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Gordon Tisher

The slave-owners of the antebellum south likewise motivated their position "with care and acumen", basing their position that persons of African descent were fit only to be slaves on the carefully exegeted Biblical principle of the curse on Ham's children.

The sin of "complementarians" is the greater in that they condemn not merely a significant fraction of the human race, but precisely one half, to a lifetime of slavery.

Absolute literal slavery. For one human being to be subordinate to another in every aspect of behavior and dependent upon his merest whim for her status before God almighty is to be worse than a slave.

There are some issues where it is NOT all right to agree to disagree.

To argue that those men who abuse their wives are misusing their God-given authority and do not represent the ideal is like arguing that Stalin and Mao do not represent the ideal socialist. That may be true, but it is irrelevant. By their fruit you shall know them, and those who espouse an ideology are responsible for the fruits of their teaching.


"...... is a curious piece of rhetoric. It is putting words into Mike’s mouth, words that do not reflect the shape of the argument he develops across multiple posts."

This is typical of the frustration of engaging in conversation with Suzanne McCarthy. Been there, done that. You can't really expect an honest conversation. She will often misrepresent what you have said to her, and you end up spending too much time correcting her misrepresentations. She does not claim to be a Christian (I have asked questions to determine where she stands on this and she evades them), also I could find no evidence on her site that she claims to be a Christian, but of course it would shut her voice down if she didn't play like she was a believer. Patton no longer allows her to post on his site.


Hi Gordon,

I think I have heard your style of argumentation before. Help me out here. Do you wish to suggest that churches which exclude women from the offices of elder/priest and bishop have scripture on their side, whereas churches that do not exclude them have scripture against them?

Are you saying that a passage like 1 Peter 2:13-3:7 reduces wives to absolute literal slavery, such that they are worse than slaves?

Aside from the exegetical questions, which will not interest you if you already know what is right and wrong (how?) and judge scripture, tradition, and your fellow human beings on that basis, you do an excellent job of pointing out the fundamental disagreement.

That is, I argue that churches for whom scripture is the norm which norms all other norms of faith and practice have legitimate differences on several points of church order; whether or not women can be presbuteroi or episkopoi is an example.

Apparently you wish to argue that it is NOT all right to agree to disagree on this issue. You are free to develop that argument if you wish. So far, you have given us little more than a bald assertion.


Hi Susan,

I didn't realize that Suzanne McCarthy had been banned from Michael Patton's blog. That's quite a feat, since Michael has an unusual amount of patience.

I concur that Suzanne would do the online community a service if she were not evasive about her current religious and spiritual convictions. At least she is honest that her online persona is about ranting and intolerance. In her own words, she says she blogs when "my therapy piggy bank is empty and I need to rant."

Okay then. I have better things to do than listen to rants. I believe her when she remarks that she is a different person on her job as a teacher. The latter Suzanne McCarthy is the one I remember from the days in which we were students at the University of Toronto.

My sense is that Suzanne has decided that many people of faith, Mike Heiser and myself included, do not care about women because we are not on the warpath against the complementarians she loves to hate.

It's a paradox. Her style of engagement discredits egals and is reassuring precisely to those comps who go at the questions in the same way she does.

As if we were in a court of law with feminism or anti-feminism (take your pick) accused of high crimes and misdemeanors. As if any evidence of the limitations of one's own stance is to be swept under the rug and ignored.

If someone objects to the "intolerant" way of framing the question, and I do, if someone understands conflict resolution in a cultural conflict of this kind as involving the search for common ground, and I do, we become roadkill in a battle to the death between presumed titans.

Titans my eye. This is the stuff of slapstick comedy and video games, of the conviction that a posture of attack is what makes one truly human.


You are correct in saying that Michael has an extraordinary level of patience. I believe it was his last post on the egal/comp subject which was the last straw. There were an amazing number of comments on that thread and 'Sue' stayed with it till the bitter end. Michael was fully engaged in that conversation (much more than usual) late into the night, because he really cared. He was so gentle with Sue, and was really trying to reach understanding, but ultimately he became frustrated by the impossibility (her style of dialogue). Sue jumps on the opportunity to come out full force against complementarian scholars. She was ruthless with Dan Wallace. She is trying to correct this 'great evil' from where it stems, in her view. Apparently her husband is abusive and favors letting her know that she needs to submit. So, she comes from a place of attempting to salve personal wounds in an angry, bitter mode. I so wish she would come to know the love of our Lord. That is where she would find healing and rest. Part of the roadblock for her is that she cannot stomach the thought of being submissive to ANYONE...including God.

In all honesty, I think that it is a waste of time for scholars and pastors to engage with her on the subject (she will fight to the death on the ONLY 'biblical' subject which interests her)....but I'd like to see someone love her to the foot of the cross.

Gary Simmons

Honestly, I long ago gave up caring whether she was an egal or not. While it's an important issue, it's not the most important thing in the world. I would rather see her be healed than anything, and if that includes her going to an egalitarian church, that's fine by me.

She definitely has a great mind, and her exegetical skills are not mere posturing but actual acquaintance with (at least certain portions of) the text, but so long as she sees reality through the gestalts of her past, she will not see the future for what it is, but only as a haunting reflection of her past.

Scary indeed is a life lived in which the present is reinterpreted through the lens of a terrible past by which one feels dominated.

Dan Wallace's P&P post, The Myth of Theological Liberalism, is illustrative. This is the first time I interacted with Sue. Her comment (#26) had very little to do with the post in question. She reframed it in accordance with her discomfort with the idea that a complementarian (such as Wallace) might be allowed in an academic venue such as SBL.

I had not yet become acquainted with Sue, but I stand by my original response to her in comment 31: "As for traumatic recollections [of female scholars at hearing the word "submit"], the solution does not lie in avoiding certain topics, but in addressing them. Counseling is the answer, not circumlocution. Places, words, ideas, and objects do not permanently cause traumatic recollections, if one faces the obstacle through counseling."

I spoke from experience there, and I stand by it.


The comments here have veered off into rather wild ad hominem attacks. They discuss Ms. McCarthy the person, rather than her arguments -- and further discuss McCarthy based on hearsay. Here, rather than engaging with the force of her textual arguments, we see slights at her (she's not a Christian, she was banned from this or that blog, she is not honest, she is ruthless, her style of engagement discredits, etc.) There is no shortage of speculation about her motivations and psychology, as if that were some sort of scholarly analysis.

Even if ad hominem attacks were somehow a valid form of argument, it would hardly be an answer to the points McCarthy raises, since the same points are made again and again by other scholars -- a quick glance at the many essays in Amy-Jill Levine's celebrated Feminist Companion New Testament series provides ample examples. (Athayla Benner has a corresponding series addressing the Hebrew Bible.)

Regardless of what one thinks of McCarthy (or of how she chooses to frame or re-frame her issues), the issues she raises are not so easily dismissed. A conclusatory assertion that others have made decisions with care and acumen while she is wrathful is hardly a response to the points she raises.



It would not be hard to cite examples of what McCarthy refers to as her "rants." Neither Susan nor Gary nor I base ourselves on hearsay, but on direct experience.

You are certainly correct that Suzanne is capable of making arguments with care and acumen; some of them I feel would pass peer review if she chose to subject them to peer review (she has not). I have pointed that out before. Instead and all too often she takes on a persona that is not befitting to civil conversation.

This is not about Suzanne McCarthy the person. I have no doubt that she is an excellent person in many circumstances.

It's about a posture of attack that she takes online. Certain styles of engagement discredit one's arguments. They exasperate. They are not indicative or conducive of constructive thinking.

If you wish to argue (rather than simply assert) that in the case of the specific episodes of which Susan and Gary speak, Suzanne's approach has been mischaracterized, feel free to do so on your blog, and link to it here in a comment.

As for the occasion of this post, I found Suzanne's critique of Mike Heiser's position unpersuasive, and offered a counter-critique. She did not reply to my arguments. If she had we would have been in business.

Like you, I believe replying to arguments by way of arguments is the gold standard of serious discourse.

Cross-examination by way of questions of the kind "why are you in favor of the subjection of women" do not qualify. Calls for peer-reviewed research to be withdrawn, in particular by someone who does not submit her research to peer review, do not qualify. Reframing the discussion so as to have an occasion once more to attack positions which were not on the table does not qualify. I can give more examples of unseemly or at least very unhelpful conduct if you wish. You know as well as I do that I could document each one.

No double standards please. If you think the take no prisoner's approach to people one opposes on questions at the intersection of tradition and faith is helpful, I can think of a long series of issues, issues that matter to you very much, that I might frame in a certain way, for example, in the form of a rant or with a caustic, belligerent tone.

I promise however to "raise issues that are not easily dismissed."

I doubt you would enjoy being party to such a discussion.

I repeat: no double standards, please. It's really all I ask.


John, I humbly decline the opportunity to comment on whether you have ever ranted or written in a caustic, belligerent tone.

Regarding the remainder of your comments, I simply refer you to Matthew 7:1-3.



I am happy for my writing and blogging to be weighed on the scales you mention.

Your humility in this context is certainly well-considered, given your personal track record on these counts.

The standard Jesus proposes is the one worth following. It is in fact impossible to evaluate arguments or behavior in an ethical manner if one is loathe to have one's own arguments and behavior evaluated by the same criteria. I do my imperfect best at engaging in critique on the basis of that standard. It a standard everyone ought to be able to agree on.

One standard; not two. Thanks for making my point by citing scripture.

Scott Gray


Bear with me on this.

What rights do you feel you have as an online blogger?

What duties do you feel you have as an online blogger?



Hi Scott,

Short answer: the same ones I have and you have in other forms of discourse. I don't think blogging involves lowering the bar if that is what you mean.

I am happy to make myself vulnerable on these issues. I've done that twice now of late, once with respect to Jim West, and once with respect to Suzanne McCarthy.

In order to make the dialogue more fruitful - if anyone is up to it, you are - I would ask you to state your own understanding of the rights and duties of bloggers, and the senses in which you think (1) JW; (2) SM, and (3) JH model those rights and duties.

Looking forward to the conversation.

Scott Gray


Good. This gives me things to think about as I mow the lawn. At the same time, if you would, make your own list, and let's splash them up together and see what's what.

Let's just start with the list itself, if you don't mind, and then let's think about JW, SM, and JH (and SG!)



I long to see grass myself. It is still a frozen tundra up here.


Scott, you must have a lot of lawn to mow.

So I'll go first, before I'm off for a couple of hours.

A blogger has the right:

(1) To delete, reject, or critique any views, opinions and comments posted or part thereof.
(2) To evaluate the arguments and behavior of participants in online discussion by the same criteria said blogger uses to shape his/her online arguments and behavior.
(3) To unmask an anonymous commenter should she/he take advantage of anonymity to vilify someone else.

A blogger has a responsibility:

(1) To uphold standards of civil discourse and expect the same of others.
(2) To evaluate the arguments and behavior of participants in online discussion by the same criteria said blogger uses to shape his/her online arguments and behavior.
(3) To encourage bloggers and commenters who add value to online discourse.

Just a point of departure.

J. K. Gayle

What Theophrastus said. What he said Jesus said (i.e., Matthew 7:1-3).

Scott Gray


I don’t know about you, but this had me thinking long and hard…I mowed all of my lawn and part of the neighbors'.

This feels right now like a spectrum. At its most free: the rights of a blogger are to say anything he or she damn well pleases. If one is the host of a blog, one has the right to do anything one pleases with a comment—dump it, change it, or talk back. The duties are minimal: one has no duties at all.

As we move to more controlled positions, I would argue that duties change in this way: one has the duty to comply with the rules of the server (blogspot). One then has the right to say anything one pleases as long as it complies with the server’s rules. The server has the duty to police these rules or not, as it sees fit (that’s also its right; to police or not).

Then we come to blog sites. The duties of the blogger are to comply with the rules of the blog site creator/owner. One then has the right to say anything one pleases as long as it complies with the creator/owner’s rules. The blog site owner has the duty to police these rules or not, as he/she sees fit (that’s also the creator/owner’s right; to police or not.)

There are analogies in speech between ‘real people.’ But blogging is different. House rules apply, unless the creator/owner chooses not to enforce them.

That’s the first step of my thinking; I’m a systematic theologian. […insert wink emoticon here.]

The rights and duties of particular kinds of communication aren’t congruent, however. You used the term discourse in the comment above. This is quite different from conversation. For example, in discourse, arguments, presuppositions, logic, reason—these all matter, especially in expository presentations. I would argue that one has a right to expect these in discourse. But these rigors don’t apply as much in conversation. This is not to say that blog texts aren’t both—-they contain bits and pieces of discourse and conversation (and real world interactions are a mix, too.). But in a conversation with your grandmother, you wouldn’t expect discourse rigors, and depending on emotions, surprising four-letter words can come out of the gram. This helps, I think, discern the rules (written and unwritten) that apply to blogging.

Ok, that’s part 1. I’ll wait for stuff from you.



Hi Kurk,

Your comment raises the question: do you believe in a single standard, or a double standard? You don't actually say.

I've always had a suspicion (as in, the hermeneutics of suspicion) that you replace one double standard (the one you identify with Aristotle; grosso modo, in which a male is bound to do the right and a female is incapable of doing the right) with *another* double standard (in which a male by default is in the wrong (guilty until proven innocent and a female by default is in the right (innocent perhaps by ontology)).

You are welcome to clarify.


Hi Scott,

Your distinction clarifies things greatly.

You see blogging as a place of conversation in which one is allowed to say whatever one pleases, apparently without regard for "the other."

I see blogging as a place of discourse in which the conversational genre is dignified by the ethics we associate with discourse.

Beyond that, I think it's important to erase the distinction between rights and responsibilities in the optic of a broad-based teleology (a kingdom of ends in which every person is an end and never only a means). A narrower teleology is more willing to reply as Lenin did to the famous question directed to him by Quakers on the eve of the Bolshevik revolution:

"Mr. Lenin, do the ends justify the means?"

Reply: "If the ends do not justify the means, what do?"

In my list, right #2 = responsibility #2. I'm thinking out loud at this point. I may back away from the identification of rights and responsibilities. I'm wondering what you think about the question.

Scott Gray

Hey john—

“You see blogging as a place of conversation in which one is allowed to say whatever one pleases, apparently without regard for "the other." I see blogging as a place of discourse in which the conversational genre is dignified by the ethics we associate with discourse.”

Well, no actually, I see blogging as both. There are sites dedicated to conversation, others dedicated to discourse, and others that mix the two.

You’ve also conflated two other things which I’ll separate, if I haven’t so far:

Conversation is about communication at a variety of levels, often containing a high emotion content. Your ‘one is allowed to say whatever one pleases, apparently without regard for “the other” may be conversation, or it may not. But it certainly isn’t a definition of ‘conversation’ per se, at least not in my book.

But there are those who do think the two are closely intertwined, and these folk are active on the web.

“Beyond that, I think it's important to erase the distinction between rights and responsibilities in the optic of a broad-based teleology (a kingdom of ends in which every person is an end and never only a means).”

I think I know what you’re saying here, but I’m not really sure. I’m going to respond as though you are talking about an imbalance between individualism and communitarianism. If I’m off the mark, clean up my understanding, please.

Blogging is not about the ‘high freedom’ end of the rights/duty spectrum I articulated a few comments ago. The result of those rights/duties would be something I don’t wish to engage in. But different people move away from that position to different levels of rights and duties in their engagement while blogging. And I think this is what’s up here; your standards of rights and duties are not the same as others.

Let’s take Herr West, for example. He certainly is not engaged in discourse; he’s engaged in conversation, but not a conversation I want to lurk in or participate in.

Sue is engaged in discourse, but not a discourse that adheres to you sense of rights and duties.

My biggest problem with both of them is, I find the communication these two engage in to be oppressive. by that I mean the conversation, and the discourse, are about things that require a lot of energy and engagement, but not things I feel are of value, or at least personally rewarding. They distract me, in a manner that keeps me from thinking about the 400,000 other things in the world I find interesting to muse about and share with others. I have to say that the thing I find most difficult about oppressive engagement is that it is exhausting.

These two are certainly not the only oppressive presences on the blogosphere. I find Susan's (not McCarthy, the other Susan) need to definitively assess Sue's 'submitted under God,' and her caring concern directed in the third person, also to be oppressive.

And you and I have been oppressive with each other as well.

Two other points, though. I feel that Jim and Sue and Susan and you and I have every right to engage the blogosphere just exactly as we are doing. I place all of us closer to the ‘high freedom’ end of the rights/duty online spectrum than you do. If the blogs we participate on feel we aren’t following the rules, their creator/owners can choose to delete, ban, or respond.

And if the content of Jim and Sue’s blogs aren’t up to your standard, you are free to vote with your feet, write on their blogs, or write about them on your own.

One other point. In Sue’s case for sure, she is responding to what she perceives as a critical injustice. And she’s not quiet about it, or finessed about it, but she is, in my opinion, competently engaging the blogosphere about this issue in an expository, (not a conversational!) manner. While she may not be engaging as successfully in her current mode as she might be, she and I have had some very interesting and I would say profound conversations. I admire her tenacity, and her much of her position.

Jim might be responding to something he perceives as a critical injustice, but I find his manner of engagement is heavily oppressive; so oppressive that I can’t glean any useful stuff. That’s why I don’t play at his house at all. Sue I don’t find nearly as oppressive, but I’m betting there’s quite a few that do.

There's no duty listed regarding being oppressive, unless it's rolled up in your #2.

I understand your resonance with #2. As you know from conversations you and I have had, I’m not quite as strict on this duty as you are. It’s why you and I are discourse partners, and not conversational partners or friends.

John, with all due respect and affection, I’m glad you are present online about the things you engage in.

Thank you.




Very well done. One reason I enjoy having you on these threads is that you often end up saying things that get me to think beyond my certainties in constructive ways.

Your use of the word "oppressive" is particularly helpful. It will make me think before I write in the future: am I writing something "oppressive" in Scott Gray's sense?

You also have a fine way of disagreeing with people, partly or radically, and protecting their rights at the same time and without condescension.

It's also clear that you mean what you say on first amendment rights. Your commitment to conscience is wide and deep, and not just to your own conscience (the usual emphasis), but to the conscience of others.

Which brings us back to the conflict between individualism and communitarianism. With respect to that conflict I am a contrarian, in that I stand up for the rights of communities over against the rights of individuals. I figure that, in this age flooded with the libertarian mindset, it is important to redress the balance.

Scott Gray

Oh, John, are you really ready for an individualism/communitarianism throw down?

Start a thread with an engaging post, sir.


P.S. Do you know Pirsig's understanding of cantrarian?


That is worth a thread of its own.

As for Pirsig's view of contrarians as vital complements to systems otherwise in stasis, that is hard to argue with.

But Pirsig brackets out the question of right and wrong and truth and falsehood, a move I think is possible only from a position of great privilege. You won't see me taking that route.

Scott Gray

Hey John--

If you're game: what are the rights and duties of a Christian blogger?

Let me know if it appeals; if so, I'll go finish the neighbors' lawn. If not, let it go.



I have a full plate today. Thanks anyway.

J. K. Gayle

do you believe in a single standard, or a double standard? You don't actually say.

I've always had a suspicion (as in, the hermeneutics of suspicion) that you replace one double standard (the one you identify with Aristotle; grosso modo, in which a male is bound to do the right and a female is incapable of doing the right) with *another* double standard (in which a male by default is in the wrong (guilty until proven innocent and a female by default is in the right (innocent perhaps by ontology)).

You are welcome to clarify.

I would rather appeal to your hermeneutics of charity.

Jesus's methods (like the issues that Suzanne McCarthy, Amy-Jill Levine, Athayla Benner raise) do not give us any reason to silence a woman, not on international woman's day, not during women's history month, not on any occasion forward in our present century, not when we have a full plate. He practices what he preaches, so the stories go. He asks a yet-un-named woman, a non-Jewess half-breed serial-fornicator, for water, and he hears her out (the Samaritan at the well); then, he allows her to be one of his first evangelists, and she's quite good at it. He first chastens another yet-un-named woman, a non-Jewess, a bitching dog-crumb scrapping mother for asking for a miracle of healing of her yet-un-named daughter's given-ness to demons; but then, listening to her in that goyish tongue of hers, he holds her up publicly as a high human example of "faith." He allows a once-demon stricken woman, one of his own race but a prostitute for men more than once, to be publicly emotive and wastefully extravagant with him; the story goes that he shows his once-dead body to her and makes her his first apostle, and "the apostle to the apostles."

Jesus's practiced methods (like the issues that Suzanne McCarthy, Amy-Jill Levine, Athayla Benner raise) are different from Aristotle's phallic centric logic.

Now, you know I've already said many times that even feminists can practice bad methods, can choose not to raise issues that would reject silencing and would forgo kyriarchy. For example, feminist rhetoric scholar Carol Poster has written an essay, "(Re)positioning Pedagogy: A Feminist Historiography of Aristotle's Rhetorica" for the purpose of banning Aristotle's work on rhetoric from the canon of feminist rhetorics. Her move is very Aristotelean, very separatist, very binary, very phallogocentric. It's the double standard. This is very different from the listening practices of Maya Angelou, who was raped by a misogynistic gynophobe when she was an 8-year-old girl. She insists on listening to those with whom she disagrees and encourages others as well, without writing awful blogposts that might disparage them. Angelou listens rhetorically to Aristotle and insists: "One needs to know Aristotle.... One needs it desperately.... Must! I mean desperately... if one is to be at ease anywhere."

Now, I've also admitted how hypo-critical I can be, John. I do not "believe in ... a double standard." I do not believe in kyriarchy. I do not believe in silencing the marginalized from my position of power. And yet, yes, I'm in re-covery. I must judge myself. See Theophrastus's allusion to the methods of Jesus again, to the hermeneutic of charity. So, John, you cannot be my judge. You cannot be Suzanne McCarthy's judge or Mary Magdalene's judge. Lest you be judged yourself, my friend.


Thanks for the conversation, Kurk. That you have a double standard is painfully clear from your comments.

I disagree with your views on Aristotle, Suzanne McCarthy, Mary Magdalene, and my blog rules. But there will be plenty of occasions in the future to take up those disagreements.

I will try again to illuminate our disagreements at the level of self-understanding.

I write in order to submit my arguments to evaluation by others. It is a voluntary act of submission; if I were not in a position to submit in this way (because of a history of forced submission) I could not write in the first place.

In short, I write in order to be judged; all I ask is that a single standard be applied.

As soon as I see you applying one standard to me, another to yourself, and a third to whomever you assimilate to Mary Magdalene in a given situation, I cannot help but speak of a double standard.

That you give some a free pass and others your judgment - though I cannot be your judge, according to you, you can be mine - might be understood as an example of the bigotry of low expectations. This is my deepest objection to your approach: by way of your charity - a psychologist might refer to it as enabling behavior - you hurt the very people you want to help.

Finally, your understanding of the methods of Jesus does not stand up to critical scrutiny. Jesus reproved friends and enemies alike, sometimes harshly. You cannot rebuke or correct without judging. The notion that you are propounding, that Jesus was a non-judgmental person, is a fiction of the first order.

Jesus did not give Mary Magdalene a free pass either.He forgave a sinner, a form of judgment that dis-enables bad behavior, because it comes with the proviso: go and sin no more. Forgiveness is an initiative, not a conclusion; if it does not elicit repentance, it is transformed into its opposite. By definition.

J. K. Gayle

that Jesus was a non-judgmental person, is a fiction of the first order.

I cannot be your judge. You can't be mine. And Jesus won't need me to defend his methods either. I do read him as awfully gracious, almost permissive, never submitting himself to peer review for publication, perhaps an enabler, and a teller of a parable of a father without much harshness when his sons are misbehaving squandering and rule-following. If was in his defense of others against spiritual abuse where his biographers record his anger. But eye-for-eye, tooth-for-tooth is not the Jesus I read. Rather he's turn-the-other-cheek, go-the-extra-mile, in his methods - as I study the gospels. Without this meekness, these meek methods, there'd be no Martin Luther King, Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Theresa or Fyodor Dostoevsky or Teresa of Ávila. By way of their charity - a psychologist might refer to it as enabling behavior.

By the way, I think you might take Theophrastus (who can speak for himself) or Suzanne McCarthy (who can speak to her own issues) or me as not being enabling in the least. For myself, John, I say that silencing another human being is bordering on spiritual abuse. Ad hominem arguments are not only logically fallacious and not only ineffectual among the intelligent, but they are also emotionally and spiritually abusive. I think you get that. I hope you do. To me you're acting like a bible-blogger policeman, jury, judge, and hangman all in one. It's bullying. Am I enabling that, enabling you, my friend? Now, I can be very direct in saying to you, Stop! Just stop it.


"Ad hominem arguments are not only logically fallacious and not only ineffectual among the intelligent, but they are also emotionally and spiritually abusive."

Isn't that an ad hominem argument itself?

Gary Simmons

I walk away for a few days, assuming my comment would awkwardly end the thread, and suddenly a new surge of discourse emerges.

Theophrastus (and Kurk): My intent in commenting above was three-fold: first, if Sue reads this, I hope she will walk away feeling urged to (continue) seek(ing) help until she finds peace. I meant neither condescension nor pity, but genuine concern. I suspect her response would be that it's none of my business, and I suppose that's true, but that doesn't stop me from caring.

Second, as I hardly would qualify as a supporter of her views (I sympathize with Heiser though I am less apathetic), it's worth noting what I did not say. There was no attack on her person, character, or her scholarship as such. I know what it's like to interpret the present through the overwhelming gestalts of the past, and now that I've moved past that stranglehold, it is shocking to look back and see how that made me misinterpret benign concerns from my friends.

Third, I did affirm that she's competent as an exegete and linguist. I'm fully aware that I'm the least competent dramatis persona in this thread.

In short: I intended my comments to be in the style of Matthew 7:4-5 rather than 7:1-3, which is a text that seeks to en-able the removal of the speck rather than remain laissez-faire. Happily, it seems that no one here has commented in the fashion of 7:6.

Gary Simmons

Jesus' anger in Mark, Kurk, seems to be related to questioning his authority. This especially seems valid if you take the ὀργισθείς rather than the σπλαγχνισθείς reading at 1:41. It would sure seem strange that "if you want to, you can heal me" would set him off, unless it's the "if" that angers him. Questioning the rightness of his actions leads to anger in 3:1-6.

Combine this irritation at having his authority questioned with his tendency to downplay his identity, and you have someone very hard to please. That is -- unless you have faith.

Then again, Jesus also experiences frustration at Mark 4:13. Perhaps my previous paragraph doesn't have the right of it after all. In any case, I would concur with John that Jesus isn't always flowers and butterflies. Nobody would crucify Jesus if he were just a compassionate healer.

Scott Gray


"first, if Sue reads this, I hope she will walk away feeling urged to (continue) seek(ing) help until she finds peace. I meant neither condescension nor pity, but genuine concern."

Eek! this implies that there is a configuration for Sue that is in some fashion 'better' than the configuration she currently lives in. I could say the same about you, and you about me. It's a sort of presumption that is neither egalitarian nor complementarian. It's elitism in a deceitfully innocuous form.

Can't you just accept Sue, and Jim, and John, and Kurk as they are and enjoy them?


Scott Gray

Eeek! My hyperbolic adjectives got ahead of my internal editor. I didn't mean deceitfully innocuous. I meant incidious.



I'll know you mean what you say about what you call ad hominem arguments when you stop making them yourself.

In the mean time, it is not too much to say that your own words condemn you. I concur with Jimmy's remark.

I defend your right to call me "emotionally and spiritually abusive." I defend my right to characterize an online or offline author in similar terms. Take away my right to qualify someone from a moral point of view, you take away your own.

That you plough ahead as if this were not true is easy to see through.

Of more interest is the picture of Jesus you have constructed. It's an a la carte Jesus you have cobbled together; not the Jesus of the gospels.

Jesus makes (on your definition) ad hominem references to friend and foe alike - "Get behind me, Satan!", "Hypocrites!". Based on your definitions, he was being "emotionally and spiritually abusive."

Jesus set down rules for fraternal correction (Matthew 18). In the case of recalcitrant offenders, deletion from the community is required - shunning is the term, silencing as you call it.

This Jesus is not after your own heart, So you have constructed another one.

Still, it is clear that the Jesus of your heart is the only one you can take; to have another one would be sin for you. I might wish that your conscience were transformed. In the mean time, I respect the one you have.

I ask that you repay the courtesy. The Jesus that I have is not the same one you have. To have another one would be sin for me. You might wish that my conscience were transformed. In the mean time, respect the one I have.

I hope you sense the gentleness behind my call for two-way respect. It is not the response you wanted from me, I know. To your imperious request, I can only reply: I will not stop. Like Paul with Peter, I believe I must oppose you to your face.

Despite our disagreements, I continue to wish you well.



I'm sure you mean "insidious."

You bring up an interesting point. One thing I adore about the online world is that it is not elitist. Anyone can participate. If someone pushes the envelope enough, she or he gets banned. But she or he is never truly silenced. She or he is free to self-expression elsewhere in the universe.

However, the charge of elitism so easily boomerangs. Am I required to enjoy everyone I encounter on line? To require that would also be elitist.


Based on past behavior, Suzanne McCarthy has been banned from "Parchment and Pen" and this blog.

On her behalf, nonetheless, I pass on the following note:

"My email is a matter of public record. Anyone commenting here has access to it and can contact me directly."

She can be found at "Suzanne's Bookshelf."

I include this note as a matter of courtesy. I am unable to recommend that Suzanne's invitation be accepted. But I could be wrong about that. Perhaps a conversation will yet unfold which will change my mind.

Scott Gray

Dang John, you start to embrace my level of first amendment rights and duties after all. I'm pleased, in an elitist-judgment sort of way.

Elitism is often incidious / insidious, isn't it? You mentioned before Pirsig's position of priviledge (a kind of elitism) regarding judgments about truth/falsity. We are each and all priviledged and elitist in our judgments-- be it Pirsig about truth, or you and I about social justice, or Kurk about you, or Susan and Gary about Sue, or Congress about deep sea fishing rights, or the author(s) of Matthew about moralism.

I plead guitly in my elitist judgments. My agony is not about making judgments; I make them at first blush all the time. Can't help myself, no matter how I resolve not to. But my heart-felt agony is not about making judgments all the time; it's about discerning what to do with the judgments I make.

(Of course, the irony is that the elitist author(s)of Matthew still managed to come up with the beatitudes...)



Gary -- thanks for explaining your point of view. I'm trying not to gossip, so I won't speculate on any personal history of Suzanne. But even if a person does suffer trauma, I do not see why having a traumatic event disqualifies him or her from participating in public discourse. If anything, I would think that this perspective adds considerably to the discussion.

For better or worse, in our age Aristotelian logic is not the sole method of argument. Second-Wave Feminism's insight that "the personal is the political" has permanently added to our universe of discourse.

J. K. Gayle

John and Gary,

All our Jesus talk ("my Jesus is better than your Jesus") calls to mind a few things Gandhi felt compelled to say:

"I have never made a fetish of consistency."

"It is not impossible that, fascinated - by English education, your community will be swept off its feet by this Western wind.... The nations of Europe are called Christian but they have forgotten the teachings of Christ."

"I did once seriously think of embracing the Christian faith. The gentle figure of Christ, so patient, so kind, so loving, so full of forgiveness that he taught his followers not to retaliate when abused or struck, but to turn the other cheek. I thought it was a beautiful example of the perfect man.... I studied your Scriptures for some time and thought earnestly about them. I was tremendously attracted to Christianity, but,...."

"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

"Aristotle's megalopsychia may even be too close to megalomania for the comfort of most contemporary persons.... "

On a much larger, maybe more important scale, he also went on to say:

"India can proclaim that she can defend herself and make progress not through the atom bomb but through non-violence alone"

"cry out for women's rights but pay attention to enrol as many women as possible as voters, impart or have imparted to them practical education, teach them to think independently, release them from the chain of caste that bind them so as to bring about a change in them which will compel men to realise women's political strength and capacity for sacrifice and give her places of honour."

Since you bring up the limits of logic and the insights of second-wave feminism, now I re-member something Gloria Steinem writes:

"A white minority of the world has spent centuries conning us into thinking that a white skin makes people superior- even though the only thing it really does is make them more subject to ultraviolet rays and to wrinkles. Male human beings have built whole cultures around the idea that penis-envy is 'natural' to women- though having such unprotected organ might be said to make men vulnerable, and the power to give birth makes womb-envy at least as logical."

"If men could menstrate, and women could not, menstruation would become an enviable, boastworthy, masculine event.... Men would brag about how long and how much. Boys would mark the onset of menses, that longed for proof of manhood, with religious ritual and stag parties."



The trouble is, for some of us, Jesus is a living person whom we are trying to follow. We are not interested in a Jesus whose face as it were is a composite of a few faded details from the gospels filled in with and given precision by elements from the faces of Ghandhi and Steinem.

I have long thought of you as a collagist. You are bent on replacing the canon of "dead white males" with a "rainbow" canon. Your new canon has a scrapbook quality. I see you as an Andy Warhol whose subjects are conjoined in order to create an intellectual version of Coca Cola's "we are the world."

Here's the thing. I find your rainbow drab. The Southwest Asians, Northern Africans, and Southern Europeans who populate the Bible are more colorful, strong, and beautiful than Ghandi or Steinem.

The Jesus of the gospels *is* better than any Jesus a middle class 21st century individual inhabiting the world of "American Pie" is going to come up with. Even if they are gifted in an Andy Warhol sort of way, as you are.

J. K. Gayle

There is a sense in which controlling forms of interpretation are the direct result of the lack of freedom which an inadequate experience of love entails; or, more modestly, the lack of a desire to embrace “the other.”

Now I confess I'm starting to have a bit more fun talking with you. Irony - take a look at what you can see of your own would-be-colo(u)rful white collage, with your own "Southwest Asians, Northern Africans, and Southern Europeans who populate the Bible." You'd give Edward Said a field day.

My niece, who's an art historian, and my son, who's a studio artist, would be absolutely surprised by your comparisons of Warhol and me. Recently, we together with my daughters were critiquing his works, hanging in the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Looking at his objectifying collage, "Twenty-Five Colored Marilyns, 1962", my niece quotes him from his book, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: from A to B and back again:

"When you're in Sweden and you see beautiful person after beautiful person after beautiful person and you finally don't even turn around to look because you know the next person you see will be just as beautiful as the one you didn't bother to turn around to look at—in a place like that you can get so bored that when you see a person who's not beautiful, they look very beautiful to you because they break the beautiful monotony."

And to emphasize how objectivizing he could be, she recalls his writing:

"When I look around today, the biggest anachronism I see is pregnancy. I just can't believe that people are still pregnant."


You say I'm "bent on replacing the canon of 'dead white males'." Well, I'm actually bent on so much more than that. I'm very interested not just in the product of the canon but also in the process that has led us to its production. Interesting that you would rather emphasize the structure, as if that's my sole interest.

Nancy Mairs very astutely observes that "The fundamental structure of patriarchy is thus binary." But she goes on:

This binarying is "is not women’s language, since women, for a variety of reasons, live in a polymorphic rather than a dimorphic world, a world in which the differentiation of self from other may never completely take place, in which multiple selves may engage multiply with the multiple desires of the creatures in it."

"The difference that emerges here is not the polarity intrinsic in the dominant discourse, which reduces 'woman to man’s opposite, his other, the negative of the positive.' No, this is an absolute and radical alterity that enfolds the other, as in pregnancy a woman’s immune system shuts down in such a way that she shelters and nourishes, rather than rejects and expels, the foreign body within her.... Feminine discourse is not the language of opposites but a babel of eroticism, attachment, and empathy."

Don't know if you must see Mairs's world as a "drab rainbow," as simply "a composite of," but I'd say you don't have to. As I've said elsewhere, I view as worth following "manly Hebrew men, like Moses and like Jesus, who play with language and don’t reduce it to the binary logic of separating males from females so that the former are always, and Naturally, over the latter."

May I encourage you to do the same?


This is fun, Kurk, but no, I'm not coming over to your particular rainbow any time soon.

I once was at a conference together with Said. I have fond memories. He had a field day with a lot of people. I would have counted it a privilege to be a target of his.

I count it a privilege to critique your approach. I always will, so long as you brazenly give Moses and Jesus an extreme makeover in your image. From your point of view, that is your right; from my point of view, it is an ethics violation.

You don't seem to realize how much this makes you and Warhol two peas in a pod. You are objectifying Moses and Jesus. You do a number on them in the same way Warhol did a number on Marilyn Monroe. Think about it.

But really, you objectify the women you cite as well. They are stick figures, Barbie Dolls, in your handling of them. They have beautiful silky hair, metaphorically speaking; they always say the right thing. They are subject indeed, in a bad way, because you put them on a pedestal.

A better approach is inter-subjectivity. It does require submission to work. It depends on a dynamic combination of hierarchy and equal regard. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than your philosophy dreams of.

J. K. Gayle

with Said. I have fond memories. He had a field day with a lot of people. I would have counted it a privilege to be a target of his.

Would Said have any fondness for what you've written here, John? I suppose you saw that his skin is darker than yours, that his method is politically and personally - from his very body - opposed to what you're doing in this very blogpost and by your comments here. Did you even make it into the preface of his most important work, where he says,

"My idea in Orientalism is to use humanistic critique to open up the fields of struggle, to introduce a longer sequence of thought and analysis to replace the short bursts of polemical, thought-stopping fury that so imprison us in labels and antagonistic debate whose goal is a belligerent collective identity rather than understanding and intellectual exchange."

Could he be your Barbie Doll, on your pedestal? How have you listened to him, and what have you learned from him?

And did you even read what I wrote? How are you viewing Moses and Jesus as somehow my own image of them? Have you read, or understood, David Rosenberg's An Educated Man: A Dual Biography of Moses and Jesus? At one point, Rosenberg brazenly states:

"With these words [i.e., Matthew 24:23], we see Jesus embodying the Jewish writer that Moses first characterized, a writer for whom what is being said and written must be intelligible to all men and women. No ivory tower priesthood."

I've emphasized the conjunction, not because Rosenberg or Moses or Jesus or I "objectify women" or consider them "stick figures" or "handle them" or only hear them all always and only saying "the right thing" or subject them in either a good or "bad" way or "put them on a pedestal." Rather, I've bolded the "and" here because Moses and Jesus and David Rosenberg are considerably inclusive, able to read, to listen to, and to learn from women. Rosenberg, in fact, draws attention to the word "man" in the title of his book by deconstructing it in his second sentence of that book: "In contrast," he writes, "'an educated woman' might have negative connotations, as if she could be too smart." If you've read his book, or will, or can, then you'll get (I hope) what he's saying.

And did you even read what I wrote? Women do, too often, resort to masculinist phallogocentric means of counting it a privilege unfairly to critique another's approach. You read what I wrote about Carol Poster, didn't you? But then there are women you and I would do better to listen to: Nancy Mairs, Suzanne McCarthy, and Rachel Barenblat, to name a few. And did you even read what they wrote?


Yes, Kurk, I did read what you wrote.

You ask a lot of questions when you find yourself in a corner.

In my view, you do a disservice to your cause by your style of argumentation. You did quote Ghandi above in order to cover for your lack of consistency. But I doubt that will cut it for many.

You are asking too much of your readers when you refer to a "manly Moses" as if he were a proto-feminist in one place, and describe Moses as promoting "the waterboarding of women" (your words) in another place.

You are asking too much of your readers when you express your admiration of Jesus and when confronted with evidence that your Jesus and the Jesus of the gospels do not line up, brush the matter off.

You are asking too much of your readers (I refer to myself) when you imply that Paul in Ephesians 5, by wedding his love ethic with patriarchy, is worse than Aristotle. If that is your view, it is a very grace accusation. Feel free to clarify.

On Edward Said, I recommend, for starters, Ibn Warraq's Critique of Edward Said's Orientalism. If you are unwilling to give Ibn Warraq a hearing because he does not have the right academic pedigree, there is a great exchange between Said and Bernard Lewis in the New York Review of Books. Keith Windschuttle dismantled Said's theory of imperialism. These references are only the tip of the iceberg.

If you wish, I can elaborate on my deep and abiding differences with Edward Said. It seems to me that Said raises all the right questions and comes up with all the wrong answers.

At least you are clear on where you draw your lines. Either someone is an uncritical feminist, post-colonialist, and post- who knows what else, or one is an oppressor.

To each his own binary scheme.

J. K. Gayle

You ask a lot of questions when you find yourself in a corner.

No, John. If you read carefully enough you'd know.

Titus follows Paul who follows Aristotle: Who must the women follow?

It's literary, it's oral-visual, it's sensory. And why wouldn't a text dealing with bodies and sex be?

הלאה הטמהו םיליתפהו תמתחה ימל
-- Tamar

Hope this doesn't make you too nervous. I just ask a lot of questions. Period.


Thanks, Kurk, for the conversation. Without nervousness, I look forward to the next time.

Gary Simmons

Scott: Can't you just accept Gary as he is and enjoy him?

Theo: I don't think public discourse should exclude those who have a dog in the fight, either. One need not be "objective," whatever that might mean, to be worthy of dialogue. On the other hand, first-hand experience is not always reliable enough to generalize therefrom.

Yet if I find someone who is convicted from personal experience of something, with such a wholehearted commitment as to not allow for the possibility of error, then the dialogue may not go anywhere.

What's more, I could not find discourse enjoyable when any disagreement leads this or that interlocutor to challenge me -- or otherwise remain silent and uninterested in matters s/he has no personal stake in. How could that be enjoyable, unless I have the same dog in that fight?

Scott Gray


Now that you've reached a new and better and acceptable Gary-configuration, of course I can!


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    by Jeff Contrast
  • Serving the Word
    incisive comment on the Hebrew Bible and related ancient matters, with special attention to problems of philology and linguistic anthropology, by Seth L. Sanders, Assistant Professor in the Religion Department of Trinity College, Hartford, CT
  • Singing in the Reign
    NT blog by Michael Barber (JP University) and Brad Pitre (Our Lady Holy Cross)
  • Stay Curious
    excellent comment on Hebrew Bible and Hebrew language topics, by Karyn Traphagen, graduate, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia PA (archive)
  • Sufficiency
    A personal take on the faith delivered to the saints, by Bob MacDonald, whose parallel blog on the Psalms in Hebrew is a colorful and innovative experiment
  • The Sundry Times
    Gary Zimmerli's place, with comment on Bible translations and church renewal
  • Sunestauromai: living the crucified life
    by a scholar-pastor based in the Grand Canyon National Park
  • ta biblia
    blog dedicated to the New Testament and the history of Christian origins, by Giovanni Bazzana
  • Targuman
    by Christian Brady, targum specialist extraordinaire, and dean of Schreyer Honors College, Penn State University
  • Targuman
    on biblical and rabbinic literature, Christian theology, gadgetry, photography, and the odd comic, by Christian Brady, associate professor of ancient Hebrew and Jewish literature and dean of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State
  • The Biblia Hebraica Blog
    a blog about Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, the history of the Ancient Near East and the classical world, Syro-Palestinian archaeology, early Judaism, early Christianity, New Testament interpretation, English Bible translations, biblical theology, religion and culture, philosophy, science fiction, and anything else relevant to the study of the Bible, by Douglas Magnum, PhD candidate, University of the Free State, South Africa
  • The Forbidden Gospels Blog
    by April DeConick, Professor of Biblical Studies, Rice University
  • The Naked Bible
    by Mike Heiser, academic editor at Logos Bible Software
  • The Reformed Reader
    by Andrew Compton, Ph.D. student in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (focus on Hebrew and Semitic Languages) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • The Sacred Page
    a blog written by three Catholic Ph.D.s who are professors of Scripture and Theology: Michael Barber, Brant Pitre and John Bergsma
  • The Talmud Blog
    a group blog on Talmud News, Reviews, Culture, Currents, and Criticism
  • Theological German
    a site for reading and discussing theological German, by Mark Alter
  • theoutwardquest
    seeking spirituality as an outward, not an inward quest, by David Corder
  • This Lamp
    Incisive comment on Bible translations in the archives, by Rick Mansfield
  • Thoughts on Antiquity
    By Chris Weimer and friends, posts of interest on ancient Greek and Roman topics (archive). Chris is a graduate student at the City University of New York in Classics
  • Threads from Henry's Web
    Wide-ranging comment by Henry Neufeld, educator, publisher, and author
  • Tête-à-Tête-Tête
    smart commentary by "smijer," a Unitarian-Universalist
  • Undeception
    A great blog by Mike Douglas, a graduate student in biblical studies
  • What I Learned From Aristotle
    the Judaica posts are informative (archive)
  • Bouncing into Graceland
    a delightful blog on biblical and theological themes, by Esteban Vázquez (archive)
  • Weblog
    by Justin Anthony Knapp, a fearless Wikipedian (archive)
  • Writing in the Dust
    A collection of quotes by Wesley Hill, a doctoral student in New Testament studies at Durham University (UK), and a Christian who seeks the charism of chastity
  • גֵּר־וְתוֹשָׁב
    by David Miller, Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism, Briercrest College & Seminary, Caronport, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • ואל-תמכר
    Buy truth and do not sell: wisdom, instruction, and understanding - a blog by Mitchell Powell, student of life at the intersection of Christ, Christianity, and Christendom
  • משלי אדם
    exploring wisdom literature, religion, and other academic pursuits, by Adam Couturier, M.A. in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible (graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)

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  • Ancient Hebrew Poetry is a weblog of John F. Hobbins. Opinions expressed herein do not reflect those of his professional affiliations. Unless otherwise indicated, the contents of Ancient Hebrew Poetry, including all text, images, and other media, are original and licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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