Friday, September 21, 2012

Introduction Part 3: The Kin-dom of Heaven; A Womanist Gospel

Kin-dom versus Kingdom

The Kin-dom of Heaven will be used instead of the Kingdom of Heaven.  The original Hebrew phrase “Malkuth haShamayim” has traditionally been translated as "the Kingdom of Heaven". "Shamayim" definitely means Heaven and was used by the Jews to mean God without having to use a direct reference to God, which they avoided whenever possible.  Kingdom does not quite capture the Hebrew meaning of “Malkuth” and certainly doesn’t capture what Yeshua was preaching.  Malkuth and Kin-dom have a more active sense of God's reign breaking into human history bringing about the biblical justice preached by the prophets for the liberation of the poor and oppressed, and creating a beloved community for all. Additionally, to quote Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz*,
 We use kin-dom instead of kingdom because the latter is obviously a sexist word that presumes that God is male; and we do not use reign, because it is elitist. Kin-dom makes it clear that when the fullness of God becomes a reality, we will all be sisters and brothers—kin to each other.” This also fits quite well with what I think is a better concept of the Trinity than can be found in the scriptures, namely that of a Divine Family--Father God and Mother Spirit and Incarnate Child--which I will explain in a later post.
*[From “Solidarity:Love of Neighbor in the 1980s," in Lift Every Voice: Constructing Christian Theologies from the Underside, edited by Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite and Mary Potter Engel (San Francisco: Harper, 1990), 31-40, 303-305.]

A Womanist Gospel

The important but relatively neglected role of women in general and Miryam of Magdala specifically in Yeshua's ministry will be emphasized. Yeshua’s ministry was radically womanist just by the fact that he taught women, he had them as permanent students, and he travelled with non-related women.  This is lost on us today.  Women were ranked below men and just above chattel in Yeshua’s world.  They weren’t even considered reliable witnesses.  That’s why, even though Miryam of Magdala and the other women were the first witnesses of the resurrection, the traditional formula that Paul sights in 1 Corinthians 15.3-5 says “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”   Ironically, Yeshua's women followers were his financial backers!   Luke 8.2-3 "With him were ... certain women ... Mary Magdalene ... Joanna, the wife of Chuzas, Herod’s steward; Susanna; and many others; who served him from their possessions."   So I will use inclusive language, highlight the role of women in the gospel by placing them in passages the men disciples usually appeared in, and even make some mild embellishments (exactly like Matthew and Luke did with the text of Mark). Miryam of Magdala was the only woman designated by a surname in all four gospels and therefore certainly had special prominence in the ministry of Yeshua and the early church. Therefore, I will highlight her role as supported by the canonical gospels and by the special witness offered in the extracanonical gospels of Thomas, Miryam of Magdala, and Phillip that is not in conflict with the nature of her portrayal in the canonical texts.

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