Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Extra Credit Post - Thoughts on Leah & Rachel

Hello all, for extra credit points we are encouraged to post on the course blog “thoughts that you have during class but don’t have a chance to say or that occur to you after you leave class.” I’ve chosen to write a post about my thoughts during our Rachel and Leah story discussion day. I really liked how we used the worksheet/packet to have questions for discussion points and to take notes. I was especially interested in the question about listing all of Jacob’s children, who their mother was and the mother’s reaction at birth. We didn’t have a chance to discuss this is class, but I took the liberty to fill out a chart with that information and present it to you all. I’ve drawn quite a few interesting conclusions about Rachel and Leah from their children’s births. Here you go…

Names of Jacob’s Children
Mother of Child
The mother’s response…
“now my husband will love me!”
God has given her this child because she is hated
“now my husband is attached to me”
“This time I will praise the Lord!”
“God has heard my voice!”
I have prevailed over Leah!
“Good fortune has come!”


“my husband will honor me”

“may the Lord add to me another son!”

No response, she dies…

Firstly, I’d like to look at Leah. Doesn’t she sound a bit selfish? She’s happy about the child that is born, but for all the wrong reasons. She thinks that having Jacob’s children will make him happy, attach him to her, etc. And then eventually she comes around and is thankful to God to the babies and claims she will praise him for this child!

And is stark contrast, Rachel. She is much, much more humble. She is thankful to God and happy for the arrival of her first son Joseph. Sadly, we don’t get to hear/read her thoughts on the second baby because she dies after a rough childbirth.

Leah and Rachel’s difference in attitudes is transferred onto their children and how they interact with each other. I mean, the rest of the brothers had to mean to Joseph for some good reason, right?! No! We all know that the only reason Joseph was treated differently was because is mother was Rachel; and because Jacob loved Rachel first/more, of course Joseph was going to be a favorite…

These siblings are a great example of “the apple doesn’t fall from the tree…” We see Leah’s children being ungrateful at times, not praising God for the great things that have come to them and picking on Joseph. Whereas Joseph seems to be much more thankful for all the great things that have come to him, like his dream reading capabilities.

We can also argue that the women’s reactions at childbirth also influenced how God let their children’s lives carry on/play out. God might’ve also favored Joseph just a wee bit.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Canon in D Bible. Get it? Like "canon in the Bible"?

You might as well start playing this now. Enjoy.

            While we have been reading through the Gospel of Mark over the past few classes, you may have asked yourself why this book was chosen as part of the Canonical Gospels, which also includes Matthew, Luke, and John (Waterworth, 1848). There are many other gospels, or stories about the life of Jesus, that were written and considered for inclusion, but denied canon during the Council of Trent. These include the Gospels of Philip, Judas, Truth, and Perfection, to name a few (Koester, 1980). What makes the common four so important to be included in one of the most widely read sacred texts?
            The Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, are so called because they “see together,” or have the same point of view. They definitely live up to that name; many of the events recorded in one are shared by the others, such as John the Baptist, Jesus’s baptism, Jesus’s temptation, various healings and parables, Peter’s confession (and denial), Jesus’s transfiguration, and the plot to kill Jesus (“The Order,” n.d.). Many scholars affirm there existed what is referred to as the mysterious “Q source.” This document and the Gospel of Mark are considered to be the material from which the other Synoptic Gospels drew (Lührmann, 1989).

            The Augustinian hypothesis claims, however, that the Gospel of Matthew was the original source of material for the later Gospels of Mark and Luke. This hypothesis also claims that Luke borrowed material from Mark (Thomas, 2002). The Q source is completely ousted with this theory.

            Another theory that exists concerning the Synoptic Gospels is the Farrer hypothesis. This claims that Mark was written first followed by Matthew. Luke then borrowed from both of these (Farrer, 1955). With the shared styles and recorded events, this claim boasts much regard.

            Whichever theory may be correct – or, none of them may be correct – the Gospel of John still must be discussed. Why is this one different from the other three? The authorship of John has been long disputed. Its writing style and wordage bears much resemblance to the three epistles credited to John’s penmanship. Indeed, the first chapters of both the Gospel and 1st John share very similar wording about the manifestation of God as Jesus and calling Him the Word and the Light.
When I have read through the Gospels before, I felt a different undertone with John. John seemed to tell a more evangelical and proselytizing story. That is to say, it was a more awe-inspiring and persuasive one to me. It felt like John – or whoever the author was – was trying to convert me. Phrases such as “eternal life” are employed much more frequently. It’s also noteworthy that Jesus’s mother is never mentioned throughout the whole book.
The Gospel of John largely owes its inclusion in biblical canon to the work of Irenaeus. Irenaeus lived from 130 to 202 and was the disciple of Polycarp. Polycarp was a disciple of John (Richardson, 1953). So if John really was the author of his Gospel, it would make sense that Irenaeus would endorse it fervently. Another thing Irenaeus did fervently was fight Gnosticism, a school of thought that significantly downplayed Jesus’s divinity (“Irenaeus, Bishop,” n.d.). As I’ve already mentioned, John’s Gospel drives the idea home that Jesus is God is Jesus is God is Jesus. Of course, those Gnostics would hate this idea, and Irenaeus could use it to dissuade others from their heretical teaching. From then until today the Gospel of John has held a place in the Bible along with Matthew, Mark, and Luke. All four of them unite together to create an image of a man living in Israel who is followed by millions of people still today.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John... and the heart guy...

[electronic image of Planeteers uniting in power to summon the awesome Captain Planet]. Retrieved April 21, 2013, from:

Farrer, A. (1955). On Dispensing With Q. Studies in the Gospels: Essays in Memory of R. H. Lightfoot. Retrieved from

Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, Theologian. Retrieved from

[iSSerDc]. (2007, July 3). pachelbel's Canon in D--Soothing music(the best version) [video file]. Retrieved from

Koester, H. (1980). Apocryphal and Canonical Gospels. The Harvard Theological Review, 73(1/2), 105-130.

Lührmann, D. (1989). The Gospel of Mark and the Sayings Collection Q. Journal of Biblical Literature, 108(1), 51-71.

McOnroy (designer). (2007). The Two-source Hypothesis to the synoptic problem [electronic image]. Retrieved April 21, 2013, from:

McOnroy (designer). (2007). The Augustinian hypothesis solution to the Synoptic problem [electronic image]. Retrieved April 21, 2013, from:

McOnroy (designer). (2007). Farrer hypothesis solution of the synoptic problem [electronic image]. Retrieved April 21, 2013, from:

Richardson, C. (1953). Early Christian Fathers. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press.

The Order of the Triple Tradition in the Synoptic Gospels. Retrieved from

Thomas, R. (2002). Three views on the origins of the Synoptic Gospels. Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic & Professional.

Waterworth, J. (1848). Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent. London.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Demographics of Early Christian Church


-->  The first period of the early church that most scholars recognize is the Apostolic Age from 33 A.D to 100 A.D.  The early Christian church began it’s existence in the year 30 A.D, the year Jesus Christ was crucified, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven (Nickens).

 After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, most scholars believe that the first Christian church began in Palestine or in the city of Jerusalem. (Duchesne) Originally, there were about 1,000 followers and the number increased to about 10,000 people in one year.  (Nickens) The group that began the church included Palestine Jews who were living in Jerusalem during the last years of the Emperor Tiberius (30-37 A.D) (Duchesne, 31). 

This group of Jews included two main groups.  The Essenes were Jews who became disgusted with Judaism after many Jews called for his crucifixion and became faithful followers of Jesus.  The Pharisees were Jewish priests who strictly followed the law and called for the execution of Jesus Christ, but after his resurrection, they help formed the new group of Early Christians. (Duchense, 35).
  Among this group were eleven apostles of Jesus Christ and a Jewish convert named Paul.  Paul’s conversion to Christianity was said to be around 35 A.D (Davies, 16).  The prophet is considered to be the leading apostle in spreading the early Christian church.  After his conversion, Paul and several apostles were charged with the task of converting others to Christianity.

The first target for all these apostles was the Palestine Jews in Israel and north in Syria.  Originally, the early Christians were considered to be a new sect of Judaism, but Paul had several difficulties, as he would teach Jews in Palestine Christian teachings.  For example, he taught that the Jewish practice of circumcising male infants was not necessary, but Jewish preachers would tell the Jews to beware of Paul who was an apostle to avoid. (Duchsne, 45).  The Jewish priests in Jerusalem persecuted any Jews that openly admitted to supporting Christianity.  Paul even had to present himself before the Council of Jerusalem in 50 A.D to determine whether his teachings to Jews about circumcision were accurate.  (Nickens)
The people that the early Christians were able to convert were Gentiles.  Now, nations to the east such as Ancient Greece had despised Judaism.  Originally, the Greeks thought the Early Christians were Jews, but once they heard the teachings of Paul and the apostles, they quickly expanded the religion.  (Nock, 56)  Paul visited Greece, present day Turkey and Rome during the years 50-58 A.D (Nickens) The cultures quickly disregarded their Hellenistic religions which included worshiping multiple gods.  The reason for this is because these cultures found similarities with Christianity in that both groups believed that gods were real and care for all men on Earth. (Nock, 56)
In Paul’s journey through the Roman Empire, his efforts to convert Roman Jews led to his imprisonment in 60 A.D, but he had made enough impressions on Roman Jews that they visited him in his cell and he taught them while in prison.
After his death, the early Christians in Rome would become the main constituent of apostles after the Roman Empire conquered Jerusalem in 70 A.D. (Nickens)
The apostle Paul's journeys to Greece, Rome and Israel.
The main demographics of all these groups consisted of young men who were gentiles not living in Jerusalem, although the original apostles were Jews from Palestine.  Scholars have been debating about the role of women in the early church. 
Some scholars acknowledge that Christianity greatly appealed to women and its spread of doctrine was due to women becoming converts and convincing their husbands to convert.  The reason for this is because Christianity didn’t have political emancipation on women.  For the first time, women felt equal to men through Christianity. (In the Beginning)
Other scholars suggest that the early Christian church received degrading views of women from its branches in the Greek, Roman and Hebrew cultures.  Paul has been looked at as an instigator of lowering the women’s role in the church.  Some scholars argue that he preached that women in the congregation should remain silent and remain faithful to their husbands.
While the demographics of the early Christian church include all the Roman, Greek and Hebrew cultures, there was a clear difference in gender roles among the early Christians.

Works Cited

Davies, J. G. The Early Christian Church. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1965. Print.

Duchesne, L. Early History of the Christian Church. --. London: S.n., 1950. Print.

In the beginning: the early christian church
        Off Our Backs , Vol. 1, No. 21 (May 6, 1971), p. 2

Nickens, Mark. "Resources for Studying Christianity & Church History." Christian Timelines. N.p.,  
      2004. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. <>.

Nock, Arthur Darby. Early Gentile Christianity and Its Hellenistic Background. New York: Harper &      Row, 1964. Print.

Paul the Apostle, Saint: Paul’s Missionary Journeys. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://media->.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Diverse Beliefs of Early Christians

Christianity today reflects a wide variety of practitioners and beliefs in addition to a wide geographic distribution. The argument could be made that all Christians, however, have a few core unifying beliefs. Similarly, early Christians had a wide variety of practitioners and beliefs. Despite this, early Christians did not agree on core unifying beliefs.

Many of the things that we know about early Christian groups come from different scholars at the time. One of the scholars most often cited by historians is Josephus, an educated Jew who lived during the lifetime of Jesus (PBS, 1995). Based on his assessment, we know that Jesus was one of many wandering charismatic preachers of the time. These preachers were typically wiped out by Roman governors, while their followers were dispersed to prevent rioting. The unique thing, however, about the followers of Jesus was the way they responded to his crucifixion (PBS, 1995).
Part of the mythology that some followers adopt post-crucifixion came from the pagan groups that also existed in the area (PBS, 1995). The most clear example of this was the widespread adoption of mystery practices from Roman worship of the Persian god Mithras. Comparisons can be drawn between the seven initiations of Roman worship of Mithras and the seven sacraments of Christianity (Hopfe, 1994).
With the additional adoption of new beliefs, early cults and sects of Christianity could be identified based on which beliefs they held. The three most recognized groups of early Christians include the Jewish Christian movement, the Pauline movement, and the Gnostic Christian movement (Ehrman, 2005).
Jewish Christian groups were people who already practiced Judaism when they adopted Jesus as a religious figure (McGrath, 2006). They belonged to a reformation movement within the Jewish religion. This group is also divided into smaller communities. These smaller communities included the Ebionites, Nazarenes and many other groups (Ehrman, 2005). The Ebionites regarded Jesus as the Messiah and maintained Jewish law and rites (Cross & Livingston, 1989). The Nazarenes believed in Jewish tradition like the Ebionites, but also believed that Jesus was not only the Messiah but also the son of God (Cross & Livingston, 1989).
The Pauline movement, or Gentile movement, followed the beliefs and doctrines set forth by the apostle Paul. Many of the groups in the Pauline movement were later incorporated the larger Catholic Church, contributing to the apostolic tradition canonized by the organization (Ehrman, 2005). One Pauline group that would be considered heretical today practiced Marcionism. Marcionism is a belief system in which the Hebrew God of the old testament is representative of evil, while the Christian God is representative of good (Ehrman, 2005).
Finally, the Gnostics believed, like the Marcionists, in a dualistic view of the world. They believed that the material world should be shunned in favor of the spiritual world, and that both realms were under the rule of a single being who represented both good and evil (Hinnel, 1997). One of their most commonly recognized characteristics is the belief in a secret gospel of Jesus, suggesting that there are people who are destined to ascend while all others will only perish (King, 2005). Of particular note is the recent discovery of the Gospel of Judas (Cockburn, 2006), which is representative of Gnostic belief.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Family and the Home in Ancient Hebrew Culture

Brittany Held

Hello, my name is Abraham, and welcome to my crib!  Come on in and let me introduce you to my little family.  I live in this quaint four room home with just my wife, Sarah, son, Jacob, and daughter, Abigail (Stager 18).  You could definitely say that I am the man of the house.  We are very much a patriarchy, and if something ever happened to me, I know my Jacob would take up his rightful spot and replace me as head of the house (Petersen 15). 

Right now we are outside in our little courtyard.  This is where we let the animals go outside and my wife likes to send the kids out here when they won’t sit still.  Also Sarah enjoys cooking out here when the weather permits it (Hardin 81).

As we go inside you will notice two broad rooms at the back of the house and two long rooms at the front of the house.  We consider our long rooms to be outside areas.  We are currently in the smallest long room.  This is where my wife does most of the cooking.  In the next long room, you will usually find my wife on the western side of the room grinding up cereal or preparing a meal.  We also store a large amount of food and fuel in this area.  The eastern half of this long room is where we have the indoor stable.  We have a couple of sheep, a few goats, and even a cow!  This is where I spend most of my time.  If I’m not tending to the animals, you might find me making wine or doing a little metal work (Hardin 80). 

The broad rooms are what we consider the inside of the house.  You can tell that these rooms are our living areas because there are raised thresholds from the other rooms, solid walls, and treated floors (Hardin 79).  In the very back downstairs broad room, you will see my wife’s weaving tools.  She and my daughter will make textiles back here and then we are able to use them to trade.  We mostly use the other room for storage of extra food, pots, and supplies.  This room is generally a multipurpose room depending on the season (Hardin 80).  The upstairs broad rooms are the main living areas. The bedrooms are located in the upper story (Stager 16). My wife also takes care of the children and lets them play upstairs.  She won’t have them running around her kitchen (Hardin 83)!

An interesting fact about my four room home is that it is an adaptation of farm life in the city: the ground floor has space for food processing, small craft production, stabling, and storage; the second floor is where we eat, sleep, and pursue other fun activities (Faust & Bunimovitz 24). Since we live in the city, there are clusters of homes around us.  We’re just lucky that our city was planned well and we have good neighbors (Shiloh 11).  I think that about wraps up the tour so thanks for coming to check out my humble abode!  It’s been great having you guys here but it is time for you to get out of my house.

Works Cited
Faust, Avraham and Shlomo Bunimovitz.  “The Four Room House: Embodying Iron Age Israelite Society.” Near Eastern Archaeology Vol. 66 No. ½ (2003): 22-31. JSTOR. Web. 31 Mar. 2013.
Hardin, James W.  “Understanding Domestic Space: An Example from iron Age Tel Halif.” Near Eastern Archaeology Vol. 67 No. 2 (2004): 71-83. JSTOR.  Web.  31 Mar. 2013.
Karges, Dylan. Drawing. n.d.
Petersen, David L. "Genesis And Family Values." Journal of Biblical Literature 124.1 (2005): 5-23. Academic Search Premier. Web. 31 Mar. 2013.
Shiloj, Yigal. “The Casemate Wall, the Four Room House, and Early Planning in the Israelite City.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 268 (1987): 3-15. JSTOR. Web. 31 Mar 2013.
Stager, Lawrence E. “The Archaeology of the Family in Ancient Israel.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 260 (1985): 1-35. JSTOR. Web. 31 Mar 2013.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Ancient Hebrew Women's Roles

Let’s take a trip back to Ancient Israel. We are in a time where we basically get to experience the Old Testament in action. We see a world run by men, and we stop to ask our selves, “Where are the women?”
The lives of Ancient Hebrew women can be separated into work, marriage, and basic rights.
Women were expected to work mostly with food and clothes (Lang 192). The women were likely to begin the process of making clothes from the spinning and weaving stage. This particular set of skills was known as  “women’s wisdom” (Lang 193).  They were required to keep their homes running smoothly. Women were actually allowed to sell their clothes in the market place for their own personal salary (Lang 195).
            While most scholars believe that the women stayed at home and prepared food and clothes, some scholars believe that some women held outside jobs like farmers and even scribes. In his article, Lang said, “but for the Hebrew wife we cannot be sure – the reference to the vineyard may imply her active involvement with its planting and other horticultural activities.”  In the article Women and Communication in the Ancient Near East, Meier believes that some ancient Hebrew women were probably scribes. “Women were responsible for inscribing other cuneiform texts now housed in museums, but the anonymity of much of the evidence prevents us from discriminating between male and female scribes” (Meier 541).  Women were also believed to have participated in making music with drums, something that was previously thought to be a job for men (Meyers 16).  Archaeologists found terracotta figurines of women playing drums (Meyers 16).
            A woman had to get her father’s blessing before marrying (Levine 91). In marriage, women were basically sex slaves to their husbands. “The husband was the designated ba’al or ‘master’ of his wife, and to marry a woman was expressed by the verb ba’al, i.e., ‘to become master… it is true, and in the marital context it signified not full ownership but authority” (Levine 92).  Women were however given some protection in their marriages. If their husbands decided to get another wife, he was not allowed to ignore her. If he decided to let her go, then she was classified as a free woman (Levine 93). Also, her husband was not allowed to have sex with her if she was on her period (Levine 102).  According to rabbinic tradition, a woman remains in niddah for a minimum of 12 days – 5  for the period of the menstrual flow and7 "clean"days thereafter. During this time, sexual intercourse and any physical intimacy is forbidden. At the end of the7 clean days, a woman must immerse in the mikveh; husband and wife are then free to resume sexual relations” (Hartman 393).
            A woman was granted a few rights. A woman could own slaves and land if she was wealthy. “He has no control over his wife’s estate, neither is he responsible for her, nor her slaves’, behaviour on the Sabbath day – this is her business” (Lang 200).  We discovered earlier that a woman could sell her clothes in the market. She was allowed to keep that money to gain a profit; “a woman may become wealthy through her own spinning” (Lang 195).
            Needless to say, life for the ancient Hebrew woman was just different.

Works Cited:
Hartman, Tova, and Naomi Marmon. "Lived Regulations, Systematic Attributions: Menstrual Separation and Ritual Immersion in the Experience of Orthodox Jewish Women." Gender and Society 18.3 (2004): 389-408. JSTOR. Web. 16 Mar. 2013.

            This source talked about women and their experiences with menstruation. It
            went into some detail. This is not for the weak stomached.

Lang, Bernhard. "Women's Work, Household, and Property in Two Mediterranean Societies: A Comparative Essay on Proverbs XXXI 10-31." Vetus Testamentum 54.2 (2004): 188-207. JSTOR. Web. 16 Mar. 2013.
            This source went into extensive detail on the woman’s home life. It compared the lives of Greek women to the lives of Hebrew women.

Levine, Étan. "Biblical Women's Marital Rights." Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research 63 (1997-2001): 87-135. JSTOR. Web. 16 Mar. 2013.
            This source talked mostly about the marriage and sex life of the ancient Hebrew women. It analyzed a couple pieces from literature at the time, and pulled is information from those.

Meier, Samuel A. "Women and Communication in the Ancient Near East." Journal of the American Oriental Society 111.3 (1991): 540-47. JSTOR. Web. 16 Mar. 2013.
            This source looked at both male and female scribes in the area of the time. It gave some interesting information on markings and methods the scribes used.

Meyers, Carol. "Of Drums and Damsels: Women's Performance in Ancient Israel." The Biblical Archaeologist 54.1 (1991): 16-27. JSTOR. Web. 16 Mar. 2013.

            This source talked about dance and drums. I mentioned the surprising amount of evidence pointing to female drummers.