Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mormonism and Margaret Barker - Part 3

This installment of my MMB series concerns my “third” observation from part 1:

Third - Barker teaches that Israel’s “First Temple” religion believed in and taught the doctrine of deification.

Barker’s view of deification is significantly different than that taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In fact, in all my readings on the different views of deification, Barker's is unique. I believe that this uniqueness stems from her views on resurrection and incarnation. The following are some of her thoughts on resurrection:

In temple theology, resurrection was not a post mortem experience. It was theosis, the transformation of a human being into a divine being – which came with the gift of Wisdom; and theosis, described in various ways, was at the heart of temple tradition, together with the belief in a resurrected anointed one, a resurrected Messiah. (Temple Theology – An Introduction, p.23.)

Just as there were two creations, so there were two bodies for each human being. The once described in the second story, formed ‘from the dust of the ground’ (Gen. 2.7) was ‘vastly different’ from the one in the first story, made ‘in the image’ of God (Creation 134). The one from the dust was body, soma, and soul, psuche, man or woman, and by nature mortal. The one ‘after the image’ was incorporeal, neither male nor female and incorruptible. These tow are described elsewhere as the two Adams, the heavenly, ‘made after the image and without part or lot in corruptible or terrestrial substance’, and the earthly one made of clay (All. Int. I.31). When Paul contrasts the physical body and the spiritual body he uses this terminology. The physical body, soma psuchikon, is raised as a spiritual body, soma pneumatikon. In other words, the resurrection body is the body of the first creation, incorporeal, invisible, made after the image and incorruptible (1 Cor. 15.42-50). It is neither male nor female, just as Paul elsewhere described those who are baptized into Christ (Gal. 3.28). (The Revelation of Jesus Christ, pp. 23, 24.)

The Christian resurrection belief was not one of resuscitation, but of rebirth as a child of God. (The Revelation of Jesus Christ, pp. 338, 339.)

What Paul meant by a spiritual body, soma pneumatikon, in contrast to the physical body, soma psuchikon, is best illustrated by comparison with Philo’s account of the Adam…Philo explained the two accounts of creation (Gen. 1.1-2.4a and Gen. 2.4b-3.24) by saying that the first was the creation of the heavenly archetypes and the second of the material world. The earthly Adam, said Philo, was ‘vastly different’ from the man made in the image of God…the man made after the image, the man of Genesis 1, was incorporeal, invisible, neither male nor female, and by nature incorruptible (Creation 134). (The Revelation of Jesus Christ, p. 339.)

Jesus himself says very little about resurrection, but what he does say is revealing. The dead were those who did not follow him: Follow me, he said to a would-be disciple who hesitated, and leave the dead to bury their own dead (Matt. 8:22/Luke 9:60). It is also celar from the answer to the Sadducees that he did not envisage a physical resurrection. They asked about the marital statue of a woman who had had seven husbands and Jesus replied that in heaven there would be no marriage: ‘…They are equal to angels and are sons of God because they are sons of the resurrections’ (Luke 20:36), The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was a God of the living and not of the dead; the patriarchs were alive in his presence…Jesus did no envisage the resurrection as a physical resuscitation in the distant future; it was an angelic state, living in the presence of God. (The Risen Lord, p. 10.)

What the earliest church understood by the resurrection of Jesus was not the resuscitation of a body but the exaltation of the king, the Servant, the Melchizedek priest. (The Risen Lord, p. 23.)

Barker’s views of resurrection, incarnation and deification are intertwined to such an extent that it is impossible to separate any of them from the each other; and one important aspect is an integral ingredient of all three: one experiences resurrection, incarnation and deification in this life.

A careful analysis of Barker’s teachings on first Temple deification offers little (if any) resemblance to deification/exaltation in LDS theology. Not only does deification take place prior to ones death and entrance into heaven, deification has nothing to do with the resurrection of the physical body; which is a non-negotiable element of Latter-day Saint deification/exaltation.

Grace and peace,


Friday, December 7, 2007

Mormonism and Margaret Barker – Part 2

In this second part in my MMB series, I shall delve into certain ‘negative’ aspects of my “second observation” concerning Barker’s teachings. From Part 1:

Second observation - Barker teaches that Israel’s “First Temple” religion believed in, taught, and worshipped a Mother Goddess.


The vast majority of temple Mormons (all?) believe that they have a literal Mother Goddess in heaven (and some maintain that their heavenly Father has multiple wives, which translates to multiple Goddesses). [For an excellent summation of the LDS doctrine of a Mother in heaven SEE.]

Like God the Father, the Mother in heaven for members of the CoJCoLDS has a body of “flesh and bones”, and their respective genders are to be understood in a literal sense. However, such a doctrine/interpretation is not what Barker has in mind when discussing the religion of the first Temple Israelites. The following quotes from Barker's writings should give the reader some important insights into her understanding on this matter:

The fact that no complete correspondence can be found between the Israelite deity and any other known goddess argues for her being native to Israel rather than an import from Egypt or the imposition of Assyrian overlords. My purpose here, however, is not to study the goddess as such but to show just how many fragments of the older cult survive, and how the ancient goddess was indistinguishable from Yahweh, being simply the female aspect. (The Great Angel, p. 57.)

Wisdom was not forgotten; the female aspect of Yahweh was know to the first Christians. Paul described Jesus as the Power of God and the Wisdom of God, a twofold incarnation (1 Cor. 1.24). (The Great Angel, p. 67.)

Yahweh was known as Yahweh of Hosts, the chief of the heavenly hosts. He was also Yahweh Elohim, which may once have indicated something very similar, viz. Yahweh of the Elohim. In addition there had been a female deity or rather, a female aspect of Yahweh. (The Great Angel, p. 162.)

The Logos was the Wisdom of God, ‘highest and chiefest of his powers’ (Allegorical Interpretation II.86). The initial objection, that the Logos is a male figure and Wisdom a female figure is met by Philo himself, and the change of gender was not thought by him to be significant. Since Wisdom was second after God , he said, it was deemed feminine to express its subordinate place: ‘Let us pay no heed to the discrepancy in the gender of the words, and say that the daughter of God, even Wisdom, is not only masculine but also father, sowing and begetting in souls aptness to learn’ (On Flight 52). Philo’s imagery is consistent with the tradition of the second God’s double gender…(The Great Angel, p. 130.).

Note the second deity has male and female aspects. Below this divinity were two further stages: the androgynous image of the unbegotten First Father had an androgynous son, named Son of Man, and he in turn had a son named Saviour. (The Great Angel, p. 171.)

God was such that the image of God in human terms had to be both male and female. God was not necessarily two, but needed two forms for the divinity to be expressed in human terms. In other words, the divinity was as much female, in so far as no gendered words can ever be appropriate to describe what is beyond the material world of life and death and human reproduction. (The Great High Priest, p. 229.)

The older divinity had been both male and female (I AM being a gender free name in Hebrew), ‘present’ in the anointed ones, and depicted as present in the creation in so far as she was beneath the firmament of heaven. (The Great High Priest, p. 245.)

An anointed guardian angel high priest thrown out in the time of Ezekiel can only have been the Queen of Heaven, Wisdom, especially as the cherub was female. (The Great High Priest, p. 250.)

Barker’s above reflections, especially when combined with her teachings on “The One”, yield a significantly different concept of Israel’s ‘female’ deity, Israel’s ‘second’ God. Not only is the preexistent nature of this second God non-physical/material, the ‘feminine’ nature of this deity is but one of TWO ASPECTS, the other being ‘masculine’. Both aspects of this second divinity are incarnated in Israel’s anointed kings and high priests, and most importantly, in Jesus Christ:

The God of Israel took two forms, male and female, the high priest was the human manifestation of both. Hence Jesus was described as Christ, ‘the Power of God and the Wisdom of God’ (1 Cor. 1:24). (The Great High Priest, p. 94.)

And interestingly enough, Barker believes that the worship of this “Queen of Heaven, Wisdom” (an “aspect” of Israel’s “second” God) was a very important part of the first Temple’s liturgy. However, worship of ‘Mother in Heaven’ is strictly forbidden by the General Authorities of the CoCJoLDS—yet another important contrast IMHO.

Ultimately, my reading of Barker suggests that little commonality exists between the theology of the God/Gods as presented in her books, and the theology of the CoJCoLDS.

Grace and peace,


Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Personal Note – THE BIG STORM

As many know, I live on the SW Washington coast, and a big storm hit us Sunday afternoon, lasting through Monday evening. Winds here got up to 104 mph, and just south of us up to 129 mph. It was pretty scary at times; 6 large trees on my property came down, 3 blocking my drive-way, but all missed my home and my guest-house. Power was out for 2 ½ days, and internet service was lost until this morning. Though we got 4 inches of rain, there was no flooding in our area—unlike so many other nearby regions that were hit with 12 plus inches of rain, causing severe flooding.

The storm was the largest I have been in since the great Columbus Day storm of 1962 (THE BIG BLOW), when I was but a very young boy living in the central Willamette Valley.

Anyway, just thought I would briefly share a few comments on this somewhat dramatic event.

Grace and peace,