Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Open Thread on Julie’s Closed Thread; or, How should we interact with authority?

[UPDATE: Julie revised the verbiage explaining her decision to turn off comments. My references to 200 comments and the babysitting she didn’t want to take on allude to the original version.]

If Julie doesn’t want 200 comments on her post on women’s authority, I'll take them. (Actually, since the T&S readership is about 200 times the readership of this blog, we might expect this post to garner of order 1 comment.) As for the babysitting she didn’t want to take on, I won’t bother; I trust you to behave as the courteous adults you are. I’ll kick things off with two observations, one specific, and the second more general.

First, regarding Paul’s parallel Christ:God :: woman:man, Julie argues that “The relationship of woman to man–as paralleled to Christ and God–is not eternal. …since Christ ultimately inherits all that the Father has, it implies that the heirarchical aspect of the male-female relationship is temporary.” I don’t think Joseph’s teachings support this. I quote from Bushman, who quotes the King Follett discourse:
“I saw the father work out a kingdom with fear & trembling & I can do the same & when I get my K[ingdom] work[ed out] I will present [it] to the father & it will exalt his glory and Jesus steps into his tracks to inherit what God did before.”

The words evoked a hierarchy [!] of gods, succeeding to higher stations of greater glory as kingdoms are presented to them and as rising souls below them ascend to godhood.
So while Jesus becomes like the Father and gains all that he hath, there remains an eternal hierarchy.

Second, in a couple of places where she cannot obtain a satisfactory reading, she seems to feel free to disregard it, saying “Paul is making an argument from nature/culture that probably won’t persuade many modern readers.” Why not apply that to the entirety of Paul’s teachings on women—or, if “cultural baggage” is pervasive, to all of scripture? What are the criteria used to separate the wheat from the chaff? If it is ‘that which is not persuasive to modern readers,’ we may as well treat all of scripture not as if it has normative authority, but ‘only’ with the same seriousness we take any other great literature worthy of our attention and consideration, but not necessarily our obedience (a result, I confess, to which I am rather tempted).

Jim F. provides more questions than answers in his lessons, so I can’t know for sure; I don’t get the fundamentalist inerrancy vibe, or a drive for harmonization, but I get the sense that he would rather leave questions unanswered than presume to dismiss any canonized text. I still don’t quite get what he’s doing, and I don’t know if I can be persuaded do the same; but there seems to be something special in his approach (‘patience’ and ‘gravitas’ come to mind). There seems to be querying, even respectful probing; but then simply listening, sometimes, perhaps often, for answers that do not come; but in no case does there seem to be an impatient need to force resolutions.

It is, I suppose, a remarkably mature trust in and patience with the word, and those granted custody over its canonization status—neither of which is expected to be perfect, but is also not to be transcended. Again, for myself I am not sure it is a trust I can muster, but his posture is one I can respect. I can see either taking the whole ball of wax with a grain of salt—a kind of passive leave-taking—or, alternatively, thinking and waiting patiently; but when the issue is a text (or Church) claiming legitimate authority from God, a kind of pushy activism aimed at change is a stance I am not sure makes much sense.


Since you didn't take up any of the issues that I wanted to avoid discussing, I'll respond to your critique.

(1) Your JS quote doesn't negate my premise, which is that the woman:man::Christ:God parallel does not reflect an eternal order, because you only address half of my evidence for it through your creative use of ellipses. What you omitted was, "Else, the parallel would collapse unless you think that Christ is Heavenly Mother." I'm not an expert in early Mormon thought on the advancement of gods, so I'm not sure whether your JS quote is representative, but for the sake of argument, let's just grant that you are 100% right. It *still* doesn't imply that the woman:man::Christ:God parallel is perfect and complete.

(2) Do you have another explanation for what I call arguments from culture or nature (specifically, that a woman's 'naturally' longer hair proves that her head should be covered)? If so, I'd like you to state it. If not, then there is no harm in pointing out when someone is making a good point via a weak argument. This is not, as you call it, 'disregarding' the argument. I have no problem with Paul's argument that, when praying and prophesying, a woman should cover her head. I just think that half the time he is using good doctrine to make his point but the other half, he is relying on cultural traditions. If I said, "Paul only preaches this because it was a cultural norm, therefore we should ignore the content of his preaching." _then_ I would be disregarding it.

Similarly, there is a grave danger in _not_ openly addressing arguments from culture/nature in the scriptures. If the emperor has no clothes, let him know!

When you say, "when the issue is a text (or Church) claiming legitimate authority from God, a kind of pushy activism aimed at change is a stance I am not sure makes much sense. " it seems to me that you are debating someone standing behind me and slightly to the left. My (really, Hooker's) reading of Paul does not suggest that anything should be changed. There is no activism. Your statement is a gross misreading of my intentions.

Contrary, I think that anyone willing to think that Paul's writings as the inerrant word of God has some serious explaining to do: Here is a junior apostle (not a prophet! not even a member of the 1P!), who was sometimes at odds with the president of the church, and who plays no role in either the Restoration or in the temple (contra Peter, James, and John), and you are calling me on the carpet for suggesting that, while his conclusion was right, some of his data points were't?!? 

Comment by Julie in Austin | 1/31/2006 09:00:00 PM  

he would rather leave questions unanswered than presume to dismiss any canonized text  and There seems to be querying, even respectful probing; but then simply listening, sometimes, perhaps often, for answers that do not come; but in no case does there seem to be an impatient need to force resolutions.

That is as good a description of my "method" for reading scripture as I think I've ever seen. (Actually, I should also put "my" between quotation marks since I learned this way of reading from a Jewish rabbi and a pile of Jewish commentaries.)  

Comment by Jim F. | 1/31/2006 11:21:00 PM  

Julie, on your first point, I guess I don't understand how the two parts of your evidence relate to each other. One part (at the beginning and end of the paragraph in the post, the part I addressed) seems to be saying "the parallel holds in eternity, but look how the nature of Christ and God's relationship changes in eternity, and so will the male/female relationship." The other part (the middle part I omitted) seems to simply say "the parallel does not hold in eternity." Rather than try and settle the two parts (parallel does  hold in eternity / parallel does not hold in eternity, on which I remain agnostic) I simply addressed the factual description of God and Christ's relationship in eternity, which I found problematic.

I would like to address your second point at greater length, and will try to make the time. 

Comment by Christian Y. Cardall | 2/01/2006 10:02:00 AM  

In general, I dont agree with Julie's reading on these verses, and take exception to her reading on v. 10. She is ignoring related text which sheds light on the current text (e.g., the IV/JST on 1 Cor. 14:34-35). My take is as follows:


Comment by Kurt | 2/01/2006 10:10:00 AM  

Hm . . . I left a respones to Kurt, but it isn't showing up. Please forgive if this ends up being a duplicate.

Anyway, Kurt is wrong about the 'related texts.' The ones that he mentions are households codes, and 1 Cor 11 isn't, so comparing them doesn't make sense.

As for the materials that Kurt linked to:
(1) Kurt, you are reading in a lot of modern notions about priesthood that may or may not have been known to Paul at this time.
(2) More importantly, you'll need to explain the following before you convince me that the veil is a symbol of submission:
(a) Why Paul refers to it as having authority on her head.
(b) Why Paul feels the need in the next verses to reassure that women are not completely independent of men.

And, if you want to bring 1 Cor 14:34-35 into the discussion, you'll need to deal with its very troubled textual history. 

Comment by Julie in Austin | 2/01/2006 02:39:00 PM  

Um, Julie, how can you possible read 1 Cor. 14:34-35 as an irrelevant "household code" when it explicitly talks about women in church? Comparing them makes perfect sense: same letter, same subject, same author.

The two points you are asking me to address are little more than a figment of your imagination. Point one, how is "may or may not" a compelling argument I need to address? You have hamstrung it yourself. And point two assumes you have established your case, that the veil=authority, which you have not, not by a long shot, expecially when it doesn't represent that anywhere in the Scriptures or in anything we know of the culture.

And I dont need to deal with its troubled textual history, you need to deal with the IV/JST, which you would rather ignore because it flatly contradicts your reading. 

Comment by Kurt | 2/01/2006 03:13:00 PM  

Julie, I don't have much to say directly about the topic. However when you say, "You are reading in a lot of modern notions about priesthood that may or may not have been known to Paul at this time." But we can't simply assume he doesn't  know it. We have to read it with both possibilities open.

Comment by clark | 2/01/2006 05:57:00 PM  

"Um, Julie, how can you possible read 1 Cor. 14:34-35 as an irrelevant "household code" when it explicitly talks about women in church?"

I believe the author is David Balch; in any case, after reading his dissertation on household codes, I realized that they have certain characteristics in common besides "explicitly talking about women." 1 Cor 11 is not a household code. The reason comparisons with the household codes may mislead us is that they speak primarily to the relationship of husband and wife whereas this passage speaks primarily to whether women should cover their heads and is using the husband-wife relationship as evidence.

Kurt, the language in the verse in question calls the headcovering authority (the Greek is 'exousia,' can also be translated as 'power.') It isn't for me to make the case that veil=power; Paul made that case via his word choice.

I'm not seeing what in the JSt for Cor 14 is relevant here--help me out.

You haven't replied at all to (2)(b). 

Comment by Julie in Austin | 2/01/2006 06:06:00 PM  

Oh goody. Why didn't I think of this Christian?

What about Moses' veiling his face when he came down off Mt. Sinai?

I think the idea of the veil being done away in/through Christ supports the idea of the gender divide being a temporal condition only.  

Comment by LisaB | 2/01/2006 07:37:00 PM  


Obviously Paul's knowledge is an open question. But my point is that Kurt is presuming that Paul is thinking in the modern LDS categories of priesthood, and I'm just pointing out that that is not a safe assumption. While it isn't a deal breaker, I think it points to the larger issue that Kurt is ignoring some basic issues inherent in the text in favor of importing ideas from outside of the text. 

Comment by Julie in Austin | 2/01/2006 08:24:00 PM  

Sorry I wasn't able to get back to this thread this evening. There's always tomorrow... 

Comment by Christian Y. Cardall | 2/01/2006 10:25:00 PM  

It might not be a safe  assumption, it does seem a reasonable reading. The problem is that no text has meaning within the text we always have to bring in the outside of the text. We can reasonably debate what external contexts to bring in. But to attempt to limit ourselves to the text and its internal structures seems inherently problematic. 

Comment by clark | 2/02/2006 01:24:00 AM  

Julie, 1 Cor 14 has absolutely nothing to do with "household codes" go and take a look at it. What David Balch or anyone else says is irrelevant, 1 Cor 14 is talking about regulating what is said in a church and who says it. The text explicitly references the ecclesia, and therefore has direct bearing on the matter you are attempting to discuss in chapter 11.

The headcovering is a symbol of authority over the woman, and Paul is using it to show that women are to be silent in the church. Just as the headcovering is over the woman, so is the authority over the woman, and she ought not to speak in church as one who would rule it, per 1 Cor 14. In other words, women do not have the authority, they are to defer to those who do.

You fail to see how the IV/JST has any bearing? OK, lets parse the differences:

34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but [they are commanded] to be under obedience, as also saith the law. 35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

34 Let your women keep silence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to rule ; but to be under obedience, as also saith the law. 35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home; for it is a shame for women to rule in the church.

OK, Julie, according to the IV/JST, who rules the church, according to Paul? Who, then, has the authority in the church, according to Paul? How is that not relevant to the matter at hand? How is that not relevant to your obtuse reading of the veil meaning women have authority in the church, when it is clear Paul meant no such thing?

I don't need to address your point (2)(b) because your reading on it is flawed from the very start.

Comment by Kurt | 2/02/2006 06:48:00 AM  

And thus we see why Julie wouldn't keep an open thread on the subject to begin with?

I still want to know everyone else's opinion of the earth-bound only idea, as well as how the precedent of Moses veiling his face may apply.

Also if there may be any correlation with a "mantle" of authority. 

Comment by LisaB | 2/02/2006 11:29:00 AM  

How do we know Paul is referring to a veil? What is the meaning and purpose of a veil---worn by Moses, by a bride, by a praying woman?

The earth-bound only idea is interesting and hopeful but not conclusive, I think. That there was no hierarchy between Adam and Even in Eden could mean simply that the social organization was not yet completed. It could be that hierarchy remains in eternity (polygamy would seem to require it), but that it's never really an 'issue' because of unity and absence of abuse, as between Christ and God, who (as I have argued contra Julie), retain a hierarchy. Does it still need to be an issue even in mortality, if as Julie suggests consensus and unanimity between husband and wife are required for action as in the leading councils of the Church?

I don't know about correlation with the mantle idea. My guess is that the veil has its own separate significance. 

Comment by Christian Y. Cardall | 2/02/2006 12:16:00 PM  

In finally saying something about 1 Cor. 11, I'll assume for the sake of argument that Paul is referring to a veil for the woman and something else (a mitre?) for the man, but I don't know if that's correct. Julie's argument that the woman's covering the head represents authority independent of her husband is interesting but not yet convincing and not without a difficulties.

Julie's argument seems to turn on the idea that any  headgear represents authority. But it could be that male headgear (mitre?) and female headgear (veil?) mean different things, and that the specific meaning of the veil must be taken into account. Is a veil a token of temporary inaccessibility of the wife, connoting her independence in support of Julie's argument? Or rather a reminder that she is her husband's bride?

Difficulties: First, if all kinds of headgear are equivalent and male headgear dishonors the man's head (Christ), why does the female headgear also not dishonor her (according to Julie) temporary direct head (Christ/God) as well? Second, the critical v. 10 seems to be part of an unbroken theme of subjection that is not reversed in v. 10, but with the "NEvertheless" in v. 11. Third, also in v. 10, the woman's head on whose power/authority is bestowed may be not her own literal head but her husband, in a structure similar to v. 4-5. 

Comment by Christian Y. Cardall | 2/02/2006 02:30:00 PM  

Another thing that puzzles me about the various things Julie has said in her post and comments here is that there doesn't seem to be coherent criteria for what to accept as a basis for something being authoritative, with the result that it looks like what is taken to be authoritative conveniently happens to align with what one likes. What I have in mind are statements on the one hand saying Paul is only a junior apostle and not the united voice of the 1P and Q12; but then statements on the other hand saying Paul's text is privileged over modern notions of priesthood, which presumably are unitedly supported by the 1P and Q12. 

Comment by Christian Y. Cardall | 2/02/2006 02:38:00 PM  

I'm rather surprised by the hackles I see raised. First, gentlemen, if I was going to take scripture as literally as some of you are I would be tempted to say that woman is in a superior situation because she grows her own glory, i.e., hair, while men are dependent on a woman for glory. Bringing in chap. 14 is especially problematic since it is considered to be inserted by an impressive number of textual critics. It interrupts the ongoing discussion of prophecy which flows together nicely once this insertion is removed. Further, appealing to JST is little help because even with a change to "rule" the rest does not make sense. Mormonism has not required women to seek instruction at home from their husbands. It will have to be explained why the latter part of that instruction is being tossed if the first is being upheld.

Second, in theory, a veil reveals as well as hides. Our culture sees it as hiding. There is obviously something going on with the angels here and given Paul's propensity to mention powers, I would suspect the Enoch texts may be in play here. Gods were looking down on the daughters of men with lust. This also has echos in one of the Thomas texts (which I will have to search out). Paul also has to deal with reality. They live in Rome. Husbands can get away with killing their wives for being unveiled in public space. Christianity had appeal to women and it is easy to imagine them enjoying a new found freedom that was not putting Christianity in a good light. Also remember that Jewish men covered their heads when praying. I see Paul giving his version of a lecture by pulling together every scary thing he could think of... and then backing off (as he sometimes did) acknowledging that they or their churches have no custom of *covering heads* so don't be contentious about what he was saying.

As for household codes, Julie is dead on. Churches were run in the women's sphere..the house. Another reason for it to be odd telling them to cover their heads. 

Comment by Juliann | 2/02/2006 09:45:00 PM  

Juliann, interesting speculations. One question: what is it that a veil reveals?  

Comment by Christian Y. Cardall | 2/02/2006 11:16:00 PM  

Whatever is behind it, Christian. ;-) If I was going to select a parallel for veiling, I would use the temple veil. This works particularly well with wisdom literature before the female element was removed. 

Comment by Juliann | 2/03/2006 02:23:00 AM  

Oh, duh---I'm a little slow sometimes! Now I see how that might relate to the public veiling custom you desribing. 

Comment by Christian Y. Cardall | 2/03/2006 12:22:00 PM  

It has taken me at least two tries to get each post up. I'm on my third for this one.

I have used Margaret Barker long before she became the toast of BYU town. She opens a new world when it comes to this topic...and it is a world that is well suited to our theology. Paul was very well acquainted with Hellenistic philosophy as well Jewish teaching. One thought is that he was reacting to one philosopher sect's custom of long haired men and flipped it. Pauline texts have not only been tampered with, I think they require a high level of pre-understanding from the reader. We are missing what they already knew. If Barker is right, there would be unsaid but taken for granted temple theology. I lean to this construction because I find it exceptionally odd that the apostles continued to frequent the temple following Easter.

The text I named as Thomas literature is actually the Gospel of Philip. (I am using Layton and he has a unique numbering system so I don't know how helpful that will be..but Section 53.) The bridal chamber gives protection against unclean spirits. Foolish female spirits seeing a lone male will leap upon him and fondle and pollute him. Male spirits seduce the lone woman and do violence to her. But if a man and woman sit together they are protected because the "image and the angel join one another" and no spirit dares make advances. The Enoch texts were very popular for a couple of centuries until rampaging angels went out of style.

I would start with what seems to pop up in a variety of situations to find meaning in Christianized veiling before assuming it is always intended to be a tool of oppression or forced submission. The earliest known MS of I Cor. (P46) uses "initiates" rather than "til the end" in 1:8, "who will also confirm you *initiates*. . ." I agree with Barker that nothing in the NT makes much sense without restoring the underlying temple imagery and ritual. Woman (wisdom) standing in as a representative and guardian of the veiled division, ready to reveal eternity, makes sense to me.


Comment by Juliann | 2/03/2006 08:36:00 PM  

Christian, why do you say Julie's argument relies on the assumption that any/all headgear represents authority? I understand Julie's argument differently: The veil is a covering to suspend a specific kind of temporal authority. Christ is always man's head, so there no need for suspension of this relationship when man prays (ignoring the fact that Mormons pray to the Father not Christ). But when a woman prays (or prophesies), she is given 'privacy' to commune directly with God, suspending the temporal authority man has over the woman. Since the veil/covering is a temporal object, it represents suspension (or 'dishonor' as you say) of temporal  authority.

Also, regarding the 'nevertheless' in v. 11, I think the "neither is the woman without the man" part of that verse can be used to argue that 'nevertheless' is a strange word choice if Paul is indeed talking about the subjection of woman to man in v. 10. Saying "the woman is without the man" would be a continuation of the subjection theme and not require a word denoting contrast like 'nevertheless'.

I think your third point about 'her head' possibly referring to the man in v. 10 is a good point. I'd be curious if this is any less ambiguous in Greek.

Comment by Robert C. | 2/04/2006 08:59:00 AM  

Kurt, I understand how Chapter 14 is relevant to the relationship of authority between man and woman (namely that man is given temporal authority over the woman, and that this applies in church), but is there a connection to head coverings? I don't think there is anything in Julie's argument that contradicts man having authority over woman, incl. in church--only that this authority is suspended when praying or prophesying/testifying.

Am I missing something? I want to get this right and add a summary of your counter-argument on the FeastUponTheWord page (or feel free to add it yourself). | 2/04/2006 09:08:00 AM  

Juliann,  thanks for your interesting comments. Unfortunately I know so little about the extracanonical ideas you refer to that I don't have an intelligent response. I had known nothing of Margaret Barker, but a quick search shows why her ideas could be of interest as you say.

That the angels in v. 10 are the "rampaging angels" you describe is also an interesting idea. From a more conventional LDS angle, given v. 11 I wondered if some LDS might make a connection to unexalted singles referred to as "ministering angels" in Sec. 132.  

Comment by Christian Y. Cardall | 2/04/2006 12:31:00 PM  

Robert C.,  you're right that "turns on" (meaning "relies on" as you say) was a poor way to express what I had in mind. I just meant to say that her argument needs some argument about the meaning of the veil (if that's what's in play here) as opposed to the meaning of whatever the man's headgear might be if it is to avoid difficulty and become convincing.

Since the overall message of v. 11 expresses the interdependence of men and women (with man's need for woman expressed first), "Nevertheless" could be an appropriate turn away from a uniform theme of subjection in v. 1-10. But I also concede it could be read differently, as Julie does: subjection of women in v. 1-9, with the pendulum swinging to independence of women in v. 10, with the "Nevertheless" in v. 11 signaling a second swing back to the center with the theme of interdependence.

Your Feast Upon the Word wiki looks like an interesting idea. 

Comment by Christian Y. Cardall | 2/04/2006 12:44:00 PM  

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