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RLG203 (Mar 25, 2013).docx

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Kyle Smith

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RLG203 Lecture - Song of the week: “Sweet Life” – Frank Ocean - Pope Francis celebrates Palm Sunday at the Vatican o Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem o Palms suggested as indication of greeting and victory; Jesus coming in on a donkey instead of like a soldier on a horse o Orthodox Easter is usually different from the western Easter - How does the date of Easter gets calculated o The Sunday after the first full moon of Spring o Based on Jewish calendar as well o Passover for Jewish people; the celebration of the freedom from slavery of Egypt o Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on the Palm Sunday and He is arriving precisely for this festival o Jesus becoming the Passover lamb - Issues of biblical scriptures and different interpretations by people - Genesis 1: 27 – “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” o Not easy to look at the passage and say you can get it or understand it o Radically extremists Christians often argue and contradict interpretations and - Genesis 1: 25-27 (Humans were created after the other animals) - Genesis 1:27 (The first man and woman were created simultaneously) - Genesis 2:18-19 (Humans were created before the animals) - Genesis 2: 18-22 (Man was created, then the animals and then the Woman) - What is the “literal” meaning of a text? o Radically different from text messages and can’t read it the same way - Augustine of Hippo o The Literal Meaning of Genesis o Ca. 401-415 o Even in antiquities, he said that the literal meaning also contained the spiritual, allegories and metaphors o The literal meanings were the deep meanings and not just what was on the surface o In modern days, when we say what is literal, it refers to what does the author mean, intend and the historical context it was written in - What happens when you’re building ethics on the historical and literal reading of texts? - Philemon o Paul’s letter to Philemon o To a specific person o Might not want to take the route of interpreting it with a historical basis o A slave, Onesemus? from Colossae had ran away and also accused of stealing from his master, Philemon, Paul writes a letter saying the slave had been converted to Christianity by Paul himself and then Paul sent the slave back with the letter o Paul counsels Philemon to welcome back his slave and as a brother of Christ o Paul didn’t say abolish slavery in his letter because he couldn’t do that in that Roman history context that he was living in o Paul was talking about the end times and not concern about overturning the Roman rules - James Henley Thornwell o The Christian Doctrine of Slavery  Uses the book of Philemon to defend slavery and as a practice of Christians  Writing against the northern abolitionists  Have to uphold the status quo otherwise the society will fall apart  He said he’s reading from a literal and historical context while the northern people were arguing about the spiritual context - Not allowing women to vote - A few months ago, voting whether there should be women bishops in the Anglican Church in England o One house decided against it and so it was not passed; they argued that it was not in the bible that women should be bishops - Does the Bible condemn “homosexuality”? o The idea of the sexual orientation was not present in antiquities, but there were men sleeping with men and women sleeping with women o Need to look at how the words were used in historical context and the translations that were being used o Certain context in which we read and interpret can get cloudy - 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 o Nor men who have sex with men - 1 Timothy 1:9-10 o For men who defile themselves with men - How have some contemporary Christians dealt with these passages? o Looking at the two largest Protestant churches in Canada and two largest Protestant churches in US, they have radically different and opposing views o United Church of Canada  Anyone who professes their belief in Christ, even gay and lesbians  As far back as 1988 o Southern Baptist Convention  One man and one woman for life and homosexuality is not allowed - “The Long Wait” video - Canterbury Cathedral o Global Anglican community - Bishop Michael Ingham o Granted Anglican priests in Vancouver the authority to bless same-sex unions in 2003 o This came 5 years after the global conference of saying homosexuality is incompatible with scriptures o This caused quite a riot amongst the Anglican Church and people around the Vancouver area - Bishop Gene Robinson o Openly gay, non-celibate bishop of New Hampshire o Led to huge process of something called Anglican Realignment; people who don’t agree with their bishops will move to be under the authority of another bishop - Bishop Peter Akinola o Spoken out against revisionists and homosexuality o Welcome any Canadian and American churches - Within the same church, a lot of different interpretations - Justin Welby o Archbishop of Canterbury o Head of the Anglican Church o Aren’t in the position akin to the Pope in which they can make moral pronouncements o Trying to take all these different points of views and prevent the Anglican Church from ripping in half - Sex and the Single Savior o Dale B. Martin o A question on the final might pop up o Martin wants to look back at historically that speaks about same sex relations and what are the terms being used o Can’t use the Bible as foundation as ethics, his argument is that if you’re using the Bible as the foundation, then it means the writings in the Bible is clear and that your own interpretations are clear - The myth of Textual Agency o The text speaks and then we just listen (myth) o This is an ethical issue for him and he’s just saying you can’t use the argument that it’s written in the Bible and so you behave a certain - Fundamentalism: the Bible is inerrant - Foundationalism: looking at the Bible and think it’s not as literal; ethical conclusions are obvious if drawn from the Bible; Martin is speaking to these people - Meanings and consequences - Looking at the two Bible verses from before o It is ASSUMED from these two passages that Paul condemns homosexual activity o Martin, p. 37-38: trying to outhistoricize the other people who reads and interprets the Bible o The Bible was translated to different languages and some things are lost in translation o Shift over time; went from reference of an act to the sexual orientation that we know today o It doesn’t come up in Greek literature and usually comes in a vice list and exploitation or black mail and so if it doesn’t come up enough, we don’t really know what it means and what it’s referring to - Malakos o Lechouris ayens kynde o Weaklinges o In recent translations  Sodomite  Homosexual perverts  Male prostitute o The text didn’t change, the viewpoints of the interpreters change and to fit our own ideology - Malakos means “feminine” and those 14 century translation were more accurate than the recent translations; associated with softness and weakness and femininity o It also applies to men who are gussying himself up such as putting on cologne and doing their hair and they’re not doing this for homosexual acts, but for heterosexual purposes o If analyzing the Bible historically, you might not like what happen such as would you really want to condemn femininity?  In Paul’s days, it was  The real problem was about the penetration because usually the female is being penetrated so if there’s two men in the act and one is being penetrated, then he’s associated with femininity  Deep gender and sexual significance is avoidable; Roman perspective of what masculinity and femininity  Do we take the historical roots and condemn femininity? Is it the femininity in Paul’s day or our days? Not just the meanings but how was it deployed - Martin, pg. 49 o Highlight ideological contexts o To dispute appeals to ‘what the Bible says’ as a foundation for Christian ethical arguments - For final exam questions o Questions from a bit later in the semester so take note of Martin’s readings o Won’t have questions that mimics the essay questions - Different denominations are going to tell you they’re getting their interpretations from the Bible - Everybody’s ethics are sourced from multiple sources but everybody is saying that they’re getting it from the Bible; Martin argues that they can’t use that argument despite whether he agrees with their points or not - Martin, The Myth of Textual Agency o Common assumption among Christians and scholars was that the Bible only “speaks” and our job is to “listen” as if the Bible contains certain identifiable “meaning” and that it “communicates” to us and our task is to be passive and “receive the message without distorting it too much o Author tries to highlight the activities of interpretation by which people “make meaning” of the biblical texts; insist that the text don’t “speak” except in metaphorical senses and that we have to do a lot of work before they have a meaning for us all o There’s complications of biblical interpretation in order to shine light on the agency of human interpreters and insist that the “text itself” does not exercise its own “agency” in its own interpretations o Texts don’t interpret themselves, must be interpreted by humans (1) o We may read texts to derive legitimate meanings for answers to questions and meanings to our lives o The text itself is not “giving” the meaning, the “finding” of meaning in scriptures means that interpretation is necessary and the meaning can’t be found without interpretation o Human beings are necessary for meaning to take place and we can’t experience interpretation without human agency; therefore the responsibility of interpretation and the “meaning” we “find” lies with the readers of the text and not the text itself understood apart from interpretation (2) o Series impediments to the ethical use of Scriptures especially with regards to issues of genders or sexuality has been the myth of textual agency o The Bible doesn’t actually talk and so people must acknowledge that it’s their own interpretative practices that makes them think the Bible “says” something o People commit grave ethical offenses in the past such as supporting slavery, oppressing women, fighting unjust wars, killing, harming fellow human beings under the cover that the Bible said so and thus immoral interpretations are blamed on the text rather than the interpreter o Sin of Christian textual foundationalism: in which the Bible can be a firm basis for humans to derive all sorts of knowledge from such as doctrine and ethics and that the by simply reading the text and passively listening we will get the message; the Bible as a stable, reliable source for certain knowledge like scientists viewing nature as a source of scientific knowledge o Fundamentalism holds that the Bible is completely inerrant and in regards to doctrine and ethics and also matters of history, nature and science; literal inerrancy of the Bible is the most common marker of fundamentalism (2) o Foundationalism is different in which it doesn’t necessarily hold the complete inerrancy of the scripture at least not in matters of history and nature; the Bible provides a secure basis for doctrine and ethics if it’s interpreted with appropriate methods o Biblical foundationalists insist that the text of scripture is the most important foundation that ultimately trumps any other source of knowledge (3) o Textual foundationalists insist that we must read the text carefully, put aside prejudices and use more reliable methods in order to listen the texts better; the author argued that these ideas are misleading and unworkable and even morally questionable because he believes that the text doesn’t have any meanings other than the interpretations performed by human beings (4) o Pointing to the texts does not solve problems between different interpreters o What influences the interpretation are the social constraints surrounding and constituting the interpreter and so we read certain ways to socialize with human beings and across time, we read differently because we have socially changed o All text do have authors and thus authors can make meaning and that the meaning of a text resides in the author’s intention; meaning therefore resembles a “thing” that is passed on from one person to another and if misunderstanding occurs, the “receiver” should go back to the “source” to check for “correct meaning” (5) o Martin is advocating Reader Response Theory which insists that authors have no intensions or that when we read the text, we may not legitimately imagine what an author may have intended; the meaning of the text is not identical to an author’s intention nor can an auth
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