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ANAHITA  July 1997

ANAHITA July 1997

Subject:

Re: Evidence

From:

don walter <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Women and Gender in the Ancient World <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 9 Jul 1997 08:26:12 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (69 lines)

Donna Wallace wrote:

>All evidence is biased.  The written word is not sacred.  It represents
>the perspective of its author, translator, and interpreter.  I am working
>with two esoteric texts, the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Philip.
>Yes, the texts are written (in Coptic, most probably a translation from
>the Greek).  Many scholars have worked and are working with these texts.
>They all disagree on what these texts have to say about the communities
>who produced them.
>
>Before the work of Gimbutas, some scholars had concluded that the
>figurines at Catal Hyuk were fertility dolls.  No one seemed to dispute
>their interpretation.  However, when Gimbutas suggested that these
>figurines represented the worship of a feminine deity, much of the
>academic community rose up in defiance.  Why was their interpretation more
>acceptable than hers?
>

I like your basing your comment on your own specific and relevant
experience. I think your indignation about Gimbutas' treatment by others is
also a little bit tilted (no more than mine on the same topics): the
correlations that you mention, such as that between imputation of feminine
deity and negative commentary, can be differently interpreted (in a sort of
archeology of present-day scholarship).  I could propose that, when Gimbutas
began to pull together a range of reports, and to draw generalized
conclusions which attracted attention from non-specialists (such as one of
our posters, who "re-members" being a member of a matriarchal society), then
it became worth the time to examine and comment on the reliability (on the
basis of ordinary criteria of evidence) of the interpretations made.  I have
little quarrel with those who re-member past lives or ancient experiences,
when it adds to their personal spiritual happiness; but I also feel
justified in disagreeing that that experience should _ipso_facto_ convince
me that such things happened, back in the misty (and objectively
inaccessible) past.  A commentator in this list, on that area of evidence,
recalled that other people's experiences of apparently similar type had
supported Nazism (while carefully pointing out that he was _not_ accusing
our experiencer of being Nazi); I could add the wonderful spiritual
experiences of those like Shirley McLain-- wonderful for her, and for those
whose own lives are improved by reading about her; but not for me, because
her experiences do not "speak" to me.  Similarly, enthusiastic responses to
"When God Was a Woman" can be very pleasant, even empowering, for women who
read them; but in order to persuade others, who don't react with so much
spontaneous pleasure, that empowerment needs to motivate the enthusiast to
add the to further evidence, or make a persuasive argument for
re-interpretation in her direction.  And sometimes this _has_ been the
result, and this is good: females, energized and liberated by some
re-telling or re-experiencing, _have_ returned to the fray, at the different
level of persuading and convincing others that they, too, should reinterpret
their readings and experience in the new way.
So, let's continue the dialogue; and let's continue to make some
distinctions (not necessarily complete dichotomies) among various types and
classes of evidence.

Don

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