Hebrews 1 tells us that in the past, God spoke through a variety of means, prophets, etc… But now, in the last days, God has spoken to us by his son, who is over all. It says that Jesus is everything we need to know about God. It says that Jesus is exactly what God would look like if God was human and taught and said and did everything God would do. Whoa. Jesus told a parable about a man who owned a vineyard, but leased it out to some folks to work the land. He sent servant after servant to check up on the field, but they were beaten and sent home. Finally, Jesus said, the man sent his son, whom they killed. This parable, of course, was about Jesus himself, and one of the points was, Jesus is the final word of God. Not in the sense that Good can’t or won’t speak to us again, but in the sense that if you get Jesus, you have got everything you need to know.

So why then, do we have scriptures after Jesus died? This is the core of the misunderstanding. There are those who think that God didn’t say enough through Jesus and so needed to keep talking through Jesus’ followers after Jesus ascended. Poppycock. The scriptures that follow Jesus’ ministry were not new teaching from God. The scriptures we have after Jesus are his followers’ honest attempt at taking JESUS’ teaching to vastly different places, contexts, and peoples. Paul’s letters are not Paul’s attempts at new teaching. They are Paul’s attempts to help people in various places live out Jesus’ message as best they could in their city. And as such (here is the thing), Paul’s letters do not have authority over us today in the same way Jesus’ teaching does. Scripture bears witness to Paul, Peter, John, James, and others as they try to follow Jesus in their contexts. It does damage to their intent when we blindly follow their words and parrot their phrases without doing the hard work that they did when they took Jesus’ words and contextualized them. Paul’s world is not ours. Not by a long shot. So Paul’s words should be read as a fellow follower of the teacher, not the words of the teacher himself.

Further, Jesus the final teacher, shows us exactly what God is like and how God would interact with us. As such, if we see something in Jesus that teaches us about God, and that thing doesn’t jibe with what another part of scripture seems to indicate, then we know that we must go with Jesus, even if it means that a different part of scripture now appears wrong. And, if the scripture is a witness to God’s words and acts, and not the words and acts themselves, this shouldn’t bother us so much. The person who wrote that part of the Bible witnessed God’s acts and words, and made a mistake in the interpretation or the writing. Just like we sometimes do. And God still uses us.

So for the Christian, the words, acts, life, and teachings of Jesus serve as the lens through which we see every other part of the scripture. Jesus is the reflection of God. Not the law, not Paul, not the prophets, not even Peter. Jesus.

And Jesus says nothing about Homosexuality, by the way.

Next time, we will conclude. And it’s a doozy.

Jump to part 9, Binding, Loosing, and a Conclusion, here.

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Optimistic Chad

Chad really really hopes things are going to turn out ok. He loves his wife - with the passion of 1000 exploding suns, and is a diligent, but surely mediocre father to his brilliant and subversive children. He likes Chinese food.

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Holiday Harassment: Christmas pt. 2: Christian Origins

This is the first is a 3 part series. Part 1: Pagan origins of Christmas, Part 2: Christian origins of Christmas, and Part 3: Santa Claus and his Ilk.

In part 1, I discussed the pagan origins of Christmas. However, that is not the whole story. Christmas, in its current form, did not simply spring up or evolve from just one source, Christian, pagan or otherwise. Therefore, in the interest of fairness, here are the Christian origins of Christmas.

December 25

In the last post, I mentioned how Dies Natalis Solis Invicti was the reason that Christmas is celebrated on December 25. Well, that isn’t the whole story. While it is true that the celebration of the Sun (or Sun God) was celebrated on this day, and that some early Church Fathers commented on how appropriate it would be to celebrate Jesus’ birth on the day of the unconquered Sun, it is also true that the idea of Jesus’ birth being on December 25, predated those decisions. Hippolytus of Rome, a 3rd century theologian, makes it clear that he believes Jesus’ birth to have happened on December 25, not because of the Sun celebration, but because he believes that Jesus’ conception took place during the traditional date of the creation of the world on March 25 (which also happened to line up with the vernal equinox and often with the Jewish Passover), although he also put forth April 2nd as a date of conception in some writings. Regardless, Hippolytus felt that this proved a date of Jesus’ birth at December 25th. Still, it could have been an attempt of a Christian apologist to retroactively prove Jesus’ birth after other’s had connected the date already to Saturnalia or Dies Natalis Solis Invicti. Except… that Saturnalia was not celebrated on December 25. It was celebrated on December 17, and was lengthened over time to December 23, but never the 25. Sorry Mythicists. Further, while Dies Natalis Solis Invicti WAS indeed celebrated on December 25,  there is no mention of this celebration being held on December 25 prior to AD 354, since before this, the celebration was held every 4 years, and not on the 25th of December, and often not in December at all. This is relevant because Hippolytus died in 235, over 100 years before Dies Natalis Solis Invicti was practiced on December 25. In fact, around 200 AD, Clement of Alexandria gives us an even better clue (through his consternation), complaining in frustration that some Egyption theologians are celebrating Jesus’ birth  on December 25 (Stromata 1:21). So it seems that the December 25 date for Christmas IS actually a Christian tradition, not a lender from a pagan source.

Note: this does not actually make it true that Jesus’ was born on December 25. He almost surely wasn’t. But it does mean that Christians have honored Jesus’ birth on that day by our own (often flawed) resources, and not as a direct result of other holidays.

Christmas Trees

I did make a mention last time about Romans bringing in trees during this time, and even decorating them with 12 candles. However, no Christians are ever mentioned as taking on this tradition during the time of the Roman Empire. While this practice does seem similar to our Christmas tree tradition, the practice of bringing trees into homes to celebrate Saturnalia (or other mid-winter holidays) was long dead (by a millennium) by the time Christians began to celebrate it during Christmas time. While it is also true that many different cultures brought greenery and trees into the home during winter (from Egypt to Norway), it appears that the 16th century German Christians were the first to bring Evergreen trees into their homes and decorate them for Christmas. There is little chance that 16th century Germans relied on long forgotten Roman practice to initiate theirs. As the story goes, Martin Luther, the 16th Century German reformer, was the first to use candles and light up a Christmas tree.

And while the tree has not always been accepted as a good thing in all Christian circles, it can certainly be said however, that it too, is of Christian origin.

The Name “Christmas”

Of course, it doesn’t really take a genius to realize that the actual word “Christmas” is of Christian origin. Cristes Maesse in old English, it appeared around 1038. Christes – Christ, Maesse meaning dismissal, or colloquially, the way to refer to a church service, as in “we are dismissed to be about the mission of God.” It came to refer to the service on Dec. 25. Not much pagan there.

Nativity Scenes

The first nativity scene is said to be the work of St. Francis of Assisi. He was attempting to reverse the tide of materialism encroaching in on Christmastime around 1223 CE. Imagine if he had been around today…. mercy.  He made it up in a cave near Greccio and had live animals and people. Soon, it spread all around Italy, and was soon common practice in most churches. Statues soon replaced live people and eventually, homes adopted smaller versions. Clearly Christian in origin. St. Francis is hard to beat for sheer Christianity.

Christmas lights

Early in the  20th century, electric lights became available for use on Christmas trees (don’t believe me? Watch Downton Abby). Soon after in the mid-2oth Century, folks began using Christmas tree light on the outside of their homes. Hmmm…. since this took place mostly in America, i don’t think we can call this one Christian origin…. but it is derivative of a Christian practice.

Stockings

Well, i don’t want to spoil next week’s addition to the conversation on Santa Claus, so it will have to suffice to say that this practice of hanging stockings on Christmas Eve is particular to his legend, and not anywhere beforehand. But I won’t give anymore away, next week’s will be awesome.

So to summarize:

December 25 date: Of Christian origin

Trees in the house: Of Christian Origin (and yet attested to in many other cultures in parallel, not dependence)

The word “Christmas:” of Christian origin

Nativity Scenes: of Christian origin

Christmas Lights: of Christian origin

Stockings: of Christian origin

 

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Optimistic Chad

Chad really really hopes things are going to turn out ok. He loves his wife - with the passion of 1000 exploding suns, and is a diligent, but surely mediocre father to his brilliant and subversive children. He likes Chinese food.

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The Gospel Of Jesus’ Wife: History & Why Our Forgeries Are Sacred

Picture of Jesus with American flag

Picture of Jesus with American flag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just wanted to do a follow up post to my earlier reflection The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife:The Two Best Responses. I am grateful to have friends like JK Gayle (IRL & Online) who understood the point I was trying to make, see J.K.’s Jesus Speaks of his wife now that she’s a fake at BLT Blog.

JK in the comments section of that post summed up what I was trying to say quite nicely, if I say so myself:

“But disciples especially religious ones (not just Protestants) have their own histories to justify by their texts. The passion in the arguments tends to line up precisely with the power at stake for the arguers. What I’m suggesting is the fervency of the rhetoric coincides with the fear of losing religious power.”

In the comment section on my first post on the TGJW,

JK put it this way:

“The brilliant thing Hoggard-Creegan does in these brief clauses is to expose the unquestioned “default.” What it seems you are doing, likewise, is exposing another “default,” namely the position of being in a committed relationship. How some Christians reading the new testament pick and choose their Pauline norms and push their own positions, then, on all the others who are unnormal and faulty”

This is exactly where I was getting at. I wasn’t worried like Al Mohler was on this issue, whether or not Jesus was married IS not the issue, whether or not the letter is a modern or ancient forgery was not my point. My point was that Professor Karen King‘s work was enthusiastically pushed by the media and Harvard University to prove that Jesus was part of the DEFAULT ‘shipped & married class of citizens, those group of people that get tax breaks for living together.

I am not an archaeologist, I have no desire to be one anyhow [BORING!], but what I as an aspiring theologian and church historian can point out, is that on more than one occasion has the church been more than eager to make Jesus part of the DEFAULT class. I have already sounded off on The Secret Gospel of Mark, but I would like to add another document to that, one that was important in American religious and American art history. Right now, I am reading Edward J. Blum’s and Paul Harvey’s The Color of Christ:The Son Of God and the Saga of Race In America, and there’s a very interesting section that discussed the Publius Lentulus letter, where a Roman Senator described Yeshua the Messiah as the ideal white Roman citizen. In the first decades of the 19th century, American Christian scholars and pastors alike knew that the letter was forged, but also toyed and played with the idea that Jesus could have been white like them. Since the days of Columbus, slavery and race were considered to be sacred human institutions, safeguarded by the law, religion, literature, and eventually, art. One Rhode Island preacher, John Colby had visions of Jesus, and contended that the Jesus of the Publius Lentulus was the one he saw.

The visualization of Jesus as white was important for Americans who wanted to justify the oppression of African Americans and First Nations people. Just as racial formation and forged documentations played a role in the 1800s culture wars, so too do texts like Secret Gospel of Mark & The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. While part of these debates are culturally determined, okay, all of these debates are culturally determined by persons of European descent, SGM & TGJW are tools in controversies over the nature of human sexuality. Institutions of higher learning and other research facilities are about educating both students and the public at large, with education being a source of value-sharing and moral formation. If being married and in a ‘ship is the norm, and a university can prove that Jesus is a part of that DEFAULT, then Jesus as a popular figure in the civil religion of the American public can be able to relate more to those who stand in the privileged position of the DEFAULT. This makes it all the more interesting that Harvard is not only NOT revealing the owner of the 4th century fragment, but it is also backtracking on publishing King’s findings. If the owner is revealed, then the source can be adequately questioned.

It seems like we are playing some sort of game of cat and mouse. We have a professor who wants to question tradition, but we can’t ask back? How odd!

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h00die_R (Rod)

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Good News For Wealthy Alone: Mosala’s Postcolonial Reading of Luke 1 & 2

South Africa (orthographic projection)

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In Itumeleng Mosala’s Biblical Hermeneutics and Black Theology in South Africa, the author challenge the Christian  appropriation of the Lukan narrative as being for the oppressed and outsiders.  His critique is geared toward liberation theologians such as James Cone and Allan Boesak, but many others understand, particularly a few womanists and feminists, the Lukan birth narratives as emancipatory. First, in Luke 1:1-4, Mosala suggests that the intended audience is a dead giveaway at the outset. “Theophilus, his excellency” as the person whom the letter is intended means that Luke’s Gospel is for the elite, ruling class (174). Mosala also suggests that it is no coincidence that in Luke’s narrative, Roman and Gentile rulers are lifted up because, if historians are correct, and Luke was written between 80-85 Common Era, during a time of immense conflict between Christianity and the Roman empire, Luke’s gospel can be seen as an ideological tool to reach out, and make peace with the Romans (176).

Mosala’s second point is quite provocative as well. The Infancy Narratives at first glance seem to be liberating, with Mary’s nationalistic song praising God for putting to shame the oppressors in the tradition of Samuel’s mother Hannah. Luke was written in the context, like Genesis 4, of a tributary colonial system (Rome over Judah at that time) in the 1st century. Included in the ruling classes, according to Mosala, are “colonial royalty and nobility,” Judean royalty such as the Herodians, the Sadduccees, along with the scribes and priests. Within this context, one must understand Mary’s visit to Elizabeth (the wife of a priest), as an affirmation of social status. In other words, Luke is using this story to legitimate the life of an illegetimate Child/Messiah for the ruling classes, i.e., making Jesus more palatable to them (166). Mary has become a little more than the “priestly first lady of revolutions” in modern thought, but Mosala points to the brief mentioning of Joseph, who is key to affirm Jesus’ Davidic roots. Yeshua the Messiah is one of the rich, and so therefore, the Church is okay with Roman Empire as well. If biblical scholars would begin to uncover this truth, Mosala suggests that black people in the midst of struggle will liberate the gospel so it can liberate others.

I can see where Mosala is going here, but I do not quite buy it. First of all, he fails to make a distinction between the variety of classes of priests that there were in Israel and Judah, for example, the Zadokites were the royal priests for the Davidic monarchy while the Levites were the outsiders. Whose side will we choose, or maybe we should join the party of Melchizedek? I must apply my hermeneutic of suspicion in this case. What is Mosala’s beef with priests? Is it a Protestant bias? An anti-organized religion streak? I hope he knows that the prophetic tradition is not pure as well; there are such things as false prophets who work for the monarchs, telling them what they want. However, I do embrace Mosala, via Walter Brueggeman‘s distinction between the two covenants, the Mosaic (which is providential and liberating and prophetic and about ‘the struggle’) and the Davidic (which is accidental, universal, and elitist). As Mosala puts it, “The central themes of this monarchical ideology are stability, grace, restoration, creation, universal peace, compassion and salvation; they contrast radically with the ideology of pre-monarchical Israel, which would have themes such as justice, solidarity, struggle, and vigilance” (120).

Oh, Mosala forgot to add one thing to pre-monarchical Israel, it also had anarchy and idolatry as well which led to the temptation of the Israelites and Judeans in their desire for a tyrant king.

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The Parable-Driven Life: The Parable(s) of the Fig Tree(s) Judges 9:10-11 & Luke 13:1-9

JUDGING THE HEBREW BIBLE INTO THE NEW TESTAMENT

Judges 9:1-15: The Reign Forest

A young general, (whose name meant my father is monarch), who was son of a man nicknamed ‘Byelobog Will Defend Himself’, stood before the political elites of a farm town in Eastern Europe and asked, “Is it not better to have one military dictator over you rather than all seventy of my half-brothers? Let us covenant together since we are from the same village.”  The townspeople received word about what was the general wanted to happen from their town leaders.  Seventy Euros were taken out of the village’s large famous cathedral in order to hire hitmen to got with the general to take out the seventy.  The seventy brothers were gathered together, taken into a dark forest, where subsequently, each were shot in the back of the head twice and buried in a very old ditch.  Fortunately, the youngest son, whose name means “May God Complete,” was able to escape, and like his father before him, mastered the art of hiding.

The general became leader of the military junta over the entire nation.  When the lone survivor, Joe was his name, heard this, he climbed a mountain and confronted the dictator with a parable:

“There was a group of trees who had determined for themselves that they wanted a king.  The olive tree, the fig tree, and the vine; all three refused for they did not want to rule over any other tree, but to produce fruit to honor and please both the gods and the humans alike.  The trees’ offer was accepted by a black berrybush, whose wood is only good for burning in fires. The trees anointed the bramble; yet, after three years, the entire forest was burned down.”

[three years later, God apparently stirs up the people of the village revolt against the tyrant]

Luke 13:1-9: Jesus Warns that everyone, High and Low, Must Repent!

The cruel Italian mobster Pilate had a reputation for despising local religious traditions, and he struck fear into the Irish population. There were a few in the crowd with Jesus, a fellow Mick. He had heard that Pilate had executed some Irishmen and women in cold blood as they were praying. Jesus asked them, “Were these Irish people any worse of sinners than all other Irish?  Did they deserve this treatment?  No, I tell you, but unless all of you repent, you will perish as they did. Or those who we killed with the World Trade Center fell—do you think they were worse offenders than anyone living in any other part of New York?” No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you will surely suffer as they did.”  Then, Jesus told them this parable:

“A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and when it came time, he tried to find fruit, but could not. So, he said to the gardener, “Look here!  For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree and it has yielded none.  Cut it down!  But the gardener answered softly, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it; if it bears fruit, it was worth the wait. If not, I will destroy it as you asked.  The owner of the vineyard agreed.”

Excursus

 

The traditional Christian understanding of Luke 13:1-9 would have us believe that Jesus is using the parable as a polemic against the nation of Israel.

It suggests, that because Israel, in a scant few instances, is referred to as a plant, abacadraba, Jesus preaching repentance (although the call is futile since Christianity ends up superseding Judaism) to only the people of Judah and Israel.  However, the understanding of the imagery of fig trees in the Hebrew Bible (and Septuagint for that matter) do not really point to Israel as a nation, but rather could be associated with the righteousness/wretchedness of the ruling classes in Israel.  For example, in Zechariah LXX 3:9-10 as I have argued here, as well as Micah 4:1-5 (as Walter Brueggeman argues) there is an implicit critique of the false prosperity during the reign of the monarchs (which happens at the expense of the oppressed).  Eschatologically speaking, the notion that everyone will have her/his own vine and fig tree is a dream of universal shalom; in terms of Christology, Christ fulfills the visions of the prophets in passages such as John 1:48 (Jesus talking and summoning others underneath a fig tree).

Given the fact that figs/fig trees have far more instance of prominence when Scripture discusses the royal lines, I must reject the traditional interpretation of this parable.  In addition to leaning towards anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism, normal readings of this passage also let someone off the hook for his actions: Pilate.  Verse 1 clearly says that Pilate murders worships while they are giving devotion to God.  Do not the Ten Commandments matter in our reading of the New Testament?

I argue, given a reading of Judges (along with the rest of the First Testament) into the New Testament, that Jesus is more of a Gideon/Jotham-like figure.  Christ Jesus’ prophetic call to repentance is part of his office as Judge (normally not talked about in churches).  Both stories have tyrannical political leaders over-stepping their God-given authority.  They are repressive, and unrepentant, as well as useless as unfruitful trees.  The language in the Judges 9 passage suggests that Abimelech is not exerting royal power, but military power.  He rules by coercion over others, much like Pilate as he exacts arbitrary terror over his subjects.  Jesus, in his subversive use of parabolic language, is suggesting that Pilate as well as his subjects are in need of repentance, or they shall all be chopped down.  Jesus, as usual, has precedent in the Hebrew Bible, just as it was YHWH’s desire for Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar to turn away from idolatry and injustice, so too did the Triune God want Caesar and the Roman Empire to change their wicked ways.  As for the identity of the gardener, who is usually ignored in the parable, my thoughts are it is the Church, standing in the tradition of intercessors such as Moses whose relationship with God is so strong that he can influence God to have mercy on a nation.

To see similar account of figs and fig trees, see Walter Brueggeman’s A Social Reading of the Old Testament.

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h00die_R (Rod)

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Clement Of Alexandria on Women: A few more thoughts

Sunday, Michael Bird posted on Clement of Alexandria’s views on women and concluded that Clement “does have a view of “equality” in the spiritual sphere and especially in martyrdom that stands out against Graeco-Roman views of women as ontologically inferior” although saying he would or does support women’s ordination would be a stretch.

Personally, given that I have studied Clement for about a year now, Bird is essentially right. However, I do notthink  that the ordination of women was a pressing issue in second century Roman Egypt.  In fact, since liberation looks differently in each era (it is contextual), it would be suffice to say that given Clement’s historical context, Clement was for women’s liberty in Christ.  A concrete example was the fact that Roman Egyptians did not practice or conceive of marital relationships the same way that a person living in the twenty-first century would.  Marriages sometimes occurred between brothers and sisters.[1] Scholars often struggle with reading letters between brother-sister married couples because of the generally held belief that incest is taboo.  It was fiscally responsible for parents to marry off their progeny so that they would not have to pay for dowries and so that they could guarantee that the families’ property could stay in the family.[2]

Clement of Alexandria’s disruptive Christian theology of sexuality provided a critical analysis of marital practices in Roman Egypt.  Clement condemns endogamy as wrong because Abraham was found in error when he claimed that Sarah was his sister.[3] It was not right for marriage to take place between a man and a woman in every circumstance.[4] The couple has to be compatible and the woman must not be forced to go into the marriage against her free will.  Marriage, for Clement, like most second-century Egyptians, was for pro-creation alone.  Sexual intercourse has the sole purpose for the begetting of children.  A husband must control his desire by viewing the purpose of sex as having children.  However, Clement’s rationale is different from his contemporaries; if the husband is to only see the having of children as the reason for sexual coitus, it helps the husband to practice self-control.  Another point in contrast to Roman Egyptian sexual ethics and Clement was that the Roman Egyptians, like modern day American Protestants, believed that marriage was the only way for women (i.e., no other ethical possibilities).

Celibacy was offered as an equally valid divine service in Stromata. The gift to control oneself was freely given by God’s grace.  There was a group of people, according to Clement, the followers of Basilides, who argued that we can naturally practice self-control without any help from God.  Another group of Christians, the disciples of Carpocrates and Epiphanes contended that God’s rightness was social equity, and that equality meant the sharing of all property, including wives.[5] Clement refutes these claims made by his opponents, and thus defending the rights of women especially in the instance of Carpocrates and Epiphanes.  Sexual intercourse between a man and a women was an act of violence if the sex act was primarily out of desire which was uncontrollable in Clement’s view.  Prostitution, rather than being an acceptable profession, was a rather violent art form that Clement grew intolerant of. Unlike American protestantism, celibacy and singleness was considered as a valuable option in Clement’s thinking.

Clement’s concern for violence against women can also be seen in his Middle Platonist interpretation of Scripture.  In The Educator, Clement reasons that the purpose behind Moses’s prohibition to the Israelites against eating hares was that hares are “forever mounting females.”[6] The “mysterious prohibition [of Moses] is but counsel to restrain violent sexual impulses, and intercourse in too frequent succession, relations with a pregnant woman, pederasty, adultery, and lewdness.”[7] Only one educated in Middle Platonism would be likely to associate animals with specific behaviors; to someone else, it may sound absurd.  Clement of Alexandria’s three-pronged assault on second-century Greco-Roman Egypt meant a scathing critique of Egyptian marital practices as well as a reconstruction of the human relationship to the divine.

Lastly, I think that Clement is somewhat egalitarian in that women could actually partake in the divine life (theosis).

The title Clement used to refer to Christians who were being perfected was “Gnostic.”  A Gnostic’s “distance from the Lord was never spatial; already here in this earthen body, one can become near to Him ‘by word, by deed, and by one’s very spirit.’”[8] On the question of who can achieve perfection in Christ, Clement provides an answer in his The Educator: “Let us recognize, too, that both men and women practice the same sort of virtue.  Surely, if there is but one God for both, then there is but one Educator for both.”[9] Women could achieve perfection through justice and self-control, as could men; these were worked out differently because of the distinctions between the genders.  Clement recommended that rather than wearing expensive jewelry and clothes, women should wear the holy ornament of generous giving of their possessions, for whoever gives to the beggars gives to God according to Proverbs.[10] Earrings are unnecessary for they block the Word of God from being heard, for only the Word can reveal true beauty. (Hopefully Clement would apply the same standard to the postmodern male who wears earrings today.)

I think in conclusion, it is very difficult to discern where Clement would stand on today’s issues if we were to judge him by our context and our cultural standards.  I think one leaves oneself vulnerable to speculative Jedi mind-trick or an silly academic X-Men like telepathy to try to guess what Clement would respond to in our time, for we can only judge him in his time and context.  Hesitantly, I would say, given Clement’s body of work, judged against his historical background, he would start with a position of being against gender violence, and then work himself theologically somehow. That is my best guess.

Some Suggested Sources for further reading:

Clemént of Alexandria with an English Translation by G. W. Butterworth: The Exhortation to the Greeks, The Rich Man’s Salvation and the Fragment of an Address Entitled To the Newly Baptized. 1919.

and John Ferguson. Stromateis. Books One to Three. The Fathers of the church, v. 85. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1991.

And Roy Joseph Deferrari, Thomas P. Halton, Ludwig Schopp, and Simon P. Wood. Christ the Educator. The fathers of the church : a new translation / ed. board: Ludwig Schopp, Vol. 23. Washington, DC: Catholic Univ. of America Press, 1954.

Bagnall, Roger S., and Dominic Rathbone. Egypt from Alexander to the Early Christians: An Archaeological and Historical Guide. Los Angeles, Calif: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2004.

Berchman, Robert M. From Philo to Origen: Middle Platonism in Transition. Brown Judaic studies, no. 69. Chico, Calif: Scholars Press, 1984.

Carter, Warren. John and Empire: Initial Explorations. New York: T & T Clark, 2008.

Choufrine, Arkadi. Gnosis, Theophany, Theosis: Studies in Clement of Alexandria’s Appropriation of His Background. New York: P. Lang, 2002.

Frankfurter, David. Religion in Roman Egypt: Assimilation and Resistance. Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1998.

Hopkins, Dwight N. and Anthony Pinn.  Loving the Body: Black Religious Studies and the Erotic. New  York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

Luther, Martin, Alexander Chalmers, and William Hazlitt. Table-Talk. London: George Bell & sons, 1900.

McHardy, Fiona, and Eireann Marshall. Women’s Influence on Classical Civilization. London: Routledge, 2004.

Montserrat, Dominic. Sex and Society in Græco-Roman Egypt. London: Kegan Paul International, 1996.

___________________

[1] Dominic Montserrat. Sex and Society in Graeco-Roman Egypt.( London: Kegan Paul International, 1996), 88-90.

[2] Ibid, 89-90.

[3] Stromateis, 250.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid, 263.

[6] The Educator, 168.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid, 185.

[9] The Educator, 11.

[10] Ibid, 198.

h00die_R (Rod)

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