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Misogyny, Feminism, and the role of women in the church. Does the Bible treat women as inferior? What is the role, or place of women in the church? A MUCH disagreed-about topic.

Asherah

Postby Conspiracies » Fri Feb 08, 2019 7:27 pm

Let me begin by saying that one of the "foundations" I grew to learn from being raised in Christian churches was that we should not question God or the church, blind faith was the only real way into the kingdom of Heaven. I do not agree with this methodology and I love that you have created this forum to do exactly the opposite. I have always thought that this idea was completely wrong and it actually discouraged people further from developing a relationship with God. Thank you so much for bringing not only an educated and rational way of thinking but for using exact scriptures and Hebrew translations to explain things to people who have genuine questions and misunderstandings.

Do you have a scripture based opinion on Asherah (suggested by some to be the actual wife of God and therefore the mother of all creation)?
I have seen you reference other spiritual beings that were not Gods but that were also not Human, I.E. Satan (accuser)/Lucifer, so the possible existence of this figure sounds intriguing to me. Many theorists believe that she was a leftover from the previous polytheistic religions that predated what became the monotheistic God we worship today. Does the Bible specifically mention her or other figures that were lesser beings but not human (possibly angels or demigods) and did God have relationships with them?

This leads a to a second question, what books/texts are acceptable sources outside of the King James version of the Bible and why? I have heard of entire books (Book of Enoch for example, which according to some who have read it, describes extraterrestrial and UFO encounters) being withheld or intentionally left out for some supposed sinister reason, whether to control followers or to limit their questioning and keep them in ignorant bliss? How do you make the determination on what to trust and what to discount as heresy? Do you have knowledge on the subject of how the Bible was put together and if it is indeed possible that parts were "left out"? In addition I have seen you discuss a book written by one of your peers that explains Genesis in a different manner than the exact text but you accept his theories, how do you make those decisions?
Conspiracies
 

Re: Asherah

Postby jimwalton » Fri Feb 22, 2019 2:11 pm

Glad to respond, and to dialogue. You've asked several questions, so my answer might get long. (I'm apologizing ahead of time.) But I hate to be less than thorough.

By my study of Scripture, "blind faith" was never intended or encouraged. Maybe you've read some of what I've said about it. I'll write it again here in case you haven't. In the Bible, faith is all about evidence. God appears to Moses in a burning bush before He expects him to believe. He gave signs to take back to Pharaoh and the Israelite people, so they could see the signs before they were expected to believe. So also through the whole OT. In the NT, Jesus started off with turning water into wine, healing some people, casting out demons, and then he taught them about faith. And they couldn't possibly understand the resurrection until there was some evidence to go on.

When you read the Bible, people came to Jesus to be healed because they had heard about other people who had been healed. They had seen other people whom Jesus had healed. People had heard him teach. Their faith was based on evidence. Jesus kept giving them new information, and they gained new knowledge from it. Based on that knowledge, they acted with more faith. People came to him to make requests. See how it works? My belief in God is based on my knowledge of the credibility of those writings, the logic of the teaching, and the historical evidence behind it all. The resurrection, for instance, has evidences that give it credibility that motivate me to believe in it. My faith in the resurrection is an assumption of truth based on enough evidence that makes it reasonable to hold that assumption. Jesus could have just ascended to heaven, the disciples figured out that he had prophesied it, and went around telling people He rose. But that's not what happened. He walked around and let them touch him, talk to him, eat with him, and THEN he said, "Believe that I have risen from the dead."

    - In Matthew 8.4 Jesus encourages the man he just healed to go show the evidence that it was true.
    - John 14.11 (and also 17.8): Jesus encouraged people to verify the evidences
    - Heb. 11.1: Faith is based on evidences
    - Romans 1.20 (the passage you mentioned). There are evidences, and we shouldn't be afraid to investigate them.

> Asherah

In the dry and sometimes challenging (for survival) climate of the Middle East, trees are life-saving organisms. As such, they attracted great attention and even became landmarks (Gn. 12.6). Unfortunately, then they sometimes also became places where various cared rituals were performed. Go figure. It doesn't take long for humans to distort reality and fabricate truth, especially religious truth. The significance given to certain trees in the Bible suggest that even the Israelites designated them as sacred space (n. 13.18; 35.4, 8; Dt. 11.30; Judges 4.5; 6.11; 9.37). Eventually even Israel was indicted by God because they set up sacred stones and Asherah poles under every spreading tree (2 Ki. 17.10).

In the Canaanite cult, Asherah was the wife of El, the father of the gods. As we might suspect, it doesn't take long for even the Israelites to distort reality and fabricate truth. Archaeologists have found inscriptions, written in Hebrew, that read "YHWH and his Asherah." By the time we get to Ex. 34.13, there's already a command to smash the sacred stones, break down their altars, and cut down their Asherah poles. Asherah was a fertility goddess and a cult object, often associated with trees and sacred groves. She was the wife/consort of El. Bowing to syncretism, some Israelites adopted Cannanite thinking and also worshipped Asherah, a practice that was an abomination to YHWH (Ex. 20.4-5).

The Bible never suggests that she is the wife of YHWH, though some Israelites adulterated their spiritual understanding with that claim. In the Bible there is no such entity as "the mother of all creation". If there's a specific text you want to talk about, we can do that.

> Many theorists believe that she was a leftover from the previous polytheistic religions that predated what became the monotheistic God we worship today.

There are theories that Israel's monotheism evolved from the Canaanite cult of Baal/El, but there is no proof of that concept. Derivation is impossible to prove, though some scholars claim that the similarity suggests derivation, which it does not. Certainly YHWH was part of the cultural context of ancient Near Eastern religious thought, but no passage anywhere in the OT conveys anything less than the unique of YHWH. There is also no clear and definitive evidence of monotheisms' origins, so all theories about it are scholarly speculation and not anthropological/theological proof of derivation. We can talk about this more as you wish.

> Does the Bible specifically mention her or other figures that were lesser beings but not human (possibly angels or demigods) and did God have relationships with them?

The Bible only mentions her as a travesty to be shunned, never as a legitimate being, let along a competitive one, let alone YHWH's consort. There is no indication YHWH had any relationships with them or with her. Again, if there's a specific text you want to discuss, we can.

> what books/texts are acceptable sources outside of the King James version of the Bible and why?

The KJV is merely a translation from the early 16th century, and nothing more. Many Christians don't use the KJV anymore. First, because its language, though majestic, is a bit archaic, and secondly because there have been many archaeological discoveries since the KJV translation that have helped us understand the culture and linguistics better, with the result that we are able to create better translations.

As far as Protestant theology, we recognize no acceptable sources outside of the God-breathed Scriptures themselves. While historical works, apocryphal works, and epexegetical writings are of great interest, they hold no authority. They were left out of the canon because they were resoundingly deemed as deficient for a multitude of reasons. There was no sinister or political motive to exclude them, but only a drive to keep God's inspired Word pure.

> How do you make the determination on what to trust and what to discount as heresy?

The Apostolic Fathers knew the Apostles. The Church Fathers knew the Apostolic Fathers. There is a reliable chain of custody of the teachings of Jesus and inspired theology. At least some of the criteria for what was accepted into the NT is (1) it was written by apostles or people who knew the apostles, and therefore it was from "the horse's mouth," so to speak, and (2) it reflects the teaching of Jesus. Anything outside of those parameters was not included. Some of it was recognized as very worthy teaching (things like the Shepherd of Hermas, 1 Clement, and the Didache), but it wasn't included because it wasn't from the Apostles. Having kept the chain of custody responsibly, it was easy to recognize heresy.

> Do you have knowledge on the subject of how the Bible was put together and if it is indeed possible that parts were "left out"?

The Church Fathers didn't vote on what to include and what to exclude. The far majority of works that were included had been recognized for centuries as having divine authority. The Church Fathers merely affirmed what had been known since the time of the Apostles rather than take a vote about what to include. Only a very few books (such as 2 Peter) were a matter of dispute.

> In addition I have seen you discuss a book written by one of your peers that explains Genesis in a different manner than the exact text but you accept his theories, how do you make those decisions?

It's actually not in a different manner than the exact text, but merely different from our culture's traditional way of looking at Genesis 1-2. But again, discoveries by archaeologists show us more about the ancient mindset and worldview than has been known for millennia, and it's fascination to see that their worldview actually fits a way of looking at Genesis literally as an account of how creation was ordered to function rather than the Enlightenment perspective that it's about how its material manufacture. Looking at the text more closely shows that it's more likely about function than structure, a position that actually both accords with the ancient way of thinking as well as puts Genesis 1-2 in more concord with the rest of the Bible. So we use the best resources and science at our disposal to arrive at a perspective on Genesis that seems to be more accurate than the Enlightenment view of it being about material manufacture.

I know I've thrown a lot at you here. So let's talk about the stuff you either have more questions about, disagreements about, or just want more information.


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