Wednesday, August 22, 2012

More on Fathering and the Bible

Here are some other striking quotes from John W. Miller, Biblical Faith and Fathering (Paulist, 1989):

"The God of Judaism is undoubtedly a father-symbol and father-image, possibly the greatest such symbol and image conceived by man.  Nor can there be any doubt as to the psychological need answered by this image.  This, together with the great moral imperatives, was the unique contribution of prophetic Judaism to mankind."  --Raphael Patai, The Hebrew Goddess (New York: Avon Books, 1967), 9; quoted in Miller, p. 41.
"The assumption that biblical father religion is simply continuous with wider ancient near eastern patriarchalism is unsupported by a comparison of the portrait of God as father in the Bible with divine father figures in several contemporary ancient near eastern mythologies.  Only in biblical tradition is it believed that a father-god truly worthy of being hallowed is fully in charge of the cosmic home." (Miller, 43)
Miller proceeds to substantiate this statement with illustrations from the Enuma Elish, the Ba'al Cycle from Ugarit, and the myths of Oris and Isis from Egypt.  He argues that son and daughter deities were typically in charge of the cosmos, with fathers having a background role.  This is contrary to the usual charge that the Hebrews just picked up their paternal image of the LORD from surrounding cultures.


JohnE said...

In what sense, if any, is God a father to non-Christians? He is our creator, so it seems there is at least some sense of fatherhood in that respect even for the unbaptized. How does baptism make us sons and daughters of God in a fuller and deeper sense?

JohnE said...

Dang those captchas are hard.

John Bergsma said...

Non-Christians typically do not regard God as their Father. Strictly speaking this is unique to Christianity as a major world religion. From a Christian perspective, God is Father of all human beings (1) metaphorically, taking "Father" as an equivalent of "Creator, and (2) in potential. However, baptism makes God our Father in reality and not just in metaphor, because we share his Spirit and thus his nature.