11/25/08

Positive Atheism - Cliff Walker : Weak Bible Week Poster, part 3 of 7

This is part three of a seven part essay which is a critique of Positive Atheism’s Cliff Walker’s attempts to criticize the Bible in the form of his “National Bible Week Poster.”[1]
To read/Or not to read


Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Quotes to Note
Part 3: Women: Property, Silence, Rape and Booty
Part 4: Children: Beatings, Stubbornness, Mockers and Sacrifice
Part 5: Slavery: Spurns and Property
Part 6: Uncut & Unsubtle: Bikinis, Sweetness, Magic and No Comment
Part 7: Jesus Christ: Peace and Stupidity and In Conclusion

Women: Property, Silence, Rape and Booty:
As we begin the sections that make reference to the Bible please note that Cliff Walker has discredited himself from condemning anything that the Bible states since he has written:
“I use the terms good and evil and right and wrong as shorthand, for the purpose of discussion, to describe how many people think. My current understanding of reality does not recognize any intrinsic good or evil.”[2] [italics in original]

Therefore, he is basing his condemnation on his opinions and what “many people think.” One must wonder: is he referring to “many people” with whom he is acquainted and who happen to agree with him? And what if “many people” disagree? Well then, in such a case what is considered good and evil and right and wrong would change.

In the section entitled “Women” we begin to get into the Bible itself and we are told that in the Bible the “Wife [is] listed among property.” Well, in that case I shalt no longer introduce my wife as “my” wife.

We are then told that “Christian women: be silent” based on a text in 1st Corinthians 14:34-35 which, as the book’s title informs us, was written to a particular people, at a particular time, in a particular place: the Christians of Corinth some 2,000 years ago. In that place and time there were complex interactions of cultures and myths such as Gnosticism and the worship of various Greek and Roman goddesses. In that case, Paul apparently seeks to prevent the teaching of un-biblical myths and seeks to ensure that women become well informed. The historical / cultural context of the fact that it was not a universal requirement for women to be silent is made all the clearer by the fact that, as seen in previous segments of this parsed essay: in the New Testament we find accounts of women prophetesses, disciples, deacons, teachers, etc.

Based on quite a bit of minutia, it may be that Paul was referencing those with whom he disagrees in a juxtapositional manner. For example in 1st Corinthians 6:12 Paul juxtaposes two positions:
“All things are lawful for me,
but all things are not helpful.
All things are lawful for me,
but I will not be brought under the power of any.”

Such appears to be the case in chapter 14 in the case of those who thought that only women should keep silent. The way this would work within the text is as may be seen by broking it up into verses:
26 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.
27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret.
28 But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God.
29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.
30 But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent.
31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.
32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

- - -

33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
- - -

34 Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.
35 And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.
- - -

36 Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached?
37 If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.
38 But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant.

Paul has been addressing the issue of disorder: each has a psalm, teaching, tongue, revelation, interpretation. Fine, just be sure to do these things for edification. If one, anyone, speaks in a tongue and there is no interpreter, they are to keep silent in church. When prophesying, judge each other and take turns “all prophesy one by one” and “let the first keep silent.” Keep in mind that prophecy does not necessarily refer to telling the future, but offering encouragement – “all may be encouraged.” Why this imposition of order? Because “God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”
Next we find that some people offer a simple solution and say, “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak…for it is shameful for women to speak in church.” Oh, really?!? “did the word of God come originally from you?” No, rather I, Paul, “write to you…the commandments of the Lord.” Therefore, keep order like I told you, take turns speaking and being silent “all” of you, both men and women.

We are next turned towards the Old Testament and informed that a “Woman must marry rapist” (Deuteronomy 22:28-29). Regardless of the poster’s preferred NIV reading, the Hebrew “taphas” refers to catching, handling, taking hold, grasping, etc. And “shakab” refers to lying down. There is actually no reason to think that the woman was raped. I performed a search of 13 translations and found 2 that translated as “rape”: the NIV and the NLT yet, context always determines meaning. The others read thusly:
KJV, “a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her.”
NKJV, “a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her.”
ESV, “a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her.”
NASB, “a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her.”
RSV, “a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her.”
ASV, “a virgin, that is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her.”
HNV, “a virgin, who is not pledged to be married, and lay hold on her, and lie with her.”
Young’s, “a virgin who is not betrothed, and hath caught her, and lain with her.”
Darby’s, “a virgin, who is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her.”
Webster’s, “a virgin, who is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her.”
RVR, “una joven virgen que no fuere desposada, y la tomare y se acostare con ella.”

Please be aware that the verse actually ends with a statement that “they are found.” What is that all about? Does it mean that he was raping her and did not get away with it? Nay, the text is referring to a shotgun wedding. The man and woman engaged in intercourse not only while she was a virgin but when they were not even betrothed. Therefore, they must now be wed.

Next we are told that “Virgin women are war booty” (Numbers 31:1-18). In the aftermath of war, and without the aid of the great and mightily benevolent UN, the women could have been left to fend for themselves or could have been brought into the Israelite camp. Moreover, the warriors and women were to remain outside the camp seven days in order to purify themselves.
Moreover, regulations regarding war captives were very strict. In the case of a woman, if a man wanted to marry her he had to give her time to recover from the shock of war, she was to be taken into the home and “shall sorrow for her father and her mother a full month” (Deuteronomy 21:13). But if after marrying her he wanted to divorce her he was to “let her go where she will. But you shall not sell her at all for silver, you shall not make a slave of her, because you have humbled her” (v. 14). Here “humbling” refers to her being depressed and or having lost her virginity (while married).

[1] ©1999 by Positive Atheism’s Cliff Walker, National Bible Week Poster
[2] ©1995-2006 Positive Atheism’s Cliff Walker, One Can Be Ethical And Moral Without God

4 comments:

  1. "Moreover, regulations regarding war captives were very strict. In the case of a woman, if a man wanted to marry her he had to give her time to recover from the shock of war, she was to be taken into the home and “shall sorrow for her father and her mother a full month” (Deuteronomy 21:13). But if after marrying her he wanted to divorce her he was to “let her go where she will. But you shall not sell her at all for silver, you shall not make a slave of her, because you have humbled her” (v. 14). Here “humbling” refers to her being depressed and or having lost her virginity (while married)."

    How anyone can justify killing a woman's family and forcing her into marrying someone who had a part in their death?

    Time to recover from the shock of war? Let's see, if I were to murder your parents and male siblings, take all of your possessions, and then force you to live in my house and serve me as my spouse sexually and otherwise, how long would it take you to recover from the "shock" of such a thing?

    Sure, you can let her go if you want to divorce her. I'm sure a non-virgin woman who was captured in war and has no surviving family would fare quite well among those who killed her people and took her land.

    It is truly a spectacle to see anyone try to defend these barbaric practices.

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  2. Sure they were barbaric, but still much less than practices of neighbour tribes. We're talking about war here and about poeple living a couple of thousend years ago. Described behaviour is not presented as universal moral law.

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  3. Interstate;
    Thanks for commenting on this issue. I appreciate your concern and empathize with your reaction.
    What would you recommend?
    aDios,
    Mariano

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am afraid that Interstate may have been a drive-by: atheist logs on, makes an argument from outrage, does not justify outrage, cannot justify their condemnation and moves on to fight a one sided battle another day. How very sad that this is what passes for reasoned discourse amongst the new atheist sect of atheism.

    Firstly, let us note that Cliff Walker was absolutely mistaken.

    Now, I do not know but allow me to guess: you are writing to me from a 1st world country, woke up to a house that is warm in winter and cool in summer, drove a motorized vehicle, went to a Starbucks (I’ll take a hazelnut latte) where you utilized wireless internet access to comment here. Enjoy money and about as much freedom and food as anyone could want. If you ever faced danger you could utilize your cell phone to call the police (or your homies). Your countries army is prepared to protect you and can call upon allies with a phone call that reaches around the planet in nanoseconds.

    Ok, now: try to imagine living in the ancient Middle East.
    I find it virtually, if not completely, impossible. Yet, we must consider the ancient Middle East within the historical/cultural context of the ancient Middle East.

    So, let us begin here: there should never be any war and we should all just get along, maaaaan.
    Fine, but does not seem to apply to the real world.

    Now, keep in mind also that there is no Oprah or Dr. Phil just harsh reality.

    Atheism discredits condemnation and condemnation discredits atheism.

    aDios,
    Mariano

    ReplyDelete