Thursday, June 29, 2006

Romans.

I was just reading over the Amplified Bible version of Romans 1 20-32 (as I do)

20For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defence or justification],(B)

21Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honour and glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile and [c]godless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened.

22Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves].

23And by them the glory and majesty and excellence of the immortal God were exchanged for and represented by images, resembling mortal man and birds and beasts and reptiles.

24Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their [own] hearts to sexual impurity, to the dishonouring of their bodies among themselves [abandoning them to the degrading power of sin],

25Because they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, Who is blessed forever! Amen (so be it).(C)

26For this reason God gave them over and abandoned them to vile affections and degrading passions. For their women exchanged their natural function for an unnatural and abnormal one,

27And the men also turned from natural relations with women and were set ablaze (burning out, consumed) with lust for one another--men committing shameful acts with men and suffering in their own [d]bodies and personalities the inevitable consequences and penalty of their wrong-doing and going astray, which was [their] fitting retribution.

28And so, since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or approve of Him or consider Him worth the knowing, God gave them over to a base and condemned mind to do things not proper or decent but loathsome,

29Until they were filled (permeated and saturated) with every kind of unrighteousness, iniquity, grasping and covetous greed, and malice. [They were] full of envy and jealousy, murder, strife, deceit and treachery, ill will and cruel ways. [They were] secret backbiters and gossipers,

30Slanderers, hateful to and hating God, full of insolence, arrogance, [and] boasting; inventors of new forms of evil, disobedient and undutiful to parents.

31[They were] without understanding, conscienceless and faithless, heartless and loveless [and] merciless.

32Though they are fully aware of God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them themselves but approve and applaud others who practice them.

"OK, what of it?", I hear you cry. "Tis the the heart of doctrine and you're using the wrong version... "

Reading it over without taking note of what one is told it means....

It's clearly about the state of things in Rome at that time, not a great and good notice on all time, unless I've missed the Temple 'whores' and the mutilation cults in the present day (Rom 1:26:27) . The abnormal role for women, in Paul's book (specifically in Timothy) seems to be not bare foot, pregnant, in the kitchen and silent, so women teachers would be 'abnormal and unnatural'. There was also the tail end of the mystery cults of the Magna Mater and Attys to consider, where ritual emasculation and mutilation were part of the religion (with a sacrament similar to, but less symbolic than, the Christian one). That covers "suffering in their own [d]bodies and personalities" very well. Also, the use of drugs to aid possession and scyring, as well as fuelling the Roman 'Bacchanals' were common. Usually belladonna family, the effects being disassociation, hallucinations and, quite literally, a burning sensation in the privates, which was arousing.

Looking form the social context of the letter, Paul is having a square go at two things:
1) Women in power. A repeating theme as one of Paul's bete noire. But that is wholly in line with Peter's attitude as outlined in the Apocryphal Gospel of Thomas and the Apocryphal Gospel of the Magdalene.
2) Drug fuelled lust and mutilation.

Reading over Romans with my best historian's eye, that's the best I can come up with, But I am now pressing agin 1600 years of dogma about Paul's 'intent'.

The only intent that can really be imputed would be the historical conditions in Rome at the time Paul was being scribed. Since we don't know what the letter that this responded to contained, some of the over all context is lost, but what we know of Roman society around that period, my context is probably as good as it gets.

Wake up people. It doesn't mean what you've been told!!!

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