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Sexuality And The Biblical God


David Bokovoy

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The initial thread has become too long for me to interact with and I have a lot to share.

Having read a few comments by JasonH on the Elohim/Asherah thread, I would like to address what I see as the primary, though certainly not the only, problems with Jasonâ??s perspective on the biblical Godâ??s sexuality.

Closely linked with the issue on whether or not the biblical God was a sexual being is the topic of anthropomorphism. In other words, do the biblical authors present God as humanlike?

According to JasonH:

No scholars worth his salt is going to agree with the notion that the Bible doesn't suppress anthropomorphisms. Of course it does.

The sentence is very confusing. Nonetheless, I believe that with the statement â??of course [the Bible] does,â? Jason intended to suggest that â??no scholar worth his salt is going to [dis]agree with the notion that the Bible suppresses anthropomorphisms.â? This point would support Jason's argument against Godâ??s sexuality in the Bible.

In reality, the mainstream position advocated by Biblicists holds that major portions of the Hebrew Bible intentionally depict God as highly anthropomorphic.

John J. Collins, the Holmes Professor of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation at Yale University (a scholar certainly worth his salt), writes that the Yahwehistic source in the Pentateuch â??is familiar from the story of Adam and Eve, with its anthropomorphic God and talking snake; God is described in very human termsâ? Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004), 58.

The J source, however, is certainly not the only highly anthropomorphic section in the Bible. As J. Kenneth Eakins notes in his classic treatment of the issue, Deutero-Isaiah features a surprising number of anthropomorphisms for such a late biblical book. The biblical author clearly wished to emphasize the nearness of Israelâ??s deity as kinsman via the use of anthropomorphisms; see â??Anthropomorphisms in Isaiah 40-55,â? Hebrew Studies 20/21(1979-80): 47-50.

Speaking personally, however, I prefer the view advocated by University of Judaism Professor Ziony Zevit that I heard him state to a group of Biblicists attending a convention at Boston University, â??Itâ??s not so much that biblical authors present God in anthropomorphic terms as much as they do humans in theomorphic terms.â?

As explored in my recent essay published in the FARMS Review, in the Bible, humans are gods.

Now that we recognize that contrary to JasonHâ??s assertion, many biblical scholars worth their salt acknowledge that the Hebrew Bible relies upon anthropomorphic imagery, we are ready to address Jasonâ??s second, albeit directly related misunderstanding concerning sexuality and the biblical God.

The following statements perhaps best summarize JasonHâ??s misunderstanding:

Ugaritic gods, including El the Most High, were often engaging in unscrupulous human activities such as drunkenness to the point of hallucinations and engaging in sexual orgies. On one occasion El was having sex with two females when his wife Athirat came up upon them. El asked her to join them. By contrast, Israelâ??s God, â??Yahweh is not a sexual maleâ?¦ sexuality was simply not part of the divine order.â? (Origins of Biblical Monotheism, p.92)
Yahweh remains a non-sexual being according to the Old Testament. Meaning, there are no references to him having sex as there were in Ugaritic texts describing the sexcapades among the various gods, including Yahwehâ??s wife Asherah.

JasonHâ??s argument supported by Mark Smith is in reality simply an argument from silence. True enough, biblical authors do not depict their God having sex, but this does not mean that the authors did not view their deity as a sexual being.

In fact, given the archeological evidence pertaining to ancient Israel, together with the stories of the divine realm from ancient Canaan, Anatolia, and Mesopotamia, biblical authors would have possessed a highly unusual view, if they understood their God as celibate; for a recent analysis of this issue see Judith M. Hadley, The Cult of Asherah in Ancient Israel and Judah: Evidence for a Hebrew Goddess (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000).

Of course the discovery of the pottery shards from Kuntillet 'Ajrud which depict Yahweh with his wife, illustrate that Yahweh himself, at least in some Israelite minds, was a sexual being; for a nice general survey see Margalit, Baruch, â??The Meaning and Significance of Asherah,â? Vetus Testamentum 40 (1990): 264-297.

Given this prevailing trend, when it comes to the biblical view of Godâ??s sexuality, absence of evidence is not evidence of abstinence.

In reality, the Bible contains important clues suggesting that God and his heavenly host were, in fact, sexual beings. While this observation may seem blasphemous to some Christians, biblical authors clearly felt quite comfortable portraying their deity in sexual terms.

One recent study devoted to this topic includes Willem Boshoff's â??Sexual Encounters of a Different Kind: Hosea 1:2 as Foreplay to the Message of the Book of Hosea,â? in Religion and Theology 1(1994): 329-339.

In the article, Boshoff discusses the fact that Hos 1:2 relies upon the imagery of conjugal infidelity in relationship to the Yahweh-Israel relationship. Boshoff suggests that the imagery and vocabulary in the book of Hosea reflect the multifaceted religious situation in ancient Israel wherein Hosea was one of many competing religious viewpoints.

Bhosoff notes that the discoveries at Kuntillet 'Ajrud have, in fact, provided interpreters with access to these Israelite perspectives.

Of course to build the case for Godâ??s sexuality in the Bible, one cannot rely solely upon one or two individual texts. Itâ??s the combination of sources that produces the final image of a sexual deity witnessed in the Bible.

The first piece of evidence for this view derives from the story of Eden in Genesis 2-3.

The account depicts man as the primordial gardener-- a task that man shares with Yahweh himself. When Yahweh speaks to his divine council in Genesis 3:22 and declares, â??See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil,â? the dependent qualifier â??knowingâ? proves meaningful.

Prior to partaking of the fruit, the man was already â??likeâ? God. Not only was man immortal, but also man, as gardener, performed the task of a god. Hence, partaking of the fruit produced a specific result, the man became like the gods â??knowing.â?

Based upon the fact that Genesis 4:1 presents Adam immediately "knowing" his wife upon leaving the Garden of Eden, biblical scholar Marc Brettler observes that â??eating from the tree of â??knowledgeâ?? leads to a very specific type of â??knowing;â?? nowhere in the text is this knowledge depicted as intellectual or ethicalâ? in How to Read the Bible (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 2005): 46.

Notice that according to the account, the first thing that the man and women â??knowâ? after eating the fruit is gender difference.

Also, as Brettler insightfully notes, â??the renaming of the woman as Eve, chavvah (â??progenitressâ??), â??because she was the mother of all the livingâ?? (Gen. 3:20), happens only after eating from the tree. This too bolsters the â??sexualâ?? reading of this storyâ??eating of the tree of ultimate â??knowledgeâ?? turns the wife of Adam from ha-ishah (â??the womanâ??) into a (potential) motherâ? (Ibid.).

To this, I would add the fact that sexual metaphors of fruit and gardens are ubiquitous in Near Eastern love poetry; see J. Atkins, Sex in Literature, vol. III (London: 1978): 178, 222.

Ancient Mesopotamian authors regularly incorporated these metaphors to create erotic motifs:

Vigorously he sprouted, vigorously he sprouted and sprouted,

Watered it- it being lettuce!

In his black garden of the desert bearing much yield did my darling of his mother,

My barley stalk full of allure in its farrow, water it- water lettuce,

Did my one- a very apple tree bearing fruit at the top- water it- it being a garden!

As cited in T. Jacobsen, Harps that Once: Sumerian Poetry in Translation (1987): 94.

Do not dig a [canal]

Do not plough [a field], let me be your field.

Farmer, do not search for a wet place,

My precious sweet, let me be your wet place.

Let the ditch (?) be your farrow,

let me be your canal,

Let our little apples be your desire!

As cited in Leick, Sex and Eroticism in Mesopotamian Literature, 149-150.

The highly sexual connotation of gardens and fruit was not unknown to the author of the Song of Songs 4:12-13a:

A garden locked is my sister,

my bride,

a garden locked, a fountain

sealed.

Your channel is an orchard of pomegranates

with all choicest fruits

With this understanding, it seems meaningful that imediately after leaving the Garden of Eden, â??the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cainâ? (Gen. 4:1).

From both a biblical and general Near Eastern perspective, Eveâ??s description of this event leaves the role of God in this process perhaps intentionally ambiguous: â??I have procreated a man with Yahweh.â?

In support of my reading of Genesis 4:1 as â??I have procreated a man with Yahweh,â? I would add that the Hebrew root qnh has a grammatical cognate in the Ugaritic word qny

In addition to its general meaning â??to acquire,â? the Ugaritic verb qny denotes â??creation through procreation,â? and â??to bring forthâ?; see M.H. Pope, El in the Ugaritic Texts (Leiden: Brill, 1955); 50-54.

The same connotation for qnh clearly appears in the Hebrew Bible. Therefore, Stefan Paas has suggested that â??the semantic separation between the two fields of meaning is actually not as sharp as first might appear; it is possible that the original meaning of qnh is â??to create,â?? from which the other meanings are derivative. YHWH is the Owner because He is the Creatorâ?; see Stefan Paas, Creation and Judgment: Creation Texts in Some Eighth Century Prophets (Leiden: Brill, 2003): 66.

Genesis 4:1 seems to be a play on the ancient tradition that a God could produce offspring with a mortal woman through sexual intercourse.

The interesting story about the gods having sex with mortal women in Genesis 6 illustrates that sexuality was, in fact, both a power and a pleasure associated with the gods by biblical authors.

To further clarify, the text does not state that Yahweh had relations with Eve; Genesis 4:1 specifically states that â??the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived.â?

However, in her speech, Eve uses the word qny which means at miniumum, â??to create,â? and implies â??to procreate.â? According to Eve, she performed this act â??t , i.e. â??with,â? Yahweh. In its original cultural context, this statement carried a suggestive meaning.

Dr. Marc Brettlerâ??s commentary given on the Samson birth narrative in Judges 13, from his work The Book of Judges, proves insightful:

â??When Manoahâ??s wife speaks to her husband, she notes (v. 6), â??The man of God has come to meâ??;â?¦ the idom â??come toâ? is also used in sexual contexts, so this may also be translated: â??The man of God slept with me.â?? Through this double entendre put in the mouth of the clever wife of Manoah, a double entendre that her dim-witted husband is too stupid to understand, the audience is told the true father of the â??boy to be bornâ??â? in The Book of Judges (London: Routledge, 2002): 45.

Brettlerâ??s readingâ??which is also given by biblical scholars A. Reinhartz and S. Ackermannâ??is sustained by comparing Judges 13 to other biblical stories concerning barren women. For example, in 1 Samuel, Hannah conceives after offering her prayer, albeit specifically following the statement, â??Elkanah was intimate with Hannah his wife, and Yahweh remembered herâ? (1: 19).

Accordingly, Brettler argues that â??the parentage of the child explains his superhuman abilitiesâ? (Ibid. 46). Samson is like the Nephilim of old.

And speaking of the Nephilim, these superhuman creatures were produced when the gods saw that the mortal women were fair, â??and they took wives for themselves of all that they choseâ? (Gen. 6:2). This story illustrates that gods, in the biblical view, were indeed sexual beings, just as they were throughout the ancient Near East. It really is wrong to suppose that biblical Israel existed in some sort of cultural vacuum.

Notice that the biblical God Yahweh reacts to the illicit sexual act of the gods in Genesis 6 with anger and destruction. In the Bible, the antithesis to Genesis 6 is Genesis 19, were human beings are the ones who seek sexual encounters with the members of the heavenly host. Significantly, God also reacts to this illicit act with anger and destruction.

Gods seeking sex with humans, or humans seeking sex with gods; either way, these stories illustrate that biblical authors viewed the members of the divine council as sexual beings.

I think we should ask ourselves the question, if the gods in Genesis 6 were capable of having sex, why not the God who ruled over them in the divine council? Remember, it was this very being who acknowledged the legitimacy of the serpentâ??s observation that eating from the fruit made Adam and Eve like the gods in â??knowingâ? (Gen. 3:22).

JasonH is correct that the Ugaritic tablets present El as highly sexual. But what if the only Ugaritic tablet we had was the story of king Kirta?

None of the patriarchal stories portray the biblical God having sex. Then again, neither does the Canaaanite myth of Kirta from ancient Ugarit.

This ancient myth focuses upon the centrality of kingship as a Canaanite institution through three tablets telling the story of king Kirta. Thus, the account is not concerned with the details of the celestial realm; only the exploits of the Canaanite king.

However, in the myth, Kirta receives a visit from El, the head of the divine council of deities:

For in his dream El came down,

in his vision the Father of Men.

He approached and asked Kirta:

â??Why are you weeping, Kirta?

Why does the Gracious One, the Lad of El, shed tears?

Does he want to rule like the Bull, his father,

or to have power like the Father of Men?â??

(as cited in Stories From Ancient Canaan; ed. Michael D. Coogan, pg. 58-59).

Since this â??patriarchalâ? story is not concerned with the celestial realm, the myth never describes the sexual exploits of El--only his interactions with his "prophet/king."

However, as JasonH corretly notes, we know from other sources that the people of Ugarit viewed the Bull of Heaven as sexuality active. Asherah, the principal goddess of Sidon and Tyre, was the â??Mother of the Gods.â? She was Elâ??s wife.

Therefore, simply because the patriarchal stories in the book of Genesis do not portray the details of the celestial realm doesnâ??t mean that the authors did not view God as a sexual being.

In fact, other details found throughout the Bible, like those Iâ??ve identified above, suggest that from a biblical perspective, sexuality is a power intimately associated with God--just as it is in every other ancient Near Eastern tradition.

Following the formation of woman in Genesis 2, the biblical text provides an intriguing note:

â??Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one fleshâ?? (Gen 2:24).

This narrative statement draws upon the fact that the man in Eden leaves God and cleaves unto his wife as one flesh. Indeed, immediately after the text states that God drove out the man from the garden of Eden, the account states that â??the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cainâ?? (Gen 3:24-4:1).

The story of Eden presents a tale of the primordial man leaving God and cleaving unto his wife as one flesh. However, Genesis 2:24 not only states that the man left his father, the account specifically notes that the man also left his mother.

The concept of a divine consort is certainly not foreign to other biblical texts. Biblical scholar Michael Coogan has argued that the personification of wisdom in Proverbs 1-9 provides evidence for the ongoing worship of a goddess as consort of Yahweh; Michael D. Coogan, "The Goddess Wisdom: â??Where Can She Be Found?â??," Literary Reflexes of Popular Religion, Baruch Hu (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1999): 203-209. 1999

Coogan suggests that â??as time went on . . . orthodoxy recognized that this daring use of popular polytheism was at least a source of confusion if not an outright threat and so it took pains to demythologize the goddess Wisdom, to make her an abstractionâ? Ibid. 208.

If Coogan is correct, this would explain why Yahwehâ??s consort whom the man leaves behind does not appear directly in Genesis 2-3.

Interesting, however, that without her appearance, it is extremely difficult to make much sense of the biblical story of Eden.

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"absence of evidence is not evidence of abstinence."

You sure know how to turn a phrase.

Fascinating, as always. Thanks, David.

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Surely, you didn't blow it in this thread, David.

Specifically, I'd like to thank you for this little nugget:

Following the formation of woman in Genesis 2, the biblical text provides an intriguing note:

â??Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one fleshâ?? (Gen 2:24)...

The story of Eden presents a tale of the primordial man leaving God and cleaving unto his wife as one flesh. However, Genesis 2:24 not only states that the man left his father, the account specifically notes that the man also left his mother.

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Thanks Bro. Bokovy, that was very interesting.

If I am not mistaken, I believe JasonH has attempted to suggest that while the Israelites absorbed the attributes of El into Yahweh, Yahweh did not absorb El's sexual behavior. At the same time JasonH has argued that the Israelites absorbed the attributes of Athirat into their version of Asherah, but this time with the sexual behavior.

If this is what JasonH has been arguing, then it doesn't seem very consistent.

Sargon

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John J. Collins, the Holmes Professor of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation at Yale University (a scholar certainly worth his salt), writes that the Yahwehistic source in the Pentateuch â??is familiar from the story of Adam and Eve, with its anthropomorphic God and talking snake; God is described in very human termsâ? Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004), 58.

The J source, however, is certainly not the only highly anthropomorphic section in the Bible. As J. Kenneth Eakins notes in his classic treatment of the issue, Deutero-Isaiah features a surprising number of anthropomorphisms for such a late biblical book. The biblical author clearly wished to emphasize the nearness of Israelâ??s deity as kinsman via the use of anthropomorphisms; see â??Anthropomorphisms in Isaiah 40-55,â? Hebrew Studies 20/21(1979-80): 47-50.

Can someone explain to me why I am supposed to be in disagreement with anything here?

I never once said the Bible doesnâ??t illustrate anthropomorphisms. In fact, the astute reader would have noticed that I said precisely the opposite. The Bible teaches both. It teaches that God is anthropomorphic and incorporeal. I said this to Kerry recently, and I am sure I said it elsewhere. The fact is the anthropomorphisms tend to find themselves in the earlier texts, whereas the move towards Godâ??s incoporeality shifted into another gear during the reform.

According to Weinfeld, the Deuteronomic school, â??first initiated the polemic against the anthropomorphic and corporeal conceptions of the Deity and that it was afterwards taken up by the prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah.â? (Moshe Weinfeld, Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic Schoo, Indiana:Eisenbrauns; 1992, p.198.)

Gerhard von Rad informs us that the reform instituted the â??name theologyâ? which held a â??theological corrective.â?

â??It is not Yahweh himself who is present at the shrine, but only his name as the guarantee of his will to save to it and it only Israel has to hold fast as the sufficient form in which Yahweh reveals himself. Deuteronomy is replacing the old crude idea of Yahwehâ??s presence and dwelling at the shrine by a theologically sublimated idea.â? (Gerhard von Rad, Studies in Deuteronomy, E.T.D. Stalker SBT London:1953, p.38)

And as Mettinger concurs, â??The concept of God advocated by the Deuteronomistic theology is strikingly abstract. The throne concept has vanished and the anthropomorphic characteristics of God are on the way to oblivion.â? Thus, for Deuteronomy, the â??form of God plays no partâ? in the Sinai theophany. (T.N.D. Mettinger, The Dethronement of Sabaoth. Studies in the Shem and Kavod Theologies (Coniectanea Biblica. Old Testament Series, 18; Lund: Wallin & Dalholm, 1982), p.124)

Mark Smith believes that the, â??Deuteronomistic avoidance of anthropomorphic depiction of Yahweh contributed to the uniqueness of the Israelite deity.â?( Mark S. Smith, Early History of God Second Edition, 2002, p. 190)

And then finally we have everyoneâ??s favorite, Margaret Barker:

â??The Deuteronomists suppressed the anthropomorphism of the older tradition and any idea of the visible presence of God was abandonedâ?¦they were constructing from the ruins of the monarchy a faith for Israel which no longer had the king at its center and therefore no longer had his presence as a visible sign of Yahweh with his people. The old concept of a human form present in the temple was no longer tenable, and the ancient descriptions of theophanies derived from the temple ceremonial were no longer acceptable. The Deuteronomists rewrote the tradition: â??Thy Yahweh spoke to you out of the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of the words but saw no form; there was only a voice."(Deut 4:12) With this one should compare the contemporary Ezekiel, a temple priest who was able to describe 'one like a man' on the fiery throne (Ez 1:26) or the tradition that Moses was permitted to see the form of the Lord (Num 12::Pâ?(Margaret Barker, The Great Angel p.99-100)

Notice that I essentially cite Barker verbatim in my statement which Bokovoy felt needed â??correction.â?

Now that we recognize that contrary to JasonHâ??s assertion, many biblical scholars worth their salt acknowledge that the Hebrew Bible relies upon anthropomorphic imagery, we are ready to address Jasonâ??s second, albeit directly related misunderstanding concerning sexuality and the biblical God.

Now that you have miscomprehended my argument and have proceeded to tear down a straw man... sigh

Bokovoy wishes to â??correctâ? me, but again, I merely made a statement nearly verbatim from an authority in the field.

JasonHâ??s argument supported by Mark Smith is in reality simply an argument from silence. True enough, biblical authors do not depict their God having sex, but this does not mean that the authors did not view their deity as a sexual being.

And what evidence do we have that the authors did view them that way? This is equally an argument from silence, except the silence is on Smithâ??s side since it was common in Ancient Near East to detail the day to day events of the gods. Only in Israel do we see sexual conduct coming to a screeching halt. Even in the earlier texts where God was most anthropomorphic, it is difficult to see any sexuality going on; except for the Nephilim issue in Genesis 6.

Now I have no doubt many Israelites believed God had sex. Asherah was the fertility goddess, after all. However, as I said before, it is an illicit leap in judgment to equate the popular religion with â??biblicalâ? religion. The prophets rejected Asherah according to the â??biblicalâ? evidence, so I see no reason to assume they would have embraced the idea of Yahweh having sex with her.

In fact, given the archeological evidence pertaining to ancient Israel, together with the stories of the divine realm from ancient Canaan, Anatolia, and Mesopotamia, biblical authors would have possessed a highly unusual view, if they understood their God as celibate; for a recent analysis of this issue see Judith M. Hadley, The Cult of Asherah in Ancient Israel and Judah: Evidence for a Hebrew Goddess (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000).

Am I supposed to disagree with this? The Cult of Asherah didnâ??t write biblical texts. They were the subject of much disdain and scorn in the Bible.

Of course the discovery of the pottery shards from Kuntillet 'Ajrud which depict Yahweh with his wife, illustrate that Yahweh himself, at least in some Israelite minds, was a sexual being; for a nice general survey see Margalit, Baruch, â??The Meaning and Significance of Asherah,â? Vetus Testamentum 40 (1990): 264-297.

Again, this doesnâ??t refute anything I have said. Bokovoy simply assumes folk religion among the masses should be equated with biblical religion. The fact that you guys admit the Bible is a product of theological redaction, essentially makes my point that the authors disagreed with popular religion. The â??biblicalâ? God is that which is found in the Bible. Whether or not the redactions were justified is beside the point, and it doesnâ??t change the fact that the God we find in the Bible started out anthropomorphic and then eventually became transcendent. I have elaborated on my sources to reinforce this point, and I doubt any of the authorities Bokovoy lists would disagree.

This is where apologists want to claim to be â??biblicalâ? while at the same time rejecting what the Bible actually says, all the while calling everyone else who relies on it, belittling names such as â??fundamentalistâ? or â??Biblicist.â?

It is inappropriate to say the â??biblical Godâ? was sexual, because it ignores the texts which describes God primarily as a less personal, incorporeal being. Are these texts less "biblical"? If Bokovoy wants to rely on an archeological artifact that shows a picture of Yahweh with his Asherah, then he must deal with all of the evidence it presents us. Such as the fact that this inscription shows Yahweh and Asherah pictured with a bovine head and tail. Is that the â??biblical Godâ??

In reality, the Bible contains important clues suggesting that God and his heavenly host were, in fact, sexual beings. While this observation may seem blasphemous to some Christians, biblical authors clearly felt quite comfortable portraying their deity in sexual terms.

Bokovoy cites Boshoff and I cite Mark Smith, who disagrees. I donâ??t have his book in front of me right at the moment, but I am pretty sure he was basing his claim on consensus. He isnâ??t the only one who takes this view. Any argument based on imagery, clues and symbolism is weak by default. There arenâ??t any unambiguous verses in the Bible that can be used to argue for divine sexuality. However, there are unambiguous texts to argue otherwise.

Based upon the fact that Genesis 4:1 presents Adam immediately "knowing" his wife upon leaving the Garden of Eden, biblical scholar Marc Brettler observes that â??eating from the tree of â??knowledgeâ?? leads to a very specific type of â??knowing;â?? nowhere in the text is this knowledge depicted as intellectual or ethicalâ? in How to Read the Bible (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 2005): 46.

Yes, this is not news â?? at least not to me. â??To knowâ? often referred to sexual intercourse in the OT.

Also, as Brettler insightfully notes, â??the renaming of the woman as Eve, chavvah (â??progenitressâ??), â??because she was the mother of all the livingâ?? (Gen. 3:20), happens only after eating from the tree. This too bolsters the â??sexualâ?? reading of this storyâ??eating of the tree of ultimate â??knowledgeâ?? turns the wife of Adam from ha-ishah (â??the womanâ??) into a (potential) motherâ? (Ibid.). To this, I would add the fact that sexual metaphors of fruit and gardens are ubiquitous in Near Eastern love poetry; see J. Atkins, Sex in Literature, vol. III (London: 1978): 178, 222.

So Bokovoy just proved Adam and Eve had sex in the garden. Ground breaking stuff here. He still hasnâ??t shown us where the â??biblical Godâ? is a sexual being - unless of course, he subscribes to the Adam-God doctrine.

Ancient Mesopotamian authors regularly incorporated these metaphors to create erotic motifs:

Vigorously he sprouted, vigorously he sprouted and sprouted,

Watered it- it being lettuce!

In his black garden of the desert bearing much yield did my darling of his mother,

My barley stalk full of allure in its farrow, water it- water lettuce,

Did my one- a very apple tree bearing fruit at the top- water it- it being a garden!

As cited in T. Jacobsen, Harps that Once: Sumerian Poetry in Translation (1987): 94.

This is not a biblical text.

Do not dig a [canal]

Do not plough [a field], let me be your field.

Farmer, do not search for a wet place,

My precious sweet, let me be your wet place.

Let the ditch (?) be your farrow,

let me be your canal,

Let our little apples be your desire!

As cited in Leick, Sex and Eroticism in Mesopotamian Literature, 149-150.

One cannot drag in Mesopotamian and Sumerian stories to prove the biblical God is sexual.

The highly sexual connotation of gardens and fruit was not unknown to the author of the Song of Songs

As a Mormon, using the only biblical books Joseph Smith rejected as uninspired is kinda silly donâ??t ya think? In any event, the songs of Solomon are overwhelmingly sexual, but to say they point to a sexual God is an appeal to ambiguity.

From both a biblical and general Near Eastern perspective, Eveâ??s description of this event leaves the role of God in this process perhaps intentionally ambiguous: â??I have procreated a man with Yahweh.â? In support of my reading of Genesis 4:1 as â??I have procreated a man with Yahweh,â? I would add that the Hebrew root qnh has a grammatical cognate in the Ugaritic word qny

So this is actually Bokovoyâ??s reading of the text. Whatever happened to importance of scholarly consensus?

And speaking of the Nephilim, these superhuman creatures were produced when the gods saw that the mortal women were fair, â??and they took wives for themselves of all that they choseâ? (Gen. 6:2). This story illustrates that gods, in the biblical view, were indeed sexual beings, just as they were throughout the ancient Near East. It really is wrong to suppose that biblical Israel existed in some sort of cultural vacuum.

No, this is where Bokovoy remains irresponsible. What other scholars speak of a single event in J or E or D or P, and then declare it the â??biblical viewâ?? This is apologetic nonsense. Yes, the elohim were considered sexual beings in Genesis, but Genesis doesnâ??t encapsulate the â??biblical view.â? As I said from the beginning, anthropomorphism was thick and powerful in the earlier texts. But it eventually faded out as Yahweh became the Most High God, as an incorporeal, non-sexual being.

JasonH is correct that the Ugaritic tablets present El as highly sexual. But what if the only Ugaritic tablet we had was the story of king Kirta? None of the patriarchal stories portray the biblical God having sex. Then again, neither does the Canaaanite myth of Kirta from ancient Ugarit.

Unlike Ugaritic material, the Bible tells two different stories regarding Godâ??s nature - the latter winning out.

Therefore, simply because the patriarchal stories in the book of Genesis do not portray the details of the celestial realm doesnâ??t mean that the authors did not view God as a sexual being.

Agreed. But I am not the one with the burden of proof here. If one wants to argue the â??biblical godâ? to be sexual, one needs to get evidence from the Bible. So far I see an argument comprised of 40% Ugaritic/Sumerian material and 60% baseless assumption to associate its meaning with analogous biblical texts.

I look forward to reading whatever it is Bokovoy is planning to publish on this subject, but thus far the evidence presented thus far, doesnâ??t look compelling.

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I never once said the Bible doesnâ??t illustrate anthropomorphisms. In fact, the astute reader would have noticed that I said precisely the opposite. The Bible teaches both.

Thatâ??s fine.

I certainly agree that some of the biblical authors portray God as incorporeal. This is a far cry, however, from your statement that any biblical scholar worth his salt will profess that the Bible suppresses anthropomorphisms.

True, some authors do, but most donâ??t. As I illustrated, even the exilic portions of Isaiah draw heavily upon anthropomorphisms when describing God.

And what evidence do we have that the authors did view them that way? This is equally an argument from silence, except the silence is on Smithâ??s side since it was common in Ancient Near East to detail the day to day events of the gods. Only in Israel do we see sexual conduct coming to a screeching halt. Even in the earlier texts where God was most anthropomorphic, it is difficult to see any sexuality going on; except for the Nephilim issue in Genesis 6.

As I have illustrated, the view of Godâ??s sexuality does not come to a screeching halt. The authors almost uniformly fail to depict any of the details pertaining to the heavenly realm. This trend reflects the mandate specified in Exodus 23:13: â??Do not mention the name of other godsâ??; it shall not be heard upon your mouth.â?

As I argue in my forthcoming article in JBL, this general policy may explain why God addresses his divine council of deities in the opening chapters of Genesis without identifying the gods, and invokes the council as witnesses in prophetic judgment via a series of undefined masculine plural imperatives.

Simply because biblical authors tell accounts like Kirta from ancient Ugarit which deal primarily with the details of the human rather than the divine realm, and that biblical authors reflect a religious trend to not mention any other deity than their own, doesnâ??t mean that the authors viewed their God as asexual.

In fact, both the archeological and textual evidence would suggest otherwise.

It is inappropriate to say the â??biblical Godâ? was sexual, because it ignores the texts which describes God primarily as a less personal, incorporeal being. Are these texts less "biblical"?

Perhaps I should have been more careful in my language. I certainly believe that the Bible preserves a multiplicity of often times divergent theological views.

But if I am guilty of overgeneralization with my term "biblical," then so are you when on the one hand you argue that â??the Bible" suppresses anthropomorphisms and on the other acknowledge the fact that many biblical authors felt very comfortable in presenting God in such terms.

Best.

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And speaking of the Nephilim, these superhuman creatures were produced when the gods saw that the mortal women were fair, â??and they took wives for themselves of all that they choseâ? (Gen. 6:2).

One slight quibble here, David. The New Oxford Annotated Bible note for Gen 6:2 separates Nephilim from the offspring of the sons of God, who were the men of renown. Reading the NRSV in the English I tend to agree as they do seem to be separate clauses. Perhaps your reading in the Hebrew is superior, though.

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I have followed this other thread with some interest, and have been a little disappointed with some of the responses made to â??Jason.â? I have decided to add my two cents to this thread instead of the other, which appears to have run its course.

I have to essentially agree with the argument that he makes that the deuteronomic reformers were correct in attempting to suppress the worship of Asherah. Indeed, it is apparent that attempts to suppress the worship of Asherah persisted all during the monarchic period â?? attempts that repeatedly failed to dislodge the Asherah pole from beside the altar to Yahweh. As Pettey states:

The Asherah was part of the foreign syncretism in the Hebrew cult, a cultic aberration. Further, it shows the central place which this particular aberration occupied in the deuteronomic reforms, an aberration which apparently had lasted the entire length of the monarchy. The worship of Asherah had held a central place in the pagan Canaanite cult. Its destruction was imperative if the deuteronomistic reform was to protect Israelâ??s strict monotheism and keep it from henotheism.

Richard J. Pettey, Asherah: Goddess of Israel?, American University Studies, Series VII, vol. 74, 1990, pp. 205-206, emphasis mine

The problem that all the reformers ran into was the persistent popularity of Asherah in the public mind.

Pettey continues:

The texts of Judges emphasize that Israel did not abandon Yahweh to go over and worship Asherah, but that they worshiped Yahweh and Asherah simultaneously, even as consorts. They were henotheistic. The texts also indicate that Asherah worship was by far the popular choice, and that reformers like Gideon were in the minority.

In spite of several noteworthy attempts to eliminate Asherah worship from the land, such reform was fervently resisted by popular piety. â?¦ Worship of Asherah was not viewed, in the eyes of popular piety, as in conflict with Yahwism. It was seen, rather, as harmonious with the worship of Yahweh.

ibid, p. 206

It is suggested that the deuteronomists exaggerated the danger posed by the worship of Asherah, and there is some evidence to support this view â?? particularly the fact that the prophets during the monarchic period make very little reference to Asherah.

Pettey continues:

The prophets speak surprisingly little about Asherah. If ever there might be an argument asserting that Asherah worship in the Hebrew Bible was merely a deuteronomistic exaggeration, this would be it. The paucity of the prophetic references to Asherah worship is truly surprising.

ibid, p. 206

So we know that Asherah was worshiped, and that this form of worship was exceedingly popular in ancient Israel. We also know that it was met with disapproval by the â??religious authoritiesâ? to varying degrees throughout the monarcy, and reaching a crescendo in the pre-exilic era, when a concerted effort was made to stamp out this â??aberrationâ? once and for all.

The first question is why was the worship of Asherah so popular and persistent? Was she, as some have suggested, a foreign import into the Hebrew pantheon? The consensus of opinion argues to the contrary. As Patai notes:

There can be no doubt that the goddess to whom the Hebrews clung with such tenacity down to the days of Josiah, and to whom they returned with such remorse following the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, was, whatever the prophets had to say about her, no foreign seductress, but a Hebrew goddess, the best divine mother the people had had to that time.

Raphael Patai, The Hebrew Goddess, 1990, pp. 31-32

Even Smith confirms this:

The Jerusalem temple was expunged of cultic objects considered unacceptable according to 2 Kings 23. The list includes the asherah, but there is no indication that the asherah was related to the cult of Baal. Rather, as Olyan has argued, the asherah was associated historically with Yahweh and not with Baal.

Mark S. Smith, The Early History of God, 2002, p.116

As such, the worship of Asherah was not met with the same opposition as the foreign gods that had acquired a foothold in Israel. At least not during the era of the prophets. Elijah was adamant about stamping out worship of Baal, but doesnâ??t appear too concerned that the people are worshiping Asherah:

The cult of the Asherah escaped the popular anti-Baal and pro-Yahweh uprising which, led by the prophet Elijah, too place under Ahab. Several years later, when all the Baalists were massacred and Baalâ??s temple in Samaria was destroyed by Jehu, the Asherah of Samaria again escaped unharmed, and her worship survived down to the end of the Israelite monarchy.

Raphael Patai, The Hebrew Goddess, 1990, p. 45

So, the concept of God having a wife â?? a consort â?? is rooted deeply in the Hebrew psyche. Indeed, Smith goes so far as to suggest that it was understood and freely taught in the era of the patriarchs. He renders Genesis 49:24 â?? 26 accordingly:

His bow stayed taut,

His hands were agile,

By the bull of Jacob,

By the strength of the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel,

By El, your Father, who helps you,

By Shadday, who blesses you

With the blessings of Heavens, from above,

The blessings of the Deep, crouching below,

The blessings of Breasts-and-Womb,

The blessings of your Father, Hero and Almighty,

The blessings of the Eternal Mountains,

The delight of the Everlasting Hills,

May they be on the head of Joseph,

On the crown of the chosen of his brothers.

Mark S. Smith, The Early History of God, 2002, p.49, emphasis mine

Smith informs us:

The phrase saddayim waraham in verse 25 echoes Ugaritic titles of the goddesses Asherah and Anat.

ibid, p. 50

And he then concludes:

The strongest evidence, however, supports Asherah as the goddess evoked by the female epithets in Genesis 45:25.

â?¦ El and Asherah were Israelite deities distinguished from Yahweh, who is invoked separately in verse 18.

ibid, p. 51, 52, emphasis mine

So, in the era of the patriarchs we can perceive a distinction between the father, mother, and son â?? a distinction that is eventually lost or distorted through the centuries that followed.

Nevertheless, it documents the origin of the concept of a mother god among the Hebrews, dating back to the era of their great progenitor, Abraham. Indeed, we could point to the Book of Abraham as being much more explicit than Genesis in its declaration of gods of both genders:

Abraham 4

27 So the Gods went down to organize man in their own image, in the image of the Gods to form they him, male and female to form they them.

Abraham 5

15 And the Gods caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam; and he slept, and they took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in the stead thereof;

16 And of the rib which the Gods had taken from man, formed they a woman, and brought her unto the man.

17 And Adam said: This was bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; now she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man;

18 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.

Clearly, Adam uses the phrase â??his father and his motherâ? in referring to himself as the son.

In this respect, both ancient and modern scripture agree in the reality of a mother God.

There is, of course, an acute sense of the anthropomorphic in these early accounts. Ironically, it is this concept of a God of flesh, a God who is a literal father, that the later reformers attempt to purge from the Bible, just as the later Christian philosophers sought to do similarly.

Indeed, as Smith documents, the deuteronomists go so far as to incorporate female attributes into Yahweh in order to reconcile the demands for those things and yet do so within the parameters that they understood to be required for true monotheism. It wasnâ??t sufficient for them to suppress the worship of a goddess, they sought to eliminate the entire concept of a gendered, anthropomorphic god from the public mentality. Yahweh becomes an androgynous, asexual, and ultimately incorporeal entity in the hands of these later reformers.

The question then must be asked: Who was closer to the truth of things, the early Hebrews and the early Christian fathers who believed in an anthropomorphic god who was the literal father of men, or the Jewish reformers and later Christian philosophers who both sought to purge such concepts from the popular conception of doctrine and to make of god an ethereal presence entirely divorced from the attributes of humankind?

For thoughtful Latter-day Saints, the answer is obvious. It is not an issue of whether or not the concept of a heavenly goddess was distorted at times, and that several generations of Hebrews engaged in corrupt practices in relation to this concept. The issue is that the concept has its origin in truth. The restored gospel doesnâ??t encourage worship of the heavenly mother, let alone fertility cults. But to deny that the concept of a heavenly mother is not an integral component of the doctrine promulgated by Joseph Smith is simply silly. Of course it is. He certainly understood it as being part of the restoration. It has been understood as such since the days of Joseph Smith and is well-enough attested as to be undeniable. Its sheer persistence throughout the years is proof of its orthodoxy.

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Too bad we are not speaking of the Greek Gods. There was plenty earthiness to be found. Zeus's methods could have be the stuff of a very rich after theology and sexual practices.

[Drum kick]

I've enjoyed all the discussion in this thread lending to its actual topic.

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Thank you Bro. Schryver for doing in one post what I couldn't do in 3 pages of discussion. You articulated my own feelings much better than I could.

Sargon

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William Schryver:

The issue is that the concept has its origin in truth. The restored gospel doesnâ??t encourage worship of the heavenly mother, let alone fertility cults. But to deny that the concept of a heavenly mother is not an integral component of the doctrine promulgated by Joseph Smith is simply silly. Of course it is. He certainly understood it as being part of the restoration. It has been understood as such since the days of Joseph Smith and is well-enough attested as to be undeniable. Its sheer persistence throughout the years is proof of its orthodoxy.

That is essentially what I have tried to say, but done so so poorly. The principle is the point in the restoration. WHO she is is irrelevant at this time. The principle of the eternal family with all sexes involved is the issue for me, and always has been. To see some ancients seeing the Godhead in just like manner is what is fascinating to me.

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I certainly agree that some of the biblical authors portray God as incorporeal. This is a far cry, however, from your statement that any biblical scholar worth his salt will profess that the Bible suppresses anthropomorphisms.

But the Bible does suppress anthropomorphisms. No scholar worth his salt would say otherwise - even if you do. When the Bible says God has a form, and then later on says God has no form, it is effectively suppressing its own anthropomorphism. I already provided several scholarly citations to this effect, but here is another from Smithâ??s Origins of Biblical Monotheism, referring to the diminished anthropomorphism in earliest Israelite religion, when compared to Ugarit: â??The West Semitic literary tradition was quite anthropomorphic, and the Israelite literary tradition reduced this anthropomorphism to some extent.â? p.176

This was the first stage of reducing anthropomorphisms and it took place in earliest Israelite religion. When the same stories are transferred from a Ugaritic Baal context to an Israelite Yahweh context, without any anthropomorphic allusions in the latter as they existed in the former, then it seems clear the anthropomorphisms were reduced considerably by the Israelites, even though they maintained belief in an anthropomorphic God. The second stage took it to another level:

â??The second stage occurred from the eighth to the sixth centuries. Earlier works such as the â??Yahwistâ?? show, in the words of Harold Bloom, uninhibited anthropomorphism,â?? but later works further mute anthropomorphismâ?¦First, Yahweh had no form according to Deuteronomy 4:12,15. The language of divine form is found explicitly in Psalm 17:15.â? Ibid

True, some authors do, but most donâ??t. As I illustrated, even the exilic portions of Isaiah draw heavily upon anthropomorphisms when describing God.

Well, nobody ever said anthropomorphisms were obliterated. Terms like â??suppressedâ?, â??mutedâ? and â??toned downâ? are generally used. Again, I merely quoted Margaret Barker on this. If you still think she is in need of "correction," then I have her email address.

As I have illustrated, the view of Godâ??s sexuality does not come to a screeching halt.

Do you think that you have illustrated this? You have argued this, but I wouldnâ??t go any further than that. You rely too heavily on extra-biblical texts and then use them any way you can as an interpretive template to read the biblical text to conform to unique Mormon themes.

The difference between your presentations and that of other scholars with experience, in my opinion, is the humble factor. I donâ??t see scholars like Gerhard von Rad and Mark Smith argue with the utmost confidence that they have proved their point. They are far more cautious in presenting them as suggestions, submissions, theories, possibilities, etc. Maybe it is because they are older, I donâ??t know. You could surely take some lessons in your academic mannerism from Dan Peterson. He is about as cautious a scholar as one could ask for. You frequently refer to your presentations as factual, long before anyone has been able to test them. I donâ??t know any scholars who approach the issues this way, but I know a lot of online polemicists who do. You're reminding me of JP Holding.

Anyway, just a word of caution; do with it what you will.

Perhaps I should have been more careful in my language. I certainly believe that the Bible preserves a multiplicity of often times divergent theological views.

Yes. And I believe that Evangelicals are equally in error by claiming divine incorporeality is â??biblical.â? It isnâ??t that there arenâ??t enough verses to argue divine incoporeality, itâ??s just that the Bible is a big book with a lot of different theological ideas.

But if I am guilty of overgeneralization with my term "biblical," then so are you when on the one hand you argue that â??the Bible" suppresses anthropomorphisms

No, the Bible does suppress them. And the Bible also mentions them. In saying the Bible suppresses anthropomorphisms, this is effectively saying anthropomorphisms exist in the Bible, since without them, there is nothing to â??suppress.â? Had I said the suppression of anthropomorphisms was the â??biblical way," I would be in error.

and on the other acknowledge the fact that many biblical authors felt very comfortable in presenting God in such terms.

Of course they did. I never said otherwise.

Is JasonH really yet another incarnation of Kevin Graham? Funny!

Yeah, Iâ??m sure it is just hilarious to everyone here. Canâ??t you tell Freethinker? I mean Fritz? I mean Dan? I never pestered you every time you used a different moniker at RFM or ZLMB or at CTR forums. I never cared and I never bothered to keep track. Though I guess in this hypocrisy, you deserve to be pestered about this by someone.

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Yeah, Iâ??m sure it is just hilarious to everyone here. Canâ??t you tell Freethinker? I mean Fritz? I mean Dan?

I don't think it's evil or ludicrous or shameful to use a pseudonym, and I've never said otherwise. I used some pseudonyms for relatively brief periods in the past, though I don't do it any more -- and I'm told that three or four other people have used pseudonyms, too.

I've never used a pseudonym to try to sneak onto a board from which I've been banished, though.

I never pestered you every time you used a different moniker at RFM or ZLMB or at CTR forums. I never cared and I never bothered to keep track.

I haven't posted on RFM for a long, long time, and, when I did, I posted under my own name. As for CTR, I don't even know, off hand, what it is.

I don't "pester" you, don't much care about your internet habits, and haven't kept track of your multiple personas. If you want "dossiers" on people, you can scratch me off your list: I'm not the guy who compiles or maintains them. You know who is.

Though I guess in this hypocrisy, you deserve to be pestered about this by someone.

Since your "facts" seem to be false, your charge of "hypocrisy" appears to be baseless and your justification for "pestering" me seems to be hollow.

Better luck next time.

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Thank you Bro. Schryver for doing in one post what I couldn't do in 3 pages of discussion. You articulated my own feelings much better than I could.

Sargon

Glad to be of service.

My feeling is that the deuteronomists threw out the baby with the bath water when they set out to expunge Asherah from the religious public consciousness. In the process, they deprived God of his masculinity, and of his familial ties -- both to his actual immediate family and to the human race.

Of course, this is consistent with apostasy from the true gospel in every age. What was Abinadi condemned for? For claiming that God would become a man -- a related concept. And, the concept that God and men are essentially the same species was the target of the later Christian reformers. It would seem that the enemy of true doctrine always rests his sights on this particular concept when he sets out to destroy the church.

It is therefore no surprise to me that LDS "reformers" would also be inclined to expunge these same concepts from the doctrine of the restored gospel.

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Glad to be of service.

My feeling is that the deuteronomists threw out the baby with the bath water when they set out to expunge Asherah from the religious public consciousness. In the process, they deprived God of his masculinity, and of his familial ties -- both to his actual immediate family and to the human race.

Of course, this is consistent with apostasy from the true gospel in every age. What was Abinadi condemned for? For claiming that God would become a man -- a related concept. And, the concept that God and men are essentially the same species was the target of the later Christian reformers. It would seem that the enemy of true doctrine always rests his sights on this particular concept when he sets out to destroy the church.

It is therefore no surprise to me that LDS "reformers" would also be inclined to expunge these same concepts from the doctrine of the restored gospel.

It's intresting that you say that. It seems that the attack on the family has been long and hard and it continues to this very day.

I mean the celebate Catholic Priests are a perfect manifestation of the Battle. Since God became asexual it became a virtue to be as God is.

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Kevin (or whatever his real name actually is)

His name was Kevin Graham on his wedding announcement. I don't recall whether it was Kevin Graham, Kevin W. Graham or Kevin Wayne Graham, but I'd remember if it was something else. A wedding announcement is an improbable place to use a pseudonym.

That is not intended as an attack on Kevin; I have been out of the Mormon apologetics loop for a long time and I have no idea what this business is with him and different names. I am just stating what I remember for whatever it is worth.

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He got banned??!! :P<_<

I enjoyed him here even if I didn't agree with him. I don't really know the history you folks have with him, but at the least he made MADB much more intereting for the last few days in my opinion. His familiarity with the complex issues was too much for our star apologists to resist, which was a great opportunity for me to learn.

Now how are we gonna get Bokovy, Schryver, and Christensen to post?

Sargon

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This will be the last post on the topic of KG so as not to further distract from this great thread. I am only posting this to try to prevent this going way off course in response to DCP's post above.

Kevin Graham was permanently banned from the message board about a year ago. He had been banned on more than one occasion prior to that. No one wanted him here because of his ugly posts in the Islam threads. Against all other mods opinions otherwise, the evil Juliann made an offer to KG to post again upon certain conditions: KG made a promise that as a condition to resume posting, he would not discuss Islam *at all.* He broke that promise and was banned permanently shortly thereafter. He's skirted this unconditional ban several times by creating new user profiles. As enjoyable as he may have been for the last incarnation, he chose to give up his posting privileges here a year ago when he broke his promise.

This most recent sock puppet went unnoticed by a mod until yesterday at which time that mod put a little joke line in "JasonH"s profile and altered the subtitle (adding the aka) to this thread - which was noticed and commented upon by some. Today, Momus saw that KG hadn't been banned (since being noticed yesterday) and banned him.

Hate to say it conspiracy folks and paranoids, and hate to contradict the good Professor, but DCP had nothing to do with anything here with regards to Kevin Graham. Not now. Not ever. Sorry to disappoint.

Done. Back to the regularly scheduled thread.

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I mean the celebate Catholic Priests are a perfect manifestation of the Battle. Since God became asexual it became a virtue to be as God is.

Even assuming that is true...and I am not so sure that it is....there is much elsewhere in the RCC that is very, very supportive of the family, including their position on divorce and abortion (whether or not you think they are strict in this matter, the intent is to preserve the family and marriage as the sacred sacrament it is to them).

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These recent threads regarding the relevance of Asherah to Mormon belief have been some of the most informative and lively debates I've ever seen on this board to date. I don't see how one can get back to the regularly scheduled thread when the catalyst for challenge that stimulated the original discussion that was forwarded as a result, has been removed.

While my participation in the thread of origin was minimal, I followed the thread with great interest because it raised a number of useful theological, historical and cultural points. I'm sorry to see that this decision has been made.

I give up.

Sargon and JG. If Kevin hadn't broken his promise a year ago, he would still be making fascinating, educational posts. He understood at the time that he wouldn't get any "do-overs" - he blew it. We don't babysit. ~mods

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