Lawler - Acsu Buffalo - Personal websites at UB

Equality in Early Societies
And the Historical Fall of Humankind
Seating for class
Front of Room
Lawler: P109 (Thur 12)
P101 (W 12)
P104 (T 9)
P103 (M 12)
P102 (M 11)
P105 (T 12)
P106 (F 12)
P108 (W 10)
P107 (F 11)
P110 (F 10)
On-line registration procedure
• Go to the course website: top of the page.
– Course ID: lawler07074
Mind/Spirit over Matter
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
◦ How to control one’s mind > basis for healing the body
◦ Importance of the “life force”: Prana (India), Chi (China),
expressing the animism of early hunter/gatherers
• 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 …
• “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 soul.”
(Genesis 2:7)
… Harmony
• Creation of humans: God-like spirit (breath)
breathed into matter of earth
• In the beginning human beings were one with
God, nature, and each other.
– Harmony of matter and spirit, nature and
Breath of Life
• =no radical separation between God and
• --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?
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
• 1) Hunter/Gatherers (animals/plants)
– 200,000 BC
• 2) Herders (from hunters) against Agriculturalists
(from gatherers)
– 10,000 BC
• “Fall” as reflection of historical division of humanity
– 1) From nature
– 2) From each other
– 3) From God
Historical Timeline
• 1) Early hunter-gatherers— paleolithic age
– 200,000 years of homo sapiens (sapiens)
– 2 million years of homo habilis (uses 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
– Human transformation of nature
• 3) Hierarchical states control nature: irrigation
Evolution of material creativity
• 1) Change nature into tools (for hunting,
• 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
– 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
– Hereditary rulers over the people
– Subordination of women to men
Oppressiveness of early civilization
– “In modern times, scholars ask how well
Sumer did, and many call attention to its
shortcomings. … 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
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
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 (! Implies a clicking sound) 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
• Their explanation:
– the results of sin (i.e., separation from God, nature, and
each other)
• Deeper sense, feeling
– Inequality of men and women is unnatural
– Labor over/against nature is unnatural
– War is unnatural
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
• 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
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
• What do they think of their situation?