Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Olavarria

Nephi And His Asherah

246 posts in this topic

Was there ever a legitamite place for Ashtoreth worship in the religion of Israel?

If so, why is there no place for prayers to Heavenly Mother in LDS religion today?

1

Share this post


Link to post

If so, why is there no place for prayers to Heavenly Mother in LDS religion today?

Because we have not received revelation commanding us to pray to her as there is revelation (scripture) commanding us to pray to the Father through the Son, etc. Edited by calmoriah
0

Share this post


Link to post

The Asherah stood legitimately for 236 of the 370 years the Temple lasted. Most of the Hebrew Bible was redacted from the perspective of elitist Deuteronomists who opposed the polytheistic folk-religion which had ample place for the Mother Goddess. (See, for instance, "Did God Have A Wife?" by William Dever.)

It's a good question why we don't offer prayers to Heavenly Mother alongside the Father. President Hinckley counseled against it, noting how Christ offered His prayer to the Father. However, I personally think that the symbolism for Asherah was part of a larger Goddess-complex which included Lady Wisdom from Proverbs, who would also then be connected to the Holy Spirit of Wisdom and the Queen of Heaven. (Bird-faced Asherah = She Who Treads On The Sea = the Dove of the Holy Spirit brooding over the waters of Creation = typical mediterranean Dove-Goddess = Sophia = Wisdom)

If this continuity is legitimate, then in fact we invoke Her in prayer quite consistently and the Book of Mormon admonishes us not to forget Her gifts. The point is, in the At-One-Ment, all good people are filled with charity and given place on the Lord's throne. In which case, as Christ said, it would not be robbery for another person to be equal to the Father, and I don't see why we should have a problem with it. I think a good conception of the Trinity is a Father, Mother, and Child, symbolizing eternal life growing outward from Lady Wisdom's Tree of Life.

In the heavens are parents single?

No, the thought makes reason stare.

Truth is reason: truth eternal

tells me I've a mother there.

When I leave this frail existence,

When I lay this mortal by,

Father, Mother, may I meet you

in your royal courts on high?

Edited by JeremyOrbe-Smith
0

Share this post


Link to post

Looking back, this thread is actually a pretty good read on the subject, inquiringmind. If you haven't read the entire thing, I'd suggest going back and paying particular attention to the posts by Robert F. Smith, Brant Gardner, Kevin Christensen, Will Hamblin, and volgadon.

0

Share this post


Link to post

The tree is in reference to the love of God, which Nephi explicitly states in verse 22.

Really? How do you know? Is that some kind of Jedi mind-reading trick?

I'm fully aware of the context of the chapter; I'm fully aware of how Nephi's question was answered; I'm fully aware that the text does not claim that three is Asherah or the Virgin Mary; and I'm fully aware of what the tree is said to represent. You are the one who needs to read it more carefully. First, Nephi asks the angel to show him the meaning of the tree that was shown in vision to Lehi, and the angel responds by showing Nephi a vision of an "exceedingly fair and white" virgin, who is "most beautiful and fair above all other virgins." Then the angel asks Nephi if he knows what the "condescension of God" is, and Nephi replies that he does not. Without explaining what the condescension of God is in words, however, the angel tells Nephi that the virgin is "the mother of the Son of God," and Nephi immediately understands what the tree represents: "the love of God."

Why would Nephi be able to immediately understand the meaning of the tree of life by seeing a vision of the Virgin Mary?

It's unfortunate that we've dumped the beauty of this Christ-centered story to adopt a meaning that could support it's an ancient setting.

Nephi knew the tree of life symbolized the love of God after he saw the baby Jesus, not after he saw the Virgin Mary.

John 3:16

0

Share this post


Link to post

And "the love of God" could be the love of His life, ie, His lover, His wife.

0

Share this post


Link to post

Was there ever a legitamite place for Ashtoreth worship in the religion of Israel?

If so, why is there no place for prayers to Heavenly Mother in LDS religion today?

No. So says the OT Student Study Guide, as it discusses 2 Kings 21. See also the entry "Groves" in the LDS Bible Dictionary.

See Jedediah M. Grant, in 1856: " We do not visit groves, as did Israel of old, to commit adultery, nor to depart from the Lord our God."

See John Taylor, in 1884: "And we need only refer to the great king who sat upon the throne during the golden days of Israel, a man who was considered the wisest man that ever lived -- King Solomon. His heart, we are told in the Scriptures, was turned aside from the Lord our God, because he took to himself strange wives, women of the nations with whom God had commanded Israel not to marry, and because of this he was led as he grew in years into idolatry. He built in the groves where the strange nations performed their idolatrous rites, places of worship, and to gratify these wives he went and worshipped with them; and God in His anger, because of this, said that the nation should be rent asunder; and in fulfillment of this word the greater portion of the kingdom was taken from the house of David, and given to another."

The fact that Asherah was venerated in the temple for most of its existence speaks more to Israel's apostasy rather than to legitimate worship.

The heresy that would reject the OT is as old as Marcion.

Edited by Bob Crockett
0

Share this post


Link to post

And "the love of God" could be the love of His life, ie, His lover, His wife.

Could be. Since New Testament theology is all through the Book of Mormon, including Nephi, it would be a much more "natural" (hey to you Will Schyver) interpretation to go off John 3:16 which is probably the most well known verse in the Bible and explicitly states that the love of God is demonstrated in his gift of sending his Son to the earth. Something Nephi just witnessed in the vision...

But I suppose you could twist it if you really wanted to, to mean that the love of God is his lover, ie the tree, ie Asherah. BULLSEYE!!

0

Share this post


Link to post

Also: Kerry is a crazy man, but I love that guy. :)

THANK YOU! I have seen "normal" people and they ARE CRAZY! :crazy:8P

Edited by Kerry A. Shirts
0

Share this post


Link to post

Bob: I don't think the OT Student Guide, the Bible Dictionary, or the quotes you provided are binding doctrine. Note that the Bible Dictionary in particular (the only one of your sources I have available on hand at the moment to check) makes it a point to note that it "is not intended as an official or revealed endorsement by the Church of the doctrinal, historical, cultural, and other matters set forth. Many of the items have been drawn from the best available scholarship of the world and are subject to reevaluation based on new research and discoveries or new revelation. [...] If an elaborate discussion is desired, the student should consult a more exhaustive dictionary."

I'd say that Dever and Barker, among many others, qualify as among the excellent "new research and discoveries" which would suggest a reevaluation of traditional narratives (such as those propounded by Grant and Taylor) might be in order. I'm sure we don't need to rehash the involved discussion included earlier in this thread; again, I'd suggest everyone who has only started reading after inquiringmind's bump review the entire thing, which is quite exhaustive (and was somewhat exhaust-ing! *grin*)

robuchan: Wasn't trying for a "bullseye". Just saying that in the context of the vision, it would be perfectly appropriate to speak of "the love of God" as referring to His wife. I think God can love His wife, His child, and all the rest of us at the same time, y'know?

Kerry: I agree! Again, thanks for your YouTube videos on the scriptures, I enjoy 'em a lot. :)

1

Share this post


Link to post

Dever is an atheist. He holds Asherah to be legitimate because he found her in the common households. Jeremiah would hold her presence to indicate apostasy.

0

Share this post


Link to post

Bob: I don't think the OT Student Guide, the Bible Dictionary, or the quotes you provided are binding doctrine. Note that the Bible Dictionary in particular (the only one of your sources I have available on hand at the moment to check) makes it a point to note that it "is not intended as an official or revealed endorsement by the Church of the doctrinal, historical, cultural, and other matters set forth. Many of the items have been drawn from the best available scholarship of the world and are subject to reevaluation based on new research and discoveries or new revelation. [...] If an elaborate discussion is desired, the student should consult a more exhaustive dictionary."

I'd say that Dever and Barker, among many others, qualify as among the excellent "new research and discoveries" which would suggest a reevaluation of traditional narratives (such as those propounded by Grant and Taylor) might be in order. I'm sure we don't need to rehash the involved discussion included earlier in this thread; again, I'd suggest everyone who has only started reading after inquiringmind's bump review the entire thing, which is quite exhaustive (and was somewhat exhaust-ing! *grin*)

robuchan: Wasn't trying for a "bullseye". Just saying that in the context of the vision, it would be perfectly appropriate to speak of "the love of God" as referring to His wife. I think God can love His wife, His child, and all the rest of us at the same time, y'know?

Kerry: I agree! Again, thanks for your YouTube videos on the scriptures, I enjoy 'em a lot. :)

So can we pray to heavenly mother, or is that an excomunicatable offense?

If the worship of heavenly mother was o.k. at some point in ancient Isreal's history (and we live in the times of the restoration of all things), why isn't it o.k. today (or is it)?

Edited by inquiringmind
0

Share this post


Link to post

The worship of the Asherah, while for the most part extinct, has seemed to conflate with other concepts and idea such as the position of Hokhma (wisdom) and the latter teaching of Logos. Asherah as both an allegory and an object of worship is the creative element of God. In later Hellenism she was seen as Hokhma and later during the NT period as Logos, which found its expression in Christ as creator. In an obtuse way we still worship Asherah the creator only now it is Jesus.

1

Share this post


Link to post

Dever is an atheist. He holds Asherah to be legitimate because he found her in the common households. Jeremiah would hold her presence to indicate apostasy.

He's an agnostic.
0

Share this post


Link to post

The worship of the Asherah, while for the most part extinct, has seemed to conflate with other concepts and idea such as the position of Hokhma (wisdom) and the latter teaching of Logos. Asherah as both an allegory and an object of worship is the creative element of God. In later Hellenism she was seen as Hokhma and later during the NT period as Logos, which found its expression in Christ as creator. In an obtuse way we still worship Asherah the creator only now it is Jesus.

So can we pray to Heavenly Mother?

Is that an ancient pratice to be restored in this disensation, or is it a heresy?

Edited by inquiringmind
0

Share this post


Link to post

So can we pray to Heavenly Mother?

Is that an ancient pratice to be restored in this disensation, or is it a heresy?

It is apparently a heresy.

0

Share this post


Link to post

There is no settled doctrine, inquiringmind. I don't know if people have been excommunicated for it (though I'd think it would be pretty silly if they have been). It's been pretty controversial for a long time now, probably at least since the ERA. However, talk of "heresy" always seems odd to me from an LDS perspective; I really like Joseph Smith's view that good folks were good folks even if they erred in doctrine. President Hinckley counseled us not to pray to our Mother in Heaven, but I simply think that's a factor of him not being aware of the historical views which would link Her to the Holy Spirit. No big deal; how many people are?

(Remember, tho, that the Godhead is "one God" -- unified in intent. The Divine Council. The Nephites were not chastised for worshipping Christ, and part of Christ's mission was to renew the Holy Spirit of Wisdom -- pouring out the Anointing Oil from the Tree of Life. Nephi himself records that he spoke "by the authority" of the Holy Spirit, meaning She is no less an authority than anyone else in the Godhead -- possibly even implying Priesthood. In any case, if all true Gods are one-in-heart in the At-one-ment, then it simply doesn't make sense not to give worth to the Mother alongside the Father and Child.)

Personally, I think that the flourishing scholarship around Asherah could easily -- easily! -- be incorporated into our understanding of the Restoration (Joseph following James and asking for Wisdom? Going out to pray in a Sacred Grove? Restoring the use of multiple Temples and the hieros gamos and the Divine Council? Anyone? Bueller?) In the spirit of "gathering all the good and true" and "accepting truth from wherever it may come" and "seeking words of wisdom out of the best books" I've tried to do a little of that incorporation on this board, for instance here. I think that at the moment, since there is still so much controversy over the scholarship (that is, when the scholarship is even read in the first place), we should abide the counsel we've been given and not invoke Asherah in public prayers, no.

At the same time, that's a very frustrating position for me to take, since it seems so abundantly clear to me that any God worth worshipping would not mind being invoked alongside His wife. (Of course, this gets into what it means to "worship" and "pray" -- again, see the thread on "Do We Worship The Holy Ghost?")

Personally, I think our reticence stems more from an unhealthy (and unnecessary) focus on a patriarchal view of religion in our culture than from a difficulty in incorporating feminine deity into our practices. I think there is a lot to suggest that Joseph Smith gave a Key of Priesthood (which, we should recall, is "without father or mother") to women in the early days; certainly some sisters were addressed as "Priestesses" and some men were outraged that Joseph dared to include women in the Temple (note that the Masonic lodge was very much a fraternity).

So in practical terms, where others might address the "Spirit", I live with it by making it a point to address the "Holy Spirit of Wisdom", making that connection a little more explicit, in the hopes that people might be more willing to consider the idea of including the Mother alongside the Father and Son. I hope that it lays a groundwork in which further exposure to scholars like Barker and Dever can come as a welcome confirmation of the Gospel rather than something to be guarded against.

Bob: Again, I very much disagree with your interpretation of Dever, and I don't think his personal views are particularly relevant to this issue. I think there is much to commend in his stuff, and I'd refer you again to chapters two and three of his book where he deals with the strengths of archaeology as opposed to the texts which were susceptible to the "corrupt and designing priests" Joseph Smith was so wary of.

Certainly I don't think your characterization of the Deuteronomic reforms is accurate (not that I really want to repeat the stuff earlier in the thread); Jeremiah would not view Asherah as evidence of apostasy, he would merely say that baking cakes to Her without real intent would do no good. It's a comment about the insufficiency of ritual to guarantee righteousness, not a condemnation of the ritual itself. We could say the same for our Temple practices today; they're pointless unless they're sincere. The too-common practice of reading Jeremiah as an anti-Temple anti-Queen of Heaven polemicist does not account for the text; indeed, he compares the attempt on his own life with the cutting of the Tree!

Ron: I disagree with your reconstruction of the history; specifically, I think that the insistence on seeing Lady Wisdom as a mere hypostasis does not take into account the Egyptian parallels to Ma'at and Qudshu (see earlier in this thread). That is, while of course hokma/Sophia/Wisdom were eventually incorporated as a mere abstract metaphorical attribute of Christ, I think it's very clear that this was a late response during the consolidating tendency in the trend towards philosophical monotheism, when in fact She was originally a separate deity in Her own right.

Part of what I'm trying to get at here is that there is a worldwide tradition of associating the Goddess with the Tree; see, for instance, many popularizers such as Eliade, Graves, or Baring & Cashford. This is not an apologetic for LDS claims, it's a recognition of the worldwide tradition -- which even Nibley noted in The Deseret Connection and places such as his lectures on the Book of Mormon back in the eighties.

That is, even if the Book of Mormon was complete fiction, even if Joseph Smith was simply repeating phrases from the Bible, those phrases would still contain references to what very well might have been a legitimate historical personage. See, for instance, such places as Mosiah 8 or Helaman 12, which are obvious parallels to the worldview recorded in such places as Proverbs and Revelation, which were heavily influenced by the Temple practices from far earlier times.

I just think it's all really exciting! And rather than shy away from the more radical scholars, we should embrace their findings! :)

Edited by JeremyOrbe-Smith
1

Share this post


Link to post

So can we pray to heavenly mother, or is that an excomunicatable offense?

If the worship of heavenly mother was o.k. at some point in ancient Isreal's history (and we live in the times of the restoration of all things), why isn't it o.k. today (or is it)?

In LDS religion, we pray to only one God. As Brigham Young stated in April 1852, in a sermon in Salt Lake City, of the various deities which exist, only one "is our father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do" (Journal of Discourses, 1:50; cf. Paul in I Cor 8:5-6).

I'm not going to criticize the Roman Catholics for seeking intercession by Mary the Mother of God, or via any other of the Saints whom they adore, but that is not an avenue available to us. Instead, we intercede as the Saints of God by praying to the Father in the Holy Name of his Son (as the Brethren frequently say in Conference).

At the same time, it is not heresy to acknowledge that each of us has a Mother in Heaven, and we can take legitimate pleasure in Eliza R. Snow's evocative poetry and song. And we can appreciate both biblical and Book of Mormon references to Wisdom as feminine (Mosiah 8:20). That is one reason why Margaret Barker said, speaking of the Book of Mormon, “This revelation to Joseph Smith is the ancient wisdom symbolism, intact, and almost certainly as it was known in 600 BCE.”

We need to leave the mysteries well alone, unless we have achieved such wisdom as befits those few whose business it is to inquire after such matters via the Holy Spirit.

3

Share this post


Link to post

So can we pray to Heavenly Mother?

Is that an ancient pratice to be restored in this disensation, or is it a heresy?

You can pray to anyone you want, yet it is not a practice among the Mormons. While the ancients did appeal to a female deity they were quickly told it was a heresy. The only parts where it is exemplified in the OT have been somewhat allegorical and symbolic of the creative and nurturing aspects of God. The later conflation of Jesus with Logos/Hokhma was simply a way to remember Him as a person in the Godhead while at the same time differentiating Him from God. IMO, the role of Heavenly Mother is simply a religious supposition for which we haven't any clear revelation, nor would I expect one anytime soon. At this point it would be heretical.
0

Share this post


Link to post

You can pray to anyone you want, yet it is not a practice among the Mormons. While the ancients did appeal to a female deity they were quickly told it was a heresy. The only parts where it is exemplified in the OT have been somewhat allegorical and symbolic of the creative and nurturing aspects of God. The later conflation of Jesus with Logos/Hokhma was simply a way to remember Him as a person in the Godhead while at the same time differentiating Him from God. IMO, the role of Heavenly Mother is simply a religious supposition for which we haven't any clear revelation, nor would I expect one anytime soon. At this point it would be heretical.

My experience as a priesthood administrator is that persons who persist in the practice in the church are corrected. Sonia Johnson claims she was excommunicated although we don't know the real reason.

I believe that the evidence shows that any Israelite who worshipped Asherah was in apostasy. Some here would ignore the OT condemnation. Whereas I am willing to admit the scriptures can be flawed, when a teaching is picked up by General Conference sermons and manuals, to gainsay that teaching is to flirt with apostasy. So there was no practice to restore.

Edited by Bob Crockett
0

Share this post


Link to post

He's an agnostic.

Let me correct my statement. In Does God Have a Wife? he says he is a secular humanist and a skeptic of the Bible.

It is one thing to rely upon him for his archeological conclusions and quite another to cite him for LDS doctrine.

0

Share this post


Link to post

Sounds like a kangaroo cult, or court, to me. Perhaps you'd like explain why you reject those Scriptures telling us about the many plain and precious parts removed from Scripture. Do I need to cite them?

I might be misunderstanding you. I'm good with logic, but I'm not nearly as knowledgeable about history and the Bible as you guys.

Bob expressed the logic that (which seems very clear to me--at least the first part--the Asherah/heresy connection I'm not qualified to judge) that you are rejecting a simple Christian/Biblical connection between the love of God and the condescension of Jesus Christ with this heretical doctrine of Asherah. In your response are you implying that the Asherah doctrine is one of the plain and precious parts of the Bible that was removed?

If so, my question would be that since a purpose of the BOM is to restore lost plain and precious truths of the Bible, and here Nephi is shown a vision making a connection to the Asherah doctrine. Wouldn't he then plainly write it into his scripture account?

0

Share this post


Link to post

If so, my question would be that since a purpose of the BOM is to restore lost plain and precious truths of the Bible, and here Nephi is shown a vision making a connection to the Asherah doctrine. Wouldn't he then plainly write it into his scripture account?

Only if the so-called "Asherah Doctrine" was the truth and was relevant to his point. However, the vision he received might have been given to him in a context of his culture that he would understand some connections without necessarily being an affirmation that the culture was pure and right in all it did.

0

Share this post


Link to post

My experience as a priesthood administrator is that persons who persist in the practice in the church are corrected. Sonia Johnson claims she was excommunicated although we don't know the real reason.

I believe that the evidence shows that any Israelite who worshipped Asherah was in apostasy. Some here would ignore the OT condemnation. Whereas I am willing to admit the scriptures can be flawed, when a teaching is picked up by General Conference sermons and manuals, to gainsay that teaching is to flirt with apostasy. So there was no practice to restore.

Agreed. However, while the Greater Tradition is adhered to as a matter of "law", the lesser traditions of folk religion was practiced regardless of any threat of punishment.
0

Share this post


Link to post

Here is part of the context, but you should reread the entire thread to understand what is actually going on here:

Robert F. Smith, post #19,
rcrocket, on 17 December 2011 - 09:35 AM, said:

Robert, I am familiar with your argument. And I am familiar with Brant's suggestion that the condemnation of asherim is a post exillic edit. But, I maintain, the scriptural texts I have call this theory detestable.

Not necessarily, and bear in mind that the text of the Bible has been carefully redacted in line with a narrow theology which you and I could not live with.

--------------------------------------

Robert F. Smith, post #30,
rcrocket, on 17 December 2011 - 02:03 PM, said:

There is something fundamentally wrong with a rejection of a common ground, the scriptures, in favor of a highly speculative theory based upon a destable fertility cult.

Sounds like a kangaroo cult, or court, to me. Perhaps you'd like explain why you reject those Scriptures telling us about the many plain and precious parts removed from Scripture. Do I need to cite them?

I might be misunderstanding you. I'm good with logic, but I'm not nearly as knowledgeable about history and the Bible as you guys.

Bob expressed the logic that (which seems very clear to me--at least the first part--the Asherah/heresy connection I'm not qualified to judge) that you are rejecting a simple Christian/Biblical connection between the love of God and the condescension of Jesus Christ with this heretical doctrine of Asherah. In your response are you implying that the Asherah doctrine is one of the plain and precious parts of the Bible that was removed?

If so, my question would be that since a purpose of the BOM is to restore lost plain and precious truths of the Bible, and here Nephi is shown a vision making a connection to the Asherah doctrine. Wouldn't he then plainly write it into his scripture account?

Crockett's monomaniacal focus on the Ashera cult masks the much larger problem of the vast and cross-cutting nature of the larger culture from which both Israelite and Canaanite religions come forth. Scholars have learned much from study of ancient Ugaritic and Phoenician documents, and it is clear that the biblical religious vocabulary and symbolism share much in common with Canaanite mythological background.

By ignoring that reality, Crockett adopts what is the very flawed estimation of the nature of Scripture which one expects from ardent fundamentalist Protestants. Moreover, he might as well have adopted the Jewish view that Mary was not only not a virgin, but that she certainly could not be the Mother of God. From the Jewish point of view this is as detestable a position as one could take, and (as I pointed out in detail earlier in this thread, at post #29) this actually led some Jews to "correct" the Septuagint Greek version of Isaiah upon which the Christian notion of virginity partly depended. Why do I mention this? Because Crockett rejects the notion that biblical Scripture is flawed in some way. No revisions. No more wrong position could be taken by him.

Edited by Robert F. Smith
1

Share this post


Link to post
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.