Thinking Anglicans

civil partnerships: Bishop of Bangor responds

The Bishop of Bangor, Anthony Crockett, has responded, in very strong terms, to the recent Fulcrum article by Andrew Goddard, The Bishops of the Church in Wales on Civil Partnerships: A Personal Response.

The bishop’s response is here. It starts out:

Your article The Bishops of the Church in Wales on Civil Partnerships: A Personal Response by Andrew Goddard in Fulcrum appears to be an interesting case of party zeal clouding judgement. It looks like yet another example of the inability of some either to listen to argument or to reject all forms of stigmatisation and to commit oneself to listen to people whose sexual orientation may be different from one’s own. I confess, too, to being puzzled by what seems – but surely cannot be – a lack of knowledge on Dr Goddard’s part of the history of the development of ethical teaching in the Christian Church.

The statements referred to in this exchange are:
The Bishops of the Church in Wales issue statement on homosexuality
The Bishops of the Church in Wales issue statement on Civil Partnerships

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Simon SarmientoThomas RenzGöran Koch-SwahneRMFDr Abigail Ann Young Recent comment authors
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Dave
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Dave

Another failure to engage with what conservatives are saying and instead just parading the liberal position; this time disguised as a response to Andrew Goddards comments. Just restating the liberal humanist position (variety of opinions, human rights, “homophobia”, and obeying the law – when it suits them – otherwise civil disobedience) and the christian revisionist arguements regarding scripture and tradition isn’t engaging in debate !! (At least he didn’t repeat the usual references to eating shrimps and mixing two types of cloth – which seem to get trotted out regularly – as if it is an unanswerable conundrum that we… Read more »

badman
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badman

Dave wrote: “Just restating the liberal humanist position (variety of opinions, human rights, “homophobia”, and obeying the law – when it suits them – otherwise civil disobedience) and the christian revisionist arguements regarding scripture and tradition isn’t engaging in debate !!” Why not? If the answer to A is B, and you keep saying A, why is it wrong to answer B? Dave also wrote: “That there is a variety of views held with [self-]integrity by people who identify themselves as Christians is not enough to overturn clear New Testament teachings, especially when backed up by similar OT moral teachings… Read more »

John Henry
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John Henry

Badman raised a very legitimate question is his discourse with Dave: “Where do YOU stand on the clear biblical teaching against usury (one of the points made by the Welsh bishops)?”

On another Blog, Titus 1:9, a reasserter brushed off the same question by calling it a variation on the ‘shell fish’ argument. It was a rather ‘cheap shot’ answer.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Pray, what’s wrong with the shellfish argument?

Is it not a perfectly legitimate question?

Can Dave explain, please.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Ruth Gledhill has some comments on this story at the following address:
http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/2006/01/jeffrey_john_br.html

Thomas Renz
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Thomas Renz

Göran – Leviticus does not distinguish formally between impurity and sin and from this point of view the question is legitimate. But it is actually a question that has been discussed ever since Peter’s vision… The Thirty-Nine articles neatly sum up tradition: “Although the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the Civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the Commandments which are called Moral.” John Richardson provides a more recent discussion in… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
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O, dear, o dear…

Well, I for one see more “obvious problems” with “the threefold division of the law”, than just “simplification”. This division into 12th century categories has nothing to do with a pre BC text.

Calling a 1st Temple taboo “moral” or “ceremonial” or even “civil” is simply gratuitious, not serious in any way.

Eisegesis, not exegesis.

Merseymike
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Merseymike

… assuming that premodern beliefs have contemporary application or a view of God as a ‘person’ with ‘views’ and ‘will’ has any semblance of reality.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

But I take the point that it’s dishonest ;=)

Martin Reynolds
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I have admired the thought and precision in much of Andrew Goddard’s writing, I even warm to some of his thinking on friendship etc.

But I thought his piece on Wales was very inferior – well below par. In particular I thought his reference to Akinola most unwise.

I am sure Mr Goddard will not be able to leave it there, so I look forward to his reaction.

Merseymike
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Merseymike

Ah yes, but you see, they are getting nervous that Akinola really is going to take his bat and ball elsewhere. Now, whereas I would rejoice to think that such a bigot would have no connection with Anglicanism any longer, conservatives desperately want the premoderns to stay within the tent, whereas I think the more we can do to ensure they go, the better!

After all, we have seen on this site exactly what they are like.

Thomas Renz
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Thomas Renz

Göran – I did not recommend the threefold division of the law as a solution to the question. I merely wanted to signal that different texts of Scripture function differently for the Christian church and that people have been thinking about this for some time. If Jeffrey John’s booklet ‘Permanent, Faithful, Stable: Christian Same-Sex partnerships’ had provided anything like a serious exegesis of the relevant passages, it would be a different matter but merely saying “so what about eating shellfish?” doesn’t amount to much of an argument in my book. The threefold division is entirely useless for establishing anything about… Read more »

J. C. Fisher
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“clear New Testament teachings, especially when backed up by similar OT moral teachings and consistent theology!”

Oh, brother: if that’s not “just parading” (the standard “reasserter” agitprop), Dave, I don’t know what is…

One more time: your *interpretation* DOES NOT EQUAL Scripture, Tradition and Reason.

(nor does mine)

Lord have mercy!

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

No seriously, I’m interested in the reasoning.

Why is the “shellfish” argument an ad hominem attac (except for shelfish ;=)?

How can 1st Temple cultic Taboos (if at all) be “Scripture”, valid for the Christian Church?

How can calling Taboos something they are not and cannot be (civil, ceremonial, moral) be “application” of scripture?

It does seem to me that “different texts of Scripture function differently for the Christian church” than for the Sect.

As do the influences of the ways of the World (cf Nigeria).

Thomas Renz
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Thomas Renz

Sören – you may be interested in reasoning but what do you want to reason about? The shellfish argument seems to me bogus when it is put forward as an argument “amongst those who read the Scriptures with integrity” but is really an attack on the very concept of Scripture (or the place of Leviticus within it). At the risk of sounding pedantic, the book of Leviticus is a text not a taboo. It may or may not reflect ancient Israelite and/or early Jewish taboos but I fail to see how this affects the status of the book of Leviticus… Read more »

Thomas Renz
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Thomas Renz

Göran – apologies for getting your name wrong on my earlier post. I wanted to try and show you in a separate post (this one!) that a taboo can be more than one thing. Let’s pretend that my community establishes the following taboos for young children when playing outside: (a) touching dog poo-poo (b) crossing the road without looking (c) befriending strangers The fact that all three are taboos does not mean that I or anyone else considers them as equal in all respects. The first is a taboo to do with health, the second with safety, as is the… Read more »

Merseymike
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Merseymike

Thomas ; you need, from my perspective, to entirely change the way you look at and approach the Bible.You no doubt think the same about my approach. This is why there is no real basis for discussion.

Merseymike
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Merseymike

But all of them are equally culture-bound – and equally outdated and daft.

badman
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badman

Thomas Renz – I am interested by what you say. Could you please develop this with reference to usury, taking on board the point that (1) usury is strongly condemned in the Bible, not just in Leviticus, but in many more passages than can be found to condemn any sort of homosexual act (leaving aside the argument, which is separate, that no Bible passage treats of lifelong monogamous faithful relationships) (2) usury is not explicitly condemned or condoned by Jesus (unless the parable of the talents be taken as condonation and Luke 6:34-35 is taken as condemnation) (3) abhorrence of… Read more »

Peter Bergman
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Peter Bergman

I looked up every reference in context on the site mentioned above by ‘badman’, ‘Ask the Priest’, and now venture these comments. 1. If ‘usury’ is defined as taking ANY interest on a loan (as opposed to excessive interest – and I am not certain that the OT always excludes this view), it is evident first of all that the OT does NOT condemn charging interest, but only on loans made to fellow Israelites. This is explicitly clear from Deuteronomy 23.20 (not cited by ‘Ask the Priest). 2. Why the distinction? Because Israel is conceived as a family of ‘brothers’… Read more »

Peter Bergman
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Peter Bergman

Further to my comments, ‘badman’ may be interested in the following dissertation by a Roman Catholic priest which goes much, much further than the very brief piece by ‘Ask the priest’ in discussing whether the Church did in fact change its teaching on usury or just defined it more exactly over time in response to the changing world: http://www.geocities.com/frcoulter/usury/index.html As I’m not a Roman Catholic, I am not committed to the idea of an indefectible church that made no mistakes in its teaching or always understood the Bible correctly. However, it’s worth pointing out that debates over just price and… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Thomas Renz! Yea, how ever did you manage to mix Swedish Göran with Danish Søren ;=) Now, seriously, I said I was interested in t h e reasoning, not necessarily in reasoning. That would depend on there being any ;=) That’s what I want you (or Dave) to establish. The place of Leviticus to my knowledge is always the 3rd, whether the Bible is taken at 22 or 77 scriptures. Other scriptures may turn up at different points in the different canonical Bibles post 1550, but not this one. It’s always the 3rd. But there are indeed different concepts of… Read more »

badman
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badman

Peter Bergman, thank you for your posts. I think that usury is a much better topic for us to use to explore our understanding of scripture and tradition than human sexuality is. Usury is a difficult and interesting case from the point of view of both scripture and tradition, both appearing at odds with the current consensus. It also (because of the consensus) does not arouse the same passions as human sexuality, and it avoids the very unedifying and (in my opinion) entirely unChristian judgment of the motes in others’ eyes rather than the beams in our own. Usury is… Read more »

Dave
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Dave

Dear Göran, Thomas did address the shrimp issue; maybe you missed the relevance: ” Leviticus does not distinguish formally between impurity and sin and from this point of view the question is legitimate. But it is actually a question that has been discussed ever since Peter’s vision…[you may remember in Acts] The Thirty-Nine articles neatly sum up tradition: “Although the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the Civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the… Read more »

FatherDavid
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Hello, The discussion came across the stats page for my blog, the aforementioned “Ask The Priest,” so I thought I’d add my two cents. The “tangential” verses on Usury (Isa 24.2; Jer 5.7, 10; 15.10; Matt 6.19-21) are indeed vague, but I didn’t make the claim that I thought they related. I was reporting the verses that the Early Church Fathers, according to the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, were interested in. If you don’t think they relate, you’re welcome to take it up with Chrystostom when you see him. 😉 I think the interesting part of the discussion… Read more »

Peter Bergman
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Peter Bergman

I am grateful to ‘badman’ and David for their comments. I will venture a brief reply. 1. I try to think and act from the classical Anglican/Episcopalian position. That means I seek to submit to Scripture as God’s Word written (Art. XX). I also honor the voice of tradition, while recognizing that Councils ‘have erred, even in things pertaining unto God’ (Art. XXI). David states ‘that for the majority of Christian History, almost all theologians, councils and popes (including the Anglican divines) condemned ANY lending at interest. This changed without any real theological work, and caused A LOT of uproar… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

No dear David, Thomas Renz did not answer my question any more than you did. I still wonder why you get so angry at the poor innocent question of the relevance of the “shellfish argument”. Answering that the Leviticus does not distinguish between Taboos is no answer, since that is precisely what you and your tradition do on this. Witness Thomas’s 3 modern by-laws for children… The “shellfish” is ad hominem, the “two men in a bed” is the shibolet for not being trown out (cf Nigeria). The trouble seems rather to be, that the shellfish one is a real… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“We search for truth, but must live in love.”

How beautiful.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

What this discussion of Usury tells me, poor sodder, who knows next nothing on usury, having been to Business school ;=) is that the Church for a trifle of a thousand years propagated a unanimous condemnation on Usury, the loudly claimed Biblical base of which was bogus.

Now, this is of some relevance to the present troubles in the Anglican Communion (if be)!

Merseymike
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Merseymike

Peter: much of the material in the Bible is based on cultural mores of that time. Which need constant revision. I think until we abandon the view that the Bible is anything other than a human production written by pre-moderns, inspired by their faith to do so, we will never get anywhere. That means abandoning the belief that the Bible is ‘revealed religious truth’ which cannot be superseded.

Nersen
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Nersen

Forget prawns – let the so called “liberals” tell everyone why their century or more of “inclusive” teaching leaves them with shrinking congregations but there is strength and growth in “evangelical” churches despite their supposedly unsophisticated belief in the bible. There are not congregations of thousands coming to hear people say “believe whatever you like as long as you are kind.” There are individual congregations of thousands, even in England, and lots of strong and growing mid-size congregations coming every week to hear bible teachers who believe what the bible teaches and who pass it on faithfully – even in… Read more »

Thomas Renz
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Thomas Renz

Göran – I was obviously unclear in what I said about “an attack” on “the very concept of Scripture”. I did not mean to imply that you don’t understand the idea that religious communities designate certain writings as Scripture nor that you are unaware of the fact that different Christian churches circumscribe the canon of Scripture differently. “Scripture” obviously exists as a historical-cultural concept whether or not we find it a useful theological category ourselves. What I meant with “the very concept of Scripture” is the idea that there is a body of literature which mediates God’s self-revelation, which is… Read more »

Thomas Renz
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Thomas Renz

We lack an agreed starting point, procedure or even goal. So there seems to me little value in trying to discuss any of the issues raised here in detail. But I thought a few things worth mentioning with regard to usury. (1) I myself don’t know the history well enough to judge whether the unanimous condemnation of usury during the first millenium of the church was indeed a universal prohibition of all lending with interest. What I do know is that when one studies such historical questions in detail, things often turn out to be rather more complex than thought… Read more »

Dave
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Dave

Dave wrote: “Dear Göran, Thomas did address the shrimp issue; maybe you missed the relevance: ” Leviticus does not distinguish…”

Göran wrote: “No dear David, Thomas Renz did not answer my question any more than you did.”

Dear Göran, this isn’t an arguement… you’re just contradicting me !

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

I still haven’t heard what’s wrong with the “shellfish argument”. Why one Taboo is an ad hominem attack and the other a shibolet. Being raised in an anti-nazi family in what was a rather nazified city, I have lived fairly close to the Synagog, so “shellfish” is a real question for me in a way it does not seem to be for some here present. I can only conclude that there is no explanation to this sorting and picking among taboos. A note on Usury: in the wake of the Crusades when Byzantine anti-semitism reached Western Europe, trades and commerce… Read more »

Peter Bergman
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Peter Bergman

I think Thomas Renz is correct in saying that the presuppositions reflected here about Scripture, revelation and even God are so radically opposed to each other that there can be no real meeting of minds between those who think that in Scripture we have the self-revelation of God and those who, in the best 19th century style, consider it to be nothing other than the doubtful religious ideas of an ancient people. It should go without saying that the Church has always sided with the former view, and that because it was the very teaching of her Lord. It would… Read more »

Christopher Calderhead
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Christopher Calderhead

I’ve learned a lot about the history of usury from all this… thanks to the insights of all of you who have much higher academic credentials than I do. Interestingly, usury turns out to be a highly complex, nuanced issue. And all of you agree that the Bible’s texts about it need to be weighed, measured, and debated. And that its prohibition, whatever its limits, is now understood *not* to be mandated by scripture. It would seem to me, then, that a similarly nuanced reading might be called for regarding same-gender sexual relationships, no? I do find it disturbing that… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

To Nersen on Numbers. The second half of the 17th century was a high tide of child bearing in Europe. 20 or so children to a family was not uncommon in well to do theologically radical families (no contraception). Child mortality remained high (40%, mostly before the age of 3) or was even higher than usual in pre-modern societies. With industrialism, from about 1800 women no longer had a child each year, and in the second half of the century numbers dropped considerably. So did child mortality. What did not change was the (great) proportion of unmarried to married grown-ups.… Read more »

badman
Guest
badman

Nersen writes of “bible teachers who believe what the bible teaches and who pass it on faithfully” You need to be more specific about your disagreements with the people you insult in your post. What do you say the bible teaches about (1) committed, lifelong, monogamous same-sex relationships? (2) usury (I see you send your e mail from Morgan Stanley)? (3) divorce and remarriage? And can you briefly say where in the Bible you find your incontrovertible teaching on these issues or give us other references? Although your language is intemperate, you do seem to believe in reaching out to… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Interesting and well written as this thread is (especially on the secondary subject) and also ashtoningly civil and nuanced (maybe there is a future for the Anglican Communion, after all), I think a small reminder is called for. What I asked was how the reasoning behind the dissmissal of the “shellfish argument” looked like, and this not least because of the distaste apparent in Dave’s fist posting. What I got was various kinds of evasion, including attacks on Merseymike’s theology ;=) I have not discussed “presuppositions .. about Scripture, revelation and even God”, beyond pointing out that there are s… Read more »

Thomas Renz
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Thomas Renz

Christopher – I am sure you don’t mean to classify all charging of interest as an expression of an exploitative relationship and yet give it the green light!? In the ancient world, most people who needed a loan needed it rather badly to make ends meet; they would naturally turn to their communities to help them. The injunction in Scripture to help the poor is reinforced by the prohibition of imposing interest on loans to members of one’s own community. It’s not a matter of racial prejudice because the same law would no doubt have applied to “resident aliens” (see… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

Dear Göran, you seem to be making a brave attempt to ignore or dismiss the several contributrions on the issue of shrimps in the OT. Just after Peter B wrote “literal adherence to those laws is no longer required of Christians, by the express teaching of Christ (Mark 7.19 etc)” you still assert “What I asked was how the reasoning behind the dissmissal of the ‘shellfish argument’ looked like…..What I got was various kinds of evasion” Thomas had previously mentioned that: “The Thirty-Nine articles neatly sum up tradition: “Although the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and… Read more »

Thomas Renz
Guest
Thomas Renz

Göran – you have reminded us of the fact that the canon of Scripture is delimited differently in different traditions and I have put it to you that this does not constitute different concepts of Scripture, not when we are talking about “the very nature of Scripture”, the basic idea so to speak. Admittedly, I did not take the time to question your equation of “putting different weight on different parts of Scripture” with “putting one part against another” but I’d feel churlish if I kept saying “this does not follow”. I alluded to Peter’s vision and Peter Bergman has… Read more »

Peter Bergman
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Peter Bergman

Again, I think Thomas Renz has correctly discerned the intent and working of the Mosaic law. Lev 25.35-37 expressly states that there must be no profiteering from the poor, including the resident alien in Israel’s midst, while Exod 22.21 states there must be no oppression of aliens, which must mean those living among the Israelites. The collocation of that verse with the immediately following vv. 22-27 (the defense of widows, orphans, poor; prohibition on charging interest on loans to the poor) strongly suggests that resident aliens would be included in the ‘no interest’ law. It remains an exciting and fruitful… Read more »

Christopher Calderhead
Guest
Christopher Calderhead

Thomas, No, I confess I may have been imprecise. Charging interest is not per se exploitative. Your explanation of internal loan sharking vs. fair business with foreign merchants does seem a fair distinction. At least it describes just and unjust business relationships. Does the Bible describe it in these terms? And did the medieval Church make the distinction, I wonder. I hope you didn’t feel I was dissing scripture; I simply wanted to point out that on usury, we’re all nuance, while on other ethical issues, nuance goes by the board. I’m on the side of nuance. I’ll be interested… Read more »

Thomas Renz
Guest
Thomas Renz

Christopher, I hope the article proves useful. I have not read it in a while myself. The distinction between resident and non-resident aliens is made explicitly in the Biblical text. Other parts of the argument are logical deductions. If you’re not resident, you’re not likely to borrow a few seeds which you’ll pay back once you’ve harvested (having talked so much about interest and usury it is worthwhile to remind ourselves that until the late Persian period, this would not have involved “money” as we know it). If you’re travelling and asking someone to borrow you something, you’re not scraping… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

But you do dear Dave. That’s why I am asking. How is it that you dismiss one taboo (shellfish) yet make another into a shibboleth? Peter B wrote “literal adherence to those laws is no longer required of Christians, by the express teaching of Christ (Mark 7.19 etc)”. Yet you do require literal adherence to (some of) those laws, dear Dave. You read Matt 5.17-20 a g a i n s t Mark 7, pretending it’s an endorsement of (some of) the laws of men, instead of a remark upon the 10 Commandments, yet to be fulfilled, because after several… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Thomas Renz wrote: “Göran – you have reminded us of the fact that the canon of Scripture is delimited differently in different traditions and I have put it to you that this does not constitute different concepts of Scripture, not when we are talking about “the very nature of Scripture”, the basic idea so to speak.” There is not o n e basic idea. Not even “so to speak”. Dr Martin Luther says “what drives Christ” is scripture, expressly excluding James “a straw epistle”. The 1580 Book of Concord (which does not pronounce on “canon”!) excludes the laws of men;… Read more »

Thomas Renz
Guest
Thomas Renz

Göran – may I point out to you that “taboo” is not an emic concept either but your attempt to group certain parts of Scripture together and keep them separate from others (the Ten Commandments?). I have not taken you to task for this, even though your use of the designation “taboo” does not appear to me very well defined. But you have certainly given me no reason to think that your conceptualisation of certain “laws” as “taboos” is more illuminating than the threefold division of the law. So I could reverse the question: how can designating certain parts of… Read more »

Peter Bergman
Guest
Peter Bergman

In an earlier post I indicated that the rather loaded anthropological concept of ‘taboo’, drawn from Polynesian animism, is probably not at all useful for undestanding the OT proscriptions. It is better in the first instance to compare and contrast ancient Israel with her ANE neighbors if we are seeking illumination from the (ever changing, rather imprecise and never ideology-free) ‘social sciences’. And it is noteworthy that while ancient Israel had in many ways a common culture with its Semitic neighbors, its prescription of homosexuality contrasted sharply with the rather easy acceptance of this among the Canaanites. This has been… Read more »