Saturday, August 24, 2013

Talking on Facebook about Biblical Anthropology

What follows is part of a Facebook conversation at Open Anthropology Cooperative (OAC). The people are reacting to my post on Genetic Risks in Cousin Marriage. The irony is that this same post was well received at another forum to which I belong which is mostly biologists and geneticists.

The conversation is fairly typical of the type of conversations I have with younger anthropologists or anthropology students at OAC. These have become jaded by materialist and atheist ideas. It is more civil than most because this young woman does not employ direct personal attack as did these young women.

  • Kate Wood Also, there are several theoretical problems in your post. First, what you're describing is patrilineal cross-cousin marriage, which is not the least bit unique. It's one of the foundations of kinship studies, basically. Second, it's not particularly defensible either that "Arab" is equivalent to "Muslim" or that Arabs are in general less exogamous than Jews. As a trivial example, the entire Berber population of Africa belies this assertion. I'm not commenting on the biblical aspects of this, though I don't actually recall there being that detailed a discussion of the methods by which brides were chosen. I really am interested in where this field has stemmed from, though.

  • Maria Mailat Do you read what translation, what édition of what Bible? I agrée with Kate Wood. It is very dangerous to hide your own idéology in the very superficial study without any anthropological fondation.

  • Alice Linsley Yes, Kate. Kinship analysis is a central aspect of Biblical Anthropology and critical to recovery of significant information about Abraham's Nilo-Saharan ancestors.

  • Alice Linsley Maria, Biblical anthropologists must use many translations and study many languages. I have studied biblical Hebrew, biblical Greek, Arabic, and Nilo-Saharan languages. This last group has been completely neglected in Near Eastern Studies which is one reason why Biblical Anthropology is important.

  • Alice Linsley Kate, please read the article again. You will see that I do not claim that patrilineal cousin marriage is unique. I claim that the Horite marriage and ascendancy pattern is unique. This pattern drove the Kushite expansion out of Africa.
    Applying Anthropology to the Bible ▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲▲

  • Kate Wood I don't have any need to read it again- I simply don't see how what you're claiming is the marriage pattern (which is actually indeterminable without actually talking to people; see Bourdieu's experience trying to rectify cross-cousin marriage with actual Kabyle practices), or how it drove anybody anywhere. I really just don't see what your theoretical basis or practical basis for analysis is.

  • Alice Linsley There is much here that would be of value to you, Kate. Perhaps you should pursue it further and keep an open mind.

  • Kate Wood Alice, can you spell out exactly what is of value? I'm interested in anthropology, not in biblical exegesis, which is what I see in your blog. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's not actually particularly valuable to me.

  • Alice Linsley Kate, we at least share an interest in anthropology and agree that it has value.

  • Kate Wood Do we? That's why I'm asking - I don't actually see an anthropological basis for your entry, and I'm wondering what it is. So far you haven't answered that, so I'm not sure what value you feel anthropology holds for your project.

  • Alice Linsley You simply want to argue.

  • Kate Wood No, I simply don't see how what you're doing is anthropology.

  • Alice Linsley How much of my research have you actually read?

  • Kate Wood I've looked at your blog. I can't actually find any published research, if you have links they'd be much appreciated.

  • Alice Linsley I have over 1600 published pieces. I'll be 64 in October and I have been pioneering the field of Biblical Anthropology for over 30 years. I actually have learned something in that time! : )

  • Kate Wood How old you are is immaterial, actually. It's a rather pointless appeal to authority, really. However, having just read your profile and learned that you are a self-described Christian apologist, I can see where you're coming from now. I think there's nothing more to find out. Thanks.

  • Alice Linsley You are the one who appealed to authority when you asked about publications. I was explaining why there may be some value in Biblical Anthropology. I am very public about my Christian commitment. I have no agenda, as you appear to assume. Your objection to my research touches on my use of the oldest material in the Bible to reconstruct antecedents. I also reference the sacred texts of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds. The oldest material in the Bible reflects a time before these books were scribed. Therefore, it is extremely useful in anthropological investigations of ancient Afro-Asiatic and Nilo-Saharan peoples.

  • Kate Wood My main objection to your research is that it repositions oral tradition and myth as history and proceeds from that basis, that it appears to use anthropology as a whitewash rather than a foundation, that you have yet to state a theoretical basis, source, or other authority other than yourself, and that the only "publications" I can find from you are blog posts of one type or another. A brief skim of your work suggests that these problems are endemic, and that the only anthropological evidence you use is twisted toward Christian apologetics. If that's what you want to do, that's fine, but to pretend you're not doing that is intellectually dishonest. I'm going to unfollow this now, since it's become clear that you're not going to support your arguments or provide other sources, which means it's not going to become useful or productive for either of us.

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