Monday, April 20, 2009

McCarthy vs Wallace

I am going to address point #3 of Grudem's. He writes,
    3. It is not true that Burer and Wallace "mistook a noun for an adjective." What McCarthy should have said is that according to the spelling of the word in Psalms of Solomon 2:6, it could be either a dative noun (dative of episemon, "mark, seal") or a dative adjective (dative of episemos, "conspicuous, visible") and the translator has to make a judgment on which it is.

    In cases like this, it seems to me decidedly unhelpful to a discussion for someone like McCarthy to make absolute pronouncements like, "It is now well-known that Wallace and Burer misquoted Psalm of Solomon in their article. They actually mistook a noun for an adjective. In fact, Dr. Grudem's entire section on Junia is riddled with factual errors."

    That sounds so confident and assured, but 99 per cent of readers of your blog (I would guess) have no ability to check out the facts in question in this Greek text from literature outside the Bible in order to know that McCarthy's claim is incorrect.

    Burer and Wallace did not misquote, for their quote is exactly what the Greek says. I think McCarthy is implying that they should have included a longer quote, including the preposition en before episemos, but that is a judgment call on how much to include in a quote and not a "misquote." (The construction is somewhat strange, but en does not decide the question of whether it should be taken as a noun or adjective in any case. For example, Psalms of Solomon 17:30 provides a close parallel where en episemo means "in (a place) visible ...")

    Nor does my section on Junia in Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth have any "factual errors" known to me (it has been out now for two years). I try to be extremely careful in all my citations of fact in what I publish and it seems to me inappropriate for McCarthy to make an unsupported blanket accusation that my work is "riddled with factual errors." This is intemperate, polemical language rather than argument, and I consider it a false accusation.
So how will you, the readers of my blog, know who is right? Here is the Greek verse from Pss. of Solomon 2:6
    6 οἱ υἱοὶ καὶ αἱ θυγατέρες
    ἐν αἰχμαλωσίᾳ πονηρᾷ
    ἐν σφραγῖδι ὁ τράχηλος αὐτῶν
    ἐν ἐπισήμῳ ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν
And here is the relatively literal NETS translation,
    The sons and daughters were in harsh captivity,
    Their neck in a seal
    With a mark among the nations NETS
And this is what Wallace and Burer wrote,
    In Pss. Sol. 2:6, where the Jewish captives are in view, the writer indicates that “they were a spectacle among the gentiles” ( ἐπισήμῳ ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ). This construction comes as close to Rom. 16:7 as any we have yet seen. The parallels include (a) people as the referent of the adjective ἐπισήμῳ,
Here is Brenton's translation,
    2:6 the sons and the daughters in painful captivity, their neck in a seal, in (a place) visible among the gentiles.
Here are the NET Bible notes,
The first choice of meaning for episemos in this passage is a noun as the object of the pronoun en. The second possibility is that it is an adjective modifying an elided (omitted) noun "place." If episemos is a noun, then there is no connection to Romans 16:7. If episemos is an adjective qualifying an elided or omitted noun, then it must be comparative and once again not related to the phrase in Romans 16. It must literally mean that the place is "prominent among the nations." Episemos does not contain a verb of perception as Wallace and Burer suggest. There is no "collocation with words of perception" in the Greek of this passage.

I would say that in the most literal translation, episemos is considered to be a noun. In a less literal translation it is an adjective qualifying an omitted noun - "place." It is NOT elative in either case, as the place was prominent among the nations, it was in the nations, not a place that was visible to the nations. The captives were captive among the nations.

At this point Mike Burer was asked to comment on this issue on Adrian's blog. He wrote,
    We appreciate that several writers have pointed out that our translation and citation of the passage in the original piece were not the best. (In reflecting on this, neither Dr. Wallace nor I could remember who was responsible for this part of the article.) We should have included more of the Greek text, including the preposition ἐν so that readers could see that there was another way of understanding the construction.

    The English translation we gave, “a spectacle among the gentiles,” was exactly the wording given in a recent, standard English translation of Psalms of Solomon, in James Charlesworth’s The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (1985), vol. 2, p. 652. The translation “spectacle” is a way of saying in English that they were “in a place visible/notorious” and so the translation is not incorrect, though not as literal as “in (a place) visible” or “in (a place) notorious” among the Gentiles. But that more literal translation still supports our understanding of Rom. 16:7 as “well-known to the apostles,” for in Ps. Sol. 2:6 the place was “visible” or even “well-known” to the Gentiles. (The text does not say, “in (a place) visible among other places” or something like that, which would be parallel to “outstanding among the apostles.”)
In my opinion, it does say "a [place] prominent among the nations." It does not say "visible to the nations." If it did, the word for place could not be elided. You cannot elide a noun that is not understood to be 'among' the other nouns.

In any case, I do not think that the original Wallace and Burer article was appropriate for publication. However, the conclusion, that Junia was not "among the apostles" remains in the NET Bible notes, and has affected the ESV, and HCSB. Wallace and Burer suggested to me at that time that they would prepare a further article defending their position. They have not done this and in fact, Burer has publicly stated that he will not be doing this. He writes,
    My schedule has not permitted me time to develop an in-depth response to any of these reviews. What I can say at this point is that I have not read anything in any of them that has dissuaded me from the viewpoint Wallace and I advanced in the original article. (In the next few years I hope to develop a suitable response to these critiques.)
It is pretty sad when scholarship of this level is used to disempower Christian women. Here is an article which missed the main point of its most important citation, mentions "collocation with a word of perception" which does not exist, and did not cite its sources.

I have been asked for this explanation. I hope that at some point I will be able to dissect this thoroughly enough and in a way transparent enough to communicate what happened in this exchange.


J. K. Gayle said...

Rehashing this detail may get tiring to you - but many of us appreciate your explanation, on many levels. Thank you - there are many implications here!

Elsewhere, you've written that, from the third century, John "Chrysostom, a native speaker of Greek,recognized Junia as a female apostle and he was a native speaker of Greek." And here you've quoted Michael Bird acknowledging, "Chrysostom has an excellent comment about how great she must have been to have been counted worthy of the designation apostle."

So here's exactly what Chrysostom writes in his early commentary on Romans 16:7. And here's Philip Schaff's fine translation, a translation of note (not just visible), from the nineteenth century:

"Then another praise besides. 'Who are of note among the Apostles.' And indeed to be apostles at all is a great thing. But to be even amongst these of note, just consider what a great encomium this is! But they were of note owing to their works, to their achievements. Oh! how great is the devotion (φιλοσοφία) of this woman, that she should be even counted worthy of the appellation of apostle! But even here he does not stop, but adds another encomium besides, and says, 'Who were also in Christ before me.'"

Εἶτα καὶ ἕτερος ἔπαινος· Οἵτινές εἰσιν ἐπίσημοι ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις. Καίτοι καὶ τὸ ἀποστόλους εἶναι μέγα, τὸ δὲ καὶ ἐν τούτοις ἐπισήμους εἶναι, ἐννόησον ἡλίκον ἐγκώμιον· ἐπίσημοι δὲ ἦσαν ἀπὸ τῶν ἔργων, ἀπὸ τῶν κατορθωμάτων. Βαβαὶ, πόση τῆς γυναικὸς ταύτης ἡ φιλοσοφία, ὡς καὶ τῆς τῶν ἀποστόλων ἀξιωθῆ- ναι προσηγορίας. Καὶ οὐδὲ ἐνταῦθα ἵσταται, ἀλλ’ ἕτερον πάλιν ἐγκώμιον προστίθησι, λέγων· Οἳ καὶ πρὸ ἐμοῦ γεγόνασιν ἐν Χριστῷ.

The sons and daughters of Israel of note among the nations in Pss. Sol. 2:6 don't get Junia's and Andronicus's added praise from Paul of being "also in Christ before me" (καὶ πρὸ ἐμοῦ γεγόνασιν ἐν Χριστῷ)!

J. K. Gayle said...

Often it helps to find a Greek phrase contrast to get the sense of a word. Here's one:

γαμεῖ δ’ ὃ μὲν δὴ τὴν θεοῖς στυγουμένην
Μενέλαος Ἑλένην, ὃ δὲ Κλυταιμήστρας λέχος
ἐπίσημον εἰς Ἕλληνας Ἀγαμέμνων ἄναξ

This is Euripides's Orestes, lines 19, 20, 21, which, roughly translated, is as follows:

"He married her - though the gods hated her:
Menelaus with Helen. Though the bed of Clytemnestra - famous among the Hellenes - Lord Agamemnon possessed."

Which reminds me of classicist Ann Nyland's translation of Romans 16:7 "Great Andronicos and Junia, my fellow people of my race and fellow prisoners. They are famous among the apostles. They were also followers of the Anointed One before I was." (Nyland in a fn says, "A woman being noted among the apostles has caused some problems for some theologians, with several trying to present cases that the clause means something else."

Jay Seidler said...

Thanks always, Susan, for your diligence. It sometimes feels futile to squabble over the meaning of a word in what someone says is a vague Greek verse. Ironically, there would be no interest in this verse or in the meaning of επισημοι if we would have been satisfied with Aegidius of Rome’s sex change of Junia. It seems that common sense has been thrown out here. Paul objectively praises so many women in this text that besides the obvious being that Paul esteems these ministers and co-workers to be valuable in the work of the Gospel, one almost wonders, if Paul is making a special point to mention these women in an effort to purposely emphasize women ministers’ contribution. It seems to depend a lot on the glasses one is wearing. So perhaps my glasses were given to me by my preacher/minister mother. I always felt a bit sad for her, the way she half apologized for her ministry in spite of being a woman. The day I discovered Junia and came to realize the significant contribution of women ministers in the early church was truly a liberating day for me. So much so, that I named my daughter after this apostle Chrysostom much later so praises. I think sometimes in our eagerness to parse the text we often lose sight of the forest for all of the trees. The grammatical analysis of the text is important, but I can’t help but wonder if we take the idea of verbal inerrant inspiration a bit too far. I cannot help but think that if we have no bias against women, we will see here a text that praises Phoebe a leading minister in one city and co-workers and apostles in another city irrespective of their gender.

Suzanne McCarthy said...


That is so lovely that you named your daughter Junia! I definitely agree that the notion of verbal inerrant inspiration has been taken way too far.

I am not so much interested in the inerrant text as in how interpretation like that of W&B gets so much acceptance.

believer333 said...

What gets me is that they have to know that they are spinning complicated webs of untruths. They do it to protect their special entitlements. And make money off it in the process.

believer333 said...

What gets me is that they have to know that they are spinning complicated webs of untruths. They do it to protect their special entitlements. And make money off it in the process.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your continued elucidation of what has transpired.

It is clear TO ME that the non-egals picked on a weak point of your claim and then simply do not discuss any more details, as the details are devastating.

Don Johnson