Sunday, May 18, 2014

Philo Would've Made a Great One-Law Messianic Jew...

"Why was the Pentateuch translated into Greek?  According to the Letter of Aristeas, probably the source for all ancient accounts, Ptolemy II accepted the suggestion of Demetrius of Phalerum that the king should acquire a translation of the Hebrew Pentateuch, in order to increase his collection of worthy books....[another view holds that the translation occurred] because a large majority of Egyptian Jews could not understand Hebrew, and therefore requested a written translation of the Bible....[Philo, demonstrating yet another view] claims that the translation was made to show how 'the greater part, or even the whole of the human race might be profited and led to a better life by continuing to observe such wise and truly admirable ordinances' [as found in the Torah of Moses](Mos. II.32, 36).'" Excerpted from Who Wanted a Translation of the Pentateuch into Greek? by Nina L. Collins from the Journal of Semitic Studies Supplement 11:  Jewish Ways of Reading the Bible Edited by Brooke


  1. It seems that Philo was attempting to spread at least some of the wisdom of torah to the masses; well, at least the educated and literate masses. Certainly they didn't want to convert to a despised, backwater religion with practices that were abhorrent to them, but perhaps they could partake in some small way and be elevated in their values? Philo thought one good turn deserved another and brought Platonic and Aristotalian thought into Judaism, including the Greek philosophers view that women were morally, intellectually and intrinsically spiritually inferior, which continued on into Christianity.

  2. Re: "...including the Greek philosophers view that women were morally, intellectually and intrinsically spiritually inferior, which continued on into Christianity."

    The important thing is that the Bible doesn't view women as inferior. In fact, it is very telling that the human with the closest connection to Yeshua was a woman: Miriam, the mother of Yeshua.

  3. True, but I don't know of one MessyWorld congregation of any stripe that doesn't limit women in some way, and this is a holdover from evangelicalism. Maybe you know of some group I don't know of?

  4. "True, but I don't know of one MessyWorld congregation of any stripe that doesn't limit women in some way, and this is a holdover from evangelicalism."

    Or maybe from orthodox Judaism?....

  5. Orthodox Judaism also limits women. But MJ/HR did not come out of Orthodoxy and have few people there have an Orthodox background. Most are secular or reform/conservative if they happen to be Jewish, which few are these days. So, the step toward evangelical attitudes toward women was a step backwards for a Jewish person, but a step in place for the various Christians who populated MessyWorld. These attitudes are directly from evangelicalism. There are a few ordained Orthodox female rabbis, but zero in MessyWorld as far as I know. Please correct if I am missing something. In Orthodoxy, it is more about tradition. In MessyWorld, they take their theology, including the idea that women are weaker spiritually and more prone to deception, and so need to be "under," the authority of a male who is rational and spiritually more capable of leadership. I don't know of any Orthodox claiming women need to submit to men in the congregation or wives need to submit to their husbands.

    It says something that one group could not even discuss the subject because of the animosity that resulted, demonstrating that this fear of losing power is no different in MessyWorld than in Evangelicalism. Since women form the bulk of religious participation, even though men are the leaders, if they abandoned their support, the male leaders wouldn't survive.

    Why did I put up with this crap myself? Because I was indoctrinated that it was God's will, and I didn't have the guts to stand up to social pressure, so believed what I was told without questioning. I was young, and so easily influenced. It is not as if questioning and different ways of possibly looking at things was ever encouraged. As Noam Chomsky said so well, "The way to keep the population passive is to limit suitable topics for discussion, but then encourage spirited debate among the allowable topics."

    Interesting how antimissionaries are so successful with HR, and their converts are almost all women, eager to discuss where to buy the best headcovering and they aren't Jewish, so aren't subject to Orthodox requirements, and all Orthodox don't even do this, such as my Sephardic relatives don't wear a headcovering. Funny how these ladies would rather please Tovia Singer than their own husbands in their manner of dress. My dh would probably act like he didn't know me if I ever decided to go for this kind of get up.

  6. Princess,

    I respect your opinion--even though I don't understand how you could like any of Paul's writings given your perspective.

    All the modern Orthodox Jewish feminists were my primary introduction to Judaism. I fell in love with the writings of Shalit, Manolson, Heller, Greenberg, etc, etc. I'm the nerd who spent a whole summer examining "Magic Touch" line by line--I wanted to understand how she could write so persuasively. And "Outside Inside" changed me in a very profound way. So I'm all for women being teachers--provided it is in the proper context.

  7. Peter, I don't know Greek, but my take is that we need to understand everything in light of torah, and Skip Moen has done a very good job with IMNSHO correctly interpreting some potentially problematic verses.

    I am not familiar with all the ladies you mentioned, but as to the, "shomer negiah," squad, I can see where religious men approve of women who assist in imposing male dominance upon women.

    I certainly don't believe in dressing like a slut, and at 56, with 25 extra pounds, if I did, it would probably be more of an encouragement toward holiness for men :) However, I had to go to a funeral, and I had a hard time hunting through my closet for something bland and conservative enough that I could wear in the sweltering heat. Almost everything I have is bright and blingy. Prov. 31 says, "fine linen and purple." Well, I have lots of purple :) including peek-a-boo purple highlights.

    "Magic Touch," has led to serious depression among the many older single women in Orthodoxy, and Haredi and Hasidim have three times the rate of mental illness and a much higher suicide rate. (You don't hear about these sorts of things.) People can write persuasively if there is no evidence required or counterpoint allowed.

    Since most of the people involved in MJ back in the 70's and 80's were not of Orthodox background, and even those who grew up Orthodox were more like Modern Orthodox, to take on these female roles was to move away from the direction of enlightenment and progress.

    I am trying to figure out what caused me to make this choice, as an open-minded person to become close-minded, as a person with an IQ of 143 to become stupid, and with a college education to prefer ignorance? I've realized that young people are often bound by black and white thinking. It is either/or with nothing in between. I also fell victim to the false dichotomy, that if A is bad, not A must be good. Strident, abortion promoting, man-hating feminism was bad, so female submission and capitulation was good.

  8. How about you start a new movement? "Orthodox Messyantis women Lib....."

  9. " Note: I just have a B.S., but I might have pursued further education if I was in a social group where that was encouraged and pursued. "

    That is a copout and you know it. No one held a gun to your head and forced you not to get more education.

    The women issue is just a chip on your shoulders. Even if you were right then do something about it instead of complaining....

  10. I am not blaming people for acting according to what they thought was right; they certainly wished me no harm. I could have pursued further formal education if I really wanted to. Another reason I didn't was simply because the time and money required didn't seem to mesh with what I wanted to accomplish. But I have been taking some wonderful free MOOC's (mult-user, open, online courses) from top universities that I couldn't hope to afford or even gain admittance. It is like an all-you-can-learn buffet and free.

    I have health problems currently that would prevent me from pursuing brick and mortar education, even though there is a university 10 minutes away. But people do follow in the ways of their social circle, especially young persons. No chip on shoulder, however, I wish someone shared with me, "Show me your friends, and I will show you your future."

    I did many things that I was either not encouraged to do or faced opposition to from both my family and fellowships. That might be why I moved across the country, went into the Jewish community to find a husband, rather than patiently waiting in faith for, "God to bring you the right one," spent a summer in Israel and quit my secure but not-so-interesting job.