Monday, June 22, 2009

ESV says no woman spoke from God

First off, let me offer this comment from Dave Ker to explain why I am moderated in my comments on the BBB.

    Please note that comments by Suzanne and John are both moderated. We try to approve comments as quickly as we can but there is sometimes a lag. When comments do not pertain to the post or involve disputes about gender issues or the ESV they are almost never approved.

    This was a decision made by the team of contributors at BBB. If you have questions about this feel free to email me directly.
Yesterday, by some quirk, I happened to note that John was not moderated and I assumed that I could post there as well. It turns out I can't. It also turns out that any comment which refers to gender will not be posted or will at least be removed later if requested.

Probably the more serious reason is that I often make comments to the effect that the ESV does not translate the Greek properly with respect to gender. A double whammy as far as being moderated is concerned.

Anyway, when I say that the ESV does not translate accurately with respect to gender, this is a further example of what I mean.

The ESV preface says,

    But the words “man” and “men” are retained where a male meaning component is part of the original Greek or Hebrew. Likewise, the word “man” has been retained where the original text intends to convey a clear contrast between “God” on the one hand and “man” on the other hand, with “man” being used in the collective sense of the whole human race (see Luke 2:52).
Here are some verses that are so familiar and well used that I have not included the references - perhaps later. As you read these verses think about the consequences for women if these verses are for men only, as the ESV preface clearly says.

    And Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.

    And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God

    In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

    Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

    Therefore it says, "When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,and he gave gifts to men.

    For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

    and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

    For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.

    For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
    What, did no woman ever speak from God, not even Mary? Are no spiritual gifts given to women? Is there no justification for women, no life, no light? Is it not good enough to acknowledge the Christ before other women?

    Discussion is taking place now on Clayboy, the blog of Doug Chaplin.

    Update: Here is more from the ESV preface,

      Therefore, to the extent that plain English permits and the meaning in each case allows, we have sought to use the same English word for important recurring words in the original;
    In 1 Tim. 2:1 the ESV uses the word "people." One has to wonder why this word could not be used elsewhere, where the Greek uses the word anthropos (pl) which clearly means "people."

      First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,


    A.Admin said...

    I wouldn’t be too hard on BBB. I think there’s some wanting to move on from the excessive gender/ESV discussions. The lengthy posts you make on your personal blog are a much better educator rather than brief comments on other blogs.

    Suzanne McCarthy said...

    Hi AA,

    I understand perfectly. But the understanding was supposed to be that John also could not post about the ESV and women on the BBB. At least that is what I was told.

    Janice said...

    Our culture has changed over the last 30 - 40 years. Once, depending on the context, most people could understand 'man' or 'men' as possibly referring to both men and women. But now we have a whole generation of adults who have learned that they must use gender-inclusive language. Certainly it's a requirement at the university where I'm currently studying.

    So now if you use 'man' or 'men' your younger readers will assume that you are referring to males and to males only. If the word translated as 'man' or 'men' does not refer exclusively to males then to translate it that way is to create a false impression in the minds of these younger readers. It is to lie to them, and also to older readers who, by now, will generally have come to expect that gender-inclusive language is the norm.

    I see that John Hobbins thinks that, "Men in 'God and men' is naturally understood with men as gender-inclusive, as in 'mice and men.'". That may be so in his circle. But out in the world the understanding is quite different. 'Men' is definitely not gender-inclusive.

    Bryon said...

    Did Theophrastus delete his post?

    CD-Host said...

    I'm not sure which generation I fall into (just months until I cross over into middle aged). That being said I consider using the masculine just rude. We convey meaning through more than just words we also have tone:

    A: Stop this car, NOW!
    B: Would you please bring this car to a halt.

    Translating B as A is to mischaracterize B.
    The issue of using the masculine to represent all people is not new. The Seneca declaration of 1848 opened with "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal." for precisely the reason that the meaning of "...that all men are created equal..." was ambiguous and disputed.

    The ESV authors by their own admission are attempting to be offensive in their use of the masculine. They know it is offensive to many people and the aim to offend. And it is offensive for good reason because it is ambiguous. The ESV is a 21st century bible. By using the masculine to represent humanity they are creating a tone which is not in the original.

    It would be no different then a more urban translator using, "Fork over you coin, your bitches and your brats" for "Deliver to me your silver and your gold, your wives and your children." The tone of disrespect isn't in the original.

    Peter Kirk said...

    To clarify the facts: John Hobbins' comments on BBB have been moderated for some time. Some made over the last few days were approved for a time in error, then removed, then edited to remove parts about gender issues and restored.

    Suzanne McCarthy said...

    I had confirmation by email that John's comments were not moderated in the recent past, although they may have been at one time.

    In fact, I have made previous comments mentioning women, but were in no way contrlversial and they did not pass moderation. I find it hard to accept that the American printer Jane Aitken who printed the first Bible in the US would be controversial. The Aitken Bibles are perfectly good cnadidates for American Patriot Bibles because of their historic importance and their association with the American Revolution. Howver, I was not allowed to post this.

    I appreciate that you perhaps were not aware of this.

    believer333 said...

    Seems to me that Jane Aitken made that Bible more famous because she, a woman, printed it. The Bible itself didn't seem to have any holding power as a translation. Is this correct or incorrect?

    believer333 said...

    Seems to me that Jane Aitken made that Bible more famous because she, a woman, printed it. The Bible itself didn't seem to have any holding power as a translation. Is this correct or incorrect?

    Nathan Stitt said...

    Well, I am glad to finally know some of the reasoning behind the moderation.

    Suzanne McCarthy said...

    I was told that John and I were both placed on moderation. However, John was not placed on moderation.

    There seems to have been a miscommunication.

    Jane Aitken did not translate a Bible. However, the printhouse belonging to her father and later to her, were famous for printing the first Bible in America. There was a legal prohibition against Bibles being printed in the States by the British govt. so this was an historic and a patriotic gesture.

    After that Jane Aitken printed the first English translation of the Septuagint ever made. This was another historic Bible. Note that it was not in England that this translation was made. The translator, Charles Thompson, was a former member of the US congress.

    I don't think that either Bible ought to be famous because a woman printed it, but because it is an important part of American history.

    In any case, my comment that the Aitken Bibles were good candidates as American Patriot Bibles was posted eventually, I have just now discovered, but after so many other comments had been posted after it that I was unable to find in the thread.

    Basically, being put on moderation means that the comment will disappear into the thread and not be noticed.

    Unfortunately, this has meant that John has been able to participate in conversations over there for some time and I have not.

    Bryon said...

    If you don't mind me breaking into your BBB discussion...

    I did a post a few days ago that indirectly seems to cross paths with a couple of your recent posts. The ESV, following in King James tradition, turns God into a man.

    Theophrastus said...

    Peter, I can also confirm that your account is not accurate.

    You are jumping into a situation (with, I sincerely believe, the best of intentions) where John and Suzanne have been treated quite differently on BBB.

    Comments have been appearing, disappearing, reappearing, being edited after other people comment on the comments, etc.

    Moreover, it is clear to me that different moderators have been using different standards to make decisions. While this is, perhaps, inevitable, there has been no clear statement on policy. Thus, we have a Posting Guidelines statement which does not accurately reflect posting guidelines, then we are told that statements are moderated if they tend to heat up, then we are told that statements about the ESV and gender are verboten, then we are told that ESV is OK but gender is verboten.

    Even you have complained about your posts being "edited by someone else on the team so that it didn't make sense."

    I appreciate your loyalty to the BBB, which you have long represented with your distinct (and vitally important) voice. However, you are catching events at different snapshots, and missing intermediate states.

    Suzanne McCarthy said...

    Thanks, Bryon, I mentioned your post in my most recent update. It's lots of fun and I checked that both times "man" is from the Hebrew ish.

    Peter Kirk said...

    Suzanne, I have just checked the BBB settings and can confirm that John and you are both currently on a short list of people whose posts are intended to be moderated. There are ways round this moderation which may explain some unmoderated comments getting through.

    Another problem has been that sometimes post authors are busy with other work or away from home which means that they are unable to moderate comments on their posts in a timely manner. I think this was a major reason why David rather suddenly closed comments on the KJV post.

    I accept that there have been some differences of opinion among the BBB team, as well as some unintentional mistakes in how moderation has been put into practice. There is no intention to apply different standards to John and Suzanne. If this has occasionally happened in the past, we apologise, and will try to do better at this in future.

    Suzanne McCarthy said...


    I am sure that John is now moderated, but in fact, he hasn't been for some time, I believe. He was put back on moderation just yesterday. Thanks for checking though.

    It did seem odd to me that I was the only one who was moderated when I had been told otherwise.

    I really don't want to discuss this further. I don't think I will consider commenting again on the BBB. There seems to be a definite preference for male comment at the moment. I know this is not your preference so I thank you for that.

    Peter Kirk said...

    Suzanne, which BBB team member told you that John was put back on moderation yesterday? Tell me privately if you wish. I can't prove that you are wrong without asking all the team members, but I would be surprised that this happened. I know that John's controversial comments on Sunday night/Monday morning were caught for moderation. It is possible that some earlier comments slipped through the system somehow, or else were inadvertantly accepted by a team member (not me).

    Peter Kirk said...

    I have now discovered that one of the BBB team had taken John off moderation, despite the agreement of the rest of the team. So for a time his comments appeared unmoderated. When the error was discovered it was corrected. Sorry for any misinformation and confusion.