Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Beginning and the End

Margaret Barker, at the end of the fifth chapter of her book The Gate of Heaven, says:
"Central to the myths was belief in the human manifestation of God. A human figure occupied the divine throne and came to bring judgment. The presence of the figure also brought renewed life and fertility. The human figure was probably once the king who was also the high priest. He was able to enter the holiest place of the throne, to the point beyond time and place from which all things could be seen and known; one wonders what was done by the earlier kings who went up to occupy that throne. Behind the letter to the Hebrews there seems to lie a belief that the high priest carried a substitute for his own life-blood. What picture of reality lay behind this ritual? Why was it necessary for the human manifestation of the divine to carry his life-blood into the holy place?"
As far as I know she has yet to answer the above questions. I haven't seen any indication that she is familiar with Girardian anthropology and mimetic theory. Her work is most interesting because it deals with the symbolic origins of Christianity. Her writing on the Day of Atonement and the rituals of the first temple is also most thought-provoking and informative.

She quotes the Gospel of Thomas:
The disciples said to Jesus, "Tell us how our end will be." Jesus said, "have you discovered, then, the beginning that you look for the end? For where the beginning is there will the end be. Blessed is he who will take his place in the beginning; he will know the end and will not experience death." (Thomas 18)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Margaret Barker: Beyond the Veil of the Temple. The High Priestly Origin of the Apocalypses

Here is a chapter from Margaret Barker's excellent book The Great High Priest. It touches on a lot of the things I've been discussing recently. Beyond the Veil of the Temple. The High Priestly Origin of the Apocalypses

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Creation and the Lamb Slain

Revelation 13:8 has an enigmatic phrase, “…the lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” The “Lamb” in Revelation is Jesus, I think we can all agree on this. What does the “foundation of the world” mean in this verse? I’ve discussed the Greek word “katabole” which is translated in this verse as “foundation” previously, but I didn’t really come to any conclusions. I think it’s reasonable to say that “foundation of the world” relates to Genesis 1. Let’s go with that, Revelation 13:8 refers to Genesis 1. Is that text telling us that Jesus has been slain at creation or slain repeatedly since the “foundation of the world”? The other choice we have is that the “foundation of the world” occurs when Jesus dies on the Cross. Are there any other options?

At this point I think it’s time for some quotes from Rene Girard.

“That only an investigation of the founding of religion will yield the secret of man.”
Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World, 3

“The mechanism of the scapegoat victim can always be recognized behind all religious operations.”
Double Business Bound, 104

“All religious rituals spring from the surrogate victim, and all the great institutions of mankind, both secular and religious, spring from ritual. Such is the case with political power, legal institutions, medicine, the theater, philosophy and anthropology itself. It could hardly be otherwise, for the working basis of human thought, the process of symbolization, is rooted in the surrogate victim.”
Violence and the Sacred, 306

“The sole purpose of religion is to prevent the recurrence of reciprocal violence.”
Violence and the Sacred, 55

The writer of the Book of Revelation is referencing something when he says, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” We have to try to figure out what he is referencing.

Luke 11:47-51 says, “That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world.” So that’s interesting, the blood of the prophets was also shed from the foundation of the world. Another thing that I noticed is that the word “shed” could be translated as “poured forth.”

So now back to the creation narrative in Proverbs 8:22-31. In Proverbs 8:23 the word translated “set up” looks to me like it could be translated “poured forth.” My interlinear bible software says "I-was-poured-libation" is a possibility. This appears to be a word study on the Hebrew word “nawsak". This section in Proverbs is describing creation and Wisdom. I think we can at least allege that based on John 1 that Wisdom is Jesus.

If I’m understanding Girard correctly, we should be able to find, in the Biblical creation stories, hints of a murder or of someone being slain, or of a life being poured forth.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Margaret Barker on Wisdom

I'm going to be continuing my research into Creation and Wisdom, because I think it is important from a Girardian perspective. "The Lamb slain since the foundation of the World". Wisdom seems to have been present at "Creation" and in Proverbs 8:23 there is an indication that Wisdom was "poured out" since the beginning, and a bit later, in verse 24, I think, "travail" and waters come up. Proverbs 8:22-31 should be very interesting for Mimetic/Scapegoat theory. It is a creation or originary narrative. Anyway, this is Margaret Barker's essay Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?, it provides some good background on Wisdom.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Jerome Soneson and Gordon Kaufman

I was reading this interview of Justin Taylor on Adrian Warnock's blog and I'm following along and all of a sudden Mr. Taylor is discussing some familiar subjects. Namely, Gordon Kaufman and his book "Theology for a Nuclear Age". Reading further, I find out that he took the same class that I had taken in 1994. Mr. Taylor doesn't say it but I assume his professor was also Dr. Jerome Soneson. I have to thank Dr. Jerome Soneson for making my four years of college worthwhile. He's an amazing professor. I learned a lot from him, how to read academic texts and how to think freely and creatively.

I had a similar experience as Mr. Taylor. In college I was also losing my faith not because of Drs. Soneson and Kaufman but because of fundamentalist/conservative theology and politics. Dr. Soneson and his course and also my introduction to the works of Jacques Ellul really saved me from agnosticism and atheism and started me on this long road of understanding Christian theology and symbolism.

I remember Dr. Soneson during one class period reading a section of H. Richard Neibuhr's "Faith in God and in the Gods" aloud and just being overcome with very poetic and powerful words and having to leave the room for a short time. He is a very passionate teacher and that one class made may time in college valuable and worthwhile.

Genesis 1:1

I'm doing research regarding the translation and meaning of Genesis 1:1-3. The below isn’t a finished product, must leave it open for addition and revision as I acquire and process new information. It’s really only a very beginning of the extensive research and interpretation that is needed. The best thing I can hope for is that it will bring forth a lot of questions.

To put it mildly there are some “problems” with our English translations of Genesis 1:1-3. Our translations don’t tell us the whole story. I wrote about these verses previously.

The first word of Genesis is spelled something like “be’raesheet”. It is a compound word. The prefix “be” means “with”, “raesheet” means a “first wisdom”. The Aramaic translation, the Targum Neofiti I recognizes this and translates the first verse of Genesis thusly, “From the beginning, with wisdom, the Memra of the Lord created and perfected the heavens and the earth”. Proverbs 3:19 says “The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.” Psalm 104:24 says “O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.”

Proverbs 8:22-31 describes a personified, pre-existent Wisdom. This set of verses is a creation narrative. Using my trusty interlinear bible software I can tell that this section needs more research. The English translation that I’m reading isn’t telling the whole story, there’s more here than meets the eye, especially from Girardian and Margaret Barker Temple Theology perspectives. But I think we can conclude that this text parallels Genesis 1 and that Wisdom was there when God began the creation.

The first word of Genesis, “be’raesheet”, is a very interesting word and I should devote a lot more attention to it, and rabbis through the ages have. This includes a lengthy exposition on Genesis 1 and “be’raesheet” and it’s potential meanings.

Genesis 1:1 can be translated something like this: “In/With Wisdom Elohim created the heavens and the earth”. I think this was how the Gospel of John understood Genesis 1:1. In John 1:3 it says, “All things were made by him (the Word) and without him was not anything made that was made.”

My next post will be on Genesis 1:3 and how it could/should be translated “And Elohim said ‘let Him be light’: and He was light.”

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Rene Girard / Mimetic Crisis / Islam

This is an old interview with Rene Girard, but it might be pertinent to the current "Cartoon" crisis. "What Is Occurring Today Is a Mimetic Rivalry on a Planetary Scale."

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Margaret Barker Video - Mormon Conference

I haven't watched this yet. It looks like she's discussing something about Joseph Smith/Old Testament history. Here's the 300K video and the 56K video. Here's the MP3. Her introduction and response starts at about the 42 minute mark. She's responding to another paper. As usual sounds very interesting. Old Testament history, King Josiah all the usual themes. (via Joseph Smith Conference)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

James Alison: Blindsided By God

Here's James Alison's speech "Blindsided by God: reconciliation from the underside", given at Trinity Institute's Anatomy of Reconciliation Conference. Here is the video of the speech. (Windows Media). His speech starts around the 13:20 mark.