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Equality in Early Societies And the Historical Fall of Humankind
Seating for class Front of Room Lawler: P105 (Tu 12) P102 (M 11) P104 (Tu 9) P103 (M 12) P108 (W 10) P107 (F 11) P110 (F 10) P101 (W 12) P106 (F 12) P109 (Th 12) MonaghanDonohueBeverley
Ancient (Eastern) v. Modern (Western) • Modern science and technology: matter based, external instruments (mechanical causes) • Causes of illness: external, germs and viruses • Cures through external interventions, chemicals • Ancient science and technology: spirit/mind based – technologies of thought/feeling (Ayurveda, Acupuncture, Yoga etc. (human purposes, teleology) • Illnesses are related to inner state: thoughts, personality types • How to control one’s mind > basis for healing the body • Importance of the “life force”: Prana (India), Chi (China)
Outline • A Basic concepts of Genesis • In the beginning – paradise • The fall and its consequences • B Historical parallels • The earliest societies • The rise of hierarchical states
In the Beginning: Harmony • Creation of humans: God-like spirit (breath) breathed into matter of earth • “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7) • In the beginning human beings were one with God, nature, and each other. • Harmony of matter and spirit, nature and humanity.
Humans as God-like • “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness . . .” Genesis 1:26 • “And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” 2:7
Breath of Life • =no radical separation between God and humans • --in terms of spirit (God’s “breath”) • Latin for air, breath, life; mind, soul, spirit: anima, animus • => animism: All reality contains “spirit”
Human “dominion” of the earth • “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, an over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (Genesis 1:26) • => nature spontaneously exists for the purpose of (teleology) serving human beings—without labor, struggle, conquest
Equality of Male and Female • First account of creation of human beings: Equality of male and female: • “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:27) • --Second account: Eve taken from Adam’s rib. Later version? (Genesis 2:20-24)
The command • Don’t eat of the tree that brings knowledge of good and evil • = remain in a state of simple unity with all nature and God, a state of goodness w/o evil • Evil is what comes from disunity • between God and humanity, • between humans and nature, • between humans and each other • All God’s creation is “good” • We humans are the cause of evil
How It Used To Be • 1) “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” • = oneness, friendship, with God • 2) “and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.” • =Humans separate themselves from God.
The Fall • Humans freely choose to separate themselves from this state of innocence and perfection. • Eve initiates this. Why Eve, not Adam? • =Choice of separateness, individuality • 1) Separation from God • 2) Separation from each other • 3) Separation from harmony with nature.
Results of choice of separation • Separation of man and woman • For the man: pain of physical labor • Loss of “dominion” over the earth • For the woman: pain of childbirth, subordination to the man • >death • >murder (fratricide) . . . war
Why does Cain kill Abel? • Hint: What work do they do?
Cain and Abel • “And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.” (Genesis 4:2)
Historical implications • From whose point of view? • Who, what are the Hebrews? • How did the hearers of the story of Genesis understand their situation? • Who are their enemies? • Who is good and who is evil? • How does historical context help us understand the text?
Historical Parallels • Historical parallel • Agriculturalists v. herders • “Fall” as reflection of division of humanity • 1) From nature • 2) From each other • 3) From God • 1) Hunter/Gatherers (animals/plants) • 2) Herders (from hunters) against Agriculturalists (from gatherers)
Historical Timeline • 1) Early hunter-gatherers— paleolithic age • 120,000 years of homo sapiens (sapiens) • 2 million years of homo habilis (stone tools) • 2) Revolution 10,000-8000 BCE – begins neolithic age • Herders and simple agriculturalists • Transitional stage • 3) Revolution 3,500 BCE • rise of hierarchical state societies (complex agriculture) • Time of the “Fall”
1) Separation from Nature • 1) Mode of life of hunter/gatherers • Appropriation of nature • Dependence on independent nature • Unity with nature • 2) Mode of life of herders, simple agriculturalists • Human transformation of nature • 3) Hierarchical states control nature: irrigation
Evolution of material creativity • 1) Change nature into tools (for hunting, gathering) • 2) Transform nature with tools (for herding, simple agriculture) • 3) Intensified domination of nature (the animal drawn plow)—Civilization • NB: Non-biological changes, outside the human organism
2) Separation from Each Other • 1) Equality of hunter-gatherer societies • Kinship-based society: natural relations • Leaders democratically chosen, elders • Exogamous marriage: unites the small bands into larger tribes • Gender differences but equality of status: no power of men over women • 2) Herders, simple agriculturalists • Male dominance among herders, but no state: Hebrew God is male • Goddess religions among early agriculturalists (male and female gods)
Rise of Inequality • 3) Hierarchical Middle-Eastern state society • Sharp class divisions; slavery (separation from tools!) • Hereditary rulers over the people • Subordination of women to men
Oppressiveness of early civilization • “In modern times, many scholars have called attention to the shortcomings of Sumer. (See box, p. 60.) They caution us to learn from the past so as not to repeat what they see as the mistakes of Sumer in our own cities: Not to make warfare into a religious obligation; not to isolate the city from the countryside; not to establish oppressive class distinctions; not to institutionalize the patriarchal oppression of women.
Contrast with the previous world • “Underlying these warnings, however, is another myth, the myth of the pre-urban agricultural village as an egalitarian, peaceful settlement well integrated into its natural surroundings.
How do we know this? • “We do not know if this was so. Pre-urban villagers produced no written records, and their artfactual remains are thin, inconclusive, and subject to widely divergent interpretation. Scholars draw many of their conclusions concerning pre-urban life from observing isolated groups in today’s world, such as the !Kung people of the African Kalahari desert of a generation ago.” (62)
Genesis as Critique of History • What did the early people themselves think? • Genesis as a basis of knowing what some early peoples thought of development of civilization • And its different separations • Inequality of men and women is unnatural • Labor over/against nature is unnatural • War is unnatural • Explanation: the results of sin (i.e., separation from God, nature, and each other)
The subordination of women • “Finally, the transformation of society from a rural, egalitarian, kin base to an urban, hierarchical, territorial, and class base may have provided the entering wedge for the subordination of women. Some women in Sumer had great power …. ” Spodek, 60. • What did the people themselves think of this?
The People v. Gilgamesh • Gilgamesh does not leave a girl to her mother(?) • The daughter of the warrior, the bride of the young man, • the gods kept hearing their complaints, so • the gods of the heavens implored the Lord of Uruk [Anu]
"You have indeed brought into being a mighty wild bull, head raised! • "There is no rival who can raise a weapon against him. • "His fellows stand (at the alert), attentive to his (orders!)
and (the gods) called out to Aruru: • "it was you, Aruru, who created mankind(?), • now create a zikru [opponent] to it/him. • Let him be equal to his (Gilgamesh's) stormy heart, • let them be a match for each other so that Uruk may find peace!"
Historical Context of Gilgamesh • What stage of history does this reflect? • Whose point of view? • What kind of people are telling/hearing this story? • What do they think of their situation?