The body is seen as holy and its activities are divine. National identities were based on the type of activities moral, social and religious in which the people engaged. Such an indictment is found is Ezekiel 23 where the following descriptions apply regarding the misuse of the qualities God has provided. This lustful appetite for Israel to play in the Garden with other lovers is very descriptive here.
“The Babylonians came to her, shared her love-bed and defiled her with their whoring. Once defiled by them, she withdrew her affection from them. Thus she flaunted her whoring, exposing her body, until I withdrew my affection from her as I had withdrawn it from her sister. But she began whoring worse than ever, remembering her girlhood, when she had played the whore in Egypt, when she had been in love with their profligates, big-membered as donkeys, ejaculating as violently as stallions. You were hankering for the debauchery of your girlhood when they used to handle your nipples in Egypt and fondle your young breasts. (Ezekiel 23:16-22)
These passages certainly do not employ a Victorian ethic or a Sunday school application about apocalyptic literature. Even in Song of Solomon the garden of the woman is enjoyed within the bounds of the Holy of Holies.5 This imagery truly is an echo from Ezekiel about the Garden of God that is now reserved in the Land of Zion in the presence of God.6 (Song of Solomon 6:11-13a)
Zion and Kinsmen Redeemer
Scholars such as Rebecca Parker flesh out the activity of Ruth and Boaz on the threshing floor. (Ruth 3:9, Ezekiel 16:8) In Hebrew idioms such as “lying at his feet” and “spread the skirt of your cloak”, “spreading your wings” which suggest a shelter for Israel, the sex act prior to marriage is implied as part of the becoming one process and shekahina sharing in God’s glory.7 Anything below the navel was seen as part of the erogenous area. The area of the breast is used grammatically as shad which is in a masculine grammatical from. With the guilt our Christian traditions have inherited from Neo-Platonic thought, the questions has arisen, would sex be permitted on the Sabbath Day? A complete misunderstanding of Isaiah 58:3 where he states “seek not your own pleasure on my fast day” deals with economics, exploiting workmen and enjoying your increase on the Day of Atonement when no servile work for profit was permitted. In the Hebrew mindset, concupiscence was never prescribed but for only short periods of time. The Apostle Paul lifts this concept from the Mekhilta and applies it in 1 Corinthians 7:5. The Talmud teaches that holy love on holy time is truly what sanctification is all about. There was a time in Nehemiah chapter 13:23-29 where God commanded the pagan wives from foreign lands to be put away for the re-establishment of the priesthood. It should be noted that prohibitions against other mixed marriages were not always sinful as the life of Moses indicates. This text can certainly not be used to support the total prohibition of mixed marriage.
Was Original Sin in John’s Gospel?
In the famous narrative of the man who was born blind, Jesus was asked a theological question. “Did he sin or did his parents sin?” Please notice that nature of the questions was about ancestral sin. Why was this concept so important? One’s inheritance held a prime position in Hebrew thought. It one was good or great, one was what one’s parents are. Note Our Lord’s answer, “Neither did he sin nor his parents. Sight was kept from him so that the glorious of the Gospel would be made manifest.” Yes, the motif is blindness versus sight but the reason Jesus gave was abundantly clear. Could the same be said of humankind as well? We should consider the fact that 1 Timothy 2:13-14 basic concept in Pauline theology was cosmic creation order and that Adam wasn’t necessarily bad but followed Eve who was deceived. Neither was Eve’s deception one of evil intent yeser hara’ as the text states. They desired to be wise. They listened to the voice of the serpent rather than to the inclination to do good from the voice of God.
In Greek thought, creation order had dominion over various strata and parts of Creation but God alone had authority over all. (Colossians 1:16, 1 Corinthians 11:3) Other principalities had dominion over their elements.8
Some scholars argue that the women mentioned in 1 Tim 2:13-15 were slave girls or cult prostitutes who desired to be converted to a worship community and exert authority over the man as they had done in their temple cult setting. So Paul is simple saying women should not interrupt the flow of the church service and not have authority over a man because they both share together in creation order. (1 Peter 3:8, Col 2:15)
In the following centuries, Christianity would replace the Semitic world view which was based on Hebraic naturalism. Stoic views would carry the day emphasizing divine mind and thought and rational being.9 Greek thought added a body/soul dualism which lead to asceticism that suggested all physical reality was not as real as spirit. So therefore, God had to be stripped of His personal attributes and the divine marriage to come was nothing more than an allegory. Church Father Tertullian called woman “the gate of Hell”. Other fallacious comments were made by an 11th century monk named Pettus Damini who described women as the “bait of Satan”.10 Semitic world view emphasized body/person, life and the order of creation. This realism was diametrically opposed to the dichotomist view the church would inherit. In centuries to follow, Thomas Aquinas would state sex was so shameful, the Holy Spirit cannot stand to occupy or be in the presence of such activity. What a slap in the face to the oneness that God is trying to create in his subjects. Augustine who received many influences from the teachings of Mani and his followers which were derivatives of the ancient Gnostics, taught that man was evil and had lost the Image of God and therefore, could only be seen as good if the Redeemer made him good. Consequently, the experience of life moving Godward has largely been missed in Christian denominations as they try to deal with the sin issue that we all possess. There is no question that Roman, Chapter 5:12-14 does teach mankind inherited a sinful condition as covenantal curse which came from Adam’s decision not to listen to God. These verses no where teach we have inherited this condition from birth but it is in the corporate sense what we share in Adam. Turretin refers to Romans 7:16. The term ekousios denotes “helplessness” because we are not able to meet the completeness required by the Law. This has indeed been the case throughout human history until the New Adam would give humanity a curse reversal and write in us a new history. And, as the New Adam, he would develop a new history beginning in a New Eden. (1 Corinthians 15:45-49)11 The Talmud states it is a sin if we don’t enjoy the blessings that God has given for His sons and daughters and a man will be judged for not enjoying these particular blessings. (Psalms 128:1-6 Ecclesiastes 9:7-10)
Considerable effort is needed by church members, pastors, theologians and scholars to work to overcome the treachery that has been created by this diabolical teaching which has left creation with such shame and false guilt that we are prohibited from replicating the Image of God which we naturally possess. Let us move forward in true personhood in the spirit of goodness in which we were created to have in Christ as our New Adam.
1Richard Cross, Duns Scotus, Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York, 1999, pp. 96-100.
2Alonzo L. Gaskill, The Truth About Eden, Understanding the Fall and Our Temple Experience, Cedar Fort, Inc, Springville, Utah, 2013, p. 17
3Gregorio del Olmo Lete, trans by Wilfred G. E. Watson, Canaanite Religion According to the Liturgical Texts of Ugarit, Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake, Indiana, 2004, pp. 43-55
4Charles Lee Feinberg, The Prophecy of Ezekiel- The Glory of the Lord, A Commentary, Moody Press, Chicago, 1969, p. 85
5Joseph C. Dillow, Solomon on Sex, Thomas Nelson, Inc Publishers, New York, 1977, pp. 124-125
6Ariel Bloch and Chana Bloch The Song of Songs – A New Translation, University of California Press, Berkley, 1995, p. 192
7Judith A. Kates and Gail Twersky Reimer, eds, Reading Ruth Contemporary Women Reclaim a Sacred Story, Ballantine Books, New York, 1994, p. 24-25.
8Petr Pokorny, Colossians A Commentary, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts, 1991, pp. 58-69
9John Dillon, trans, Alcinous, The Handbook of Platonism, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1993, pp.179-183
10James B. Nelson, Embodiment- An Approach to Sexuality and Christian Theology, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1978, pp. 60-61
11Henri Blocher, Original Sin – Illuminating the Riddle, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1997, p.75-81