Friday, October 12, 2007

Captain Sensible's Silliness

Just recently, Captain Sensible has written this post on her blog. In this post, I am going to respond, both to the comments, as well as to the substance of the post itself. Now, I certainly have heard the old, "You think Barrenness is the same as being a nerd in school" misrepresentation over and over again by people who refuse to see that their argument from Hanna has been exegetically refuted, but that is not the main reason I write this post. The main reason I write this post is because, just as these folks in the radical mandatory marriage movement cannot interpret me properly, they also seem to not give the same kind of care to the scriptures. First of all, Captain Sensible says she is going to post that discussion. I already have, here. I have already dealt with the silliness of Darran Allan and Captain Sensible on this topic. Their problem has to do with this statement I made in my dialogue with Debbie Maken when asked about Hannah in 1 Samuel 1. Here is what I said:

With regards to Hanna, it is more than likely that Hanna was weeping over not having a child mostly because, at that time, being barren was as bad as being a nerd in school. You were often the subject of immense ridicule and that may be what Hanna is upset about.

Notice what I said. I was not referring to what barrenness is, but what barrenness "was" "at that time." Never did I ever say that the way the ancient Jews viewed barrenness was correct, nor would I ever defend such behavior. However, it happens to be a fact that that barren women experienced the same kind of disgrace, and low class place in society that nerds in High Schools do today. Of course, Darran Allan, who sees only what he wants to see on a page, wrote the following response:


Are you joking????You are comparing being barren and childless to being a nerd??????????She was upset being ridiculed????I don't know what sort of la la land you live in but you have lost credibility in this debate.

Now, let us ask a simply question. Where in my comment did I ever compare being barren to being a nerd? I compared the social status of a barren woman at the time in which Hannah lived to the ridicule and low status given to a "nerd" in school, yes. However, if Darran Allan thinks that this makes me loose all credibility in this debate, let us see who else has absolutely no credibility.

One of the standard works on Biblical backgrounds is Ralph Gower's The New Manners and Customs of Bible Times. In his book, he said the following:

If a woman could not have children, that was therefore seen as a curse from God because it was as good as extinction. Rachel told Jacob that if she had no children she would die (Genesis 30:1). Hannah believed her childlessness was God's punishment (1 Samuel 1:16), and Elizabeth knew that reproachful looks she received from the people because they believed she had done something to upset God. When John was born she knew that the Lord had "taken away my disgrace" [Gower, Ralph The New Manners and Customs of Bible Times. Moody Press. Chicago Illinois 1987. p.61].

So, Darran Allan is upset with the idea that I said that she was being ridiculed because of her barrenness. It sounds to me like people who were barren were treated as pagan sinners. It sounds to me like the people believed that God was punishing them for something they did. However, here is another scholar:

The Bible records that joy was felt by mothers centuries ago just as it is today, expecially because a woman grew in status in the community when she helped to perpetuate the family line. That is why childless women such as Hannah were not only sorrowful themselves, but were scorned by others [Thompson, J.A. Handbook of Life in Bible Times Inter-Varsity Press. Downers Grove, Illinois 1986 p. 80].

Indeed, Walter Brueggemann in his commentary on 1 Samuel says the following:

The birth of a child to a barren woman is not a routine matter at any time, certainly not in ancient Israel. The birth is first of all an occasion for unmitigated celebration. The deepest yearning of the mother has been in explicable fulfilled. Hannah's worth, her dignity, and her rightful place with her husband have been restored [Brueggemann, Walter First and Second Samuel from the commentary series Interpretation, A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. John Knox Press. Louisville, Kentucky 1990. pgs 15-16].

Interesting that this commentator said that Hannah did not have her worth or her dignity when she was barren, and that they were restored at birth. Again, we have another scholar Darran Allan would have to say has no credibility.

There, I saved Captain Sensible all of the trouble. I reposted it, demonstrated were these folks have misrepresented me, and showed that I have many people in the scholarly realm who agree with what I actually said. Also, in case these guys haven't noticed, I have had that dialogue posted, and have linked to it for a very, very long time. I think that their interpretation of what I have said is the clearest example of a mindset that refuses to acknowledge exegetical error, and admit that Debbie Maken's use of Hannah was based on a gross misunderstanding of the historical backgrounds of 1 Samuel.

Not only that, it is an example of only seeing what one wants to see on a page. Debbie Maken had absolutely no response for anything I said in that dialogue. She was totally refuted, along with all of her followers. Hence, they have to do something to try to destroy my credibility so no one would listen to me. Thus, rather than seeing on the page that which I actually wrote, they saw on the page what they thought they could use against me. Thus, you have this repeated error over and over again by these folks because they simply have no answer for what I said, and have to find some way of destroying my credibility before men who are attacked by these women actually read my blog, and learn how to answer these people's abuses of scripture. I have not seen Captain Sensible, Darran Allan, or Debbie Maken take apart any of my posts on this blog, nor do I expect to see them do so. They are totally exegetically bankrupt when it comes to this issue, and cannot handle any exegetical refutation of their position.

I have been so blessed by the guys that have written me and thanked me for dealing with this issue in a fair, exegetical manner. I am not going to get into the blame game, blaming women for all of the problems. I want to deal with the text of the scriptures, and engage the topic with careful, precise Biblical Exegesis. In fact, one girl on the Boundless Blog said:

Ariana had the following to say on May 3 at 8:55 AM:
I think that Adam's point about Hannah stands and is well supported by the text. I don't think that Hannah's desire to have a child was quite the same as the desire of women today to have children, which has largely to do with wanting to enjoy giving love to and receiving love from one's children. That's an honorable thing, but for Hannah, her barrennes was an unjust sign of reproach socially. It was not simply that she did not have the blessing of children, but people's perceptions, treatment, judgments toward her regarding that fact were unwarranted and undeserved. And her reproach was not limited to a few mean people, but came from society at large. I think that there is a close similarity in Hannah's desperation followed by joy, and that of Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, when Elizabeth says, "Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when He looked upon me, to take away my reproach among people." (Luke 1:25) Elizabeth, too, had been barren and suffered unfairly for it.
The issue in both of their instances is not that the Lord enabled them to fulfill a command--it wasn't that their lives were not already glorifying to Him. Nor were they under His reproach. But he took away their societal reproach.
The irony of this contemporary marriage debate is that those who elevate marriage to a divine command risk creating a similar situation to that experienced by Hannah and Elizabeth who would have had children were they able. The reality is that many, many singles would very much like to be married despit their single status. The prevalence of dating sites and sites like this one testify to that fact. To turn to singles and say, "You have to be married in order to fulfill God's will in your life," can unfairly imply that how they are currently striving to follow Christ is not good enough. And sometimes our form of obedience isn't good enough; but in this situation, speaking of getting married as if it were a command that you can just obey or not obey also implies that singles have control over a situation that they really do not have. And it also risks throwing salt on an already hurting wound.

Now, if Ariana can understand what I am saying, and has absolutely not problem with it, then why is it that Captain Sensible and Darren Allen cannot? I think it is simply because they only see on a page what they want to see on a page.

However, Captain Sensible has gone and done the same thing with the text of scripture, namely, only seeing on a page what you want to see on a page. It is one thing to treat what I have to say that way, it is a whole other issue to do that to the Scriptures:

Childlessness - Not just a female curse

'..."Record this man as if childless, a man who will not prosper in his lifetime..."'(Jeremiah 22: 30)

Again, the utter disrespect that these women have for the Old Testament should make any Christian shutter. Where is the exegesis? Why was only half the verse quoted? Did Captain Sensible not notice that we are talking, in context, about a king? Here is the entirety of the context:

Jeremiah 22:24-30 "As I live," declares the LORD, "even though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were a signet ring on My right hand, yet I would pull you off; 25 and I will give you over into the hand of those who are seeking your life, yes, into the hand of those whom you dread, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and into the hand of the Chaldeans. 26 "I will hurl you and your mother who bore you into another country where you were not born, and there you will die. 27 "But as for the land to which they desire to return, they will not return to it. 28 "Is this man Coniah a despised, shattered jar? Or is he an undesirable vessel? Why have he and his descendants been hurled out And cast into a land that they had not known? 29 "O land, land, land, Hear the word of the LORD! 30 "Thus says the LORD, 'Write this man down childless, A man who will not prosper in his days; For no man of his descendants will prosper Sitting on the throne of David Or ruling again in Judah.'"

Again, we see that Debbie Maken, Captain Sensible, et al just think they can put phrases in a search engine, and when they see something they like, lo and behold it must mean something akin to what Debbie Maken has been saying all along. They refuse to look at the context, and refuse to do the research necessary to understand the issues involved in a passage, because, again, they see what they want to see on a page. First of all, the context of Jeremiah 22 is judgment against Judah for their rebellion. Second of all, the judgment of God spoken of by Jeremiah is in the context of judgment against a nation, and imparticular, their ruler. The curse, therefore, is the fact that this king [there is some question as to whether "Coniah" here is a gloss from earlier in the passage] will not have a dynasty. That is, even though he has children, they will not prosper upon the throne, so, it will be as if he is childless. However, the curse is not being childless, but it is the destruction of his dynasty. Don't believe me? Here is Dr. William L. Holladay, who is an expert on the Book of Jeremiah, and, indeed, his commentary is one of the textbooks for my exegesis class on the book of Jeremiah this semester:

The implication of "childless" is puzzling, since the king had sons (see note on v.28). The word yrIyrI[] does mean "childless" (only otherwise in Gen 15:2; Lev 20:20, 21; Sir 16:3), but the point of course is that since he will see no son of his upon the throne of Judah, he is childless in the only way meaningful for a king.

The colon "a fellow who shall not succeed in his days" supplies a parallel not only to "dethroned" but more immediately to "childless": Tawil believes "shall not succeed" carries here the nuance of "is unproductive."

If "succeed" in the third colon implies "succeed in having sons who will continue the dynasty," the verb "succeed" in the fourth colon implies "succeed in functioning as king." The subject of the second occurrence is of course also different: it is "no one [vyai with the negative] of his offspring." Since vyai and "fellow" (rb,G<) elsewhere, (23:9), and since the two verbs are identical, the shift of subject is ironic. The participles in the last two cola appear to express actions completing the verb "succeed" [Jouon, Gramm., sec. 157g]. Question: Is the adverb "any longer" (dA[) a subtle balance to "in his days" in the second colon? [Holladay, William L. A Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, Chapters 1-25 From the Hermeneia Commentary Series Fortress Press. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1986 pgs. 611-612]

For those of you who don't want an overly technical discussion, here is the classic commentary of Matthew Henry:

Now that which is here to be taken notice of is that Jeconiah is written childless (v. 30), that is, as it follows, No man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David. In him the line of David was extinct as a royal line. Some think that he had children born in Babylon because mention is made of his seed being cast out there (v. 28) and that they died before him. We read in the genealogy (1 Chron. iii. 17) of seven sons of Jeconiah Assir (that is, Jeconiah the captive) of whom Salathiel is the first. Some think that they were only his adopted sons, and that when it is said (Matt. i. 12), Jeconiah begat Salathiel, no more is meant than that he bequeathed to him what claims and pretensions he had to the government, the rather because Salathiel is called the son of Neri of the house of Nathan, Luke iii. 27, 31. Whether he had children begotten, or only adopted, thus far he was childless that none of his seed ruled as kings in Judah. He was the Augustulus of that empire, in whom it determined.

Now, consider this. You have an expert on the book of Jeremiah, a classic commentary on the book of Jeremiah, and myself who is currently working on my M.A. in Old Testament and Semitic Studies all saying that this interpretation is bogus. What should that tell most people? However, again, they see on a page what they want to see on a page. What it should tell them is that they need to start having some respect for God's word and actually care about doing sound, careful exegesis of the text. To these folks, the Bible, and imparticular, the Old Testament is a place where you can take a phrase here, and a phrase there, but what these folks refuse to do is interpret passages by following an argument, a narrative, or a poem, and allowing the passage to speak for itself.

This is the danger of Christian Fads like the one Albert Mohler and Debbie Maken started. They cause people to think in a particular way, simply because their leaders think in a particular way, and so, therefore, the people that are part of the movement reason that it must be correct. Instead, we should be training up our children to exercise discernment, to learn and study the Bible so they can see errors like this when they come into the church. All I can say is that Thegiftofsingleness blog is the fruits of a society that has neglected such training.

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