Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Yahweh, Jesus, Isaiah 53 and Penal Substitutionary Atonement

I don't have time to actually do research and then write an article or an appropriately organized and coherent blog post, so what will follow below are notes to a hypothetical article. I'll be doing research while I'm writing this, it's like real-time, I don't know, real-time something. Well, let's begin.

Penal Substitutionary Atonement theory uses Isaiah 53 as evidence of God wounding/killing the Son for our sins. The specific verses include Isaiah 53:6-7 and Isaiah 53:10.

Isaiah 53:6-7 and Isaiah 53:10 do not support the theory of Penal Substitutionary Atonement.

There are two questions I want to explore. Both lines of thought are inspired by Rene Girard's mimetic theory and Margaret Barker's research into First Temple symbolism.

1. The New Testament declares that Jesus is Yahweh. Yahweh is the Son of God. Jesus is Yahweh. Penal Substitution Atonement theory (hereafter abbreviated, PSAT) doesn't seem to take this into account when it uses these verses as evidence and support.

Philippians 2:9-11 - God gives Jesus a name. What is that name? Is it the tetragrammaton YHWH? 2:11 says that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the God the Father. "Lord is equivalent to "Yahweh".

Margaret Barker thoroughly lays out all the evidence in her book "The Great Angel", a portion of which may be found here. You'll have to find the book for the chapters on the New Testament and the first Christians.

So the question right now, for PSAT, is how does Yahweh, not God the Father, lay all sin on Himself. I of course believe that in fact it is not God the Father or Yahweh placing all sin on anybody, rather it is the people who have placed their sins onto the Servant. Eucharistic theology. Yahweh pouring His blood out to the people. Think last supper.

Isaiah 52:15 says the servant will sprinkle many nations. His blood will be sprinkled on many nations.

Margaret Barker's Atonement: The Rite of Healing (pdf)

According to Barker Isaiah 53:5 can be translated "The covenant bond of our peace was his responsibility".

Also, "With his stripes, hbrt, we are healed' would then become 'By his joining us together we are healed', forming a parallel to mwsr, covenant bond. The primary meaning of hbr is to unite, join together."

Immediately reading this I think of Girardian mimetic theory. What's the high priest in the gospels say, it is better that one man die than for the whole nation to be destroyed, or something like that. Barker states, "The Servant 'carries' the people's sicknesses or weaknesses." So because the servant is carrying all the negativity of the community, all contagion, all sin and violence, all that's bad, he must be removed. The community is united against the servant. He has restored the community/covenant by his death. People formerly on the fringes are brought back into the community.

Girard says that in the ancient world collective stonings and lynchings really did unite people, so much so that he posits that the foundation of primitive religions can be found in the circle of people around the stoned and lynched victim. Primitive religions, when they found that their societal unity was beginning to disintegrate tried to ritualize and reenact this founding event. They reenacted the founding event, the collective lynching/stoning of a victim, to restore the stability and bonds of the community. This went on till it exhausted itself and another actual, collective stoning/lynching had to take place. Then a new god or religion was born. The sacred awe of ancient crowd, who had previously been undergoing societal disintegration (i.e. actual violence between community members) suddenly, after the collective stoning of the victim found that peace had been restored and the bonds of the community had been restored, sins had been forgiven (i.e. the cycle of revenge had ceased). These ancient people soon discovered that the victim who they thought was evil, who had united them to collectively stone him. He wanted them to stone them, so that they may be united. So this victim was evil, was the cause of violent plague that beset the community. But now, something strange has happened, peace seems to have fallen on the community. People formerly at each other's throats are now smiling at each other, crops which weren't being planted/harvested now are growing and healthy. The violence that previously was destroying the community has left with the victim who was stoned. Things previously not working because of the violence, now are working because people are no longer fighting. The ancients don't perceive that it was their own violence that was causing the society to disintegrate. After everything is renewed, they go back and pinpoint the collective stoning/lynching of the victim as the beginning of the renewal. This victim is turned into a primitive god. The people think the victim was both evil and good. The Greek word pharmakos means both cure and poison. The Greeks threw the pharmakos over the cliff whenever they were suffering a plague (not biological plague, but violent plague). So whenever there is trouble in the community people try to ritualize what brought peace before. They ritually reenact the whole situation that led up to the collective stoning/lynching. This cures the community.

2. James Williams' interpretation of Isaiah 53. From his Bible, Violence and the Sacred (via Girardian Lectionary).

He says, "This song or poem is a kind of antiphonal dialogue between the God of Israel and the people. God speaks in 52:13-15 and 53:11-12, and in my judgment the people speak in 53:1-10."

After discussing who is speaking in each verse , Mr. Williams summarizes,
"Because he poured out his soul [or life, nefesh] to death": this is the key, as I construe the passage. The Servant willingly gave himself for his people. It wasn't God who caused his suffering, it was oppressors. As the divine voice says in an oracle found in chapter 54:
If any one stirs up strife,it is not from me;
whoever stirs up strife with you
shall fall because of you. (54:15)
"Strife" -- the conflict of mimetic rivalry that results in violence -- does not come from God. The two lines seem to indicate strife within the Israelite community (15a) and strife in the form of attacks upon Israel (15b). In my reading I see the Servant as the object of oppression resulting from this strife. He does not intend to become a "sacrifice," and God does not subject him to suffering, although Second Isaiah perceives that the people continue in the ambiguity of the tradition still rooted in the sacrificial cult.
It is the people who oppress the Servant, not God. The Servant is the substitute for the entire community. If the Servant is not destroyed, the community will destroy itself, by its own violence and hatred. The Servant renews the Covenant by shedding his blood. His blood seals the covenant. His expulsion and death holds the people together. Their anger and violence is directed toward him and not each other. He is the substitute for the community. He dies so that they don't have to. Instead of killing each other, he allows the community to unite around him in a collective expulsion. A collective murder. His blood his poured forth. His blood, like in the Day of Atonement ritual, is sprinkled on the community. He carries the community's sins, sicknesses and violence away.

Mr. Williams states:

The Servant of the Lord depicted by the Second Isaiah is a paradigm of the victim whose expulsion is coterminous with his calling. "By oppression and judgment he was taken away . . . he was cut off out of the land of the living." But in this role he stands for the whole, the entire community. From the standpoint of the community whose theology is still rooted in the principle of god's wrath and still has not quite attained a theology of the innocent victim, it appears that this suffering has been imposed by the God of Israel on his servant, yet it is a condition the Servant has accepted voluntarily. It is very ambiguous from the standpoint of the collective voice of the social order, and thus it must always be. The suffering of the innocent victim will always be ambiguous from the standpoint of any society, which always has at the core of its structure a victimization mechanism and its sacrificial outlets. The victimization mechanism may be qualified, and there may be substitutions upon substitutions whose use seems to deny the effectiveness of sacrificial violence. Even if sacrificial violence seems to be a thing of the remote past, nonetheless culture and language are permeated with strong traces of that which brought about hominization in the first place: mimetic desire and rivalry, collective violence, prohibition, and sacrifice.

However, the prophetic author of the Servant poem has insight that transcends the point of view of the collective chorus that comments on the Servant and his work. He sees that it is not the will of God to bruise him, but it is the will of God to use him -- to speak through the excluded one, who suffers on behalf of others. In understanding his suffering, in standing with him and not with the persecutors, those who are taught by him begin to transform the structures of sacred violence.

One final thing to stick in here at the end.

Barker states that Isaiah 53:1 could be translated, "To whom has the offspring/seed of the Lord been revealed". Jesus is the root and offspring of David (Revelation 22:16)

Barker says that the "'Root of Jesse' is a triumphant figure, the banner to which all nations will be drawn on the day when Israel is gathered together again".

Jesus allows Himself to be killed by the mob, and instead of violent retribution He distributes His body and blood in an act of forgiveness, so that we may turn from our sin and hatred of our neighbor. In accepting the body and blood we realize what we have done. Instead of killing others to bring peace we must now accept the forgiveness and the broken body and blood of Jesus. Instead of unity found around the bodies of our murdered victims, we must find unity around the broken body and blood of Jesus. Eucharistic Atonement? Jesus/Yahweh coming from the Temple/Heaven with His blood to forgive us and unite us in love around Him. Primitive religions found their communion around their collectively stoned victim, Christians should find their unity around the broken body of Jesus. We have killed the Author of Life. We must stop murdering people.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Melchizedek, Jesus and Jubilee

In Luke 4:15-22 Jesus quotes a section from the Book of Isaiah.

18The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

19To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

I'm still using Margaret Barker's "The Time is Fulfilled; Jesus and the Jubilee" (pdf).
That section is from her book the Great High Priest.

Barker says that the Qumran Melchizedek text refers many times "to the Jubilee oracle in Isaiah 61: '...the Lord God has anointed me...to proclaim liberty to the captives'"

Hebrews 7 makes a connection between Melchizedek and Jesus.

Barker states:

Daniel’s seventy weeks of years were reckoned from this time ‘when the word went forth to restore and rebuild Jerusalem’ (Dan.9.25), and the seventy weeks of years were to end when transgression, sin and iniquity were finally removed and Jerusalem was destroyed (Dan.9.24,26). The Day of Atonement was also the Day of the LORD, the Day of Judgement13. The description indicates a final Day of Atonement when prophecy and visions are fulfilled and the Anointed One appears.
The seventy weeks of years, 490 years, were ten Jubilees, and the alternative way of reckoning this period was as ten Jubilees. Jewish tradition remembered that the 490 years ended in 68CE; calculation from the second temple Jubilee sequence beginning in 424BCE gives 66CE. A two year discrepancy is hardly significant in the light of what this implies, namely that the tenth Jubilee began in 17/19 CE. In other words, tenth Jubilee fervour and expectations were the context for the ministry of Jesus.

The Qumran Melchizedek text describes the events of the tenth Jubilee.
Isaiah 52:7 is another important Melchizedek and Jubilee text. In this tenth Jubilee there was going to be a final day of Atonement.

In Luke's gospel Jesus claimed to have inaugurated the final Jubilee. Isaiah 61 was also central to the Melchizedek text. Barker states:
The first miracle was an exorcism (Mark 1.21-26), setting one of his own people free from the power of Belial. He spoke of a woman bound by Satan and released her (Luke 13.16), of slaves to sin whom the Son could release (John 9.31-38). He forgave sins and illustrated his teaching with a parable of two debtors whose debts were cancelled (Luke 7. 41-48). The healing miracles restored to the community people who would have been excluded as ritually unfit: the disabled, the lepers, a woman who was bleeding. This was the great ingathering of the Jubilee. Jesus spoke of those who would inherit the earth (Mat.5.5) and at the Last Supper, he spoke of the New Covenant and of his blood poured out for the remission of sins (aphesis, the Jubilee word, Mat.26.28).

In the "Risen Lord" Barker states, "The Qumran Melchizedek text shows that there were some in first-century Palestine expecting a divine high priest at the end of time bringing the day of the Lord which was also the great day of Atonement."

Psalm 110, the Melchizedek Psalm, is the the most frequently used text in the New Testament.

Jesus as Melchizedek?

Melchizedek, Jubilee and Jesus.

Barker again: "Melchizedek was central to the old royal court...and that this priesthood operated in the mythology of the sons of Elyon and the triumph of the royal son of God in Jerusalem."

Barker again: "In the Elyon tradition, Melchizedek was one aspect of the role of the king in his embodiment of the Spirit of Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel."

Melchizedek was a priest of El Elyon.

Were the ancient kings both sons of David and sons of Elyon? Was this how Jesus was understood?

Jesus inaugurated the Jubilee. Jesus declared the forgiveness of sins and the literal and financial remission of debts. Jubilee and the Day of Atonement restore the covenant. The Jubilee was to bring the lost and disenfranchised back into the fold. It was supposed to restore creation. Heal the wounds in creation.

What does it mean to say that Jesus is the Son of God? Were the ancient and first temple kings known as Sons of God? How did the Day of Atonement renew the covenant? So much material to assimilate. Remember this isn't really an argument, but rather a collection of notes, maybe for some future, hypothetical argument that I'll maybe make. Just trying to lay some groundwork for an understanding of Jesus, the Gospels and the New Testament, by using the Isaiah Servant Songs as a general inspiration and focus.

James Alison, Some Thoughts on the Atonement.
Margaret Barker, Atonement: The Rite of Healing.
Margaret Barker, Beyond the Veil: the High Priestly Origin of the Apocalypses

Introductory Notes to the Isaiah Servant Songs and the Jubilee

In the comments section of my last post Mr. Randle suggested I do some biblical exegesis. He suggested Isaiah 53:5. So I'll use that verse and the Isaiah Servant Songs as a general inspiration and focus. There's a lot of material to go over so don't expect anything like a linear article, it'll just be an outline, notes and comments.

1. In this study I'll be generally following Rene Girard's mimetic theory (summary from Girardian Lectionary) and Margaret Barker's research into first temple symbolism.

2. Isaiah and Jubilee

Leviticus 25 deals with the jubilee system. A ram's horn was used as a trumpet to announce the year of jubilee. The jubilee year came at the end of the cycle of Sabbatical years. Leviticus 25 states it's the 50th year, but others believe it may have been the 49th. In this year liberty was proclaimed to Israelites who had become enslaved to debt and land was restored to families who because of economic need had been forced to sell in the previous 50 years. Most of this is based on Margaret Barker's article "The Time is Fulfilled; Jesus and the Jubilee" (pdf) and the Anchor Bible Dictionary and a Qumran dictionary.

Things I find particularly noteworthy from Barker's article:


The Jubilee, the Sabbath of Sabbaths, was proclaimed on the Day of Atonement (Lev.25.9) and so the custom of Jubilee must be understood in this context. Since atonement was itself a rite which restored the eternal covenant and enabled the whole creation, not just the community of Israel, to be restored to its original state3, the Jubilee was a practical application of the atonement. The key figure in the rite of atonement was the high priest who was the visible presence of the LORD on earth 4, and, just as the LORD had ordered the creation at the beginning, so he recreated it on the Day of Atonement at the New Year. The Jubilee recreated society by restoring people to their own land and by removing the burden of slavery and debt.

"The Jubilee was closely linked to the role of the Servant of the LORD, Isaiah’s depiction of the royal high priest of the first temple."

"Isaiah 61.1-9 is a significant Jubilee passage; someone anointed with the Spirit is to bring good tidings to the poor, comfort the broken hearted and proclaim liberty, deror, to captives."

"Daniel’s seventy weeks of years were reckoned from this time ‘when the word went forth to restore and rebuild Jerusalem’ (Dan.9.25), and the seventy weeks of years were to end when transgression, sin and iniquity were finally removed and Jerusalem was destroyed (Dan.9.24,26). The Day of Atonement was also the Day of the LORD, the Day of Judgement13. The description indicates a final Day of Atonement when prophecy and visions are fulfilled and the Anointed One appears.
The seventy weeks of years, 490 years, were ten Jubilees, and the alternative way of reckoning this period was as ten Jubilees. Jewish tradition remembered that the 490 years ended in 68CE; calculation from the second temple Jubilee sequence beginning in 424BCE gives 66CE. A two year discrepancy is hardly significant in the light of what this implies, namely that the tenth Jubilee began in 17/19 CE. In other words, tenth Jubilee fervour and expectations were the context for the ministry of Jesus."

"The liberty of the Jubilee is interpreted as release from iniquities, the beginning of the atonement which will occur on the Day of Atonement at the end of the tenth Jubilee. The return and the release from iniquity were to happen in the first week, the first seven years, of the tenth Jubilee i.e. approximately 19-26 CE. If Jesus was born in 7/6 BCE15 and was baptised when he was about thirty years old (Luke 3.23), he began his ministry during the crucial first ‘week’ of the tenth Jubilee."

So the themes/subjects I'll be continuing to explore are the Isaiah Servant Songs, the Jubilee, the connection between Jesus and Melchizedek, the Day of Atonement and whatever else I'll find interesting.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Iraq War and Penal Substitutionary Atonement

It is my prediction that the War on Iraq will finally make Penal Substitutionary Atonement untenable to all but the most strident ideologues.

Jesus was killed by an angry mob.

Iraq War was launched by an illogical, angry mob.

In both cases evidence didn't matter. Evidence wasn't even considered. Paranoia, hatred and violence ruled. It was better for someone else to die, and Iraq's case a lot of somebody elses, than for our self-esteem to take a hit.

Those who wish for death want to be lost in the crowd. They want to be lost in the waters of chaos at the beginning of Genesis. Yahweh emerged from the Temple carrying His blood, killed by the violence of those who inhabit the waters, and Yahweh established dry ground. Jesus was light. We must take responsibility for our own violence. The mob killed Jesus and the mob continues to kill Jesus. If you kill the least of these you kill Jesus. We have killed children in Iraq. How many children must die for American self-esteem?

We have exported our violence to Iraq, and now Iraq is filled with violence. For too long talk-radio and the propaganda of Conservatism has fomented hatred. Hatred of the Liberal, hatred of our neighbors who we resent, and who seem to be always more insidiously powerful.
Hatred, endless hatred and resentment. Behind hatred is the wish to kill and murder. Americans are not allowed to kill each other. Talk radio propaganda has built up hatred in the Conservative soul. They couldn't actually kill Liberals, because well first of all they don't exist, and secondly because if they should find one of these mythical creatures U.S. law prevents murder. A substitute had to be found. This substitute was Iraq. This substitute had to be weak. Iraq was the target because it couldn't fight back and no one would defend her. We could have our way with the people of Iraq. They were designated as evil. It was now Ok to kill them, because they were evil, and we told ourselves that we were at war. Murder, we tell ourselves, is perfectly fine during war. During war we break things and sometimes innocent people and children get killed, and burned alive and dismembered. This was Ok because it was war, and also we wouldn't be suffering the consequences.

It's always fun to gang up on the little guy and kick his ass. It's better his ass than mine. Camarderie with the big and serious people. War is serious business.

The War on Iraq was waged for no reason. Sure Saddam was responsible for a lot bad things, and because Saddam is guilty of bad things this gave us a free pass to commit bad things of our own. Always comparing ourselves to someone else. War propagandists always want us to base our behaviour on the behaviour of same bad and evil guy. Saddam killed his own people, so that makes it OK for us to kill his people too.

Moral Relativism. Conservativism is moral relativism. War is murder. Murder is a sin. We must repent of murder.

God the Father handed Yahweh/Jesus over to us. Instead of following the commandments we murdered the author of life. We always believe the crowd is in the right and the person being killed is in wrong. In Penal Substitutionary Atonement God is no different than Satan. Satan is violent and murderous, but God is violent and murderous to a much greater degree. If there's anything that we respect it is authoritative violence. In Penal Substitutionary Atonement God is the Lynch Mob who authoritatively kills the designated victim/victims.

What do we say? Penal Substitutionary Atonement makes no sense. God handed over the Iraqi people to us, and instead of dealing with them with love and mercy we demand their deaths. Of course, the war propagandists burnt a whole bunch of incense and clouded the whole thing in mystery and told us that we were only killing bad guys and that we were doing a great and noble thing by liberating Iraq. As Christians we know, and the War on Iraq has made perfectly clear, is that we longed for the death of the innocent children, we longed for their fiery deaths, their dismemberment and rape. This is War. War is Hell. Christianity believes in a literal Hell. There's no need to spiritualize it into some long distant future last judgment. People are living in Hell right now. The War on Iraq is Hell. Hell inhabits people who want to kill, who demand sacrifices to whatever god they worship.

Penal substitutionary atonement should have fallen apart after Hiroshima/Nagasaki and the Nazi death camps. Humans are responsible for violence and murder. Humans were perfectly capable all on their own of murdering Jesus. It was a human decision that Jesus must die. Humans are lost in sin. Jesus on the Cross is the Last Judgment. Jesus on the Cross is the Light in Genesis 1:3. Death and blood and resurrection and return from the dead of Jesus create the world.

God is Love. Penal Substitutionary Atonement doesn't understand Love. Love for them can only be understood in terms of inflicting violence on someone. God doesn't scream for blood, humans do.

Iraq was a sacrifice to our god. Two goats. George W. Bush is the High Priest. He places the sins of the community on the head of Iraq and sends them over the cliff in the wilderness. Our soldiers are the second goat who is sacrificed. The soldiers are a substitute for George W. Bush, who is a substitute for us. The blood of our soldiers was supposed to renew our society and heal the wounds of Liberal disintegration.

George W. Bush

This post over at the Preaching Peace blog got me thinking about our dear leader, George W. Bush.
It brought to mind this quote from his 2002 State of the Union Address:

"If it feels good, do it." Now America is embracing a new ethic and a new creed: "Let's roll."

He is also quoted as saying this:

"If it feels good, do it, and if you've got a problem, blame somebody else," to a culture in which each of us understands we're responsible for the decisions we make in life. I call it the responsibility era.

I don't think we need to mention that these are the words of man who has spent his whole life apparently doing anything that felt the least bit good.

How do I describe it? I have listened quite extensively to the discussions of conservatives on talk radio and blogs. Sexual licentiousness is a dominant or obsessive subject of the discussions. From never ending discussion of homosexuality to Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction. The "responsibility era", what does this mean to a Republican party that consistently preaches that individuals have absolutely no responsibility to the greater community. Apparently the only time when we have claims made upon us by the greater community is when it is time to take someone or some country out back and kill them.

So I think all this sexual licentiousness and economic jealousy/envy inevitably lead us to the scapegoat. George W. Bush realizes this. "Let's Roll" is a call to community. They have designated the victim who will take responsibility for all our misdeeds. It really doesn't matter if they're guilty of anything. The reasons to go brutally murder these people really don't matter, it's just so much smoke and incense. We were in a frenzy. A sexual and economic frenzy. We hated each other. We were tired of competing of the envy and jealousy. Put all the SUV's and boats and vacation homes, the suburban square-footage comparisons, the sexual competition and frustration, put all that behind us. Take my hand brother and let us all go kill the infidel. Glory, Yes, just like our fathers in WWII, in the big one. Saddam is Hitler, we're going to liberate those people, flowers will reign down on us, people will hug us in the streets.

Conservatism is obsessed with the Other. Resentment which is the driving power of Conservatism is obsession with the Other. With the Good-Looking guy down the street, with the Liberal, with the Homosexual, with the rivalrous Woman, always their eye is on someone else. It hurts, this obsession with other people, obtaining their identity from their neighbor or their television. How someone else always seems to be more authentic and more powerful.

We've wanted to kill for a long time, and suddenly a victim is designated, a country who literally cannot fight back. A country who's people it is safe to brutalize and dismember. Of course to us this was a religious ritual. We were the good guys, the allies in this new World War. We wanted to be able to fight these people, these evil-doers without regret. To brutalize them with our big military guns. We didn't want to be nice. This frenzy we worked ourselves into. These people were evil and we were right to "shock and awe" them. To show them our authenticity, our manliness. We were men. American males had doubted this for too long. This "War", or religious ritual, would restore our authenticity, our maleness, our goodness.

In this religious ritual, which was an atonement ritual, we wanted to, or tried to, place all our jealousies, rivalries, hatreds and sins onto the head of the Iraqi people. This didn't work as well as some of us hoped, well because we are a nation based on Christianity and it was so easy to see that Iraq was being scapegoated, for the our own sins.

The War on Iraq was wrong and evil. Tens of thousands of innocent people were killed and brutalized. Innocent people, children and unborn babies were killed, burnt alive, dismembered by our bombs. All for our self-esteem and the illusion of our own goodness. There still among us people who truly believe that these Iraqi children are guilty of the "crimes" that we accused them.

George W. Bush's words were a call for the lynch mob to form. George W. Bush and the Republican party's sole purpose is to blame someone else for our misdeeds.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Infancy Gospel of James

Infancy Gospel of James. This is all from Margaret Barker.

The Infancy Gospel of James is not easy to date, but Justin in the mid-second century knew that the birth had taken place in a cave, Clement of Alexandria, at the end of the second century, knew that Mary was a virgin after giving birth, and Origen knew that Joseph had been a widower with other children[9] - all details unique to account. A papyrus of the Infancy Gospel of James, dated to the end of the third century, is the oldest known complete gospel text[10]. The Infancy Gospel of James tells how Mary was given to the temple when she was three years old, like the infant Samuel (1 Sam.1.24). The priest received her and sat her on the third step of the altar, and she danced at his feet in the temple. She was fed by an angel, and grew up in the temple until, at the age of twelve and the onset of puberty, she had to leave. A husband was found for her, Joseph, who was a widower with sons. When a new veil was needed for the temple, seven young women were chosen to spin the wool and to weave. Mary was one of them, and while she was spinning, the angel told her that she would give birth to the Son of God Most High. Mary spinning the red wool as the angel speaks to her became the ikon of the Annunciation. The little girl in the temple, dancing before the high priest, is exactly how Wisdom was described in Proverbs 8: playing and dancing before the Creator. Like Wisdom, Mary is depicted in ikons as seated in the holy of holies, being fed by an angel. She left the holy place to give birth to her child, like the woman clothed with the sun appearing through the opened veil of the holy of holies. Whilst she was weaving the new veil, the symbol of incarnation, she was pregnant with her child, and in ikons, she is shown holding her spindle, the ancient symbol of the Great Lady. The Queen of Heaven and her Son were Mary and her Son, and just as Jesus was proclaimed the Lord, the God of Israel, so Mary was depicted as the Great Lady, his Mother.

In the Great High Priest she says the Angel was presumably a Priest. So Mary was chosen to create a new veil for the temple. In the Gospels the flesh of Jesus and the Veil were linked.