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Genesis: truth and metaphor


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#181 Peter S.

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 08:26 PM


I have recently been reading about Islam: they believe in the final resurrection, so why have Christ? However, these particular Muslims call Muhammad the ‘resurrector’ (true!), but we have a greater: Christ is Himself the Resurrection and the Life. What they have merely heard about and logically accepted, we have within us now. In Christ, we already have the Resurrection unto eternal life deep within us - and the demons tremble!


Dear Richard,

That Jesus Christ is the Ressurection and the Life does not imply that Ressurection here means the message of ressurection, but it is a living reality. Christ did conquer death by his death, he didnt conquer death before he died. Any logic cant explain that fact. Muhammad didnt do that. Jesus is a living person. (He is still alive.) We will live in eternity through the life of Jesus. That is the meaning of " I am... the Life" in John 10,25.

Peter

#182 Robert Hegwood

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 10:09 PM

Is suffering so necessarily evil? Granted it is not comfortable. Doesn't Scripture say that "the Lamb" was crucified from before the foundations of the world? This woundedness seems to lie at the very heart of life. Love is kenotic, self-emptying...wounded as part of its very nature. Are not then our sufferings great or small then points (at least potentially) of union with and expressers of the marks of slaughter that are eternally borne by the Son...a point of grafting and engrafting. Suffering then would seem to have liturgical and transfigurative value in Christ. It is only apart from Christ that suffering becomes absurd. Our failure too often is to bewail suffering desacralized rather than as priests of creation respond to suffering kenotically and liturgically...offering it back again in and through ourselves, fulfilling our communion with Christ, each other...indeed the whole Adam and the whole Cosmos that was made subject to him.

In the fall suffering was made empty and cruel, but in Christ each kind of suffering we bear finds its answer and its transformation in the great woundedness of Love. It is easy to look at man's cruelty to man, to sorrows attendant to birth defects, accidents, and natural calamities and ask where is God in this. Why did God permit it if He is all good. And sometimes the sorrows we witness are so great and so profound that they stop our mouths of every facile explanation of "God's plan". What we do not comprehend is the refusal of our willingness bear our part in the common wound. We say "why did God allow this" rather than keep silent and take our wounded neighbor to a place where he may be tended and healed. His wound echos in us. It hurts us, makes us uncomfortable and we say "O God why". But is that just the reflection of our heart unwilling to own the wounding of others as our wound? Sure we may act compassionately while blaming God for the mess we find ourselves having to clean up.

It seems to me though that if we can forebear demanding answers of God...as if some rationale would set everything aright...and give ourselves to receive suffering both in ourselves and in others as kind of great and terrible gift then it would be better. We would understand the end of suffering is meant to be salvic...a place for union with and transformation by Christ...not that ours or anyones suffering hurts less because we take the long view...but rather that by taking the long view we are better able to labor with Christ in the midst of suffering to transform the life that is revealed in and through that suffering, both ours and another's. Therefore the wounds of our brother are Christ's wounds and to flee them and to despise them is effectively to deny Christ, to deny that we too are called to be His and to be like Him, to be fountains of life, to live in the wound of love triumphant.

#183 Peter S.

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 08:31 PM

In the fall suffering was made empty and cruel, but in Christ each kind of suffering we bear finds its answer and its transformation in the great woundedness of Love. It is easy to look at man's cruelty to man, to sorrows attendant to birth defects, accidents, and natural calamities and ask where is God in this. Why did God permit it if He is all good. And sometimes the sorrows we witness are so great and so profound that they stop our mouths of every facile explanation of "God's plan". What we do not comprehend is the refusal of our willingness bear our part in the common wound. We say "why did God allow this" rather than keep silent and take our wounded neighbor to a place where he may be tended and healed. His wound echos in us. It hurts us, makes us uncomfortable and we say "O God why". But is that just the reflection of our heart unwilling to own the wounding of others as our wound? Sure we may act compassionately while blaming God for the mess we find ourselves having to clean up.


Dear Robert,

Before the fall Adam and Eve didnt suffer. They were subject to death after the fall when sin came into the world.

When I watch you suffer, suffering is evil, but when I partake in suffering myself, suffering is not nescessarily evil. (It is easy to say that my own suffering is not evil, but when I partake in it, it is not so easy...) But death is evil. St. Paul writes that Christ conquered sin, Satan and Death, in that order. That means: He gave us salvation. That is our hope, that we shall suffer no more. Before death we can turn our own suffering into something good like Christ did on the Cross, but our hope must be that we shall suffer no more, ie. to live eternally. But that reality is empty without Jesus: Humility and Love goes beyond suffering and Death.

Peter

#184 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 09:15 PM

When I see pictures on TV of starving and diseased African children, I think that such suffering is necessarily evil.

#185 Peter S.

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 11:47 PM

When I see pictures on TV of starving and diseased African children, I think that such suffering is necessarily evil.


Me too.

But Job didnt blame God for his own suffering. His own... I am not able to do that.

Peter

#186 Nina

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 12:01 AM

There was an Eldress in Russia: 'Beloved Sufferer - Schemanun Macaria'. When Panagia appeared to her one out of many times, Schemanun Macaria, said: "Why do not you take me with you? I suffered enough and now I have to come with you." Panagia said: "I can not find someone else in the entire world to take your place. Therefore it is not your time, yet."

#187 Robert Hegwood

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 12:15 AM

Dear Peter,

You said that Adam and Eve didn't suffer in the garden. But didn't they? What was the whole episode with the tree of knowledge of good and evil if not an initiation of suffering? If they had not yielded to the temptation and subjected their will to God's will then they would have directly experience the kenosis of surrendering their will to live in that of God...which is a suffering of a paedogogical sort perhaps...yet one which leads to joy. They however chose differently and learned too late via an altogether more awful kind of suffering, did they not?

The thing is I can't escape the fact that Christ's woundedness is from before the foundation of the world. That cannot be without consequence with regard to creation in general and with man in particular who is created in His image.

If you see me suffer it may well be an evil in an of itself. The way in which suffering comes because of the fallenness of the world I would venture to say is almost always evil...but the suffering itself has roots in the woundedness of love. My suffering reveals my heart. It is the mirror of my soul in so many ways. It shows me my own weakness and inadequacy, it shows where my faith is yet weak and struggling, which knowledge may point me either to hope or to despair depending on how the eye of the soul is fixed. If on Christ, then to hope, if elsewhere then to despair. And what happens in your heart when you behold my suffering...whether you enter into it to bind it up it according to your gifts and means, or turn away is the mirror of your own heart...your own recognition of Christ in your neighbor or not.

Look at the icons of the martyrs; in many the key instrument of their suffering is represented, and yet it is a sign of triumph in suffering, triumph in death, like the cross of our Lord...the Cross we hymn as "precious and life giving".

You said, "Humility and Love goes beyond suffering and Death."

No doubt it goes beyond death, transforming it into life. But Love and woundedness are not separate things...suffering in the sense we most commonly experience it is not what the wound was meant to be...it is something turned out of its course...but united to Christ it is set aright.

Consider the prayer of St. Nicholai who endured the horrors and suffering of Dachau, yielded to Christ that suffering was restored to salvic purpose and out of it we learn his prayer, "Bless My Enemies, O Lord" In it we see the final end of suffering, the terrible but great gift that comes by it for the heart given wholely to Christ.

Dear Andreas,

With regard to starving children and other such tragedies. Of course it is evil. But I think...and please correct me if I misspeak...that like so many other things we risk erring if we concentrate on suffering as an abstract condition out there rather than as a personal one. Suffering is the wound of a person...not a herd. And in Christ the suffering of the other is ours as well. How a person suffers what befalls them can be salvic. How we own the wound of our neighbor can be salvic.

Most of us are not yet at a place where we can love the "starving children of Africa", but we can love and help the needy person old or young near to us. We are not asked to love abstractly, not asked to turn the hurt of the world into an abstract judgment on theodicy, but rather we are asked to bind up wounds, to feed, to clothe, to visit, to love to one the Lord puts before us.

So...at least as I see it, to say this or that thing that causes suffering and that suffering is evil misses something important. The starving child starves because no one with the power and resources to feed him does so. It is an instance of failed communion, a place where wound has not met wound, where someone has disowned...and perhaps that someone is us, the wound of our neighbor.

I guess what I'm trying to say is I'm less inclined to judge and quantify suffering in the abstract, but rather to see each encounter with it in myself or in others as an "icon" if you will of the eternal kenotic woundedness of love. The wounds we bear even if they have come by means in themselves evil are all potentially salvic, and therefore must be met with a certain respect and humility, for in the presence of the wound we are in the presence of Christ.

#188 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 09:27 AM

The starving child starves because no one with the power and resources to feed him does so. It is an instance of failed communion, a place where wound has not met wound, where someone has disowned


Which is why it is evil. The martyrs knowingly suffer for Christ. The African children unknowingly suffer as victims. The fact that they doubtless are received in Heaven like the Innocents massacred by Herod does not lessen the evil.

#189 Peter S.

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 04:27 PM

Dear Peter,


Look at the icons of the martyrs; in many the key instrument of their suffering is represented, and yet it is a sign of triumph in suffering, triumph in death, like the cross of our Lord...the Cross we hymn as "precious and life giving".

You said, "Humility and Love goes beyond suffering and Death."

No doubt it goes beyond death, transforming it into life.


It seems that you say God created suffering, how can you sa that? Because of the "woundedness of love" as you call it. That reminds me of people who say they are wounded by love... Kenosis is linked to life, and not death.

Do you think St. Peter when he met Christ outside Rome, in a vision according to the legend, and was told indirectly by Him to die for Love/Christ, and become a martyr, went back to Rome only to die and suffer? That had been a suicide, and an awful act. Because that had been a result of self-love and self-glorification. Suffering for sufferings sake, not for Christs.

Put away philosophical speculations of what life is. Jesus is life. Life eternal. Life is Love. Love is more than suffering. That is the reality behind why Christ was crucified and suffered before the foundations of the world. Because God is also outside of time...

You miss the point why the martyrs are saints.

Peter

#190 Robert Hegwood

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 10:56 PM

It seems that you say God created suffering,


I do not think I am saying this...yet I am not certain exactly what I am saying, except that I see in Scripture that Christ was wounded before the foundations of the world, and that must leave its mark on us who are created in His image. Therefore I see all suffering in relation to that woundedness. What that mean's about suffering, better and wiser souls than myself will have to explain.

#191 Nina

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 01:27 AM

except that I see in Scripture that Christ was wounded before the foundations of the world,


Wow! I never knew this! By 'foundations of the world' do you mean, the creation of the world? If yes, please Robert, can you tell me where does it say that in the Scripture?

#192 Robert Hegwood

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 05:56 AM

The reference is found in Revelation 13:8 which reads in the KJV: "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."

NKJV: All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world

NIV: All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.

(latter portion in Greek): ho arnion ho sphazO apo katabolE kosmos


There are other versions that put a different cast on this verse but I don't following their reasoning in translation though their rationale is obvious.

#193 Peter S.

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 08:50 PM

I do not think I am saying this...yet I am not certain exactly what I am saying, except that I see in Scripture that Christ was wounded before the foundations of the world, and that must leave its mark on us who are created in His image. Therefore I see all suffering in relation to that woundedness. What that mean's about suffering, better and wiser souls than myself will have to explain.


Dear Robert,

I m not wiser and better than you but i think the verse in Revelation that speaks about the Lamb that was slain, (not crucified as I said) from the foundation of the world, is about God's Logos who is Jesus. All His virtues and endearnments like his humility (and woundedness, if that is a virtue?), was shown to us by Christ in time. But these virtues existed before time I think, so that explains the verse in Revelation 13:8.

Peter

#194 Owen Jones

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 03:41 PM

There is no valid theory or dogma of suffering, just as there is no Christian dogma per se on evil. The church has never met in council in order to define the meaning of suffering. It has never, to my knowledge, had a council to define the meaning of the Atonement. What the Church does is teach us how to suffer differently than others.

Christ takes a sow's ear and turns it into a silk purse. Prior to that, and according to all of the primitivists today, suffering was proof that you did something bad, either in this life or in a prior life, and therefore you were being punished, or you were being punished for something your parents or your ancestors did (i.e. you are being punished for the sin of Adam). This is the natural human way of looking at things, because we all demand justice. Which is why so many people adore the stupid phrase: what goes around comes around. It is a cheap, easy way of explaining things. Except that it flies in the face of everything that we see and know every day. We know that innocent people suffer all the time, and we know that bad people get away with murder all the time. So, in this world there is no justice. It really gets back to the question of justice. And there is no justice in this world. We can only see justice from the perspective of heavenly realities, which is why the Church focuses our attention away from evil, suffering and death toward heavenly realities. But as people generally become more prosperous, more independent and self-sufficient and more educated, it is harder for them to see this. It is easier for a poor person, or someone who is persecuted, to seek justice in the after-life than on this earth, and to long for a better world in the life to come. Which is why so-called sophisticates love to denounce faith because it is only for poor, dumb, weak people. But proud, strong, independent people do not need it. And yet, we look all around us at the suffering of people who are proud, strong and independent. They suffer from anxiety and take pills. They suffer from narcissism and kill their unborn babies. They suffer from alcoholism and drug addiction and divorce and suicide. Where do we hear of people in Somalia in refugee camps committing mass suicide? No, it is the prosperous, proud, independent, well educated who commit suicide.

so, everyone suffers. Not just poor, starving people in Africa. And Christ says, I suffer for you and you suffer for me and with me. When you suffer, I am with you. And your suffering for me will not remain unnoticed. If you can suffer without being bitter, justice will be done in heaven, and even now, you can join me in heaven. You can be a part of heaven, and a part of me, right now. And I will save you from your bitterness, and you will be a light to the world. You will have a kind of radiance not unlike the light that shone on Mt. Tabor.

This makes no sense of course if measured by worldly standards. What we want to do is wring our hands, and ask why all of this terrible suffering. And we want to go out and do something about it. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. It is a good thing to build hospitals, and to help poor people, and to adopt orphans. Christianity is not stoicism. It does not advocate pacifism in the face of suffering. But it does not advocate activism either. It shows a way of transformation, not just through belief, but through suffering. Which means that a Christianity based just on belief and dogma is a dead Christianity. Without giving up something, there is no true faith. And it is not just material things we cling to that we do not want to give up. It is our pride, our anger, our bitterness, our resentments that we do not want to relinquish. Because by holding on to these things we think we have earned some kind of special entitlement to spiritual benefits. We think, I have suffered terribly, therefore I expect and deserve some kind of special treatment. I have been mistreated and therefore I am a martyr. But the martyric virtues are not automatic. We apply the virtues of martyrs to our lives by giving up all of our hatred against those who have done us wrong, and then, and only then can we become like Christ and enjoy the true benefits of heaven.

#195 RichardWorthington

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Posted 25 September 2008 - 07:29 AM

who did Cain procreate with to continue the human race?


I had been wanting to give my thoughts on the original question which started this thread for some time. Given that the thread has come to a halt, I thought I would post this now (it does also relate to something I will write about Lamech and his two wives in another thread; the link for this will follow when I have written it).

Now reading the first chapters of Genesis as a prophetic book 'of the past' like the book of Revelation 'of the future' (i.e. some history, some non-literal symbolism, on various levels), might produce the following answer as to Cain's wife's identity:

Jesus mentioned "from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar" (Matthew 23:35), thereby linking "Zechariah, son of Berechiah" with Abel (perhaps this was an ancient legend too?). Now the account of the murder of this Zechariah is described below (for a discussion of the identity of this Zechariah, see at the end):

Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, who stood above the people, and said to them, "… Because you have forsaken the Lord, He also has forsaken you." So they conspired against him, and at the command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house [temple] of the Lord. Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but killed his son; and as he died, he said, "The Lord look on it, and repay!" (2 Chronicles 24:20-22)


However the accounts of the two murders (of Zechariah and Abel) do share some rather interesting coincidences:

1) Both Zechariah and Abel were killed by their brothers, Joash and Cain respectively (Joash was a foster son of Jehoiada, 2 Chronicles 22:11, and hence a foster-brother to Zechariah)

2) "Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground" (Genesis 4:2), and Zechariah was a shepherd of Israel (being a priest and prophet) and Joash "set his heart on repairing the house of the Lord" (2 Chronicles 24:4), i.e. 'tilled the earth' of the temple. (Does this sound plausible?)

3) "The voice of your brother's [Abel's] blood cries out to Me from the ground" (Gen 4:10), and so too did Zechariah's: "The Lord look on it, and repay!" (see above)

Therefore, making Joash like Cain, would give that this 'Cain' procreated with a certain Jehoaddan (2 Chronicles 25:1).

Richard

Identification of Zechariah:

The traditional Orthodox understanding of "Zechariah son of Berechiah" (based on the apocryphal book Protoevangelium of James) makes this the father of John the Baptist. However, Isaiah 8:2 mentions "Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah" and apparently an ancient Jewish belief makes this the same as "Zechariah the son of Jehoiada" mentioned in 2 Chronicles 24:20-22 (see the two blog replies here and here; it is interesting to read the whole blog).

Also the Targum (Jewish Aramaic paraphrase/interpretation) of Lamentations 2:20 states, "Is it right to kill priest and prophet in the Temple of the Lord, as when you killed Zechariah son of Iddo, the High Priest and faithful prophet in the Temple of the Lord on the Day of Atonement because he told you not to do evil before the Lord?". Significantly, there was a prophet Iddo living before "Zechariah the son of Jehoiada", see 2 Chronicles 12:15; 13:22.

Now the original book of Lamentations was written by Jeremiah, making this Zechariah's death one of the causes of the destruction of Jerusalem (the Targum was obviously written much later, as it mentions "Constantinople, city of wicked Edom", thereby showing what the Jewish author thought of the Christians there!). So there must have been a tradition about "Zechariah the son of Jehoiada" being "Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet" (Zechariah 1:1), even though the book of Zechariah was written by another Zechariah. Perhaps the second Zechariah took the first’s identity as a symbolic gesture.

#196 RichardWorthington

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Posted 02 October 2008 - 09:12 PM

(it does also relate to something I will write about Lamech and his two wives in another thread; the link for this will follow when I have written it).


The link for the post on Cain and Lamech is

http://www.monachos....69217#post69217




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