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Sunday, 10 February 2008

Peace and The Bible a Dialogue

Dialogues on Peace and the Bible: One side of a theoretical discussion on Peace in the Bible specifically related to Judges 19-21.

Contents

Introduction
The Letters
What is Peace, where do we begin?
Struggles with the concept of Shalom
Different Passages looked at
Leaning towards Judges 19
What is Shalom?
Work on Judges 19, Variety of versions read
The Feminist Slant
The Struggles
Resolution
Summary

Endnotes
Bibliography

Introduction

The writing of this paper was a trial, a challenge and also fun. I struggled for a long time with how to approach the paper. The once a text was chosen how to deal with the concept of shalom, with peace, in this passage.

In choosing Judges chapters 19-21, there were many struggles in working with the text. First and foremost is the abuse in my own past, which makes it hard for me to read about or hear about the sexual abuse of others.

I was very excited about this format for a paper. Yet found it very hard to write on this text. I really struggle with the content of these three very intense chapters. My work on them only scratches the surface of the past scholarship on them and is but the beginning of my work on them.
Yours Sincerely,


September 21/99
Steven R. McEvoy
342 Albert St.
Waterloo ON
N2L 3T8

To A. Friend
777 Somewhere St
Whoville, ON
N2J 8J3

Dear A.

It was so good to talk to you the other day on the phone. I want to thank you for your continued prayers and faithfulness for me and my studies towards ministry. It means so much to have prayer warriors like you in my corner.

As you know from our call I am taking RS 353 "Peace and the Bible" with Tom Yoden Neufield. I feel really overwhelmed by the course right now. It think I understand the concept of "Shalom" that he is teaching. Yet most of the passages we look at in class, I see relating more to the lack of Peace than peace itself. So if you could be praying about the essay I have to write, I would greatly appreciate it.

Just so you can focus these prayers a bit. I am weighing which passage or passages to work from. It is a toss up right now I would really like to work with something from the Deuterocanonical's , I have been looking at the three extra sections of Daniel. The prayer of Azariah or Song of the 3 Jews, Susanna's Song or Bel and the Dragon. I always wanted to do an Inductive study of one of the Deuterocanonical's but have never had time for it. You know "The Old Tyranny of the Urgent", always doing what needs to be done but never getting to the "want to do list". Like my books to be read list in the back of my Journal is up to 4 pages now. So many good books, so little time.

The other book I though of writing on is Tobit. I would love to draw some examples for my paper from Andrew M. Greeley's, fictional retelling of this story in an Irish setting, Angel Light.

I mentioned this desire to Tom last class and he suggested looking at Wisdom chapters 2-5, or the prayer of Manasy. However I've read and reread these passages and nothing jumps out at me. But something keeps nagging at the back of my mind. In our first class we looked at Judges 19 - 21. Tom said he would really be interested in seeing one of us wrestle with this passage.

Well wrestle it would be, as you know the abuse I was subjected to, I would really have to work hard to work on this passage.

Well I had better sign off now and I will drip this in the mail on the way to class.

Yours in Christ,
Being and Becoming


September 30, 1999
Steven R. McEvoy
342 Albert St.
Waterloo ON
N2L 3T8

To A. Friend
777 Somewhere St
Whoville, ON
N2J 8J3

Dear A.
I haven't heard from you yet about my last letter but thought I should supplement it. I've realized that my first task is to come to an understanding of peace even before I can relate it to my paper.

In class so far we are still working on the Old Testament so we are using the Hebrew concept of Shalom. I went to the OED to see what it said. It's one of the few times I find it lacking greatly. This is what it had, "A Jewish salutation at meetings or parting." This is by in far the worst definition I have ever found in the OED.

I've been doing some supplemental reading to the required sources to try and get a grasp on this subject. The first I went to is Shalom: The biblical concept of Peace, by Douglas J. Horris. I feel much like he did, in his introduction. He states:
"The Breadth of this subject has been its greatest problem, especially in taking hold and giving it form and order. After a while some limitations had to be made."
The second book I looked at to get a grasp on this concept was, Shalom The bible's word for Salvation, Justice and Peace by Perry Yoder. I really enjoyed his work on different views of atonement but got lost in his social action. In my personal reading I have been working through Anamcara, by John O'Donohae. It is a wonderful book on Celtic Spirituality. From it I've come to realize I need a personal concept of Shalom, of Peace. To be honest I don't know how similar they are. To me they are like two overlapping circles, where Shalom is the ideal, our goal, and peace or some semblance of it is what we settle for here on earth. At times for each of us the two overlap more or less depending on our circumstances. So I've decided to work with the concept of shalom.

As my mind struggles too deeply with the concept of peace of that which is abuse, against or opposite to war and conflict. And I just can not work with such a concept.
Tom in class keeps stressing that the basic meaning of shalom is "Is it well " it must appear in my notes a dozen times per class. Is it well with you. Is it well with your health in every area of your life, spiritual, emotional, financial, relational, physical.
I guess that is my working definition for now, shalom is a holistic wellbeing of a person, city, or state or world. Thanks for listening to me ramble and my sounding board.

Love in Chirst Jesus
Steve
P.S. By my next letter I should have a passage chosen. I need to get to work on this paper.


October 7, 1999
Steven R. McEvoy
342 Albert St.
Waterloo ON
N2L 3T8

To A. Friend
777 Somewhere St
Whoville, ON
N2J 8J3

Dearest A.
Thank you for your lovely letter and for the gift of tea. It was great. I love trying new blends. I'll enclose some of the "Black Berry Sage" I just picked u with this letter, let me know what you think.

Things here are a little stressful. The company I work for was just bought out by an American firm. So come winter term Ill have to start looking for a new job again. I'm also getting pretty stressed about the paper for my R.S. course.

I've decided to take on the wrestling match and struggle with Judges 19 - 21. Though so far I can relate to Jacob's wrestling with an angel all night. It is not an easy section to be working on.

A friend printed off about two versions of these 3 chapters for me from his Bible Software. I've read through each of them a couple times now, and started to make my notes. Just so you know these are the versions I've worked with: KJV, ASV, BBE, DBX, LIT, NKJV, RSV, RWEB, WEB, VLT, NASB, NIV, NRSV, TEB, CEV, NJB, NLT, LB.

I found it really interesting some of the variations in the different translations. One of the things that stuck at most for me was chapter 19 v. 27 most translations use a description of this woman, the victim here such as:
the woman His concubine (KJV)
the woman His concubine (ASV)
the woman His concubine (BBX)
the woman His concubine (LIT)
there was his concubine (RSV)
All of the versions except one uses this translation. This really caught my attention. In the BBE version this is translated " and he saw his servant wife' ".

The other thing that really stuck out to me was the ignorance or arrogance of the eleven tribes that were summoned by the Levite. In chapter 20, the tribes never wonder if the men of Gibeah wanted to kill the Levite or threaten to kill, were able to kill his wife, but never got a hold of him. Yet he got the body back cut it up and sent it by messenger. Was no one in the crowd thinking ? Were they so overwhelmed by the mutations of this woman's body that they didn't think? There are so many questions here.

It makes me think if 1314, when William Wallace quarted and sent to the four corners of the UK. Instead of culling the people for this lead to Scotland's rallying to fight for freedom.

The other thing that baffles me is chapter 20v.18, when the tribes ask "who shold go up first against Benjamin." When the real question they should have put to God was, "Should we go up against Benjamin?" I personally think this arrogance on their part lead to their first two defeats.

The more I work on these passages the more questions I have. But a great man, Peter Frick once said , " My schooling should not be about finding answers. But learning how to ask the right questions."

I will leave you with two quotes, both from the genre of science fiction. The first is from Robert A. Heinlien's The Note books of Lazarus Longi "You can have peace or you can have freedom do not ever count on having both at once." The second comes from the T.V. Series "Babalon 5", I believe from either the episode "Between the darkness and the light." Or " There all the honour lies." Commander Susan Ivanaua says to Sheridan "I'm not worried you told me to never fear the questions. As long as I have questions to ask I have a purpose."

These both are playing heavily on me as I research this paper, but I am as of yet unsure how they fit in. This weekend I'll get down to work on the commentaries and see if they shed any new light for me.

In Christ Jesus, Yours

Steven


October 15, 1999
Steven R. McEvoy
342 Albert St.
Waterloo ON
N2L 3T8

To A. Friend
777 Somewhere St
Whoville, ON
N2J 8J3

Dearest A.
Thank you for your quick response to my last letter. I thank you especially for your invaluable input. Seeing as I had stuck to the more traditional commentaries, The Anchor, Tyndale .

Your having recommended some feminist and female views really helped open my view and broaden my research. Why I'm thanking you for that, I'm not sure, but there it is.

I had more than enough questions and struggles on my own but your recommendations have been most helpful. I'm going to focus on three of the books that you recommended. Each of them has helped me to narrow down my questions, but also to broaden my view.

First in Susan Ackerman's Warrior Darren, Seductress, Queen; I found this the most balanced and least extreme of the vies I have looked at by female authors. One of them is a common theme in a lot of my personal reading and that is the power in names and in naming. Like in Madeliene L'Engles, "Kyrios" sernes. Most of the female authors pick up and work on the issue that the Levites wife is unnamed, and also that she has the role of secondary or concubine wife. They all work on both of these issues.

Ackerman states it this way,
" What this text means, though when it identifies this woman as a 'concubine is not necessarily clear, else where in the Bible the term 'concubine' either can mean a woman who is part of a man's harem but is not one of his actual wives or it can man's harem but is not one of his actual wives or it can mean a woman who is married to a man as a secondary wife." P. 235 - 36.

She goes on to make it clear from the text that the latter meaning is the one implied from the text. Ackerman then goes onto the importance of this woman's namelessness.

"In fact, indications of the concubine's subservient status are found throughout the Judges 19 text. This woman, for example, is not given a name by the tradition, namelessness is a significant marker of a woman's subordination in the biblical text." P. 236

However Ackerman unlike J. Cheryl Exum who believes that this woman was cut into pieces by the Levite while she was still alive. Ackerman is a more balanced approach, but Exum does something that I find wonderful. She names this woman, and gives her reason for the name chosen.

" On the analogy of Bath-Sheba (daughter of an oath, or daughter of seven), I call her Bath - sheber (daughter of Breaking. The Hebrew verb shabar means 'to break' or 'to break in pieces' ; the noun sheber can mean breaking of pottery into pieces. (Isa 30.14). or 'fracture'. A sin the fracture of a limb. (Lev. 21:19, 24:20); It can also refer to anguish or brokenness of spirit. I choose Bath-sheber as a name for this woman because it can serve to remind us both of what happens to her at the hands of the men of Gibeah and also of her subsequent dismemberment by her husband."

I think this naming of this women is very important. It helps to humanize her, and to help us think about her apart from the abuse.

Both Ackerman and Trible spend a significant amount of time comparing the events of Judges 19 with Genesis 19. And of course the parallels are striking.
But something that Tribble points out bothers me and I question it. In regards to both Genesis 19, and Judges 19.

She states; "These two stories show that rules of hospitality in Israel protects only males. Though lot entertained men alone, the old man also had a female guest, and no hospitality safeguards her. She is chosen as the victim for male lust. Further, in neither of these stories does the male host offer himself in place of his guests."

I struggle with this. I need to know what peace was offered to this couple. And why it's offer was withdrawn from Bath-Sheber.

Well, I better sign off for now. Let me know what you think.

I'll write again soon.

Sincerely Yours,
Being & Becoming.


October 21, 1999.

Steven R. McEvoy
342 Albert St.
Waterloo ON
N2L 3T8

To A. Friend

777 Somewhere St
Whoville, ON
N2J 8J3

Dear A.

It was good to get your letter today. Thank you for your suggestions on my interpretations and struggles with the feminist authors. I still have a lot of questions.
I've gone back to some of the earlier readings I did. One of my biggest questions still has to do with the lack of Shalom or protection of the women, Bath-Sheber.
First, A. Cohen in a Jewish commentary states "Thinking that the men would be attracted by her beauty. It was a dastardly act to save himself in this manner." This echoes what is in my own heart. The Levite fails as a husband and as a man to protect his wife. This theme is echoed in many of the commentaries.

Lillion R. Klein, even calls into question the Levites character, "under the circumstances, the fact that the Levite stays beyond the conventional three days certainly imposes hardship upon the economics of the host family. The character of the Levite - that he is selfish and inconsiderate of others - emerges from his overstay." He also shows his lack of wisdom, by leaving to go home so late in the day. In a way his own selfishness, indiscretion and lack of wisdom are an echo of the whole state of Israel. As the Book of Judges ends with "21:25 " every man did that which was right in his own eyes."

But he is not the only one at fault. Their host, who removes his protection from Bath-Sheber is just as culpable as her husband who shoves her out the door. Hope brings the point out strongly; "The Levites host and the Levite himself seek to avert this outrage (homosexual rape) by suggesting another. One offers his daughter, the other his concubine to the mob. While the conduct of the mob is outrageous, the best that can be said of the Levite's is that it is cowardly and callous." As someone who was abused by those who should have protected me I can emphathise with Bath Sheber.

Boy, A. I don't know how I'm going to do it. I have so much to say about this short section in Judges 19, that I don't know how much I am going to be able to do on Chapters 20 and 21.

What bothers me most is that the response of Israel's other 11 tribes results in worse atrocities then the act against Bath-Sheber. To avenge her all the women of Benjamin are killed and the surviving men of Benjamin all get kidnapped women to be raped by them and be their wives.

Like Madeliene L'Engle I believe in story as truth and the incredible power that is in words. Even if this story is an exaggeration in order to explain the smallness of the tribe of Benjamin and to set up the Israelites call for a King. This story leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

Well A. I should sign off for now. Will write again soon.
Yours in Him,


November 1st 1999
Steven R. McEvoy
342 Albert St.
Waterloo ON
N2L 3T8

To A. Friend
777 Somewhere St
Whoville, ON
N2J 8J3

A.
Thanks for responding so quickly to my last letter. I thank you for your input again. Especially for reminding me I don't have to come up with all the answers now. My course work is the start of the process, not an end in itself. It is a means and my journey and struggle with the scriptures will be a life long process. I often loose sight of that as each term progresses.

I accept these three chapters more now. They play a vital part in the transition of Israel as a conglomerate of tribes to a kingdom. It shows how far the nation as a whole and individuals had fallen from being a people set apart by God to be holy.
It also looks ahead to the era of kings as a new beginning or renewal. But this too will fail and turn the people away from God.

Sorry this is short but I have to go and catch up on class reading. I'll write again soon.
Yours in Him,
Steve.

P.S. Congratulations on going back to school yourself soon. I will Keep praying for you.


November 7th 1999
Steven R. McEvoy
342 Albert St.
Waterloo ON
N2L 3T8

To A. Friend
777 Somewhere St
Whoville, ON
N2J 8J3

A.
Well how are you doing? How has your search for new work gone?

Well I think I have enough info now to write my paper. My focus is going to be on this passage not as an example of, but the opposite of peace in the bible.
Studying the situation where shalom protection is offered and then rebuked or revoked. I've learned a lot from this research and thank you again for all of your help.
Working through these thoughts and struggles.

But to be honest I have even more questions and readings to do to come to a better grasp of this passage.

God Bless
Yours,
Steve

References

. Oxford English Dictionary, pg. 1419
. Shalom: The Biblical concept of Peace, pg. 10
. Notebooks of Lazarus Long, pg. 32
. Warrior , Dancer, Seductress & Queen, pg.235 - 236
. Warrior , Dancer, Seductress & Queen, pg. 236
. Fragmented Women. pg.176
. Texts of Terror. Pg. 75
. Joshua and Judges. Pg. 302.
. The Triumph of Irony in the Book of Judges. Pg. 164.
. The Book of Judges. Pg. 292,

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Tulloch, Sara, etal, eds. Oxford English Dictionary. Plymouth England, Oxford University Press, 1995.

Harris, Douglas J., Shalom: The Biblical concept of peace. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker House, 1970.

Heinlien, Robert A.., NoteBooks of Lazarus Long. New York, New York,; Double Day, 1985

Ackerman, Susan, Warrior , Dancer, Seductress & Queen. New York, New York, Double day Pell, 1996

Exum, J. Cheryl. Fragmented Women. Valley Forge, PA., Trinity Press. 1993.

Tribble , Phyllis, Texts of Terror. Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 1984.

Cohen, Rev. Dr. A Cohen, Joshua and Judges. London , Soncino Press; 1965

Klein, Lillian R. The Triumph of Iron in the book of Judges. Worcester Sheffield Press, 1988

Hoppe, Leslie, Joshua, Judges within Excursion Charismatic Leadership in Israel.Welmington, Michnel Glazier, Inc. 1982

(First Written for RS353 Peace and the Bible Fall 1999)

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