Friday, March 27, 2009

Carrier and the God Who Wasn't There

Richard Carrier has posted some critical comments of the movie "The God Who Wasn't There" which I think was much needed since the movie is great (but not completely historically accurate, of course).

Carrier also took the time to respond to one of my questions:
You say that (And I'm paraphrasing here): 1. There was little or no bias against women in a court of law in 1st Century Judea. And: 2. Mark placed the women at the empty tomb to show that the least would be first, implying that there was some bias against women. Isn't this contradictory or have I misunderstood you?

Yes, you misunderstood what Craig and I were debating. He said women's testimony was not admitted in court. As I said, I've refuted that (Chapter 11 of Not the Impossible Faith). It's not at all true. He came back with women's testimony was undervalued. I pointed out again that that wasn't true either (Chapter 11 again addresses this, particularly answering his, IMO, confused use of Josephus, which I didn't have time to answer at the podium).As I explain (ibid.) there is a fundamental difference between assigning a lower social status to women and trusting their testimony, as also between accepting women's testimony and having chauvinistic ideas about proper female behavior, and between trusting women to be honest and trusting their intelligence to be equal to men's. Confusing these distinctions is exactly what has led to apologists like Wright erring and thus misleading Craig into saying the things he said at the podium, which are so wildly untrue it was alarming even to me (but I do believe Craig has been duped here--I don't think he was being dishonest).

Internally within the story, the women are depicted as least among those who followed Jesus (in Mark they are the last followers to be mentioned and are never mentioned during his ministry and are assigned no roles of authority within the circle and get no prominent place in Jesus' calls to ministry, all in contrast to the prominence and behavior of, e.g., Peter, James, and John, etc.). But externally within the society Mark is writing for, women are second-class citizens in terms of authority roles and are expected to be subservient to men. But that does not (and as my evidence shows, clearly did not) translate into distrusting them, much less banning their testimony from courtrooms (not even Jewish courtrooms, which were more conservative than Greek, as Greek were more conservative than Roman).

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