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  1. #21
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    Re: The Gender of the Christian God

    Thank you for the reply, it is exactly what I was curious about.

    Quote Originally Posted by Apok
    t starts with the language scripture was written in. God's seeming gender, is merely metaphorical (much like "God's hand" or God's eyes" for the "finger of God").

    When we see the word "He" in scripture, it is not as a statement of gender, but simply a grammatical necessity. In Hebrew, there is no pronoun "it." As in many languages, nouns in Hebrew are either masculine or feminine, and the appropriate pronouns, either "he" or "she" are used when necessary. As has been stated already, the masculine form includes also the gender neutral. And as such, readers of the ancient language understood masculine nouns in this way. Today, we are more inclined to see gender specific as a culture because our language has changed dramatically since. We have many more terms of expression than existed back then.

    See the Mishnah Torah of Maimonides, Chapter 1.
    If it is the case that masculine pronouns are a product of ancient Hebrew grammatical necessity, than shouldn't Biblical translators seek to rectify this when translating into English, which as you say has many more terms of expression?

    Quote Originally Posted by Apok
    There is also the role that each gender has in a relationship. That relationship (between a man and woman, father-child, mother-child) is seen throughout scripture. God taking more of a male role, especially as a male parent to child, tells us (or more specifically at the time, the original writers and their audience) how God should be viewed (according to the role that God is said to have). And example of this is husband is to wife, as Christ is to the Church.

    As far as Adam and Eve...both were made in God's image (possessing will, capacity for love, intellect, etc...). Adam however, more closely represents the role that God has over His Creation.
    But such filial relationships are specific to particular cultures - an African matriarchy would reach very different conclusions when they are told that God is the great Father. I remember from a history course I took that in fact this very misunderstanding happened, and led to problems in some African groups. Apparently in many indigenous African matriarchal societies the father behaved like a stereotypical indulgent uncle in America - he gave gifts freely and was not a disciplinarian. So the missionaries said that Christianity and England (or whatever European country they came from) would act as the Father to the converts, and when they started demanding strict obedience, there was lots of unrest.

    So if the title of Father is intended symbolically, would it be accurate to describe God as the great Matriarch to these indigenous African peoples? (If they are hypothetically being exposed to Christianity for the first time)

  2. #22
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    Re: The Gender of the Christian God

    Quote Originally Posted by Telex View Post
    Thank you for the reply, it is exactly what I was curious about.


    If it is the case that masculine pronouns are a product of ancient Hebrew grammatical necessity, than shouldn't Biblical translators seek to rectify this when translating into English, which as you say has many more terms of expression?
    Well, some translations do this (to an extent in some areas). There are many translations and translation styles. For example, there is the thought-thought translations, or word-word as it's counterpart. Some translations seek to give the idea that the authors were attempting to convey, and put those ideas into modern concepts or terms. The problem with this though, is that it leaves it wide open for interpretation (vs simple translation) by the translators. It can be subjective. But for some people, this may be a better style (children, those not interested in the actual history or culture of the authors, etc...). The word-word is more accurate to what was actually said...but does not necessarily reflect the same meaning since ideas/concepts/meanings change from culture to culture and over time. This means the reader must understand that what he/she is reading, is from the perspective of the author...and to figure out those more difficult passages, one is going to have to do a little homework on occasion. I think this is the best style of translation...it gives the reader a more in-depth understanding of scripture if they understand the history and culture of the times.

    But such filial relationships are specific to particular cultures - an African matriarchy would reach very different conclusions when they are told that God is the great Father. I remember from a history course I took that in fact this very misunderstanding happened, and led to problems in some African groups. Apparently in many indigenous African matriarchal societies the father behaved like a stereotypical indulgent uncle in America - he gave gifts freely and was not a disciplinarian. So the missionaries said that Christianity and England (or whatever European country they came from) would act as the Father to the converts, and when they started demanding strict obedience, there was lots of unrest.

    So if the title of Father is intended symbolically, would it be accurate to describe God as the great Matriarch to these indigenous African peoples? (If they are hypothetically being exposed to Christianity for the first time)
    Perhaps this would be an example of where a thought-thought translation would be better suited. Although, I suspect that this is an very rare case, and I don't know that such translations would be possible for such instances since it would require the translators to not only fully understand this rare culture, but to also be experts on the ancient languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. Not only have you narrowed the field of specialization for the translators available to do the job...but the cost is also taken into account. There would need to be a group of people that have the "political" will and/or capital for such a venture. If it were as serious as you make it out to be (admittedly, I'm skeptical), then I'm sure there would be churches asking for donations to fund such a program (if it ever existed).
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  3. #23
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    Re: The Gender of the Christian God

    Quote Originally Posted by Apok
    Well, some translations do this (to an extent in some areas). There are many translations and translation styles. For example, there is the thought-thought translations, or word-word as it's counterpart. Some translations seek to give the idea that the authors were attempting to convey, and put those ideas into modern concepts or terms. The problem with this though, is that it leaves it wide open for interpretation (vs simple translation) by the translators. It can be subjective. But for some people, this may be a better style (children, those not interested in the actual history or culture of the authors, etc...). The word-word is more accurate to what was actually said...but does not necessarily reflect the same meaning since ideas/concepts/meanings change from culture to culture and over time. This means the reader must understand that what he/she is reading, is from the perspective of the author...and to figure out those more difficult passages, one is going to have to do a little homework on occasion. I think this is the best style of translation...it gives the reader a more in-depth understanding of scripture if they understand the history and culture of the times.
    Fair enough. Translation problems such as these certainly give support to those religions that insist their holy books be read in their original language.

    Quote Originally Posted by Apok
    Perhaps this would be an example of where a thought-thought translation would be better suited. Although, I suspect that this is an very rare case, and I don't know that such translations would be possible for such instances since it would require the translators to not only fully understand this rare culture, but to also be experts on the ancient languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. Not only have you narrowed the field of specialization for the translators available to do the job...but the cost is also taken into account. There would need to be a group of people that have the "political" will and/or capital for such a venture. If it were as serious as you make it out to be (admittedly, I'm skeptical), then I'm sure there would be churches asking for donations to fund such a program (if it ever existed).
    Well, consider it a hypothetical. Let's change the situation to a hypothetical culture that was exactly identical to the ancient Hebrews except the Father/Mother gender roles were reversed. If such a culture existed, and if an appropriately educated translator existed, would it be accurate to describe God as a Matriarch in this case?

    What I am getting at is that if the "thought" of the Bible is firmly rooted in the ancient Hebrew culture (ala the reliance on their particular concept of "fatherhood" to explain God), why must that particular thought be the only truthful "thought" and applicable to all humanity rather than just the ancient Hebrews who wrote it?

  4. #24
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    Re: The Gender of the Christian God

    Well, and I'm not an expert on the issues of anthropology and ancient cultures, merely an enthusiast.

    But here are some of the problems I can see that would have to be worked out (aside from the assumptions you've provided above).

    1) Jesus was a man, not a woman. As such, referring to God as The Mother, yet having Jesus, being a male, play such an important role...the most important role, may be problematic for such societies. I don't know how to rectify this.

    2) The Trinity is already a complex concept. It isn't easy to understand. Throw in the mix of genders (female Mother with male Son and ? Holy Spirit in this instance), it may cause even more confusion.

    Often times, such confusion results in heresy. People can't understand what was intended, so they try to relate to it in terms they are familiar with...and this often changes the actual meaning. With such a society, I can see the potential for many false teachings.

    3) The roles of the different persons of God are very important. I don't see how the relationships can be translated over to such a different culture, without that culture understanding Western Philosophy and values. I suppose that's really what we are talking about here isn't it? Trying to take western principles and inject them into a society which is absent of them, and NOT making changes w/ their philosophy. In every non-Western culture I know of that have been taught Christianity, their culture has dramatically changed when adopting these philosophies.

    How do you propose to teach these values, maintain doctrine and decrease potential for heresy, and not change philosophical or cultural values?

    I understand you've created a hypothetical, but IMO, it isn't very valuable as a hypothetical here. I mean, we can create any hypothetical we wish. But the teachings of Christianity are limited to the world of reality. That is, if X truly happened and Y is really the case in this state of affairs known as reality, then Z are the results/consequences. With a hypothetical, all variables can be thrown out. So I don't see the value here since I don't think it can ever apply to reality. I guess I'm just a fan of pragmatism.
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  5. #25
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    Re: The Gender of the Christian God

    Quote Originally Posted by Telex View Post
    Neil Armstrong was not an omnipotent diety recording His words for all of humanity. He was an American during the 20th century and so used the corresponding language.
    It was an example to demonstrate how language was prior to now. I wasn't trying to draw a direct comparison between Armstrong and God but between Armstrong's verbage and the linguistics prior to him and after him.
    Quote Originally Posted by Telex View Post
    If the Bible's use of the male gender for God is one based on the culture of the Jewish people, than it supports my assertion that such language is misleading and thus should be changed in today's Christianity.
    Why must it be changed? If the language were changed, then it would mean we're altering the language for reasons of political correctness, which undermines the authority of the Bible and sets a precedent that aspects of the book can be changed simply because they may be misconstrued.
    Quote Originally Posted by Telex View Post
    I agree it says all those things, but it also clearly states that Adam was created first, and Eve a response to Adam's emotions. So why was that? Why would a genderless God create a species comprised only of a male in His own image?
    I would suggest that it's because men were the heads of the household. The leaders. So to them it would make more sense to place the authority figure being created first (and given a role of authority IE naming the animals) over a creator creating another creator (women give birth to life, God gives life).
    But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
    1 Peter 3:15-16

  6. #26
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    Re: The Gender of the Christian God

    Quote Originally Posted by Apok
    3) The roles of the different persons of God are very important. I don't see how the relationships can be translated over to such a different culture, without that culture understanding Western Philosophy and values. I suppose that's really what we are talking about here isn't it? Trying to take western principles and inject them into a society which is absent of them, and NOT making changes w/ their philosophy. In every non-Western culture I know of that have been taught Christianity, their culture has dramatically changed when adopting these philosophies.

    How do you propose to teach these values, maintain doctrine and decrease potential for heresy, and not change philosophical or cultural values?
    The bold portion is exactly the issue - the message of the Bible is fundamentally tied to the culture that created it (or that it was first communicated to). As you and others have said in this thread, God as a Father is not an essential description of God's identity but a symbol used to communicate God's relationship with humanity. And yet it is impossible (or at least extremely difficult) to communicate this relationship without the use of that particular symbol, to the point where the converted cultures must not only adopt the Christian religion but also elements of Western culture necessary for that religion to make sense.

    In this sense too, I believe it accurate to say that God does have a gender. Fatherhood is a necessary symbol that must be translated to converted cultures to explain God, and "fatherhood" is characterized by the male gender. So while of course God is not literally male, it seems that masculinity is inseparable from His role.

    My concern is, given such a tight relationship, why must Christianity be applicable to other cultures as the only true religion? If the symbols used in Christianity are fundamentally based on the ancient Jewish culture, could it not be possible that other cultures have received teachings from the same Deity but in a different form? If it is the "thought" behind the language that is important (ie the "thought" of God's relationship to humanity described as that of a father to a son, leading to the "word" father), than this seems to be the domain of mythology rather than literal truth.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hyde
    was an example to demonstrate how language was prior to now. I wasn't trying to draw a direct comparison between Armstrong and God but between Armstrong's verbage and the linguistics prior to him and after him.
    I know. My next few sentences after the one you quoted explained this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hyde
    Why must it be changed? If the language were changed, then it would mean we're altering the language for reasons of political correctness, which undermines the authority of the Bible and sets a precedent that aspects of the book can be changed simply because they may be misconstrued.
    But the language is already flawed, so it is not simply "political correctness" but an attempt at greater accuracy. If it is purely incidental (just a product of the quirks of language) that God is described as male when in fact He is not gendered, than using our language's ability to accurately convey this is not correcting for the sake of gender politics but an accurate translation of the Bible's message.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hyde
    I would suggest that it's because men were the heads of the household. The leaders. So to them it would make more sense to place the authority figure being created first (and given a role of authority IE naming the animals) over a creator creating another creator (women give birth to life, God gives life).
    Again, you are explaining a divine truth for all humanity as a product of a particular culture (which did not exist yet when Adam and Eve were created). So do you consider the Adam and Eve story a myth, or a literal truth?

  7. #27
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    Re: The Gender of the Christian God

    Quote Originally Posted by Telex View Post
    But the language is already flawed, so it is not simply "political correctness" but an attempt at greater accuracy. If it is purely incidental (just a product of the quirks of language) that God is described as male when in fact He is not gendered, than using our language's ability to accurately convey this is not correcting for the sake of gender politics but an accurate translation of the Bible's message.
    Not necessarily. Look at your next quote where you ask about Adam and Eve.
    Quote Originally Posted by Telex View Post
    Again, you are explaining a divine truth for all humanity as a product of a particular culture (which did not exist yet when Adam and Eve were created). So do you consider the Adam and Eve story a myth, or a literal truth?
    Were I to believe in was literal, I would leave it the way it was because, to me, that would be the most accurate reading of it, right? Whereas if I believed it was a metaphor and the Genesis story included evolution in the mix, I'd have to alter the story to include such in more explicit fashion, wouldn't I (for the sake of making it more accurate to its intended message)?

    But if I do that, I'm fundamentally altering the work altogether. So rather than edit and alter, which would be incredibly presumptuous since I doubt there's a single person alive with a 100% correct interpretation of the ENTIRE thing, it would safer to ere on the side of caution and leave it as is and attempt to understand what's written. Remember that a guy trying to simply translate it misread about Mary Magdelene, and for the next several hundred years people thought she was a prostitute (and some still do).
    But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
    1 Peter 3:15-16

  8. #28
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    Re: The Gender of the Christian God

    Quote Originally Posted by Hyde
    Were I to believe in was literal, I would leave it the way it was because, to me, that would be the most accurate reading of it, right? Whereas if I believed it was a metaphor and the Genesis story included evolution in the mix, I'd have to alter the story to include such in more explicit fashion, wouldn't I (for the sake of making it more accurate to its intended message)?
    If you were to believe it was literal, than you need to address why Adam was created as a male without a corresponding female. You would need to explain why Adam had male reproductive organs but no female to use them with (or any need of reproduction whatsoever). You would need to explain why God made all the other animals in gendered pairs except for His own image, which was constructed initially only as male. If it is literal, than it seems the male gender should be superior in all humanity, and that a patriarchy (like the ancient Hebrews had) is the ideal state of human society.

    If you believe it a myth, than the explanation that the story is the product of an ancient patriarchy and Adam's privileged creation is a reflection of male social position is perfectly fine. But such a myth is inherently not universal, because it is tied to the culture whose symbols it is presented in.

    Neither of these cases needs the language re-written. But if you believe that it is a myth that is equally relevant to all of humanity, or that it is a literal truth that does not place the male gender above the female and does not assign God a gendered role (as has been presented by several in this thread), than it needs to be re-written in these terms. Because right now, the Bible's language does not support these interpretations.

  9. #29
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    Re: The Gender of the Christian God

    Quote Originally Posted by Telex View Post
    The bold portion is exactly the issue - the message of the Bible is fundamentally tied to the culture that created it (or that it was first communicated to). As you and others have said in this thread, God as a Father is not an essential description of God's identity but a symbol used to communicate God's relationship with humanity. And yet it is impossible (or at least extremely difficult) to communicate this relationship without the use of that particular symbol, to the point where the converted cultures must not only adopt the Christian religion but also elements of Western culture necessary for that religion to make sense.
    Impossible relates to reality. The reality is, it isn't impossible. It is done every day. You are creating a hypothetical argument from a hypothetical world.

    Christianity is a real religion in the real world. For real criticism to apply, the criticism must be grounded in reality (not hypotheticals).

    If we must argue in hypotheticals, then in response I could say that God would hypothetically create a system of reaching out for this hypothetical culture.

    My concern is, given such a tight relationship, why must Christianity be applicable to other cultures as the only true religion?
    I think such a discussion it outside the scope of this thread. It's merely rephrasing of the question "Why must one religion be the one true religion?" or "Isn't there more than one path to God?".
    Last edited by Apokalupsis; August 22nd, 2010 at 03:07 PM.
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  10. #30
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    Re: The Gender of the Christian God

    Quote Originally Posted by Telex View Post
    Neither of these cases needs the language re-written. But if you believe that it is a myth that is equally relevant to all of humanity, or that it is a literal truth that does not place the male gender above the female and does not assign God a gendered role (as has been presented by several in this thread), than it needs to be re-written in these terms. Because right now, the Bible's language does not support these interpretations.
    I see the language as fine as is. Whether or not I believe it's a myth or literal isn't relevant since, in either case, the language doesn't need to be re-written. As well, whether or not I believe it's applicable across the boards isn't the subject of the discussion. Whether or not the Bible supports a specific gender being applied to God (whether or not God has a penis) is the subject.

    And on that subject, if it WERE the case that the Bible supports God being a male and that MEN are superior to women for the arguments you've laid out, then you would have to answer to the following questions:

    If men are superior to women, why would God make Deborah a prophet?
    What about Huldah and Miriam (also major players in the Bible)?

    Or this verse where Paul speaks:

    I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant[a] of the church in Cenchrea.
    a. or deaconess.
    Romans 16:1

    Paul refers to her as a deaconess (a church official).

    If men are superior to women, how is it that this woman holds a position of some authority within a church?
    But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
    1 Peter 3:15-16

  11. #31
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    Re: The Gender of the Christian God

    Quote Originally Posted by Apok
    Impossible relates to reality. The reality is, it isn't impossible. It is done every day. You are creating a hypothetical argument from a hypothetical world.
    I am not the one defining the communication as impossible. You said earlier, "The roles of the different persons of God are very important. I don't see how the relationships can be translated over to such a different culture, without that culture understanding Western Philosophy and values.". My hypothetical did not assume the communication was impossible, it asked if it was. I'm not sure how you can claim this is "done every day" when earlier you said that you didn't see how it could be done at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Apok
    Christianity is a real religion in the real world. For real criticism to apply, the criticism must be grounded in reality (not hypotheticals).

    If we must argue in hypotheticals, then in response I could say that God would hypothetically create a system of reaching out for this hypothetical culture.
    That's fine, but you didn't say that before. You just said that hypothetical situations don't apply and dodged the question. My hypothetical questions not whether He would reach out, but how.

    Quote Originally Posted by Apok
    I think such a discussion it outside the scope of this thread. It's merely rephrasing of the question "Why must one religion be the one true religion?" or "Isn't there more than one path to God?".
    It is essentially that question, but based on my position taken in this thread. I can't force you to answer it, but I don't think it is off-topic. If it is the case that God has constructed reality in such a way that for His message to be spread, a specific culture must also be spread (the elements of Western thought), than why do you believe that this particular culture's God is the God of all humanity and not just of a particular culture? It seems like a cultural myth, rather than a universal one.

    I am also curious as to your response about my argument that in fact God's role is gendered, which is certainly within the scope of this thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Hyde
    I see the language as fine as is.
    I know, but you have not answered my questions. Just saying "The language is fine because it doesn't need to be re-written" doesn't help.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Hyde
    As well, whether or not I believe it's applicable across the boards isn't the subject of the discussion. Whether or not the Bible supports a specific gender being applied to God (whether or not God has a penis) is the subject.
    The Bible is a construct of language. Unless you have physically seen God, than the only information we have on Him and his identity is presented through the language of the Bible. As such, any discussion of God will inherently be a discussion of language.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Hyde
    If men are superior to women, how is it that this woman holds a position of some authority within a church?
    Some authority does not prove equality. Simply because some women have a role to play (the Virgin Mary being a prominent one) does not mean that women in general are equal. They are the exceptions that prove the rule. (This is if I was arguing that men are presented as superior in the Bible, which I am not).

  12. #32
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    Re: The Gender of the Christian God

    Quote Originally Posted by Telex View Post
    I am not the one defining the communication as impossible. You said earlier, "The roles of the different persons of God are very important. I don't see how the relationships can be translated over to such a different culture, without that culture understanding Western Philosophy and values.". My hypothetical did not assume the communication was impossible, it asked if it was. I'm not sure how you can claim this is "done every day" when earlier you said that you didn't see how it could be done at all.


    That's fine, but you didn't say that before. You just said that hypothetical situations don't apply and dodged the question. My hypothetical questions not whether He would reach out, but how.


    It is essentially that question, but based on my position taken in this thread. I can't force you to answer it, but I don't think it is off-topic. If it is the case that God has constructed reality in such a way that for His message to be spread, a specific culture must also be spread (the elements of Western thought), than why do you believe that this particular culture's God is the God of all humanity and not just of a particular culture? It seems like a cultural myth, rather than a universal one.
    The crux of your position seems to be: And yet it is impossible (or at least extremely difficult) to communicate this relationship without the use of that particular symbol, to the point where the converted cultures must not only adopt the Christian religion but also elements of Western culture necessary for that religion to make sense.

    It looked like to me, you tried to argue that culture X would not be able to understand such things.

    I don't believe it is the case. I think that all cultures CAN understand such things. But you wanted to argue from this hypothetical position anyway, so I responded hypothetically.

    In essence, I don't think it is the case that culture X cannot understand such things. There is to no reason to hold such a position, there is no evidence for such a position...therefore, the entire argument (until proven to be in a state of reality), is a hypothetical (and therefore, w/o value since any response given is a hypothetical and will have changed the rules of reality).

    I am also curious as to your response about my argument that in fact God's role is gendered, which is certainly within the scope of this thread.
    Was it addressed adequately above?
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    Re: The Gender of the Christian God

    Quote Originally Posted by Telex View Post
    I know, but you have not answered my questions. Just saying "The language is fine because it doesn't need to be re-written" doesn't help.
    Are you referring to the questions in your OP?

    It is clear that God is presented in masculine language and imagery, but is God actually male or somehow "beyond" gender?
    Yes. I answered that in my first post.
    If He is beyond gender, why is He never presented in any female-gendered terms, (like God the Mother)?
    The wording didn't exist at the time to describe Him in that way. The best we can do NOW is call God an "it" and "it" is something you use to refer to objects, not entities.
    Why is He presented in terms of gender at all?
    Same reasoning above. He had to be referred to as SOMETHING. Men were the head of the household, and they needed a word to describe God as the head of a universe, so the "He" "Him" thing was used.
    Quote Originally Posted by Telex View Post
    The Bible is a construct of language. Unless you have physically seen God, than the only information we have on Him and his identity is presented through the language of the Bible. As such, any discussion of God will inherently be a discussion of language.
    Of course, but you've shifted the discussion from its original topic. Instead of being a query/debate about what evidence/argument exists to support that God is beyond gender, now you've altered it to a discussion about whether or not the language needs to be rewritten for the sake of textual accuracy (which is beyond the scope of the original thread and irrelevant).
    Quote Originally Posted by Telex View Post
    Some authority does not prove equality. Simply because some women have a role to play (the Virgin Mary being a prominent one) does not mean that women in general are equal. They are the exceptions that prove the rule. (This is if I was arguing that men are presented as superior in the Bible, which I am not).
    Then what ARE you arguing? Your OP starts off by suggesting that because of how God is presented in the Bible, certain passages, etc, and through religious imagery, et al, that He certainly seems like a guy. If that's NOT your position, and if you're NOT arguing that men are superior to women in the Bible, then I'm at a complete loss as to what you're position is here. I've no idea what I'm debating against.
    But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
    1 Peter 3:15-16

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    Re: The Gender of the Christian God

    Quote Originally Posted by Apok
    The crux of your position seems to be: And yet it is impossible (or at least extremely difficult) to communicate this relationship without the use of that particular symbol, to the point where the converted cultures must not only adopt the Christian religion but also elements of Western culture necessary for that religion to make sense.

    It looked like to me, you tried to argue that culture X would not be able to understand such things.
    My hypothetical posed the situation, but you were the one who said that the culture could not understand such things through the Bible alone:

    Apok: "The roles of the different persons of God are very important. I don't see how the relationships can be translated over to such a different culture, without that culture understanding Western Philosophy and values. I suppose that's really what we are talking about here isn't it? Trying to take western principles and inject them into a society which is absent of them, and NOT making changes w/ their philosophy. In every non-Western culture I know of that have been taught Christianity, their culture has dramatically changed when adopting these philosophies. "

    I am not arguing it. You said it yourself and I am pursuing the implications of that statement. This "hypothetical" is not very far-fetched: it is simply a society that has no familiarity with Western philosophy. You yourself said that such a society would need to be educated in aspects of the West. There are multitudes of examples of such societies: Native Americans, indigenous Africans... in the vast majority of cases, Christian missionaries founded schools to instruct converts both in religion and in Western academics. The two have never been separated, and there is no significant missionary work that has had lasting impact without the establishment of schools or other forms of Western education.

    Quote Originally Posted by Apok
    I don't believe it is the case. I think that all cultures CAN understand such things. But you wanted to argue from this hypothetical position anyway, so I responded hypothetically.
    So hypothetically a foreign society needs unfamiliar with aspects of Western culture needs these elements understand the Bible, but you do not believe such a society has ever existed?

    Quote Originally Posted by Apok
    In essence, I don't think it is the case that culture X cannot understand such things. There is to no reason to hold such a position, there is no evidence for such a position...therefore, the entire argument (until proven to be in a state of reality), is a hypothetical (and therefore, w/o value since any response given is a hypothetical and will have changed the rules of reality).
    I don't understand your dismissal of hypothetical situations when discussing Christianity. Why aren't hypothetical situations allowed when exploring the implications of Christian doctrine?

    Quote Originally Posted by Apok
    Was it addressed adequately above?
    No. If Fatherhood is a necessary symbol that must be translated to converted cultures to explain God, and "fatherhood" is characterized by the male gender, than masculinity is inseparable from God. It's like the symbols on bathroom doors. One is wearing a triangle-shaped garment, the other is not. The physical characteristics are identical. But we know that the triangle garment is a dress, and we know a dress is gendered female, so we identify the room with the triangle-garment figure as one for females. There is nothing inherently female about the figure or its garment - no breasts, no vagina, no physical characteristics at all - but it certainly has a gender.

    ---------- Post added at 05:48 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:36 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Hyde
    Are you referring to the questions in your OP?
    No, the questions posed here.
    Quote Originally Posted by Telex
    If you were to believe it was literal, than you need to address why Adam was created as a male without a corresponding female. You would need to explain why Adam had male reproductive organs but no female to use them with (or any need of reproduction whatsoever). You would need to explain why God made all the other animals in gendered pairs except for His own image, which was constructed initially only as male. If it is literal, than it seems the male gender should be superior in all humanity, and that a patriarchy (like the ancient Hebrews had) is the ideal state of human society.

    If you believe it a myth, than the explanation that the story is the product of an ancient patriarchy and Adam's privileged creation is a reflection of male social position is perfectly fine. But such a myth is inherently not universal, because it is tied to the culture whose symbols it is presented in.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hyde
    Of course, but you've shifted the discussion from its original topic. Instead of being a query/debate about what evidence/argument exists to support that God is beyond gender, now you've altered it to a discussion about whether or not the language needs to be rewritten for the sake of textual accuracy (which is beyond the scope of the original thread and irrelevant).
    I am following the flow of the discussion. After posing the initial questions, I am now challenging the answers provided.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hyde
    Then what ARE you arguing? Your OP starts off by suggesting that because of how God is presented in the Bible, certain passages, etc, and through religious imagery, et al, that He certainly seems like a guy. If that's NOT your position, and if you're NOT arguing that men are superior to women in the Bible, then I'm at a complete loss as to what you're position is here. I've no idea what I'm debating against.
    I am arguing God is gendered male through the symbols used to describe him in the Bible. I am also interested in the problems created by viewing these symbols as literal truths. Essentially I am arguing that there is no "right answer" for God's gender unless the Bible and specifically the creation story is viewed as a cultural myth.

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    Re: The Gender of the Christian God

    Quote Originally Posted by Telex View Post
    My hypothetical posed the situation, but you were the one who said that the culture could not understand such things through the Bible alone:

    Apok: "The roles of the different persons of God are very important. I don't see how the relationships can be translated over to such a different culture, without that culture understanding Western Philosophy and values. I suppose that's really what we are talking about here isn't it? Trying to take western principles and inject them into a society which is absent of them, and NOT making changes w/ their philosophy. In every non-Western culture I know of that have been taught Christianity, their culture has dramatically changed when adopting these philosophies. "
    Right. And perhaps we have crossed wires here a bit. I was arguing as if somehow, a translation could/would be created specifically for this matriarchal society and it be introduced by itself. That is, someone from the tribe walks by, sees this book on the ground, it is titled "Bible", they read it. Thus, the question is posed "Can they understand its significance to be the one true religious teaching?"

    I don't know...and I did preface my argumentation to say I'm not an expert on such things. But I doubt it for the simple reason that not only are the claims contrary to the beliefs of the current culture, but so too would it's religious claims be contrary. It may just be taken as a book of literary fiction, song, and poetry and nothing more.

    NOW...if we jump back into the real world and the situation is such that when the Bible is introduced to such a tribe, actual missionary work and introduction to the world outside this tribe is made (you do realize that missionaries don't just start preaching to a tribe on day one right? There is a lot of understanding that happens between the 2 groups prior to)....then we have a different story. And I'd argue that YES...this tribe would easily understand the meaning and importance of the book (due to the efforts and methods of those teaching).

    In fact, this does happen and has happened. The Khosin tribe of S Africa was such a tribe. It was introduced to western culture and it resulted in extremely large numbers of conversions to Christianity.

    In your hypothetical - that somehow someone somewhere learns the tribe's language, somehow comes up with the money and time and resources to create a translation, then has the resources to print the Bible, then has the resources to distribute it to this tribe....yet for some unknown hypothetical reason...does not proceed with traditional missionary work and goes through all the effort until the final yet most important stage - I don't see how it could work. Fortunately however, that isn't reality...and that is why I said it isn't of much value. It doesn't happen that way. It's mixing hypothetical unrealism with reality.

    If we can create a hypothetical such as that...then we can likewise create a hypothetical solution. That solution would be that through divine inspiration or revelation the tribe would/could understand the Bible perfectly. Now we have a hypothetical matched with a hypothetical. So in this case, the answer would be yes, it can be done (hypothetically so).

    I am not arguing it. You said it yourself and I am pursuing the implications of that statement. This "hypothetical" is not very far-fetched: it is simply a society that has no familiarity with Western philosophy. You yourself said that such a society would need to be educated in aspects of the West. There are multitudes of examples of such societies: Native Americans, indigenous Africans... in the vast majority of cases, Christian missionaries founded schools to instruct converts both in religion and in Western academics. The two have never been separated, and there is no significant missionary work that has had lasting impact without the establishment of schools or other forms of Western education.
    Agreed.

    So hypothetically a foreign society needs unfamiliar with aspects of Western culture needs these elements understand the Bible, but you do not believe such a society has ever existed?
    I don't understand the question. I think there is a typo or grammar issue here. Should the 1st "needs" be removed so that it reads "So hypothetically a foreign society unfamiliar w/ aspects...."?

    If so, in my uneducated opinion, it'd be that such a culture would need some sort of understanding (not necessarily acceptance) of western though. Although, the more I "say" it, I may change my mind. Is it really an issue of western thought or just an issue of genderism?

    I don't understand your dismissal of hypothetical situations when discussing Christianity. Why aren't hypothetical situations allowed when exploring the implications of Christian doctrine?
    Hypotheticals can serve a purpose...but it is limited. I think I explained this above.

    No. If Fatherhood is a necessary symbol that must be translated to converted cultures to explain God, and "fatherhood" is characterized by the male gender, than masculinity is inseparable from God. It's like the symbols on bathroom doors. One is wearing a triangle-shaped garment, the other is not. The physical characteristics are identical. But we know that the triangle garment is a dress, and we know a dress is gendered female, so we identify the room with the triangle-garment figure as one for females. There is nothing inherently female about the figure or its garment - no breasts, no vagina, no physical characteristics at all - but it certainly has a gender.
    It all has to do with the role the gender serves. And when a matriarchal culture is being taught about Christianity, the history is preserved and taught. During the teaching the missionaries may create analogies so that the tribe may understand better..but it isn't going to be the case that the entire translation is going to be so that all gender references are reversed. To do so would be to move away from what was originally written and believed and said. It is to make the Bible subject to man, instead of man attempting to understand the Bible. It would be a case of eisegesis vs exegesis.

    The missionaries will do the work of translating the message to the different cultures just fine. And has history has shown...they have.
    Last edited by Apokalupsis; August 23rd, 2010 at 10:33 PM.
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    Re: The Gender of the Christian God

    To the OP:

    IMHO: 1) The reason the G-d of the Bible is masculine, is due to identifying Him primarily with the act of creation. G-d (the infinite source of power/origins) is said to have uttered the command that "light" issue forth from nothing to create within the emptiness of the universe.

    The only striking difference between a man and woman upon simple initial observation is how they each accomplish the act of intimacy in a different role with different body parts (meant to merge together).

    The man is the source of "seed" which can be given into the woman's vessel of reception. The woman then nurtures the seed and gives birth to a child. However, this woman's role, is not the role played by G-d in Genesis. Therefore, the Bible shows the Initiator of creation (Introducer of infinite light/power into an empty area) as male. G-d chooses this analogy of maleness for Himself because it is what we can understand well, especially after G-d says he made man and woman in His image.

    Consider how an electrician sees things. Any item with prongs that fit into a hole in order to send electricity into it is called the "male". Any item with slots to receive prongs that inject energy is called "female". See, we also still use this concept in everyday mundane affairs as well.

    None of this has anything to do with an argument by ancient tribal shaman for the superiority of men over women etc.

    Furthermore, the entire concept of a quill introducing ink onto a passive receptive parchment (we call it "writing" - Oh so that's what they call it nowadays ) is another example of something similar to a male/female relation. Therefore, it is natural that human civilization use the masculine "he" as a default whenever writing. (This applies to speaking as well. The mind sources the letters of thought into words. It is then expressed out the mouth into the empty space of the world around the speaker towards an audience.)

    BTW, in ancient Jewish tradition, G-d does have a feminine aspect in Kabbalah. It is called "Shechinah". But, the simple text of the Bible does not portray G-d in the feminine role. Rather, first it is about His creation, then about His revelation; both of which are male in nature. The plain truth is that the ancient monotheistic Hebrews believe G-d to be infinite and not limited by gender at all. Any reference to G-d having gender is simply metaphor. This understanding can be seen by reading the same Maimonides Mishnah Torah - 1 that Apok referenced above.

    Shalom I am so glad I can visit this forum again.
    Last edited by RabbiDak; August 24th, 2010 at 02:06 AM.
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  17. #37
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    Re: The Gender of the Christian God

    Quote Originally Posted by Telex View Post
    If you were to believe it was literal, than you need to address why Adam was created as a male without a corresponding female.
    Even if it's metaphor it's an issue that would need to be addressed.
    Quote Originally Posted by Telex View Post
    You would need to explain why Adam had male reproductive organs but no female to use them with (or any need of reproduction whatsoever). You would need to explain why God made all the other animals in gendered pairs except for His own image, which was constructed initially only as male.
    The only answer I can forward is that immediately after creating Adam, God says "It's not good that he's alone" and proceeds to create Eve whom, depending on the translation from the original Hebrew, is termed "helper" or "equal".

    For instance: http://bible.cc/genesis/2-18.htm

    And the Lord God said, It is not good for the man to be by himself: I will make one like himself as a help to him
    Bible in Basic English

    And the Lord God said: It is not good for man to be alone: let us make him a help like unto himself.
    Douay Rheims Bible

    And Jehovah Elohim said, It is not good that Man should be alone; I will make him a helpmate, his like.
    Darby Bible Translation

    These are all instances where the translation reads that Eve is clearly meant to be Adam's equal. So it's not that God created Adam and went, "Okay, I'm done." And then after a good deal of time decided, "Damn, I forgot to throw a chick down there! Way to space out, Alpha." He makes man, gives him his task, and then immediately states that it's a bad idea for males to be alone and creates females to cohabitate with them as their equals.

    Now, consider the translations of that passage. If Eve is created "like himself" then doesn't that mean that she was also created in reference to God's image, regardless of how you read it? If she was made in Adam's image (like him) and Adam is made in God's image, then Eve is, essentially, also created in God's image. The other way to read it is that she was directly created in God's image. Either way, her image is a reflection of God just as much as Adam is.

    Also, as to why it was one gender, then another, consider that the ENTIRE creation story is done in a "This then that" format. No two things are created simultaneously in the text.
    Quote Originally Posted by Telex View Post
    If it is literal, than it seems the male gender should be superior in all humanity, and that a patriarchy (like the ancient Hebrews had) is the ideal state of human society.
    Not at all. Consider the above translations of the passage. If Eve is also (by extension) a mirror of God's image, then man is not PHYSICALLY a mirror for God, but that "in our image" must be referencing something else that humans are endowed with.
    Quote Originally Posted by Telex View Post
    If you believe it a myth, than the explanation that the story is the product of an ancient patriarchy and Adam's privileged creation is a reflection of male social position is perfectly fine. But such a myth is inherently not universal, because it is tied to the culture whose symbols it is presented in.
    Agreed.
    Quote Originally Posted by Telex View Post
    I am arguing God is gendered male through the symbols used to describe him in the Bible. I am also interested in the problems created by viewing these symbols as literal truths. Essentially I am arguing that there is no "right answer" for God's gender unless the Bible and specifically the creation story is viewed as a cultural myth.
    And this is simply not the case. The language indicates, quite clearly, that both men AND women were created in God's image and it follows that if two different genders are created in the same image, the image is therefore not a physical one, regardless of whether or not the story is literal or metaphorical.
    But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
    1 Peter 3:15-16

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    Re: The Gender of the Christian God

    I'll start my replies off by saying that I might not get to every single point argued, but I will do my best. Please let me know if there is something I omitted that you feel needs to be dealt with, and I will do so.

    Quote Originally Posted by Apok
    Right. And perhaps we have crossed wires here a bit. I was arguing as if somehow, a translation could/would be created specifically for this matriarchal society and it be introduced by itself. That is, someone from the tribe walks by, sees this book on the ground, it is titled "Bible", they read it. Thus, the question is posed "Can they understand its significance to be the one true religious teaching?"

    I don't know...and I did preface my argumentation to say I'm not an expert on such things. But I doubt it for the simple reason that not only are the claims contrary to the beliefs of the current culture, but so too would it's religious claims be contrary. It may just be taken as a book of literary fiction, song, and poetry and nothing more.
    I agree with you on this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Apok
    NOW...if we jump back into the real world and the situation is such that when the Bible is introduced to such a tribe, actual missionary work and introduction to the world outside this tribe is made (you do realize that missionaries don't just start preaching to a tribe on day one right? There is a lot of understanding that happens between the 2 groups prior to)....then we have a different story. And I'd argue that YES...this tribe would easily understand the meaning and importance of the book (due to the efforts and methods of those teaching).

    In fact, this does happen and has happened. The Khosin tribe of S Africa was such a tribe. It was introduced to western culture and it resulted in extremely large numbers of conversions to Christianity.
    I agree with you on this as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Apok
    In your hypothetical - that somehow someone somewhere learns the tribe's language, somehow comes up with the money and time and resources to create a translation, then has the resources to print the Bible, then has the resources to distribute it to this tribe....yet for some unknown hypothetical reason...does not proceed with traditional missionary work and goes through all the effort until the final yet most important stage - I don't see how it could work. Fortunately however, that isn't reality...and that is why I said it isn't of much value. It doesn't happen that way. It's mixing hypothetical unrealism with reality.
    I agree with this as well.

    So far, we have agreed that, 1) the Bible's message requires familiarity with its cultural assumptions, 2) that its message has not been transmitted without cultural transmission as well, and 3) that the language of the Bible in and of itself is not enough to transmit the necessary culture.

    Quote Originally Posted by Apok
    If we can create a hypothetical such as that...then we can likewise create a hypothetical solution. That solution would be that through divine inspiration or revelation the tribe would/could understand the Bible perfectly. Now we have a hypothetical matched with a hypothetical. So in this case, the answer would be yes, it can be done (hypothetically so).
    I will return to this point when discussing hypotheticals below.

    Quote Originally Posted by Apok
    I don't understand the question. I think there is a typo or grammar issue here. Should the 1st "needs" be removed so that it reads "So hypothetically a foreign society unfamiliar w/ aspects...."?

    If so, in my uneducated opinion, it'd be that such a culture would need some sort of understanding (not necessarily acceptance) of western though. Although, the more I "say" it, I may change my mind. Is it really an issue of western thought or just an issue of genderism?
    First, yes the "needs" is a typo and you read it correctly.

    Gender conceptions are one example of Western thought and so if one needs to share the specific gender assumptions of the authors of the Bible, than one needs to share certain aspects of Western thought.

    Quote Originally Posted by Apok
    It all has to do with the role the gender serves. And when a matriarchal culture is being taught about Christianity, the history is preserved and taught. During the teaching the missionaries may create analogies so that the tribe may understand better..but it isn't going to be the case that the entire translation is going to be so that all gender references are reversed. To do so would be to move away from what was originally written and believed and said. It is to make the Bible subject to man, instead of man attempting to understand the Bible. It would be a case of eisegesis vs exegesis.
    But how can you claim that the Bible is not subject to man already, when it requires the importation of a man-made culture in order to be understood? Why have the assumptions that originally shaped the Bible's message become so sacred?


    Okay, back to the hypotheticals:
    Your dismissal of hypothetical arguments is the following:
    Quote Originally Posted by Apok
    Impossible relates to reality. The reality is, it isn't impossible. It is done every day. You are creating a hypothetical argument from a hypothetical world.

    Christianity is a real religion in the real world. For real criticism to apply, the criticism must be grounded in reality (not hypotheticals).
    I'll try to avoid requesting you define "reality" because I don't think anyone wants to get into that debate. I will work on the understanding that "reality" is the historic record of the world. Let me know if that is not what you mean.

    To return to your answer to my hypothetical:
    "...through divine inspiration or revelation the tribe would/could understand the Bible perfectly."
    I will accept that this is a possible answer. But how probable is it, given the historic record? I have never seen factual support for the existence of miracles. However, I have seen many records of societies that did not share cultural assumptions with Christians. My hypothetical example is a degree closer to reality than your own. Even though it is a hypothetical situation, it does not mean that everything is equally probable.

    Quote Originally Posted by Apok
    The missionaries will do the work of translating the message to the different cultures just fine. And has history has shown...they have.
    But given history, the transmission of Christianity has come hand in hand with imperial exploitation. Your argument validates - even demands - it. The Spanish Catholics effectively enslaved Native Americans, forcing them to live like "civilized" people by farming in conditions not suited to it. Europeans erased indigenous African cultures in order to Westernize them. Do you believe this is justified?

    Furthermore, historical reality has firmly placed God as a male. Going back through the ages, Christian artists and Christian writers have never depicted God as a female - He is always a male figure. So while hypothetically He may have no gender, it seems that in reality He is male.


    ******

    RabbitDak, thank you for your reply. Unfortunately I don't have time to respond to all your points (as you can see, it can be hard to keep track of all the points I'm trying to argue), but there is one I will tackle:
    Quote Originally Posted by RabbiDak
    The man is the source of "seed" which can be given into the woman's vessel of reception. The woman then nurtures the seed and gives birth to a child. However, this woman's role, is not the role played by G-d in Genesis. Therefore, the Bible shows the Initiator of creation (Introducer of infinite light/power into an empty area) as male. G-d chooses this analogy of maleness for Himself because it is what we can understand well, especially after G-d says he made man and woman in His image.
    What do you think of Milton's description of Genesis in Paradise Lost?

    "Thou from the first
    Wast present, and with mighty wings outspread
    Dove-like satst brooding on the vast Abyss
    And mad'st it pregnant:"
    (Book 1, l. 19-22)

    Milton combines the male and the female: while God impregnates the void, He does so by "brooding" like a mother dove on her eggs. The gender roles of reproduction are intertwined in this Creation - it seems to me this is an elegant way of understanding it (and as an aside, I think Paradise Lost made me more sympathetic of Christianity than any other work. But he also does some possibly heretical things with how he depicts Satan and Eve). So I don't agree that what God does in Genesis is an inherently masculine act - why can God not be both initiator and nurturer? If the Bible does not describe Him so that is one thing, but it seems that you are assuming that because the Bible describes it one way, that is the way it must be described. As someone who does not believe in the literal truth of the Bible, I find that hard to accept.

    *****

    Quote Originally Posted by Hyde
    The only answer I can forward is that immediately after creating Adam, God says "It's not good that he's alone" and proceeds to create Eve whom, depending on the translation from the original Hebrew, is termed "helper" or "equal".
    Yes, but it is that temporal relationship that doesn't make sense to me. Why did He wait - why did it not occur to Him that Adam had a penis but no way to use it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hyde
    Now, consider the translations of that passage. If Eve is created "like himself" then doesn't that mean that she was also created in reference to God's image, regardless of how you read it? If she was made in Adam's image (like him) and Adam is made in God's image, then Eve is, essentially, also created in God's image. The other way to read it is that she was directly created in God's image. Either way, her image is a reflection of God just as much as Adam is.
    "Like" is similar but not equal. So Eve is another degree removed from God compared to Adam. So she is a reflection, but an even more imperfect one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hyde
    Also, as to why it was one gender, then another, consider that the ENTIRE creation story is done in a "This then that" format. No two things are created simultaneously in the text.
    The animals are made in pairs.
    Last edited by Telex; August 25th, 2010 at 03:25 PM.

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    Re: The Gender of the Christian God

    Quote Originally Posted by Telex View Post
    So far, we have agreed that, 1) the Bible's message requires familiarity with its cultural assumptions, 2) that its message has not been transmitted without cultural transmission as well, and 3) that the language of the Bible in and of itself is not enough to transmit the necessary culture.
    Close. #3 is purely speculative, is in the context of a purely hypothetical situation (not grounded in reality) and it doesn't mean that it cannot transmit the necessary culture...but rather the value of that culture (in so far as the roles described are).

    Gender conceptions are one example of Western thought and so if one needs to share the specific gender assumptions of the authors of the Bible, than one needs to share certain aspects of Western thought.
    I think this is overstating the case. Gender conceptions have been throughout mankind during all of history.

    The issue is the value of the paternal or matriarchal culture and how each would relate to the other.

    But how can you claim that the Bible is not subject to man already, when it requires the importation of a man-made culture in order to be understood?
    It requires reason. You are confusing 2 issues here...

    1) The Bible and how it is understood in reality by various cultures and
    2) The Bible and how it may or may not be understood by non-existent cultures in a non-existent hypothetical reality (or world).

    We need to stick with one or the other instead of jumping back and forth.

    Okay, back to the hypotheticals:
    Your dismissal of hypothetical arguments is the following:

    I'll try to avoid requesting you define "reality" because I don't think anyone wants to get into that debate. I will work on the understanding that "reality" is the historic record of the world. Let me know if that is not what you mean.

    To return to your answer to my hypothetical:
    "...through divine inspiration or revelation the tribe would/could understand the Bible perfectly."
    I will accept that this is a possible answer. But how probable is it, given the historic record?
    Again, you've blurred the lines between what is real and what is not real (your hypothetical). I offered that response to your hypothetical, non-existent culture.

    Also, in reality a culture need not understand everything in the Bible to be saved. We have threads about this very issue already (people not hearing about Christ - which really means those who have not had the Gospel explained to them).

    So either way, in reality or your hypothetical, there is no real objection.

    But given history, the transmission of Christianity has come hand in hand with imperial exploitation.
    Whether or not this is true (I hold that it is not), it is wholly irrelevant to your argument that non-existent cultures (your hypothetical) cannot understand the Gospel.

    Even if it were true, it's still the case that the cultures are being taught the Gospel. Therefore, your position that they cannot understand it, is rendered refuted. Right?
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  20. #40
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    Re: The Gender of the Christian God

    The question itself, what is the gender of the CHRISTIAN god is quite simple. God is referred to as 'He' and taked on masculine pronouns. If u were to ask what is the gender of god in itself, that would be a much more personal question. but according to all branches of the CHRISTIAN church, 'god' embodies the form of a human male.

 

 
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