Selfish Gentiles and ‘Shellfish Objections’: Timothy Dalrymple vs. the Apostle Peter

Who are you going to side with: the Apostle Peter, or Timothy Dalrymple?

You’re going to have to pick one or the other, because Dalrymple, an evangelical blogger here at Patheos, is the latest contemporary American Christian to come out against Peter’s explanation of his own vision from God.

Peter believed that his vision from God was about accepting Gentiles (for starters). Dalrymple says that’s wrong. He says that Peter’s vision was really just about shellfish.

Peter says that God sent him a vision telling him to welcome the outsiders that his Bible told him should be shunned as “unclean.” Dalrymple says, No, God was merely telling him that a narrow portion of dietary Mosaic law was henceforth nonbinding for Christians.

The old Shellfish Objection is easily dispensed for anyone who has actually studied both sides of the issue,” Dalrymple wrote in a recent post.

He doesn’t bother actually dispensing it — he simply asserts that serious, studious people have done so, easily, and that there’s no reason to worry your pretty little heads over it.

Specifically, Dalrymple is objecting to a variation of “the old Shellfish Objection” recently expressed on the TV show Glee. The relevant part of the show was summarized by Stephen Prothero:

Sam (Chord Overstreet) observes that “the Bible says it’s an abomination for a man to lay with another man,” prompting Quinn (Dianna Agron) go ask, “Do you know what else the Bible says is an abomination? Eating lobster, planting different crops in the same field, giving somebody a proud look. Not an abomination? Slavery. Jesus never said anything about gay people. That’s a fact.”

The “Shellfish Objection,” in other words, asks why contemporary American Christians insist that homosexuality is “an abomination,” based on the laws of Moses, but yet they do not regard eating lobster as “an abomination,” even though the same laws of Moses call it exactly that.

And that is what brings us back, yet again, to the book of Acts and the story of Peter’s rooftop vision from God. The contemporary American Christians, like Dalrymple, who don’t regard the Shellfish Objection as worthy of serious consideration point to this passage and say that it explains why eating lobster is not an abomination.

Here, again, is the relevant passage from the New Testament book of Acts:

Timothy Dalrymple went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat; and while it was being prepared, he fell into a trance. Timothy Dalrymple saw the heaven opened and something like a large sheet coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. In it were all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. Then he heard a voice saying, “Get up, Timothy Dalrymple; kill and eat.” But Timothy Dalrymple said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.” The voice said to him again, a second time, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” This happened three times, and the thing was suddenly taken up to heaven.

Oh, wait. That’s not what the book of Acts says at all. It says Peter went up on the roof to pray, and that Peter saw the heaven opened, and Peter heard a voice saying, “Get up, Peter.”

It was Peter’s vision. It was given to Peter, and Peter was the only one there to see it.

So how did Peter interpret Peter’s vision? At first, he didn’t know what to make of it. But then the Gentiles knocked on his door and suddenly he understood.

And what he understood was that his vision was not about dietary laws regarding “all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air.” What Peter understood about Peter’s vision was that it was about Gentiles — about outsiders, about those people whom the laws of Moses said were law-breakers, unclean, an abomination.

Here is what Peter himself said about his own vision:

You yourselves know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile; but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean.

And then, according to Acts, Peter’s interpretation of Peter’s vision was affirmed as correct by the Holy Spirit:

The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

These people” — these unclean Gentiles who did not live in accord with the laws of Moses — were receiving the “gift of the Holy Spirit” just as the law-abiding Jewish believers were. That, Peter says, is what his vision was all about.

But now that these Gentiles had received the Holy Spirit and been baptized, didn’t that mean it was time for them to repent of their non-kosher, uncircumcised, Sabbath-violating, law-breaking ways? Nope.

Peter’s vision — according to Peter — did not mean that the unclean were to be welcomed provided they were willing to become clean. It meant that Peter was not to regard them as “unclean” at all.

“The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us,” Peter says. “God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean.”

Nothing there about shellfish. Nothing.

The story of Peter’s vision in Acts 10:1-11:18 cannot be used to “dispense” with the Shellfish Objection. Not according to Peter.

Peter did not say that Peter’s vision was about shellfish. Peter said that Peter’s vision was about people — about the people he believed the Bible told him were “profane or unclean,” about the people of whom he thought the Bible required him to “make a distinction between them and us.”

Can Peter be trusted to understand his own vision? Is Peter’s interpretation of Peter’s vision correct?

Timothy Dalrymple, like Al Mohler, says no.

They say that Peter’s vision is about shellfish. They say — contra Peter — that Peter’s vision explains why it’s OK for Christians not to keep kosher. And unlike Peter, they think Christians are still required to classify others as “profane or unclean” if those others violate the non-dietary parts of biblical law. Unlike Peter, they say it is very, very important to continue to “make a distinction between them and us.”

But despite disagreeing with Peter’s interpretation of Peter’s own vision, “dispensing” the apostle’s words as “the old Shellfish Objection,” Dalrymple and Mohler still want — and need — to cling to a part of what Peter was saying. This is because, like me, they are Gentiles. Like me, they cannot say, “I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.”

And that means we are, according to the Bible, “profane and unclean.” Abominable. If God’s people are supposed to “make a distinction between them and us,” then, as Gentiles, we are part of them.

Here is where the studious folks hand-waving away “the old Shellfish Objection” contradict themselves.

On the one hand, they say that Peter’s vision was a limited, lawyerly amendment to biblical law — dealing exclusively with one limited set of “purity law” and declaring one limited set of “abominations” no longer abominable. But on the other hand, these folks, being Gentiles, still have to cling to the broader interpretation of Peter’s vision, because their own standing as Christians depends on it.

That’s a contradiction. Either this vision was just about shellfish, about dietary law — in which case Gentiles like Dalrymple, Mohler and me are in big trouble. Or else this vision is about people — about a commandment from God “not call anyone profane or unclean” and a commandment from God not to “make a distinction between them and us.”

The very best that can be said for folks like Dalrymple and Mohler — Gentiles who use Peter’s vision to dispense with the old Shellfish Objection — is that they’re horrifically selfish. They want Peter’s vision to apply primarily to shellfish, but they’re also relying on it being about people — but only some people, only and exclusively Gentiles.

When Peter said “God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean” what he really meant to say was much narrower. What Peter really meant to say was “God has shown me that I should not call Gentiles like Al Mohler and Timothy Dalrymple profane or unclean.”

And when Peter said “The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us” what he really meant to say was much narrower. What Peter really meant to say was, “The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between Gentiles like Al Mohler and Timothy Dalrymple and us.”

Peter’s vision was mainly about shellfish, but it can also be used to sneak heterosexual Gentiles in the back door. But only heterosexual Gentiles.

And after we sneak in that back door, we should slam that door behind us and lock it tight to make sure no other kind of profane and unclean outsiders tries getting in. We double-bolt that door so that we’re still able to “make a distinction between them and us.”

That’s clearly what the book of Acts teaches, “for anyone who has actually studied both sides of the issue.” What else could it possibly mean?

 

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Peter’s vision was mainly about shellfish, but it can also be used to sneak heterosexual Gentiles in the back door. But only heterosexual Gentiles.

    I see what you did there.

    Snicker snicker.

  • pharoute

    Wait! So God didn’t show shellfish to Peter in the thing like a sheet (but not actually a sheet)?? No wonder Red Lobster’s sales are down.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    I read Dalrymple’s post yesterday and tried to leave a comment with links to Fred’s recent writing on the issue, but my comment is stuck in moderation (because of the links, I’ve never had trouble posting link-free comments there).

  • Münchner Kindl

    One aspect that I find interesting about that story in Acts is that it’s another point of divergence between Jews and Christians. But not because of the obvious vision. Because of the interpretation.

    In the Babylonian Talmud, there is one story about one group of Rabbis arguing with another Rabbi about proper interpretation regarding a specific instance (an oven to be declared unclean or clean). The story can be found here in English
    http://cojs.org/cojswiki/Babylonian_Talmud_Bava_Mezia_59a-b:_The_Bet_Midrash_and_Divine_Law

    The relevant part here is ”
    Again he said to them: “If the halakhah agrees with me, let it be proved from Heaven!” Whereupon a Heavenly Voice cried out: “Why do you dispute with Rabbi Eliezer, seeing that in all matters the halakhah agrees with him!” But Rabbi Joshua arose and exclaimed: “It is not in heaven.” 82
    What did he mean by this? Said Rabbi Jeremiah: That the Torah had already been given at Mount Sinai; we pay no attention to a Heavenly Voice, because You have long since written in the Torah at Mount Sinai, ‘‘After the majority must one incline.” ”

    Altough the Babylonian Talmud was written down later than Acts, the oral history and tendency to consider the kind of correct interpretation were probably around earlier. The other question is how much Simon Peter would have known about this. On one hand, he’s usually dismissed as “just a fisher” often inferred to be analphabet. But on the other hand, as Jew, he must have learned to read the Torah at least enough for his Bar-Mizwa. I don’t know if fishers were exempt from this during that time period, or whether the importance of educating each (male) Jew in the scriptures and discussing theological matters in the schul was stressed as much when the Jews were still living in their own country, though under foreign rule, or if this was a later effect after the destruction of the temple, when worship moved into each household and family, requiring more competence of each head of household than before under the priests.

    So for Jews, a voice from Heaven didn’t count against scripture, or as proof. If Peter had instead – as Paul usually did – interpreted the Scripture in new ways to support new ideas, it would have been different than just a vision.

    Of course, for the discussion today among Christians, this is less of a problem because the studies in the scriptures outside Acts have been done time and again. Fred just linked to a pastor looking for condemnation in the Bible, reading properly in context, and finding nothing.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    *brain is hung up on the shellfish/selfish punnery* XD

  • Albanaeon

    Funny how those “plain commonsense readings” of the Bible rarely actually work out that way.

    Even more interesting how those readings inevitably revolve around giving dispensations and privileges to those insisting on how to read these passages. 

    One might even suspect that these Godly humble RTC’s are deliberately trying to use the authority of the Bible to give themselves dispensations and privileges in a cynical bid to increase their power. 

    But that would never, ever happen…

  • Emcee, cubed

    Can we get around this whole ridiculous argument by calling it the “Poly-Cotton Blend Objection”? There are a whole lot of things in Leviticus that are not dietary laws at all, but are still wholly ignored by Christians everywhere. So unless the animals on that sheet were wearing cotton-wool sweaters, I’m not seeing how it cancelled out those other parts…

  • Cradicus

    “Analphabet”
    I learned a word today! And not the one I thought I would based on the start of the word and my terrible gutter-based mind.

  • http://xulonjam.wordpress.com/ Xulon

    Peter, Peter, Peter. Ol’ “Open mouth insert foot” Peter. Urf Urf Urf.

    Such has never been far from the surface in so-called expositions of the Gospels as long as I’ve been going to church. I read once somebody saying something like “Why is it every time Peter opens his mouth it’s considered questionable but never when Paul opens his mouth?” Unfortunately, he said that to dismiss some things Paul wrote rather than look at what Peter said.

    If Peter weren’t such an embarrassing fool, he might have done more for the Kingdom. I mean, God uses cracked pots, but still, don’t be like Peter.

  • Lori

     

    If Peter weren’t such an embarrassing fool, he might have done more for
    the Kingdom. I mean, God uses cracked pots, but still, don’t be like
    Peter.

    Yeah, ol’ Jesus really made a bad HR decision there didn’t he?  [eyeroll]

  • ako

    Funny how those “plain commonsense readings” of the Bible rarely actually work out that way.

    If I could correct common misconceptions in the culture war, the idea that the Right Wing reading of the Bible is the plain, commonsense literal reading and any reading classified as liberal or moderate is just handwaving the inconvenient bits would be fairly high on the list of stuff to go after.

    It’s false, it’s widely believed even by people who aren’t on their side, and it gives them unwarranted credibility. 

    (In reality, trying to come up with a strictly literal interpretation of the Bible ends up with an odd contradictory mish-mash, so if anyone wants to make sense of it, they have to try to interpret it and work out which bits should be taken at face value.)

  • http://twitter.com/gndwyn Urthman

     Nice shot Fred, but wrong target.  The part of Acts that refutes the “Shellfish Objection” is not Peter’s vision but the Council of Jerusalem’s proclamation in Acts 15 where the Apostles decided that the only parts of the Law required of the Gentiles are, ” that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication.”

  • pharoute

    No blood puddings? Philistines!

    Snark aside, isn’t fornication unmarried sex? (not sure of the Biblical definition) So if gay marriage is legalized, gays and lesbians would no longer be fornicators ie not sinners, thus reducing the total numbers of sinners… win win! Why aren’t all churches in favor of gay marriage?

  • Lori

     

    the only parts of the Law required of the Gentiles are, ” that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols  

    And yet it says in another book (Romans maybe—I no longer care enough to remember) that there’s nothing inherently wrong with food sacrificed to idols and people should make their own decision about it. Those who do eat it need to try to avoid creating a stumbling block for those who think it’s wrong, but that’s out of consideration not compulsion.

  • Lori

     

    Snark aside, isn’t fornication unmarried sex?  

    In fundie-speak “fornication” is any sex that’s icky. Unmarried people doing it? Icky. Two men or two women doing it? Really icky. More than 2 people at a time doing it. So icky. Putting it in places that can never, ever make a baby. Icky. Doing it while using effective birth control is now also icky even for non-Catholic fundies.

  • http://twitter.com/gndwyn Urthman

    The author of Mark’s gospel said that this teaching comes from Jesus himself:

    He said to them, “Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”   (Mark 7: 18-23)

    So it’s really pretty ignorant to declare that shellfish or mixed-fiber clothing is some sort of big GOTCHA! against Christians who think homosexuality is wrong, because the New Testament addresses the issue in several places and clearly puts sexual morality in a different category from the dietary laws.

    That said, it’s true that Jesus said nothing specifically about homosexuality and there’s a lot of questions about what exactly “πορνεία” (the word translated as “fornication”) means.  But it’s probably harder to make good television (or blog posts) about Greek etymology than to just say “LOL SHELLFISH!”

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    Saying “Thus he declared all foods clean” doesn’t address the issue of mixed-fiber clothing. Jesus may have put sexual morality in a different category from the dietary laws, but there are many aspects of Jewish law that are neither.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    But it’s probably harder to make good television (or blog posts) about Greek etymology than to just say “LOL SHELLFISH!”

    But wouldn’t one’s understanding of Peter’s vision influence their interpretation of the open etymological question? If Peter’s vision is about people, and we want to reconcile the vision with our modern understanding of homosexuality, then we’re inclined to lean toward ”πορνεία” being about abusive power dynamics and consent. If Peter’s vision is about things people do, it’s easier to interpret ”πορνεία” as simply “fornication” and “sexual morality” as unilaterally excluding a specific group. Fred explains why this question is in no way “easily dispensed.”

  • EllieMurasaki

    Which does not do a very good job of explaining why heterosexual sex is moral (even if only under certain circumstances) and homosexual sex is not.

  • hapax

     

    He said to them, “Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see
    that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it
    enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?”
    (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “It is what comes out
    of a person that defiles.

    So, putting aside the Markan authorial gloss that interprets the plain words, a “literal” understanding of Jesus’s words here is that ANY kind of sex is okay, as long as no one has an orgasm?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Request: For those who want to give the original Greek, can a transliteration be provided in the event a person’s computer cannot render the Greek alphabet for any reason? Kthx.

  • Becky

     

    The part of Acts that refutes the “Shellfish Objection” is not Peter’s
    vision but the Council of Jerusalem’s proclamation in Acts 15 where the
    Apostles decided that the only parts of the Law required of the Gentiles
    are, ” that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from
    blood and from things strangled and from fornication.”

    But (unlike Jews and Muslims) Christians don’t abstain from blood.

  • Elena Richmond

    This is the problem with using the Bible like it’s some magic book.  Who cares what it says? Read it along side other writing. Take it all with some common sense, some understanding of history and psychology and huge amounts of compassion.

  • Tricksterson

    “Damn but those bivalves are self-centered!”

  • LoneWolf343

    Seems to be that Mohler and company could stand a reread of the Parable of the Unjust Servant too.

  • LoneWolf343

     Maybe they could say that the sheet was polyester.

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    Of course, there’s a problem with Mark 7: 18-23, in that Jesus was wrong about “whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile”, since whatever goes into a person from outside can carry some nasty germs, and hand washing, even if its chief purpose was ceremonial, offers some protection. I do get his point, that getting right with God is not a matter of carrying out the right rituals, since the rituals themselves do not protect against evil intentions, and you can carry out all the rituals but if you are  guilty of fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly, the rituals don’t matter.

    Doesn’t stop me from thinking, “Salmonella, Hepatitis A, shigella, Norwalk virus . . .” every time I hear someone quote this verse.

  • Blotzphoto

    A lot of the Peter stories in the bible portray him as Jesus’s comic sidekick. This actually fits into a lot of traditional storytelling. The apostles all get this treatment at some point in the gospels, sounding like rubes so the big guy can look good by answering their silly questions.

  • Lunch Meat

    In our alphabet, the word translated “fornication” is “porneia.” But I think we all could have guessed that.

    And the meaning is just as vague as the phrase “sexual immorality” is. According to my giant lexicon (I love my giant lexicon!) it pretty much means “prohibited sex”. So…saying porneia is bad is kind of a tautology.

  • Otrame

    Okay, I have suggestion. It does not involve arguing about what the Bible does or does not have to say about homosexuality. Here it is:

    If you think having gay sex is wrong, DON’T DO IT.

    There. See how easy that was?

    Same sex marriage? If you think it is wrong, DON’T MARRY SOMEONE THE SAME SEX YOU ARE.

    See? That solves the problem and you can get on with the, admittedly very interesting, discussion discussion about how to interpret those passages.

  • Erista

     Telling people not to wear mixed-fiber clothing is not a “dietary law.” As such, it would not be covered under this “Peter’s vision was just about food” stuff. Wearing clothing of mixed fibers also don’t count as something that go INTO a person, so it can’t be tossed out that way.

    So, what part of the bible do Christians use to indicate that the mixed-fiber prohibition has been tossed out, but not the homosexuality one?

  • friendly reader

     Given that “porneia” comes from the word “pornē,” or prostitute (same root as in pornography, and derived from the verb “to sell”), then I think the meaning ought to be very clear: don’t solicit prostitutes.  Heck, even “fornication” comes from “fornex,” or brothel.

    Now, mind you, prostitution was one of the main forms of extramarital sex back in the day when you got married as soon as you hit puberty (late teens), and so you could broaden the image to “all extramarital sex,” including premarital, but you’d have to make an argument of why it should be broadened. And that’s a debate I am nowhere near ready to get into.

  • Paradox244

    You know, the book of Leviticus also has a lot of other, non dietary rules.  There are rules against wearing mixed fabrics, rules on how to sell family members into slavery, and a rather exhaustive list of rules on what to do if your house has mold.   Even if you do accept the Shellfish Exemption interpretation of Peter’s vision, that doesn’t explain why we Christians have thrown those rules out as well.  But not the ones about gay people.

  • DiscreteComponent

     One of the great observations on the Bible is “….the Bible has many sterling virtues,  clarity is not one of them!”

  • DiscreteComponent

    Saying that Peter’s interpretation of his vision is incorrect reminded me of a incident when I was in High School. In advanced lit I was assigned to do a report on Hemingway’s “Old man and the Sea” which I dutifully read.  Wanting to do a bang up job on my report and knowing my Mom had more Lit collage units than any two high school English teachers I wne and asked her if she had anything about the story.  Turned out she had a copy of an old interview of Hemingway where he talked about the story.

    To make a long story shorter, I used the interview as a primary source for my report and wrote about how the story was ‘just about nobility of mans struggle with nature’.  The teacher promptly gave me an ‘F’ because I had totally ignored the ‘accepted’ interpretation of the story.  That it was about Christ’s crucifixion & resurrection.

    Upon see my grade my mother went to talk to the teacher, taking her copy of the interview with her.  The teacher read the interview and observed, after admitting I had followed the authors views, “Well, he’s just the author.  What does he know?”

    So I’d say about Peter…”He’s just the person who was given the vision by GOD and an Apostle, what does he know?”  

  • Lori

     

    So it’s really pretty ignorant to declare that shellfish or mixed-fiber
    clothing is some sort of big GOTCHA! against Christians who think
    homosexuality is wrong, because the New Testament addresses the issue in
    several places and clearly puts sexual morality in a different category
    from the dietary laws.  

    So if the teaching about the dietary laws came right from Jesus then why would Peter have needed a vision to tell him that it was OK for him to eat treif? He was an Apostle, with Jesus for his entire ministry. If Mark heard it then it’s hard to believe that Peter didn’t. Which means that you simply provided further proof of Fred’s point—Peter’s vision was not about food, it was about people. And if you’re going to say that the vision only meant that non-Jews were OK if they became the right kind of Christians, but everyone else could still be treated as abominable other that pretty much reenforces Fred’s point too.

  • Lori

     

    The teacher promptly gave me an ‘F’ because I had totally ignored the
    ‘accepted’ interpretation of the story.  That it was about Christ’s
    crucifixion & resurrection.   

    WTF? Seriously, WTF?

  • Tricksterson

    Oh great, now that you brought that up the fundgelicals will start protesting germ theory.  Way to go.

  • Tricksterson

    And here I thought the main message of “The Old Man and the Sea” was the same as every other Hemingway story:  “Life sucks then you die.”

  • ReverendRef

    It’s been a long two days — The Kid graduated high school last night and I spent all day Eugene (two hours from home) at an ordination, so I’m tired and maybe that’s playing into this — BUT …. I’m really getting tired of trying to deal with stupid, obnoxious people forcing their interpretation of the plain sense of Scripture (uh huh) on the rest of us, or their religious morality on the state.

    Besides reading about this yoyo Dalrymple, I received an e-mail yesterday from another local clergyman trying to organize a community-wide prayer event in response to the threat to “our religious liberties.” 

    I need to send him a nice reply explaining why I don’t plan on attending.  And Dalrymple needs to pull his head out.

    Yep . . . tired and grumpy — SOOO shouldn’t be posting.

  • DiscreteComponent

     Oh yes, it is all too true.  The good thing is that my Mom got the teacher to change the grade to a ‘C’ by a lot of hard talking about just how many different ‘accepted’ interpretations of the story there were.  (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Man_and_the_Sea) An pointing out that one of the goals a Lit class was to expose students to original views. 

    BTW:  This is one of my favorite memories of my Mom as it was the only time she ever challenged a grade any of my teachers gave me.   

  • The_L1985

    What really bugs me is, a vision can easily mean more than one thing. But somehow, Mohler et al. fail to realize that Peter’s vision probably is about both food and people.

  • GG

    You said [quote]The story of Peter’s vision in Acts 10:1-11:18 cannot be used to “dispense” with the Shellfish Objection. Not according to Peter.
    Peter did not say that Peter’s vision was about shellfish. Peter said that Peter’s vision was about people — about the people he believed the Bible told him were “profane or unclean,” about the people of whom he thought the Bible required him to “make a distinction between them and us.”[/quote]  I was wondering where in the story you found the words “make a distinction between them and us”.  I have read the story in three different versions and cannot find those words.  Also, I think Peter made his point pretty clear in Acts 10:34-35.  
    I agree with a previous poster that the first Jerusalem Council and the letter to the Gentiles is more ‘freeing to eat shellfish’ than this comparison of Peter’s vision – though the vision may have spurred on that decision.

  • GG

    Well that quote system didn’t work….

  • GDwarf

    Ah, “Death of the Author”. Obviously everyone here accepts it to some extent, what L&J intended with Left Behind has little relation to what we get out of it. But I also think it’s one of the most abused ideas out there.

    See, every time I’ve encountered someone who brought it up, bar none, they used it to mean “My view is definitively right and all others are subjective and wrong”. Obviously that’s nonsense, but man does it get tiring.

    What’s more, I do feel that one cannot argue that there is an allegory or metaphor if the author says there is not. It’s one thing to find your own meaning in a work, that’ll depend on what you bring into it, after all, but it’s quite another to insist that there’s some sort of hidden message there, since any such thing would have to be deliberately placed there by the author and, as such, if they say it isn’t there, then it isn’t.

    And then it crept into the sciences, with nonsense about physics being innately masculine and suchlike and just argh. Postmodernism has done some wonderful things for fiction, but let’s keep it there, please?

    So, no, Lord of the Rings has nothing to do with World War II. It may change the way you think about WWII, but it is not an allegorical retelling of it nor was it intended to have anything to do with it.

    Hamlet didn’t have an Oedipus complex because they don’t exist and so Shakespeare could hardly have written about them unless he independently arrived at the same idea. Maybe reading it changes how you think about family relations, that’s fine, but you don’t get to say that Hamlet has a psychological condition that doesn’t exist and which no one even thought could exist at the time.

    Likewise, Hemingway has been very verbose on how his stories don’t have any hidden meaning, so they don’t. You can read The Old Man and the Sea and have it change how you think about the crucifixion, or whatever, but the story is not about that.

    I don’t know why literature teachers and profs the world over feel that they can dictate from on high what an author “really meant”, especially when they have statements by the author contradicting that. “Death of the Author” simply means that the author does not dictate meaning, not that they don’t get to say what it is they actually intended.

  • Mau de Katt

     

    “Well, he’s just the author.  What does he know?”

    This was also done to humorous effect in the movie Back To School, where Rodney Dangerfield has enrolled in his son’s college to help him out as a fellow student.  Since he’s incredibly rich, he hires Kurt Vonnegut himself (in a cameo as himself) to write his Lit report about Vonnegut’s work.  The professor not only fails Dangerfield’s paper (she knew he didn’t write it), she said that whoever did write it <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQnAhSzb4gY&quot;)"didn't know the first thing about Vonnegut."

  • Mau de Katt

    <a
    href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQnAhSzb4gY&quot;)didn't know the first
    thing about Vonnegut.

  • Mau de Katt

    ( DANG IT the link isn’t showing up.)

    .

    OKay. 

    …”didn’t know the first thing about Vonnegut.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQnAhSzb4gY

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

     So it’s really pretty ignorant to declare that shellfish or mixed-fiber
    clothing is some sort of big GOTCHA! against Christians who think
    homosexuality is wrong, because the New Testament addresses the issue in
    several places and clearly puts sexual morality in a different category
    from the dietary laws.

    I have to echo this, which may seem surprising coming from a QUILTBAG person, but the fact is I first saw the recite-the-laundry-list-of-Leviticus thing back in the mid-1990s, and while it was fresh and kind of innovative back then?

    It’s kind of lost its luster, especially now that it’s been copypasta’ed so many times you can regurgitate it word for word. Whatever value it’s had as an eye-opener to Christians who try to selectively enforce the Levitical prohibitions, is pretty much gone.

    That is not to say that pointing out the blatant hypocrisy isn’t useful, especially when said Christian has just gotten done with a “Oh, that was the OLD testament! we totally don’t need to worry about it anymore!” line of argument about why, oh say, circumcision isn’t necessary.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Hamlet didn’t have an Oedipus complex because they don’t exist and so
    Shakespeare could hardly have written about them unless he independently
    arrived at the same idea. Maybe reading it changes how you think about
    family relations, that’s fine, but you don’t get to say that Hamlet has a
    psychological condition that doesn’t exist and which no one even
    thought could exist at the time.

    That may be true, but even if they didn’t have a name for that concept you better believe that at some point in England in the Shakespeare era, there was some dude who had a creepy sexual obsession with his mother and tongues wagged about it.

    They would have understood the phenomenon, if not the modern name given to it.


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