Friday, April 23, 2010

Androcentrism

Today is the last day of classes at Rice. Will be ending my Introduction to New Testament Studies talking about androcentricism. Consider for a moment how male-centrism may have affected the memory of the early Christian traditions and their transmission. Leave me one idea in the comments (please limit to serious comments on the stated subject). Let's collect as many consequences as we can muster.

I'll start: women and their participation are marginalized and forgotten, like the woman in Mark who anointed Jesus' head...whose name the traditions no longer remembers.

22 comments:

Ian said...

This is post-textual, but another consequence has been to reduce the number of women by combining them.

So Mary Magdelene was the woman caught in adultery was the anointer of Jesus's feet.

Ian said...

Also post-textual, there is the androgenization of women. Junia/Junias is the obvious example.

Coleman said...

My first thought was of the fresco of Paul and Thecla where Thelca's eyes have been scraped away and her upraised hand scraped away and burned. The male-centered nature of the NT traditions not only marginalized the voices of women in the texts, but also in the post biblical tradition. Other examples?

Ed Jones said...

Androgeazation of women is certainly an issue in NT writigs. However I fail to recognize the relation of this issue to ones coming to recognize the Scriptural apostolic witness source for reconstructing the significance of the real Jesus. I must see this as the crucial issue of our time in NT understanding. The work
has been done, we just have special difficulties with our ability to recognize it.

Pastor Bob said...

Women as deacons but later only male deacons.

J. Quinton said...

There's also the last saying in gThomas, which is pretty blatant:

114 Simon Peter said to them, "Make Mary leave us, for
females don't deserve life." Jesus said, "Look, I will guide her to make her male, so that she too may become a living
spirit resembling you males. For every female who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of Heaven."

Richard Fellows said...

The early scribes and the authors of the disputed letters of Paul had a bias against women. See my blog posts here here and here.

Richard Fellows said...

Sorry, the links did not work. Try this and this. Otherwise, here they are:
http://paulandco-workers.blogspot.com/2009/11/misogynist-corruptions-of-paul.html

http://paulandco-workers.blogspot.com/2010/04/sexist-early-scribe-altered-rom-1615.html

Deirdre said...

David Clines has said, What is typically male about the primary texts?

J. K. Gayle said...

Mary Daly (whatever one does with her alleged racism and her transphobia) has done a thorough job of exploring how God as trinity was / is androcentric.

"... the Supreme All Male Cast ... the perfect all-male marriage, the ideal all-male family, the best boys' club, the model monastery, the supreme Men's Association, the mold for all varieties of male monogender mating. To the timid objections voiced by christian women, the classic answer has been: 'You're included under the Holy Spirit. He's feminine.'" -- Gyn/Ecology

"The unwholeness of the Christina Trinitarian symbol is evident in the onesidedness of the images of the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit has been called the spirit -- the fire -- of love and unity. In a sexist culture this is socially unrealizable.... The qualities attributed to the Holy Spirit in traditional theology are stereotypically 'feminine,' but 'he' is reffered to by the masculine pronoun. Moreover, 'he' was said to have impregnated the Virgin Mary." -- Beyond God the Father

Robert said...

Androcentrism has a great deal to do with apostolocentrism, that is, the tendency to derive all ecclesiastical authority from chains of apostolic succession, inasmuch as the Twelve were all male.

In this connection it says a lot that the Gospel according to John does not speak -- if memory serves me rightly -- of apostles at al *except* to label some as "false apostles." Does this gospel implicitly reject the authority of the Twelve and thus also apostolocentrism? (And if so, is this because its putative author, even if he bore the very common name of John, was not actually one of the Twelve?)

Robert Mathiesen

Cecilia said...

"One of them, whose name was Cleopas..." Luke 24:18. And the name of the other was? Mrs. Cleopas? Not specified, not significant enough to name-- probably a woman.

Pax, C.

Judy Redman said...

One where later androcentrism reversed things: Rom 16.7 where Paul sent greetings to Junia, a woman, which the later church decided must have been Junias, a man, despite the testimony of John Christostum.

R.Eagle said...

male-centeredness i think dismissed the unique relationship (and opportunity to explore the significance of) jesus shared with mary (can't remember which gnostic gospel speaks of jesus frequently kissing mary)...until dan brown of course, but certainly considered before that, at least on the down low

R.Eagle said...

also, i think male centeredness is ultimately responsible for the deadly religious wars throughout the christian tradition and to denominational-ism; though it's hard to say if these things wouldn't have occurred anyway, had woman had their rightful place (as jesus may have intended then)

Pastor Bob said...

If an apostle is "one sent with a message" then the women who went to the tomb on Easter are in that sense apostles. The Gospels and Acts only refer to the 12 (actually the 11 after Judas betrays Jesus) are named Apostles.

The other very interesting thing, particularly in Mark is that the disciples often just don't get it. Peter in particular often speaks and is corrected by Jesus. Women never say or do anything wrong. But when one moves on to Acts the Apostles can almost do no wrong, Except for Peter in Galatians when Paul speaks against him.

J. K. Gayle said...

Pastor Bob's comment on the 12 apostles reminds that in androcentric church history, the basis for this dozen is the legacy of 12 sons (not Dinah or any of her other sisters) from whom descend 12 tribes.

And the NT androcentric view of Eve causes her to sin first, then Adam. But the Christian Redeemer (a male) is called the second Adam (also the male, not the female Eve) - although "Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created." Because of the Eve of the males, at least some New Testament women cannot speak or teach men in church.

And the NT genealogies of the male Christian Christ (i.e., Matthew's and Luke's) have the male Adam at the start (with no mention of Eve); women are included in only one of the androcentric lineages, these five females are celebrities who have had to overcome some ill repute (such as being an adulteress or engaging in prostitution or being racially impure foreigners). The mother of Jesus, of course, has the scandalous pregnancy - with the male God (i.e., the Holy Spirit) impregnating her out of wedlock and during her engagement to a man, who gets his honor for being an honorable man, ready to divorce the young woman quietly.

Cecilia said...

In John 21:14 following the description of the big catch of fish, we read, "This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead." It is actually the fourth appearance, unless one is left out-- leading one to assume that the appearance to Mary Magdalene is not an appearance to a "disciple."

R.Eagle said...

that's a good one, cecilia. could it be anymore obvious...the ladies were manhandled, so to speak, by the church fathers...

unless of course, they saw some numerical significance in the number three versus four??

Keith Rose said...

It seems to this amateur that the most important force at work would likely have been illiteracy. If we accept estimates that male literacy was on the order of 2 or 3percent versus female literacy at practically nil, clearly that would have a major impact on transmission. Just as clearly that illiteracy was driven by the male power structure. The likelihood that,in contrast, literacy was higher among pagan women is another story.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

It seems that in the context of the book of John, the spirit is the bride and companion from the book of Wisdom. She was recognised as mother by the early Syriac church, and was not called "he" until the 1870's.

Women also have been masculinized, - Junia, Nympha, Prisca. Other shifts take place in the text to downplay women. But masculinization is not a thing of the past, as some preachers today have inserted a masculine meaning into texts that always were considered generic, for example, 1 Tim. 5:8 -

"If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

Driscoll, on the basis of this text preaches against women supporting their family. But the obvious meaning of this text was that both men and women were responsible for their relatives.

Androcentrism affected the original recording of the stories, the manuscript copying, translation and oral transmission from the beginning and still contintues today.

dev2lyzbpz said...

1. Originally the god of the Israelites, JHVH, had a female partner, Ashera, of which numerous images have been found.

Many sources of religious traditions show very well that the transformation from prehistoric to historic times included those:
- from veneration of goddesses above (but next to) gods to that of gods above (or even without) goddesses;
- and from cyclical views of nature and existence to linear ones;
- and from the valuation of ritual above (included) myth to that of written word (laws, divine word, etc.) above (that is: determining) ritual;
P.S. note that the meaning of 'magic' changes also within these transformations: only that magic which conforms with the status of the male-explained words is good, the rest is bad.

See the partial but ground breaking work of clever and honest archeologists and historians like Marija Gimbutas, Heide Göttner-Abendroth, Gilles Quispel, Jarl Fossum, Annine van der Meer and many many more. So this pattern is to be found nearly everywhere, from Babylonia to Egypt and Greece, and from Palestine to Europe, from Asia to America (in any case within Indo-Iranian rooted cultures, like the most ones in East and West).

I agree that there is a problem in the fact that even these good willing and honest scientists and historians do not yet all of them understand the whole picture, but a change of paradigm is unevitable to me (IMHO). One should look to philosophy AND sociology AND theology AND politics AND ethics and and and. Even as they are reigning and changing nowadays.

2. F.e.: According to Genesis 1:26,27 God self is male-female. The androcentric interpretation of this text in Christianity is modelled on that of the Jew Philo of Alexandria, the great forerunner of ('Christian') theology in the line of Greek culture. See summary of my dissertation www.bk-books.eu/androgsum.html .

3. Important subject! Enjoy the study of and writing about it much. It will help us within our lives and in finding new paradigms in the mentioned areas, which is what it's all about.