Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Son of Man

I just found a new blog with an excellent post on the 'son of man.' Prickliestpear (I know, you thought I was the prickliest pear, not so) writes about the use of the expression in the old testament. She discusses the many different ways that the expression 'son of man' was used. Most occurences would never be attributed to Christ. For example,

      Behold, even the moon is not bright and the stars are not clean in his sight; how much less man, who is a maggot, and the son of man, who is a worm! (Job 25.5-6; RSV)
PP concludes,

    So I guess the rule is, if it says something nice about the “son of man,” it’s about Jesus, but if it’s not nice, it’s not Jesus. It’s important to establish rules if you’re going to read things critically!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Christ comes as anthropos

Priscilla Papers: Setting the Record Straight
A Response to J. I. Packer’s Position on Women’s Ordination
Grace Ying May and Hyunhye Pokrifka Joe

    In the Garden, God made man and woman as one flesh, one collective entity, and referred to them as such.(42) Romans 5 understands the “adam” (Hebrew) of 5:14 as the one “anthropos” (Greek for “humankind”, see also 5:12,19; 1 Cor 15:21)43 through whose one offense (Rom 5:15-18) sin entered into the world. In the above passage, both “adam” and “anthropos” refer to male and female as one entity. Adam was created as male and female: They were created to be one flesh (Gen 2:24), and they sinned as one flesh, committing one collective offense.

    As the creation of humankind (adam) was complete when the woman was formed, so was the transgression complete when the man sinned. In Genesis 3:22 and 23, God similarly refers to Adam and Eve as one entity: “The adam [human kind=Adam and Eve] has become as one of us . . . lest he put forth his hand . . . God sent him out of the garden to till the adama(44) out of which he was taken. And [God] drove the adam out” (italics ours). Reading adam as a proper noun for the male would lead to the conclusion that Eve was never driven out of the Garden! Instead, we conclude that Adam and Eve were driven out together and that the adam in Genesis 3:22-23 is a collective noun.

    In short, the “adam” of Romans 5:14 refers not to the first male person, but to both the first man and woman. Therefore, Christ, who represents the whole human race, comes as anthropos. “For since death is through anthropos, also through anthropos is a resurrection of the dead, for in adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Cor 15:21)
In Greek there were two words, anthropos, humankind, and aner, man. Adam is anthropos. This is not disputed. Why is it a problem to translate the Bible in this way?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Struggle for a Bible in Modern Greek

Whle I was copying out the 2 Epistle to Timothy I felt the need to gain a fluent pronunciation of Greek, with the correct stress and intonation pattern. (Well, within reason, something workable, if not perfect) I have decided to follow the modern pronunciation entirely and dispense with trying to keep something which approximates the original.

I have a copy of the Greek Vamva Bible version, so I took it to work with me. At lunch I was able to get together with one of my colleagues and read through a chapter together with her. We did not have a Bible study per se but chuckled over terms like 'wordfighting' and other vivid metaphors.

Being curious about the date of the Vamva Greek Bible, I have found this great article on the Struggle for a Bible in Modern Greek. It is a Jehovah's witness site and emphasizes their role in facilitating a modern translation of the Bible in Greek. I commend to you this article.

    Against this backdrop of fierce opposition and earnest yearning for Bible knowledge, there emerged a prominent figure who would play a key role in the translation of the Bible into modern Greek. This courageous person was Neofitos Vamvas, a distinguished linguist and noted Bible scholar, generally regarded as one of the "Teachers of the Nation."

    Vamvas clearly saw that the Orthodox Church was to blame for the spiritual illiteracy of the people. He strongly believed that in order to awaken the people spiritually, the Bible needed to be translated into the spoken Greek of the day. In 1831, with the help of other scholars, he began translating the Bible into literary Greek. His complete translation was published in 1850. Since the Greek Orthodox Church would not support him, he collaborated with the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) on the publication and circulation of his translation. The church labeled him "a Protestant," and soon he found himself an outcast.

    Vamvas' rendering adhered closely to the King James Version and inherited the deficiencies of that version because of the limited Bible scholarship and linguistic knowledge of the time. Yet, for many years it was the closest thing to a Bible in modern Greek that people had access to. Interestingly, it includes the personal name of God four times, in the form "Ieová."—Genesis 22:14; Exodus 6:3; 17:15; Judges 6:24.

    What was the general reaction of the people to this and other easy-to-understand versions of the Bible? Simply overwhelming! In a boat off one of the Greek islands, a colporteur of the BFBS was "so beset with boats full of children who came for [Bibles], that he was obliged . . . to order the captain to get under way" lest he should part with his whole stock in one place! But the opposition did not stand idly by.

    Orthodox priests warned the people against such translations. In the city of Athens, for instance, Bibles were confiscated. In 1833, the Orthodox bishop of Crete committed to the flames the "New Testaments" he discovered at a monastery. One copy was hidden by a priest, and the people in the nearby villages hid their copies until the prelate left the island.

    Some years later on the island of Corfu, Vamvas' translation of the Bible was prohibited by the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church. Its sale was forbidden, and the existing copies were destroyed. On the islands of Chios, Síros, and Mykonos, the hostility of the local clergy led to Bible burning. But further suppression of Bible translation was yet ahead.
Article continues here.

I understand from a brief discussion that the Vamva Bible is the Bible used by the Greek Orthodox Church in Vancouver, Canada. I will try to confirm this information.

Manuscript Copying

I have been participating in Rick Brannan's manuscript transmission experiment here. It turns out that copying neatly really is an acquired skill, not something you just do without practice or natural talent. Apparently I don't have much of either.

Here are some of my initial findings.

1. I copied word for word except for some small phrases, where I read the article or prepostion together with the following word. Sometimes I understood the Greek and sometimes I didn't. I started off trying to make sure that I understood it all the time but that meant I had to stop and think. Better not do that.

2. Longer words were more difficult but diphthongs and vowels that all sound the same are the worst. This word in line 6, συνειδησει, was particularly difficult to spell.

3. When the inflections match it is easy to copy two words together. του θεου or των χειρων make a unit.

4. For some reason eta was the hardest letter for me. I simply don't like it.

5. My most frequent error was skipping a letter. Occasionally I skipped a syllable in the middle of the word. Once I even missed a line but then I threw that page out. I think I made on average 4 mistakes per page, but possibly there are none on the first page. That means that I copied better when I was fresh and got worse as I became tired. (or lazy) The errors appear as small smudges where I wrote over top of a letter.

6. I copied 2-3 pages at a time. Maybe if I had slowed down the accuracy would have increased.

7. I was not satisfied with my ability to pronounce the words properly so I took a modern Greek NT to work with me and read parts of 2 Timothy with a Greek colleague at lunch. I was irritated at knowing that I didn't have a proper stress and intonation pattern. However, my colleague feels that my pronunciation is within striking distance of not sounding absolutely horrible.

8. I don't see very well with bifocals. Maybe I should consider getting reading glasses. Ultimately I copied most of this without looking at my writing. I read the original fine - it is point 20! But switching back and forth and trying to focus with bifocals was too laborious. This might indicate that some manuscript copiers would have to retire early. I don't have much trouble reading a laptop because I can adjust the angle of the screen. Should I have had a desk easel to copy on?

9. Like Rick, I feel that my own writing looks absolutely horrible, up and down, uneven and blotchy. However, I like the look of Rick's because of the colour and beautiful initial letter at the beginning. Overall his page is nicely formatted. He has organized his space well. I didn't really think of that.

Thanks to Mark D. Roberts for blogging here on the God of Imperfect Textual Transmission.

Friday, January 27, 2006

2 Timothy 2:2

Now I am really confused. I have just read Mark D Roberts article on the TNIV controversy and was particularly interested in finding out that it is not a controversy about Greek, but about English. (Okay, Poythress and Grudem make that plain, since they managed to write the Colorado Springs Guidelines without using a Greek Lexicon. Although I would not have believed this if they hadn't said it themselves.)

Although Mark did continue the discussion much further than this, I thought I would stop and examine this set of theses.

    Inclusive Language in Contemporary English, Thesis 1:

    In contemporary English usage there is a wide range of practice when it comes to inclusive language.

    Inclusive Language in Contemporary English, Thesis 2:

    The use of inclusive gender language is more common among younger speakers, though this fact can be exaggerated.

    If you're interested in why I believe these theses to be true, you should check my last post.

    Today I'll add one more thesis:

    Inclusive Language in Contemporary English, Thesis 3:

    People who actively participate in conservative evangelical Christian communities are less likely to use inclusive gender language and more likely to be comfortable with traditional male generic language.

    Inclusive Language in Today's English: Another Thesis Part 16 of the series “Is the TNIV Good News?”Posted at 11:55 p.m. on Sunday, March 6, 2005
From this discussion I would expect to find an example of conservative evangelical Christians using 'men' in a generic sense. However, I knew from recent readings that I might not. These are some examples.

    MEN and women today feel lost and astray in this world, J I Packer here .

    Modern men and women may claim to have come of age, but from this standpoint humanity seems to have regressed to adolescence. J I Packer here
And I can't resist linking to this incongruous article.

    "Rise up, O men of God, have done with lesser things!” was a rousing hymn of commitment for men of a previous era. Today most Christian men I meet on campus don’t know this hymn; more importantly, they have a difficult time knowing what it means to be “men of God”—let alone what “rise up” might imply for their lives as students.
    Dave Collins here
Evidently these conservative Christιαn men use the word men to mean men, not women. And when they mean men and women, they say men and women. So they are evidently not more comfortable with using traditional male generic language.

I have been reading 2 Timothy in Greek recently and was delighted to come across a favourite verse from my Inter Varsity days.

    και α ηκουσας παρ' εμου δια πολλων μαρτυρων, ταυτα παραθου πιστοις ανθρωποις, οιτινες ικανοι εσονται και ετερους διδαξαι. 2 TImothy 2:2
I should have known better but I went and checked this verse in the ESV anyway.

    Αnd what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Tιm. 2:2 ESV
I came away chilled. I lost something in that moment. A favourite verse has been translated as if it referred to men only. I guess this must be it. I have read the complaints against the TNIV. Here is one.

"men" (plural, when referring to male persons) to "people" or "believers" or "friends" or "humans";

So 'men', in Greek anthropos, must be translated as 'men' not 'people', as it is in the TNIV, because it refers to men.

In Inter Varsity, I never once thought, or was made to think, that this verse referred to men only. There is nothing in the Greek that says men only. In Greek it says anthropos, in ESV 'men' by which I now believe I should understand 'men' and not 'women'. How low have we fallen? Sisyphus, thy name is woman!

One male is best represented by another male

J.I. Packer argues that a pastor or priest represents Christ when he ministers to individual members of his flock. Since Jesus was undeniably male, then the ideal form of the pastor is to also be male. "That one male is best represented by another male is a matter of common sense."

J.I. Packer, "Let's Stop Making Women Presbyters", Christianity Today, 1991-FEB-11, Page 18 to 21

I didn't know that this argument was still around. Since the church is the bride of Christ, is it not best represented by a woman. Wouldn't a woman better represent the church to Christ? What a blessing it has been to me on occasion to receive communion from the hands of a woman. Not that it should really matter but sometimes a woman simply wants to be aware that she does not have to be represented to God by a man, or have Christ be symbolized to her by a man.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Women and the Internet

I was interested to read this post by Loren Rossen on women and the internet. The low ratio of women is not just a bibliosphere phenomenon but a more widespread experience. I am, however, delighted to see that younger women are into the internet.

    The percentage of women using the internet still lags slightly behind the percentage of men. Women under 30 and black women outpace their male peers. However, older women trail dramatically behind older men.
I definitely fall into the 'older woman' category since I am well over 30. Other posts on the internet show that there are fewer women lawyers blogging. In the writing systems realm, there is very low participation by women. However, in fonts and technology, which represents the interests of those closer to 30, there is a high participation by women.

I don't have any insights into this phenomenon. One would have to ask a non-blogging woman. The only answer I have gotten so far is "Who has time to blog?" However, I do know women who journal, but they keep it private.

For the record, my interest in blogging came out of my interest in writing systems. My natural dislike for technology was less than my passion for systems of writing and communication. I went from learning how to keyboard Tamil, my first technology challenge, to using multiple keyboards, to participating in an online forum on writing systems to blogging about writing systems. It was a natural sequence.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Laureen Teskey

Laureen who? The tradition here in Canada is that the wife of a conservative prime minister keeps her own name. No one asks about whether she has stayed home with the kids or not. We don't ask questions like that. She doesn't have to bake cookies either. We are still recovering from our last first lady who fancied herself a housewife - Maggie Trudeau.

Tonight Harper told a story about Laureen that I hadn't heard before. "She has traveled - a lot, all over, really. She spent six months driving from Johannesburg to Cairo." He indicated that she had traveled much more than he had. I can't link to another story about this. Wikipedia is notoriously inaccurate on Laureen, whom they call Laureen Harper, but has other interesting details.

Here is an article that is a couple of months old and Dec. and Jan. 14.

(Chateau Frontenac in the background.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Generic Pronoun 'he' II

I am studying the generic pronoun 'he' in order to better understand The TNIV and the Gender Neutral Bible Controversy. Last week I opened my study of the generic pronoun 'he' with this remark.

    There are now two distinct views on the generic pronoun 'he'. One is that it "refers to a person whose gender is unspecified" and the other is that it "refers to a male who is to be taken as the representative member of the group referred to by its antecedent." The first of these two definitions is the classic understanding. However, it appears the 'he' has been redefined.
In Poythress and Grudem's book, mentioned above, they insist that the generic pronoun 'he' refers to a male who represents the group, and that meaning is lost if it is not translated as 'he' in English. At this point one might assume that the generic pronoun 'he' exists in Greek. You would take that for granted. Why else make such a fuss about it?

I only own Greek-English Dictionaries, since I don't usually work from English back into Greek. So I went to the online Greek dictionary here. I then tried to input the word 'he'. There were no results. I have used this search tool extensively so I know that it is not defective. I have also looked up 'he' in many English dictionaries and indeed it always works.

Does this mean that there is no word for 'he' in Greek? Yes, that is, in fact, correct. And the authors of this book don't know that? No, they don't. How did that happen? I don't know.

I do know what the word is that is usually translated as 'he' in English. It is the word for 'self,' 'the same', or the third person singular pronoun. There is no lexical entry for 'he' but there is a word which, if conjugated in a certain way, can be used to refer to a masculine antecedent. However, it has no semantic content for 'he'. It means "the same one that we were just talking about" and can have grammatical marking for the masculine, feminine or neuter. It comes in four cases, three genders and two numbers, singular and plural. (also dual) In the dictionary this word αυτος is given the meaning, "he, she, it" as one possible meaning.

Since grammatical endings by themselves are not considered to relate to sex in reality, but occur for every noun, i.e. table, book, pen, etc., no one really thinks that they conjure up images of a certain sex ie. the male. They are grammatical markings that connect pronouns to antecedents.

Αυτος with the masculine ending might just as well refer to a book or a stone as a man.

Let me repeat, 'he' is not an entry in the English - Greek dictionary and it is not a lexical unit. I can't explain why Poythress and Grudem think that it is. I have written more about The TNIV and the Gender Neutral Bible Controversy here.

I can only guess that if you don't already know that there is an English-Greek dictionary for classical Greek you can't actually use it. Yet these men were entrusted with the oversight of a English Bible translation project.

The TNIV and the Gender Neutral Bible Controversy is on the topic of the generic pronoun 'he' in Bible translation, but all argumentation surrounds the English pronoun 'he' not the Greek pronoun, 'he, she, it.' The authors state that the omission of 'he' in the TNIV accounts for several thousand 'inaccuracies' in this translation.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Michael J Fox

It was a great moment when Canadian actors William Shatner and Michael J Fox shook hands tonight on Boston Legal.

"Denny Crane."

"Daniel Post."

Welcome back to one of our favourite Canadian actors. Daniel Post spoke out for teachers and Alan Shore took on autism. What a great episode all around! The gender politics are beyond perfect.

Pecking Order

I am fascinated by lists. This is a list of what women can do according to this chapter of a certain book. The book states that women cannot teach, lead or have authority over men. So what can they do? Here is "the list' below. (abridged)

Now, when I examine the list, I feel that I am playing poker. A man trumps a woman, but a woman trumps a blind man. What about a deaf man? Definitely a retarded man - I get that - they are down the list. And women trump alcholics, drug-users, runaways, imprisoned - oops nope, back up, only female prisoners. A male prisoner trumps a woman, any woman.

Writing - a woman can write, right - fiction, non-fiction, editing, journalistic skills (maybe that means shorthand, that is, the woman could take down the interview in shorthand, but not actually conduct the interview) Another question, is theology fiction or non-fiction?


Ministries to the handicapped
Hearing impaired

Ministries to the sick
Hospice care-cancer, AIDS, etc.
Community health

Ministries to the socially estranged
Emotionally impaired
Recovering alcoholics
Recovering drug-users
Escaping prostitutes
Abused children, women
Runaways, problem children

Prison ministries
Women's prisons
Families of prisoners
Rehabilitation to society

Ministries to youth
Open houses and recreation
Outings and trips
Academic assistance

Writing ministries

Curriculum development
Institutional communications
Journalistic skills for publications

Teaching ministries
Sunday school: children, youth, students, women
Grade school
High school

Monday, January 16, 2006

First Ordained Black Woman

Thanks to Scot McKnight of Jesus Creed for this inspirational post on Rebecca Freundlich Protten.

    It is because of the Rebecca Freundlich’s of the Caribbean that the African American Church is today what it is: she was courageous, she was devoted, she was determined, she was fearless, and she was limited — but like Harriet Tubman, Rebecca worked around her limitations to ennoble many and reach many with the gospel.

I have been reading more about Harriet Tubman, who featured prominently in the Vancouver Sun's review of Bound for Canaan last Saturday. This is such encouragement for me as I slog through Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, by Grudem & Piper, cataloguing the various restrictions on woman found in this book. I have just read the part where Poythress writes, "Maintaining male leadership in the church is not a matter of indifference. Evil effects inevitably arise when we deviate from God's pattern."

I surround myself with the comfortable reminders of Catherine Booth, Rebecca Freundlich and many other women who were oblivious to this indictment and were accepted as synergos, workers together, with men in the church.

On another note, I am using Wagon Wheels, a very easy book about Black pioneers as a reader for ESL reading disabled learners, ages 8-12, right now. They never cease to be fascinated by the courage and enterprise of this family.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

I've got a problem!

Engineering 83%
Philosophy 75%
Linguistics 67%
Mathematics 67%
English 67%
Journalism 67%
Art 67%
Sociology 67%
Psychology 58%
Anthropology 50%
Theater 50%
Biology 25%
Chemistry 25%
Dance 25%

created with QuizFarm.com

Okay, most of this is right on. PB's wouldn't even think of dancing! But engineering! This must be the result of my Abecedaria blog where I hang out with software engineers. Whew!

So what did I do this weekend? First, I reinstalled my OS from scratch. Then my husband and I reconnected our modem, then reset the router, then reinstalled all the software applications, made sure the kids computer worked, etc. etc. At this rate we'll all be engineers. I hope this will wear off and I can get back to a nice traditional female domain.

Adding New Sites: I

I have added a couple of new sites to my blogroll. First, Kenny Pearce blogs on many things but most often on philosophy with some Greek, linguistics and every day life thrown in.

In conversations we have had, the influence of Aristotle on our thinking about gender roles has come up. Predictably I have found an exellent resource on this topic on a Catholic website, Women Priests.

This page in particular mentions some background that I am familiar with but don't have time to write about at the moment.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Bound for Canaan

I bought Bound For Canaan by Fergus Bordewich today and opening the book at random, began to read the story of Josiah and Charlotte Henson.

    "Escape from the Riley plantation had been imperative: had they not run away, they would have been sold and separated from each other. But the flight was a psychological as well as a geographical odyssey, a journey of self-discovery and self-realization. The Hensons, profoundly devout people, of course believed that their lives ultimately lay in the hands of God. In the act of flight, however, they would discover if they could become the agents of their own fate. After a lifetime spent in the fragile security of the plantation, they were now suddenly more completely alone, and in charge of their own destiny, than they had ever been in their lives. Now, even the simplest decision, a moment's lack of attention - a fork in the road, the problem of finding food, whether to trust a stranger, how long the children could keep going - was heavy with potentially catastrophic consequences.

    Henson and his family continued northward, heading for Lake Erie, about 150 miles farther north. ... the Hensons again ran out of food. They were saved by a chance encounter with a band of unepectedly friendly Indians, probably a last remnant of the Wyandot or Shawnee. The Indians, who had never seen black people before, surprised the terrified Hensons by feeding them "bountifully," and providing them with a "comfortable wigwam" for the night."
The forward by Lawrence Hall gives details of the ambiguity towards slavery that existed in Canada at that time. Simcoe, the governor of Upper Canada (Ontario) began the campaign against slavery in 1792, and Ontario was essentially a safe haven from 1812 on. However, slavery was not officially against the law in Canada until 1834, when it was abolished throughout the British Commonwealth.

This review explains the title of the book,
    For many of the thousands of blacks who escaped slavery in 19th-century America through the network of the Underground Railroad, "Canaan" meant "Canada" and freedom. In Bound for Canaan, the first panoramic exploration of the Underground Railroad, slaves, slave owners and emancipators are caught up in a fierce clash of values that becomes a turning point in race relations and the human rights movement.

    Complemented by an introduction by Lawrence Hill, the acclaimed author of Any Known Blood, Fergus M. Bordewich’s masterful narrative weaves together the personal stories of men and women with the politics of slavery and abolition to show how the Underground Railroad gave birth to North America’s first racially integrated, religiously inspired movement for social change.

Read more about Bound for Canaan here.

Sola Scriptura

While browsing a few blogs this morning I was fascinated by this post at Higgaion, Grounds for Dismissal at Wheaton College . Here is what Chris Heard has to say about 'sola scriptura',

    I'll say this as plainly and bluntly as I can: the doctrine of relying on "scripture alone" cannot be derived from scripture alone. That is, scripture itself does not promote the sola Scriptura principle

That is, the idea that scripture alone is the source of doctrine, is itself a tradition.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Generic Pronoun 'he'

I confess to being somewhat curious about where certain novel ideas about the generic 'he' pronoun came from. In Poythress and Grudem's The TNIV and the Gender Neutral Bible I found this reference. I have marked in bold the relevant phrase. When the authors quote this entry they discreetly leave out the last sentence.

This entry is from the American Heritage Dictionary. There are now two disctinct views on the generic pronoun 'he'. One is that it "refers to a person whose gender is unspecified" and the other is that it "refers to a male who is to be taken as the representative member of the group referred to by its antecedent." The first of these two definitions is the classic understanding. However, it appears the 'he' has been redefined.

1a. Used to refer to the man or boy previously mentioned or implied. b. Used to refer to a male animal. 2. Usage Problem Used to refer to a person whose gender is unspecified or unknown: “He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence” (William Blake).
A male person or animal: Is the cat a he?
Middle English, from Old English h. See ko- in Appendix I.
Traditionally the pronouns he, him, and his have been used as generic or gender-neutral singular pronouns, as in A novelist should write about what he knows best and No one seems to take any pride in his work anymore. Since the early 20th century, however, this usage has come under increasing criticism for reflecting and perpetuating gender stereotyping. •Defenders of the traditional usage have argued that the masculine pronouns he, his, and him can be used generically to refer to men and women. This analysis of the generic use of he is linguistically doubtful. If he were truly a gender-neutral form, we would expect that it could be used to refer to the members of any group containing both men and women. But in fact the English masculine form is an odd choice when it refers to a female member of such a group. There is something plainly disconcerting about sentences such as Each of the stars of As Good As It Gets [i.e., Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt] won an Academy Award for his performance. In this case, the use of his forces the reader to envision a single male who stands as the representative member of the group, a picture that is at odds with the image that comes to mind when we picture the stars of As Good As It Gets. Thus he is not really a gender-neutral pronoun; rather, it refers to a male who is to be taken as the representative member of the group referred to by its antecedent. The traditional usage, then, is not simply a grammatical convention; it also suggests a particular pattern of thought. •It is clear that many people now routinely construct their remarks to avoid generic he, usually using one of two strategies: changing to the plural, so they is used (which is often the easiest solution) or using compound and coordinate forms such as he/she or he or she (which can be cumbersome in sustained use). In some cases, the generic pronoun can simply be dropped or changed to an article with no change in meaning. The sentence A writer who draws on personal experience for material should not be surprised if reviewers seize on that fact is complete as it stands and requires no pronoun before the word material. The sentence Every student handed in his assignment is just as clear when written Every student handed in the assignment. •Not surprisingly, the opinion of the Usage Panel in such matters is mixed. While 37 percent actually prefer the generic his in the sentence A taxpayer who fails to disclose the source of &rule3m; income can be prosecuted under the new law, 46 percent prefer a coordinate form like his or her; 7 percent felt that no pronoun was needed in the sentence; 2 percent preferred an article, usually the; and another 2 percent overturned tradition by advocating the use of generic her, a strategy that brings the politics of language to the reader's notice. Thus a clear majority of the Panel prefers something other than his. The writer who chooses to use generic he and its inflected forms in the face of the strong trend away from that usage may be viewed as deliberately calling attention to traditional gender roles or may simply appear to be insensitive.

Update: The part in red is quoted on page 254 of The TNIV and the Gender Neutral Bible Controversy

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Why Aristotle and other things

Jeremy commented on my post of last Sunday with this. Thanks for you thoughtful input here.

    I suggest looking at Anthony Thiselton's I Corinthians commentary, which takes off from a large body of literature that appeared after Gordon Fee's commentary (the main proponent of "source" among the most recent commentators), including work by Judith Gundry-Volf and A.C. Perriman.

    He argues that the primary meaning is the literal head as opposed to the physical body, but the extended sense is multifold, most importantly signifying prominence and preeminence. It doesn't entail leadership or authority, though it can have that connotation. Thiselton thinks this complements but doesn't guarantee other scriptural statements about the non-symmetrical relationship between men and women in terms of authority that Paul grounds in the creation order in I Timothy 2. David Garland's more recent commentary resists the connotation of authority. Garland is a full-blown Fee-style egalitarian, so this is no surprise. Both Garland and Thiselton reject as no longer tenable the view of Fee and others that 'kephale' means "source". I believe Craig Blomberg's commentary takes a similar view, if I remember correctly. This means that a number of commentators seem to be converging on a consensus here, one that cuts across the egalitarian/complementarian debate, people like Fee and Grudem notwithstanding.
I had thought to shortcut, even circumvent, all of this by simply not refering to 'source' as a possible translation for 'kephale'. I was just going to let 'source' drift off into oblivion on its own. But I do appreciate your following this debate so closely.

    Nowhere in this discussion does anyone intimate that the far more remote Aristotle is all that important. Classical Greek in general is pretty remote from Paul's late Hellenistic context.
I bring up Aristotle for other reasons. After all, he does the consumate job of detailing the non-symmetrical relationships of master - slave, man - woman, father - son. These are 'koinonia', this is how our basic needs are met, our 'soteria', wealth creation, and so on.

I also think that men who say that 'woman have decision-making power but are without authority' should know that they are quoting directly from Aristotle. I don't know whether Paul was influenced by Aristotle but its for sure that the Spanish Conquest of America greatly benefited from Aristotle's contention that some people were naturally slaves, and the British Empire also used Aristotle to justify their ascendancy.

If Paul was familiar with Aristotle, but I don't say that he was, Gordon Fee says not, the question would be whether he was trying to a) confirm, b) modify or c) contradict Artistotle's outline of the non-symetrical nature of 'koinonia'.

However, from the time of the church fathers, Aristotelian thinking has influenced the church. Another important concept in Aristotle is that he based the non-symmetrical nature of the 'koinonia' on the fact that, in nature, slaves, barbarians (being natural slaves), and women were inferior in their participation in 'logos' or Reason. Slaves, barbarians and women were ruled by the appetites of the body, and needed to be governed by the mind, the intellect of the master, husband, or ruler. The child, is different, in that he, that is the son, is only immature, he will grow up to be of like nature with the father, then he will particpate in Reason.

As an aside, it was the debate between Sepulveda and Las Casa at Valladolid, which convinced me that Aristotle is important and has influenced western thought significantly.

However, back to Jeremy on Paul,

    Besides, he's so much more obviously influenced by the LXX than by Greek literature, though he does adapt Stoic and Epicurean categories once or twice to serve his purposes. For that reason, I think Grudem's focus on the LXX usage of this term to translate positions such as chiefs or other leaders in the OT is more relevant than Fee wants to allow, even if Fee is right that that couldn't be the primary meaning. Thiselton and Garland simply accept that it couldn't be the primary meaning, while insisting that sometimes it is part of the connotation. Then they differ on whether it's part of the connotation here. Fee seems to rule out this possibility from the outset, never considering that such a connotation might appear even if the primary meaning has nothing to do with authority.
    Also, I'm not sure why the Latin 'caput' is supposed to that relevant. It's a different language, and it's not likely to have the same semantic range, even if that term is the one most commonly used to translate 'kephale'. The same is true of the Hebrew that 'kephale' translates, but the fact that Paul read the LXX makes it important to see how the LXX uses 'kephale'. I don't see how the same concern can come up with the Latin translation, since Paul wouldn't have been reading the Vulgate.
I introduced the idea of a 'capital sum of money' because 'sum of money' was given as one of the meanings of 'kephale' in the Liddell-Scott dictionary, not based on the connection with 'caput'. Sorry I wasn't clear about that. I did post the meaning of 'kephale' here.

However, the connection to 'caput' did make me think more about the word 'capital' in English and inspired me to write this post, partly tongue-in-cheek. It was a semi-spoof on the way people do hermeneutics, and partly a way to extend our appreciation of the range of meaning that 'kephale' has. I don't mean to make fun of this, but to try and break out of the mindset which says it is all about one person being the boss over another. How much fun is that?

I am now reading up on 'soter' in Ephesians 5. Peter Kirk has already mentioned the notion of nourishment and care from Ephesians. In looking at 'soter' I find protector and guardian. Ancient Greek women weren't going to have access to their money in the bank if they didn't have man, either husband or legal guardian, to do their banking for them.

Once again, I truly appreciated Steven Tracy's article here. He expands on the following theme,

    The Father's headship over the Son is specifically reflected in loving intimacy, sharing authority, honoring and protecting.

Saturday, January 07, 2006


We went to see Casanova last night. For those concerned about the propriety of this movie, it is a ridiculous romp with many undignified moments. There were a few secenes that should have been cut. IMHO. However, the only bare flesh is the rump of a well-scrubbed pink piglet. (What is it with pigs this year? They star in Pride & Prejudics as well.)

The plot revolves around the authorship of a pamphlet called The Hope for Women in a World of Men with a chapter on the subjugation of women. The booklet has this suggestion on what a man should say to a woman, "I have dominated the conversation long enough, what is your opinion on the matter?" What more apt phrase could so describe the dilemma of gender and biblioblogging!

Casanova uses this line without the success he expects. However, he has already set the tone by saying, "I do not conquer, I submit." After poking fun at the church establishment of the day, (I do hope any bishops viewing this movie will not be overly offended!) the movie redeems itself by presenting Oliver Platt as Casanova's rival and the unlikely hero of the movie, with his substantial girth and fake, but nontheless appealing, British accent.

This movie presents the social mores and gender politics of 18th century Europe with humour and style. The sword-fighting is superb, the comedy farcical. Costumes, furnishings, Venice as a backdrop, and music are all delectable. Not just a movie to see with your sweetheart, it offers enough social satire to entertain anyone.

While Casanova is well-played, he functions mainly as a foil for presenting all the other stereotypic characters of 18th century society, the mother-in-law, the doge, the bishop, the cardinal, the younger brother, the heiress, the countess, the merchant, and so on.

The best moment of the movie for me was when Francesca Bruni addressed the university dressed as a young man. For those of you who have read this post to the end, the image is of the author of this blog as a young man.

Aristotle and Soteria

In Aristotle's Politics, Book I, there are several reasons given for the maintenance of partnership, or koinonia. These are procreation, meeting basic daily needs, security, household management and creation of wealth. The word for security is soteria. It is a pretty ordinary word for remaining safe, or protection. In Aristotle the word 'soteria' is used in its literal non-figurative sense.

Security or preservation, also deliverance, are the most 'literal'* meanings for the Greek word 'soteria'. Therefore, when Darby in his Bible translation chooses to use the word 'preserve' in 1 Timothy 2:15, he is interpreting 'soteria' in the more literal sense, the non-figurative sense, and this contributes to Darby's translation being a more literal translation of the Bible than the KJV and its descendants.

I would argue that the same prinicipal applies for the words 'ekklesia', 'episkopos' and other like ecclesiatical terms. The more everyday meaning of the word ekklesia, certainly at the time that the Bible was written was 'assembly' and for 'episkopos' 'supervisor' not bishop. I am not arguing that a translation should follow this kind of pattern. However, the concept of a 'literal' Bible translation has been much misused lately.

Certain translations which are today called literal translations, would be better called translations in the eccesiastical and theological tradition. They bring theological baggage to the Bible. It is fine to say that one should read the Bible without theological baggage, but how does one know to strip away the theology of the major English translations. Very few people these days approach the Bible after studying classical Greek for many years before reading the NT in Greek.

To be fair I am not sure that Darby did this either. One could rightly call his translation a non-ecclesiastical translation. What needs to be understood is just this. All translations belong to a certain human translation tradition; they are all interpretations and each one has its own baggage.


    limited to the explicit meaning of a word or text; "a literal translation" Wordnet

    The ordinary, straight-forward lexical (dictionary) meaning of a word or expression. Sometimes used in contrast to a figurative interpretation, sometimes including figurative interpretation. from Ron Leigh

    the ordinary or natural meaning of an expression, its primary meaning, in contrast to its figurative or secondary meaning Bible Centre

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Amy Tan

I was going to blog about Aristotle and soteria tonight. However, it just didn't happen. I decided to kick back and continue to enjoy some of the books I was given for Christmas. I read The Broker by John Grisham a few days ago. It's great to read a book that you can share with the whole family and learn a little Italian while you're at it. Now that I have finished The Broker it has been handed off to the kids.

Another book I was given for Christmas is Saving Fish From Drowning. This book is part of a very special collection. A friend and colleague and myself have a list of select authors who have managed to do 'It'. By this we mean that the author has written successfully about both men and women. An author does not always get it right, but sometimes in one book in particular, we agree that they succeed in this task. I am nominating Amy Tan for this achievement in Saving Fish From Drowning.

We also recognize Donna Tartt for The Secret History and My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk. George Elliot is a member of this elite group. I was sheltered from Elliot's books, kept from reading her novels, as a teenager. Imagine my surprise when many years later I found a set of her books with my grandmother's name in them.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Kephale: A Summary

I have just taken a brief internet survey on kephale and headship, and I seriously doubt that much more can be added to the extensive literature that already exists on this subject. I am going to list a few links here which I found of interest and then pass on the subject.

Recently Metacrock's blog had a series on kephale. He gives a good literature survey. Next, I found Wayne Grudem's article here quite interesting. This article seems to prove both sides inconclusive. The Mennonite Brethren Forum has a discussion on headship and women's leadership. Here is an Open Letter To Egalitarians with a consideration of Linda Belleville's 2001 response.

Probably the best article on headship that I have read is this one in Christianity Today, Headship with a Heart. Here is an excerpt,

    "Few phrases are more explosive in our culture than male headship. Feminists claim that patriarchy (the affirmation of male authority over females) is the basis for most social pathology and for virtually all domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault. In their groundbreaking book on domestic violence, sociologists R. Emerson and Russell Dobash assert "the seeds of wife beating lie in the subordination of females and in their subjection to male authority and control. This relationship has been institutionalized in the structure of the patriarchal family" (Violence Against Wives: The Case Against the Patriarchy, Free Press, 1983). Others attack patriarchy even more virulently, calling it a "death sentence" for society (Russ Fink, Stopping Rape: A Challenge to Men, New Society, 1993)."

I was once in a position where this discussion was of utmost importance, when I received a visit from a woman in a church I was attending many years ago. She had suffered physical abuse in the home, which a medical doctor attested to in court. The elders of the church had reprimanded her for her behaviour in not being subordinate and pleasing her husband.

However, it is interesting to read how Tracy then goes on to reclaim the concept of headship, basically by distancing it from authority and focusing on protection. This connects closely to a theme in Aristotle that I have been following. That is the role of the father as the 'soter'. This idea deserves a post in itself.

I shall close with this thought.

    So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12 (ESV)

I am going to add a few more links here once in a while.
What Men Give Up at Christian Egalitarians

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Kephale in Liddell - Scott

Kephale in the Liddell - Scott Dictionary here

, ,
      II. of things, extremity,
          b. in Anatomy, kephalaitêskatôgnathou, prob. the condyloid and coronoid processes, Hp.Art.30; k. touorcheôs, = epididumis, Arist.HA510a14, cf. Gal.4.565; mêrou, knêmês k., Poll.2.186, 188; of the base of the heart, Gal.UP6.16; but, apex, Hp.Cord.7; of the sac in poulps, Arist.PA654a23, 685a5; of muscles, origin, Gal.UP7.14.
      V. metaph., k. deipnoupièce de résistance, Alex. 172.15.
        3.sum, total, pasas errêgeias Tab.Heracl.1.36 ; of money, IG12(9).7 (Carystus, iv B. C.), SIG245ii 36 (Delph., iv B. C.).
        4.band of men, LXX Jb.1.17; right-hand half of a phalanx (opp. oura), Arr.Tact.8.3, Ael.Tact.7.3.

Compare this entry in a classical Greek dictionary with the entry on Iustificare. It does sound a little different.