does feminism conflict with your religious beliefs? - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-26-2004, 05:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Are there any women here who feel that feminism conflicts with their religious beliefs? I get the impression that there are a good number of traditional or fairly traditional religious types here at MDC (myself included) but I've not seen this issue discussed. There's a very vocal feminism on the boards and I wonder if it ever makes you feel like : ?

So whatever your religion-- Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, what ever religion-- do you feel your religious beliefs prevent you from embracing mainstream feminism, and how does this affect you IRL or elsewhere?

I noticed there was a traditional Catholic thread here on the Tridentine mass, I'd love to hear from you- and all other mamas too!
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Old 08-26-2004, 05:45 PM
 
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I think it does in a way...

I am a Christian who takes the Bible literailly. So for me personally, I live by the verses that say women are to be keepers/workers at home, and that we are to submit to our husbands.

The submitting to our DH's thing- I think is pretty easy because in return he is susposed to love me more than anything (basicly), so it's not like I'm submitting to anything terrible. In our house, what it really comes down to is he trusts me to what I think is right, we talk about all the big decisions, and whenever one of those really hard, life-changing decisions comes up and I don't know which way to go- instead of stressing out, I get to say "That's up to you, dear!"

As for as the working thing- I know lots of moms work, and I have been glad for them. My old doctor was a woman and I was grateful for her. But she wasn't a Christian, either, so she isn't accountable to Biblical standards.

I guess if feminisim is truely just being able to do whatever we want as women, then my religion doesn't conflict with it - meaning that I *am* choosing what I want to do, and our religion gives us free will to do what we want. So, not all feminists could be Christains, but all Christains could be feminists- if that makes sense.
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Old 08-26-2004, 06:11 PM
 
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Oh my, thin ice here on MDC!

I think it depends on the definition of feminism. If it simply means that women are equal in value to men. I'm fine with that. If it means that if a woman has to work, that she gets paid according to the work she does, and not her gender, I'm find with that too.

However, neo-feminism, or mainstream feminism seriously conflicts with my faith.
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Old 08-26-2004, 06:46 PM
 
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I am a Muslim woman. In my own private religious life I am pretty conservative. I observe my religious laws and I believe that they are of tremendous benefit to my own journey to be a better human being and come closer to God. I also believe that if those things were followed in greater society that we would have a better society. I don't believe in sex outside of the marital contract, I wear hijab and dress my son and daughter modestly. I pray regularly etc. I am not patting myself on the back, I just wanted to give some examples of what I mean when I say conservative in my own private life. Actually, if I were to attempt to apply how I live personally to the political I'd probably be a right-wing republican.

All of that being said, socially I am very liberal. I believe that allowing a great deal of individual freedom and choice is the only way to protect minorities and allow people to live with dignity. I am also a very adamant feminist. This, however, was not always the case.

I went to an all girls high school, I was a women's studies minor in college and I volunteered at the women's center on campus. I involved myself in a lot of activism surrounding bettering the lives of women all over the world, but I never considered myself a feminist. Like many on this board, I was turned off by the images I saw of and the words I heard from mainstream feminists. It seemed that everytime I opened Ms. Magazine I was being presented with an image of myself and my sisters (as Muslim women) as ignorant, oppressed and in need of a very specific Middle-class white American brand of feminism. I call it the 'chorus of condescension.' As a deeply religious and personally conservative person, I took that attitude very personally. When I opened up the magazine or read books or other works by modern feminist authors I constantly felt under attack.

I read a book by Chilla Bulbeck that really set me on the path to changing my perspective. It is called "Re-orienting Western Feminisms." It is really a wake-up call to mainstream western feminism that it must begin to RESPECTFULLY and HUMBLY include minority women. It must understand that the problems and solutions that suit middle-class white women in America or Australia or France are not the same problems and solutions facing a poor Maori woman in New Zealand or a wealthy Arab woman in Egypt or a middle class black woman in America. Unfortunately, I have seen the modern world w/o feminism. I have faced real misogyny.

I don't think most American women realize just how fragile our freedom is, just how balanced on the point of a needle it really is. After facing those experiences I had to re-evaluate my attitude. As I noted in another post, I refuse to let a few people with loud voices drown out my voice. We need more conservative women, women of color, poor women, rich women to fully accept their equally and turn that into activism.

Oops, sorry didn't mean to turn this into a soap box. So no, much of mainstream feminism disturbs me, but this cause is too important to let them have the last word. Dissenting voices must be heard, this struggle belongs to all women, all humanity. We can never truly progress while half of the world is being held back.
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Old 08-26-2004, 07:16 PM
 
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I wouldn't follow one that did.

No, my spiritual/religious beliefs are not contradicted by feminism as I understand it.

"What will you do once you know?"
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Old 08-26-2004, 07:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks all for contributing. It is great reading your different ideas.

When I was in college (which wasn't that long ago :LOL) the hardline feminism was that there was no intrinsic differences between men and women, and that any apparent differences were "conditioning" only. This directly contradicts my belief that God created woman from man, that they were created for different spiritual and physical purposes.

There were different flavors of this feminism-- say, if you recognized that women have different ways of learning, or that they had different emotional needs in relationships, but were still fundamentally the same as men, then you were a slightly dilluted feminist, but still a feminist. And probably those differences were just cultural conditioning, anyway.

Something inside of me always withdrew from the feminist party line. I know what you mean, mahdokht, about looking through Ms. and feeling offended and alienated.
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Old 08-26-2004, 07:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom
Oh my, thin ice here on MDC!
When I first started reading here, and saw some things that were written about women who did not think in a feminist way, I initially thought that it must be part of the MDC rules and regulations that you could not post things that were not feminist. So I went and read both the statement of purpose and the rules and regulations of MDC, but couldn't find the rule that required posters be feminist. :LOL

I really thought this. I'm not kidding!
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Old 08-26-2004, 08:10 PM
 
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Originally Posted by meowee
Thanks all for contributing. It is great reading your different ideas.

When I was in college (which wasn't that long ago :LOL) the hardline feminism was that there was no intrinsic differences between men and women, and that any apparent differences were "conditioning" only. This directly contradicts my belief that God created woman from man, that they were created for different spiritual and physical purposes.
Ahh. Eqality and Sameness. I believe that men and women are equal. Women and men are of intrinsically equal value and must be treated with justice. I do NOT believe that men and women are the same. I remember one of my teachers saying that she believed that male and female were equal and the same until she had twins, a boy and a girl, then she changed her tune lol.

At any rate, what spiritual purpose(s) do you think women were created for differently than men? Beyond childbearing how are the physical purposes different? And according to your religious beliefs are there some things that are forbidden for men or women to do because they spiritually or physically 'belong' to the opposite gender?
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Old 08-26-2004, 08:17 PM
 
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Am unabashedly feminist. Though feminist radical chic and I do not get along at all.

There's an assumption made that religious life and feminist theory can never mix, and IMO that assumption is based on flawed thinking ... or should I say a flawed definition, the one that assumes that feminism insists on absolute sameness-in-equality between men and women. Which for some feminists is their preferred definition, but it's a small minority's definition (IMO, again).

Interesting site/organization in re Jewish Orthodoxy and feminism ... I went to their first convention and found it fascinating ... but it had been my first trip out of the house after a miscarriage, so my head wasn't in a place to absorb it too well, unfortunately ...





mahdokht very eloquently described the seeming paradox a lot of religiously scrupulous/observant feminists live with ... and the conservative religiously yet liberal politically dichotomy, too ...

















Hey. Lot of polysyllabic hairiness in this post. Must be the cookies I just scarfed.
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Old 08-26-2004, 08:32 PM
 
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Sorry to barge in here....I'm not "religious" so I don't really belong on this thread.

But I just wanted to say to mahdokht how wonderful your post was; you are always so articulate, but this was really eye opening. I consider myself VERY much a feminist yet have always had some niggling little doubts about it's "whiteness," and I can see very clearly the condescention to which you refer. Your post was just so eloquent...I'm DEFINITELY off to get Chilla Bulbeck's book.

Allison
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Old 08-26-2004, 09:18 PM
 
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Originally Posted by merpk
Am unabashedly feminist. Though feminist radical chic and I do not get along at all.
(
Oh come on, I hear tichels go great with combat boots. Very chic.

Am totally agreeing with everything you wrote though. What a great website too. Reminds me of
this.
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Old 08-26-2004, 09:34 PM
 
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Oh come on, I hear tichels go great with combat boots. Very chic.
I just got my 8 hole docs. Wore them for the first time today. I haven't had docs for 3 years!

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Old 08-26-2004, 11:56 PM
 
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bs"d

ITA with mahdokht & merpk.

Even though I belong to a religion (a Chassidic brand of Orthodox Judaism) that many think oppresses women, I feel my religion has no conflict, and actually supports, my feminism.

I hear women in my community say that they are not feminists/disagree with feminism on a regular basis. This bothers me, because I think if they would just expand their view of feminism, they would see that they are in fact feminists.
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Old 08-27-2004, 12:05 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Faith
I think it does in a way...

I am a Christian who takes the Bible literailly. So for me personally, I live by the verses that say women are to be keepers/workers at home, and that we are to submit to our husbands.

The submitting to our DH's thing- I think is pretty easy because in return he is susposed to love me more than anything (basicly), so it's not like I'm submitting to anything terrible. In our house, what it really comes down to is he trusts me to what I think is right, we talk about all the big decisions, and whenever one of those really hard, life-changing decisions comes up and I don't know which way to go- instead of stressing out, I get to say "That's up to you, dear!"

As for as the working thing- I know lots of moms work, and I have been glad for them. My old doctor was a woman and I was grateful for her. But she wasn't a Christian, either, so she isn't accountable to Biblical standards.

I guess if feminisim is truely just being able to do whatever we want as women, then my religion doesn't conflict with it - meaning that I *am* choosing what I want to do, and our religion gives us free will to do what we want. So, not all feminists could be Christains, but all Christains could be feminists- if that makes sense.
I was going to post my opinion but then faith said exactly what I was going to say..
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Old 08-27-2004, 01:11 AM
 
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Here's an evangelical Christian website: Christians for Biblical Equality.
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Old 08-27-2004, 07:11 AM
 
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Originally Posted by meowee
...So whatever your religion-- Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, what ever religion-- do you feel your religious beliefs prevent you from embracing mainstream feminism, and how does this affect you IRL or elsewhere?...
My feminist beliefs actually won out over my religious beliefs. I left the Catholic Church, in part, because I found it to be incompatable with my feminist beliefs.

However, I have Aunts and cousins who are practicing Catholics and feminists. I know it can be done, I just couldn't do it.

So, I joined the church that ordained the first woman in the United States and now I'm a UU.
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Old 08-27-2004, 07:51 AM
 
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Pagan UU here.. no conflict at all. Quite the opposite. My spiritual path constantly affirms the worth of women and the sacred feminine.

I don't know where women got the idea that feminism.. classic feminism.. said women and men were "the same."
I hear this all the time as an anti-feminist argument, and I just don't know where it comes from. If one actually READS classic feminist literature, if one actually researches it.. you will find this was NOT the major plank in the feminist platform. This is something academics and theorists ponder. Activists just wanted the same RIGHTS and opportunities.

Feminism says men and women are EQUAL. Feminism says women should have equal freedoms, equal choice, equal pay, equal representation, equal respect etc..

The debate over whether men and women are "the same" comes from theology, biology, anthropology etc. Yes, both feminists and feminists will cite theories about gender differences to bolster their arguments. But it is really such a red herring, this outrage at the idea that men and women are "the same." It totally distracts from the real issues.

I am so shocked sometimes at how hung up people at MDC are on gender differences.

Your religion preaches hard and fast gender differences and proscribed gender roles and you are comfortable with that? Fine. You really CAN still be feminist.

Feminism does not say women have to grow penises. Nor does it say women have to "work like men." I am so shocked that people still say these things. Honestly, that is sooooo 20-th century.

Personally, I do not divide my world into genders.. or gender roles. I believe gender is a continuum, and I believe individual preferences and choices far outweigh biological determinism. I believe the similarities between genders far outweigh the differences.

BUT.

That has nothing to do with being a feminist. I would be a feminist whether it was proven men and women were the same.. or completely different species. Doesn't matter. Equal respect, equal treatment, equal choice, equal compensation, equal worth. That's the point.

And, thankfully, my spiritual path completely supports that.
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Old 08-27-2004, 08:28 AM
 
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I'm with Asherah. Also, since I'm a UU minister, I think I'd find it difficult to be in any other church without feeling that my spiritual gifts were being oppressed--it's one thing to feel that feminism is compatible with being a congregant, and another to feel that it's compatible with being a spiritual leader. If women aren't welcomed (not just allowed, but WELCOMED) into the roles of power in a religion, it's hard for me to see how they can be compatible with feminism.
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Old 08-27-2004, 10:44 AM
 
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I'm in the same boat as pugmadmama. I knew from the time that I was a very small child that I would not ever voluntarily be catholic because the way I saw women treated in that faith was completely incompatible with what I believe Jesus was all about.

I am a very liberal Christian. The words, acts and spirit of Jesus are important to me. What the Old Testament and the words of people like Paul have to say come in a very distant second.
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Old 08-27-2004, 11:29 AM
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I am rather conservative in my beliefs and take the Bible seriously.

I don't take the "submission verses" the same way as many other Christians here.

I think men and women are spiritually equals but most women (taking gender as a continuum) most women tend to need to be loved above other interests hence the "love your wife" verse. Most men, otoh, value respect more than other things hence the "respect your husbands" verse.

The Bible also tells us to "submit to one another in love" I take this verse seriously.

I was recently in a discussion group with a Christian women who is more into the submission of wives. Her dh drove the family into bankrupcy with his irresponisble choices. (he ignored his wife's concerns.) This woman actually cited this as a virtue (whereupon I suggested that blind submission is neither virtuous or Biblical. In our family we don't make decisions unilaterally both dh and I must be in agreement or we don't act. This checks and balances has kept us out of trouble.

I don't think my feminist views conflict with my religious beliefs but I will say that men have warped many good Biblical teachings to turn G-d's Word into something else.

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Old 08-27-2004, 12:16 PM
 
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My spiritual path constantly affirms the worth of women and the sacred feminine.
Mine too!

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Old 08-27-2004, 12:34 PM
 
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Originally Posted by EFmom
I am a very liberal Christian. The words, acts and spirit of Jesus are important to me. What the Old Testament and the words of people like Paul have to say come in a very distant second.
Paul said this:

Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Paul didn't say this:

Eph 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

Col 3:18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

Those 2 epistles, and others, are thought to be pseudonymous. Only believing fundamentalist scholars disagree with this finding. For more on the authenticity controversy:

http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_ntb3.htm


I could say more, but just don't have the energy...
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Old 08-27-2004, 02:06 PM
 
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Daryl, I know, I've read a lot about this and I agree. But the bottom line to me is even if he were the author, I just don't think his opinions on the subject are particularly important as compared to the actions and message of Christ.
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Old 08-27-2004, 04:14 PM
 
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EFMom an "Old Testament" person ... and have absolutely no clue what it has to do with feminism, or why it has what to do with what you're rejecting ... since as a Christian you consider it 2nd anyway, right?

Though I prefer not to call my religious books "old" as in Old and In The Way ...

Anyway, for its time it did okay ... the land-ownership/daughters of Tzelafkhad thing was up there.

And have noticed that a whole passle'o'us "Old Testament" mamas have thrown our lots in with feminism on this thread ... not sure I get it.





Don't mind me. Republicans to the left of me, protestors to the right ... here I am, stuck in the middle with you ...




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Old 08-27-2004, 04:35 PM
 
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merpk, I hope what I wrote didn't offend you. If the term OT bothers you, what do you think Christians should call it? I'm not being snarky, just would like to hear your view.

How to explain... A lot of fundamentalists like to claim the label "Christian" as if theirs was the only viewpoint on Christianity out there. That always sticks in my craw. Many fundamentalists base much of their religious belief and practice on the OT (for want of a better term). I think we both can agree that the social role of women was considerably different during the times these scriptures were written than it is today.
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Old 08-27-2004, 04:45 PM
 
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Thanks for the great discussion. This is a huge issue I'm sorting through right now. I'm Mormon and love so many things about the theology, including believe in Eve's courage and importance in the Divine Plan, and the existence and importance of a Maternal counterpart to God the Father. Yet in practice, women are "under" the hierarchical "direction" of men, and do not currently exercise priesthood power outside of the temple (though that has not always been the case). This does bother me, especially now that I have a daughter.

I'm reading a really good book on the subject: "Good News for Women: A Biblical Picture of Gender Equality" by Rebecca Merrill Groothuis that I highly recommend to any other Christians on this thread. Good support for the argument that Christ placed women on equal footing spiritually as well as socially and otherwise, and that observing the aforementioned "Pauline teachings" about female submission out of their cultural context serves no one--male or female.
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Old 08-28-2004, 08:33 PM
 
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I think we both can agree that the social role of women was considerably different during the times these scriptures were written than it is today.
See, I just don't know what you mean by that.

To understand the "issue" jews have with the term "OT" you can find previous posts on this forum.

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Old 08-28-2004, 09:13 PM
 
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Originally Posted by BelovedBird
To understand the "issue" jews have with the term "OT" you can find previous posts on this forum.
BB, I don't mind answering her and saving her the trouble.

Jews call it Tanakh, T for Torah, N for Nevi'im (prophets), K for Kethuvim (writings).

Scholars tend to call it the Hebrew Scriptures.

This is a helpful website.

http://www.jewfaq.org/toc.htm

EFMom, I also object to you throwing out Paul, the one person, and the first, most represented in his own words on the subject of what it means to be "in Christ." But that's just me.

I understand the role of women in Judaism has evolved quite a bit from the old days BCE. Many Xtians (and even secular Jews) do not realize this, however. It was news to me a few yrs ago. Rabbis spent centuries doing what is called misrash to further interpret Scripture, bringing it up to date, so to speak.

Unfortunately Xtian women have not been quite so lucky. Here is a webbsite I have been sitting on since the boards went down. Give a look:

Eve and the Identity of Women

http://witcombe.sbc.edu/eve-women/1evewomen.html

below from chapter 3:

Quote:
Eve represents everything about a woman a man should guard against. In both form and symbol, Eve is woman, and because of her, the prevalent belief in the West has been that all women are by nature disobedient, guileless, weak-willed, prone to temptation and evil, disloyal, untrustworthy, deceitful, seductive, and motivated in their thoughts and behaviour purely by self-interest.

The early Christian theologian Tertullian (c. 155/160-220 CE) reminded women that they all share Eve's "ignominy...of original sin and the odium of being the cause of the fall of the human race":


Do you not believe that you are (each) an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives on even in our times and so it is necessary that the guilt should live on, also. You are the one who opened the door to the Devil, you are the one who first plucked the fruit of the forbidden tree, you are the first who deserted the divine law; you are the one who persuaded him whom the Devil was not strong enough to attack. All too easily you destroyed the image of God, man. Because of your desert, that is, death, even the Son of God had to die.
But my favorite was chapter 6, The Old Testament[sic], Women and Evil, the story of the battle between the Canaanite religion and YHWHism.
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Old 08-28-2004, 09:37 PM
 
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Daryl, in my view I would just change a bit of what you said. The oral torah (midrash) are all things that existed and were in practice from the giving of the Torah.

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Old 08-28-2004, 09:40 PM
 
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Then what do you call the further exegesis from the rabbinic period in the early centuries CE, not to mention Kabbalah?
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