Wednesday, March 31, 2010
11A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.13For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15But women[a] will be saved[b]through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
I received an email this week from someone I know asking several questions about the passage: whether I think that women shouldn't teach or have authority over men, why the passage brings Eve into the argument, and what does the passage say about women who cannot or do not have children?
Although I've sent a reply out which I may post soon, I thought I'd invite readers to suggest their own ways of handling the passage. It's certainly part of our tradition. Most women have to deal with it (or passages like it) one way or another. So how have you read I Timothy 2:11-15 in your life and work?
Monday, March 29, 2010
Pen World Voices of International Literature April 26 to May 2; Tariq Ramadan at Cooper Union on April 8
On April 8th at The Great Hall at Cooper Union, 7. East 7th Street, NYC at 7.30pm a panel including Ian Buruma, Dalia Mogahed, directof of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, Tariq Ramadan, author of What I Believe, Joan Wallach Scott, author of The Politics of the Veil (The Public Square) and Jacob Weisberg will discuss “Secularism, Islam and Democracy: Muslims in Europe and the West.” The event is presented by the AAUP, the ACLU, Pen American Writers and Slate magazine. The event is not free alas, but is the first US appearance of Tariq Ramadan after Secretary of State Hilary Clinton signed an order in January 2010 lifting a ban on his US public appearances.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Professor Kate Cooper notes that as the Christian institution emerges, misogynistic language emerges particularly From mid-fourth to mid-fifth century. When John Chrysostom calls the Empress Jezebel, Salome or Eve he is using negative biblical images of women. The church relies now on institutions rather than households. Women did practice ascetic monastic lifestyles as nuns but an ordinary married Christian woman was left out.
Texts that have been left out of historical reconstructions include the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. Dr Dirk Obbink describes their early excavation from 1896-1906 by Grenfell and Hunt: see The Oxyrhynchus papyri, edited with translations and notes by Bernard P. Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt (Part 10). A Christian gem from this collection (P. Oxy. 3525) shows a post resurrection dialogue between Jesus and the disciples in which Mary "greets them all. 'Don't weep, His grace will be with you.' Peter says, 'Sister, we know that the Saviour loved you more than all the other women...' Mary (Mariamme) the authoritative woman shown with a special relationship to Jesus may be why this text ends up in a biscuit box from Oxyrhynchus rather than in the canon of the New Testament. These scraps of Greek tell us that a Christian household of fourth century Egypt was trying to keep the prominent role of women alive.
Dr Kathryn Beebe of St Hilda's College Oxford is interviewed for her work on Hilda, head of a double monastery of men and women in the 7th C in the UK. But in 664, Hilda presided over the synod of Whitby. She supports the Celtic dating of Easter but at the end the followers of Rome won the argument for the Roman dating of Easter. Whitby was a center of religious learning and the 7th C to the 12th C which is a golden age for women. Then the new power base became the university to which women had little access until the 19th Century.
Bede speaks of Hilda because she was the greatest of the royal-aristocratic abbesses of her day, and her influence on the 7th-century English church was profound; she was a national religious figure of immense spiritual power. It is a telling reminder that history is not a matter of linear progress and improvement that this was a great age for well-born religious women, in a position to operate with a vigour and an impact which was theirs by right. These were no second-class citizens. Men listened to them, often, clearly, in awe; kings and bishops consulted them, male saints and leading churchmen kept up correspondence with them.
Bede’s Hilda is not only the holy woman of great and enduring faith, marked out by miracles and ultimate suffering, though that is impressive enough. Bede’s Hilda is also one of the great educational forces, for women and for men, in early-medieval England. And it is that combination of her particular style of the holy woman and her particular style of the woman of and for education that marks her out as one of the great figures in English history.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
"From Our Own Correspondent" Sam Miller reports from Kashmir whether Jesus is buried in Rozabal shrine. Officially, the tomb is the burial site of Youza Asaph, a medieval Muslim preacher. But some argue that it is the burial place of Jesus. Behind this notion lies the belief that Jesus survived the crucifixion, and went to live out his days in Kashmir.
The stories of Jesus in India however, are part of a broader argument dating back to the 19th Century in which Jesus came to India between the ages of 12 and 30. Did Jesus visit a Buddhist monastery in Srinagar in 80CE? Such stories were part of attempts to explain the striking similarities between Christianity and Buddhism, a matter of great concern to 19th Century scholars - and also a desire among some Christians to root the story of Jesus in Indian soil.
And The Guardian offers an excerpt from Philip Pullman's book The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. Pullman has been reading the gospels and the Protevangelium of James. From the latter source comes this paragraph in the excerpt:
When they had nearly reached Bethlehem, (Joseph) turned around to see how she was, and saw her looking sad. Perhaps she's in pain, he thought. A little later he turned around again, and this time saw her laughing.
"What is it?" he said. "A moment ago you were looking sad, and now you're laughing."
"I saw two men," she said, "and one of them was weeping and crying, and the other was laughing and rejoicing."
There was no one in sight. He thought: How can this be?
Turns out that this passage is important to Pullman's novel: Mary "sees" that she will have twin sons, Jesus and Christ. Pullman has rendered the passage in ways that suit him. In an older translation of the this passage, M. R. James in 1924 renders it: And Mary said unto Joseph: It is because I behold two peoples with mine eyes, the one weeping and lamenting and the other rejoicing and exulting. I see two peoples, not two men (Greek: duo laous blepo). Laos connotes a people.
But Pullman's book reads Mary's vision as one of two men, presumably her twin sons. Jesus is tormented by Christ when they grow up to be adults. Jesus announces the kingdom of God while Christ realizes that people need institutions like an organized church. Paul's focus is on Christ rather than Jesus and Paul thus transforms the shape of the Christian tradition.
* * * * *
Its not too surprising to learn that Philip Pullman has been getting disapproving letters about the book.
Now what connects these two strange reports is India and the notion that Jesus had a twin. The apostle Thomas in some traditions is recognized as a twin, perhaps Jesus' twin, and in Indian Christian tradition, Thomas is the apostle who visited South India. And Rudolph Steiner wrote about Jesus and Christ as distinct figures in 1913.
It can't be accidental that the Pullman book is published in time for Easter. Time for a cup of tea, I think, or better yet, something stronger...
Review by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein in this week's NY Times Book Review of The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time by Judith Shulevitz.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
"Same-Sex Relationships in the Life of the Church" now posted with introduction by Willis Jenkins to the House of Bishops discussion
Monday, March 22, 2010
Professor Joan Breton Connelly at NYU is interviewed (probably on the basis of her book Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece). She states that given the prominence of women in classical tradition, that they would have had the presumption that they would play leading roles in this new religion. Prof Gary Macy's 2007 book The Hidden History of Women's Ordination is a focus. He observes that Christianity developed from Judaism. Women played a role around Jesus as we can see in the gospels.
Dr Kate Cooper (author of The Virgin and the Bride: Idealized Womanhood in Late Antiquity) talks of the power women exerted in early Christian communities known to Paul. She identifies women like Lydia who host Paul in Thyatira and introduce him to networks of textile industry and commerce. Prisca mentioned in Romans has a network of connections in Rome. This is the way the new religion took hold through social networks facilitated by women. In the catacombs of Priscilla in Rome we find a trace of a community of equals--maybe even in a fresco depicting women priests breaking bread at a Eucharist.
Phoebe is identified as a deacon in Romans 16. Sabina, a wealthy pagan, was converted by her slave Seraphia in the early second century. A basilica was built in her name in Rome. Women are identified as "presbytera" in Christian tradition and in once case "sacerdotae" in an inscription from Croatia. There is a discussion of the inscription Theodora "episcopa" interpreted by Gary Macy as considered ordained in a local community.
There is unfortunately an improper use of Acts 18:26 read aloud in the context of discussing Paul's introduction to local communities in Asia through women. The verse is quoted, "He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the Way of God to him more accurately." The wider context of Acts shows this verse to be about Apollos not Paul but by using this verse in the context of a discussion of Paul, it is made to seem as if it describes Paul's faulty exposition, corrected by Priscilla. The verse thus seems to corroborate the way women facilitate the introduction of Paul to the community and even the gospel. Oh dear. Such a cavalier use of scripture isn't encouraging. The programme continues next week.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Our Lady of Alaska, as reported by Episcopal Life Online. The 16 x 26-inch icon incorporates traditional religious images with the distinctive Tlingit symbols of an eagle and a raven, representing the two halves of the Tlingit Nation. The symbols are included on the Madonna's golden halo and on the bentwood box that serves as her footstool.
The Christ child is shown in full festival regalia. He wears a painted adaptation of a Chilkat dancing tunic, "which was woven from mountain goat wool and was a very prestigious possession. Only the most aristocratic in the old tradition could own such a thing," she said.
The child's neck is adorned with a red cedar bark neck ring symbolizing his elevated status. Three heads, derived from Chilkat weaving, symbolize the Trinity and are surrounded by representations of winged heads, also done in Chilkat style and reminiscent of the winged seraphim. "He is holding in his hand a silver cross based on the Alaska cross given to native-born Alaskans at their confirmation," Sherry Lynch, the icon's creator said.
He also holds the scroll of the Old Testament, which indicates the belief that all prophecies of the Old Testament are realized in Christ. His halo is ornamented with three gems of mother-of-pearl, used traditionally in Northwest Coast art.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Congratulations to James McGrath as the Clarence L. Goodwin Chair of New Testament Language and Literature
Mr. McGrath, 37, was installed last month as the Clarence L. Goodwin Chair of New Testament Language and Literature (at Butler University in Indianapolis), making him the first person to hold the position since 1948.
Here's his home page at Butler. He'll be guest lecturing at GTS this coming Wednesday evening.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
A discussion of same-gender relationships will be on the agenda when more than 115 bishops of the Episcopal Church gather March 19-24 for their spring retreat meeting in Camp Allen, Texas.
Bishop Henry Parsley of the Diocese of Alabama, who chairs the House of Bishops' Theology Committee, said two major papers will be presented from the study "Same Sex Relationships in the Life of the Church."
"One paper represents the church's traditional view and the other a proposal to revise the tradition, and there's a response to each paper," Parsley said in a March 16 telephone interview from his Birmingham office.
"We'll have a discussion of the paper and see what questions it raises and what we can learn from each other and how this kind of theological dialogue can be advanced," Parsley said. "The purpose was to prepare theological papers by academic theologians so they focus on the classical theological approach to the question."
The study was commissioned in 2008 and authored by a diverse group of theologians to represent a wide range of views. Included in that group are:
• Dr. John Goldingay, the David Allan Hubbard professor of Old Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California;
• Dr. Deirdre Good, professor of New Testament at the General Theological Seminary in New York;
• Dr. Willis Jenkins, Margaret A. Farley assistant professor of social ethics, Yale Divinity School;
• The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Kittredge, Ernest J. Villavaso Jr. chair of New Testament and dean of community life at the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest in Austin;
• The Rev. Dr. Grant LeMarquand, academic dean and associate professor of biblical studies at Trinity School for Ministry in Toronto;
• Dr. Eugene Rogers, professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro;
• The Rev. Dr. George Sumner, principal and Helliwell professor of world mission, Wycliffe College, Toronto; and
• The Rev. Dr. Daniel Westberg, research professor of ethics and moral theology, Nashotah House, Nashotah, Wisconsin.
Parsley said that Dr. Ellen Charry, associate professor of systematic and historical theology at Princeton Theological Seminary and editor of Theology Today, served as editor.
"This is meant to be a contribution to the church's discernment and to the Listening Process going on in the Anglican Communion about these matters," Parsley said. "The group of theologians is intentionally diverse and inclusive. We think all voices are included, in as much as eight people can include all voices."
Parsley said at the time that he wanted to "assure those concerned that the panel very intentionally represents a robust range of views on the subject and includes gay and lesbian persons."
Study results will be available as a church resource later. Parsley said a group of ecumenical and pan-Anglican theologians will also read and comment on the study later in the year.
"It is hoped that by listening carefully to different viewpoints we will all learn and be enlightened and hopefully more respectful of one another," he added.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Ransom, like it's model, is an exploration of the alternatives to war. Or rather, a consideration of what happens when King Priam recognizes that he cannot get back the body of his beloved son Hector through military might. He has a vision which encourages him to contemplate an almost unthinkable alternative: to go unarmed and plead with Achilles, the slaughterer of his son, to let him have back the body for mourning and burial rites. It is a book that invites us to consider pity and gentleness in the context of men and war. Why not go back to the text on which the book was based:
These words stirred within Achilles a deep desire to grieve for his own father. Taking the old man's hand, he gently moved him back. And overpowered by memory both men gave way to grief...
Then when brilliant Achilles had had his fill of tears and the longing for it had left his mind and body, he rose from his seat, taking the old man by the hand...
Thursday, March 11, 2010
So where can you go in Chelsea for a serious cup of coffee?
Cafe Grumpy of course (see link to online shop for you out of towners) at 224 W. 20th Street. Cafe Grumpy roasts their own beans.
Not in Chelsea? Yesterday's Times' reviews serious coffee places in NYC. Going out for coffee with Coco and Reuben is a sensible idea with all the construction of faculty offices upstairs! Spring Break starts tomorrow which doesn't hurt either.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Sir Kenneth Dover, one of the world's greatest Hellenists, has died at the age of 89. His career of pre-eminent academic distinction included the presidency of Corpus Christi College, Oxford (1976-86), the presidency of the British Academy (1978-81), and the Chancellorship of St Andrews University (1981-2005). Dover was a towering, renowned figure in the study of ancient Greek language, literature and thought; very few indeed could approach the range and quality of his scholarship, especially the synthesis of philological, historical and cultural acumen which marked all his work. His name became known to a wider public partly for his groundbreaking book Greek Homosexuality in 1978, and partly as a result of the controversy which erupted after publication of his candid autobiography, Marginal Comment, in 1994.
Monday, March 08, 2010
International Women's Day celebrates not only the achievements of women around the globe but also the goals and the vision of what we still need to accomplish.
Nicholas Kristoff in the New York Times highlights the need for girl's education.
It’s cheap, it opens minds, it gives girls new career opportunities and ways to generate cash, it leads them to have fewer children and invest more in those children, and it tends to bring women from the shadows into the formal economy and society. It’s not a panacea, of course. Lebanon and Sri Lanka were leaders in girls’ education, and both ended up torn apart by conflict. In India, the state of Kerala has done a fine job in girls’ education, but its state economy is still a mess and dependent on remittances. But overall, educating girls probably has a greater transformative effect on a country than anything else one can do.
Then there are financial loans. In Ghana, there's Jennifer Mwesigye. After years of struggling to support her seven children by working as a seamstress in Uganda, in 1997 Jennifer took a small loan to buy her own sewing machine. This enabled her to expand her sewing business, which in turn led her to diversify into other areas. First, she opened a motorcycle taxi business, before purchasing land to build properties to rent out. Today, Jennifer's combined businesses employ 57 people, and, besides her own children, she has taken on the care of five adopted AIDS orphans. Meanwhile, her natural leadership skills have led to her being elected to the town council; now she is changing the local culture for women, overturning barriers for them to own property and start their own businesses.
"When you train your women, you train a whole nation" comments Memory Nsinga, who has worked for Opportunity International Bank of Malawi for six years. She describes how scared women were to even enter the bank when the Limbe branch first opened. "We went out and talked to them in the community and ran a radio campaign" the first to come in were real pioneers; they shared their experiences with other women. Before, a bank account was for rich, privileged people.
What about making public spaces safe for women? Here's a report from Asia:
Violence against women in the home is increasingly been seen as a development issue in addition to being a core rights one. But, threats to physical security in public spaces continue with impunity, and the same geographical band that shows poor health, education and employment outcomes for women and girls – namely, extending from Afghanistan, through Pakistan, north India and parts of Bangladesh – is also the band where women and girls are often too scared to venture out.
Come let’s place our hand on the women.com button
This very own history of women
From illiteracy to women.com.
Once upon a time from this woman
You snatched the chance of reading the Vedas
All of you said women were just housewives
Men had the right to Sanskrit
Women’s language, the language of the Sudras was different.
After a thousand years when the girl
Prepared herself for a girls’ school
Bethune and Vidyasagar stood by her
All of you said
Women who read and write
Are bound to become widows.
Then when the woman entered the office space
Mother-in-law’s sullen face, and the husband was suspicious
All of you said
What’s the use of a family run with a wife’s money?
The woman had to fight the storms and tempests.
Inch by inch in the thousand years the woman
Has earned knowledge and power
Inside a fiery heart, tranquil outwardly
Today half the sky is in the woman’s palm
The world is an amlaki held in the woman’s fist
Just a touch of a button
One day you who had denied her knowledge of alphabets
In her hand today is the computer world.
This is a poem by Mallika Sengupta.
Sunday, March 07, 2010
Praying with Mary Practicum (AT345/545)
Miriam, Mary the mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene are a few of the Marys that have shaped centuries of Christian prayer. This course will examine the origins and development of the figure of Mary in the Christian tradition and explore both ancient and contemporary ways of praying with her as prophet, teacher, contemplative, mystic, and visionary. Participants will learn, experience and reflect on prayer practices, as well as create and teach their own prayers. The prayer practices will include the rosary, listening to Miriam-Mary music and praying with art at the Metropolitan Museum. Prof. Good and J. Person, 3 Credits (Practicum courses are not available for audit).
(May 24-28, 2010 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sherred 1B.)
Two Years Before the Earthquake: From Amos the Prophet to Amos the Book (OT80)
About 760 BCE a herdsman from the town of Tekoa in the Kingdom of Judah appeared at a sanctuary of the Kingdom of Israel and began to prophesy to the inhabitants of that kingdom. Thus a process began which culminated centuries later in the Book of Amos as we now have it. In this course we shall examine the attitudes of those Amos first addressed and the words Amos himself addressed to that audience. Then we shall explore why Amos' words were preserved and how they were applied to later generations by the compilers of the Book of Amos. Prof. Emer. Richard Corney, 1 credit.
(May 31-June 4, 2010, 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. & 11 a.m. to Noon. Sherred 1B.)
Twelve Step Spirituality (AT80)
The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous provide a guide for spiritual health and growth that is available for all people in all walks of life. Dean Ward Ewing, presently a non-alcoholic trustee and chair of Alcoholics Anonymous, has followed this guide in his own life for the past 40 years. “The spirituality of the Twelve Steps has offered me strength, flexibility and openness to God in my practical living,” he writes. In this course, we will look closely at the Twelve Steps, reflect on the practices, and begin to pray in the way of Twelve Step spirituality. Prof. Ward Ewing & Chaplain Stuart Hoke, 2-3 Credits.
(June 7-11, 2010 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sherred 1B.)
Contemplative Prayer Practicum (AT322/522)
In response to Jesus’ call for personal transformation, contemplative prayer is a grace-filled attentiveness to God that initiates and sustains a change of consciousness, leading to deepening love of God and neighbor. This course sets contemplative prayer in the context of the Bible and the experience of the Christian community. It explores the necessity of intentional daily experience of God as a fundamental source of spiritual discernment, vision and energy for our lives. Emphasis is given to personal experience of a variety of forms of contemplative prayer in class, at home, and in parish settings. Participants develop a design for sharing contemplative prayer in a parish or other institutional setting. This class is co-sponsored by the Contemplative Ministry Project. Adj. Prof. David Keller, 3 Credits. (Practicum courses are not available for audit).
(June 14-18, 2010 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sherred 1B.)
For further information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Deirdre J. Good, Professor of New Testament at The General Theological Seminary, is author of Jesus and Family Values, "No Outcasts in the Church?" and "Can Christians Embrace Same-Gender Unions?"
* Date & Time: Thursday, Mar 04 from 04:00 PM to 06:00 PM
* Location: Library Auditorium
* Contact: email@example.com; 609-771-2539
* Sponsor(s): English, WGS, Religion and Philosophy, CCIC
Monday, March 01, 2010
Oh dear. Here are the classes offered at Brooklyn Mercantile: "The Studio at Brooklyn Mercantile offers classes for students of all ages and abilities, in basic sewing, advanced sewing, quilt-making, coptic-stitch book binding, photo-transfer projects and more." Coptic binding or chain stitch is used to sew book bindings. It is a visible stitch on the spine. Here's a demonstration:
Letter to the editor of the New Yorker to follow!