Thursday, June 30, 2011

Darrell Bock on the NIV 2011

Darrell Bock has blogged in defense of the NIV 2011. Denny Burk countered his arguments, and Dr. Bock responded in the comments as follows,

Here is my core problem. When a text says anyone and then the next Greek term individualizes (but does so with “anyone” as the initial antecedent gloss), then it is clear we have multiple people who fulfill the text when they respond. Thus a rendering of them versus a singular is perfectly accurate linguistically and actually shows the scope of the text more clearly. I find cases like these to be one where either rendering can and does work in communicating meaning. Yet texts like these are what some (not you) have used as basis for rejecting the NIV 2011 and then say to add to the debate that this violates inspiration. I am crying foul on that one (especially the additional concern. It is linguistically incorrect).

Where I do have a real problem, with your critique is to call a rendering feminist. That charge would only be the case IF it came with a denial of limits on the role of women by those translating and that has not taken place. So it injects a criticism that is not fair on the very issue you claim to be standing up for.

One more thing. I am pleased the tone this time around is better. I just think the critique is not justified and have said so.

I would think that 1 Tim. 5:8 is the best example of a real misunderstanding in English. This verse has no masculine pronoun in Greek. It does not refer to male headship, but many theologians seem to think that it does. A gender accurate translation would clear that up.
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for(A) members of his household, he has(B) denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
This refers to men and women both. A translation which does not use gender inclusive language is misleading women about their God-given responsibilities.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ancient Hebrew Poetry Pt 4

The Pagnini Latin Bible was listed as a source text for not only the Coverdale Bible, but also the Bishop's Bible, the Reina-Valera Bible and the Olivétan Bible. It stands firmly at the centre of the Reformation translation tradition. Not only was it impossible for a translator at the time of the Reformation to view the Greek New Testament without also viewing Erasmus' Latin translation, but it was also unlikely that any translator did not also use an interlinear Hebrew-Pagnini Latin text.

This spring, I visited the Erasmus collection in Toronto and held a copy each of the first few editions of his New Testament. There was no way to access the Greek without reading also the Latin translation and notes of Erasmus. Then a short walk took me to the Thomas Fischer Library to read Pagnini's Latin Bible.

Pagnini also shaped the Bible for further generations by being the first to use verse annotations, and by placing the apocryphal books between the Old and New Testament.

The study of Pagnini's Bible has revised my impression of the Reformation as a time when the Bible was translated by a select group of brilliant individuals from the original Hebrew and Greek into the vernaculars of Reformation Europe. Rather two movements were afoot. On the one hand, the Greek and Hebrew originals were retranslated into Latin, the lingua franca of Europe, by scholars who were steeped in classical Greek and rabbinical Hebrew. And on the other hand, those who had some knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, but were not recognized as international scholars of these languages, men such as Luther, Tyndale, de Reyna, and Olivétan, translated the Bible into the vernacular languages of Europe.

Monday, June 27, 2011

More on the SBC, NIV, Denny Burk ...

The Committe on Bible Translation has responded to attacks on the NIV 2011. Denny Burk responds to them and I respond to his list. More info in the list at the bottom of this post.

Here is what I wrote on his blog, in response to his post - I hope that he will allow this comment. I appreciate the fact that he has allowed many of my comments to be posted lately. I feel somehow that he is a person who is interested in honesty.


Please let me engage further – I cry for the translators I know, both egalitarian and complementarian. I know them and I know that they are on both sides of this divide.

1. The data only recounts changes from the NIV 1984 to the NIV 2011. None of the data is actually based on whether or not the Greek original has a masculine pronoun or not. In my opinion, this data does not relate to translation at all, but to a shift from an earlier style of English and what is understood today. I can’t interact with the data either because I cannot ascertain what the data is trying to show with regard to translation.

2. I have demonstrated that many preachers for CBMW do not understand that 1 Tim. 5:8 is a generic masculine in English, and as such, does not reflect a masculine pronoun in Greek. The passage is entirely gender neutral in Greek and should not be used by theologians and preachers to support male headship and yet it is.

Please explain to me how this is. The only explanation I can see is that these men did not understand the generic use of “he.”

3. “Assume authority” is derived from Calvin. Any discussion of this verse should start there.

4. You say that context is king, but the preface to the ESV claims that it desires to respect concordance. You can’t have both. Changing 2 Tim. 2:2 is a devastating setback for young women in high school and university, for women on the mission field, for Christian women everywhere. When they were young they memorized that verse, and then as adults in church, they have the verse removed.

5. I don’t know if there is a study of how many times most Bibles insert a masculine pronoun where there is no pronoun in Greek. And the ESV adds the word “men” in English where there is no word at all for men.

I could understand if someone just said “This is Christianity, women have to be silent.” I have heard that before. But this – this movement against the (T)NIV – this brought me to the internet. It is breaking my heart.

Ancient Hebrew Poetry Pt 3

While some scholars and translators may not feel that they owe much to the Pagnini translation of the Bible, none are without the influence of Pagnini's Thesaurus Linguae Sanctae. Daniel Shute, writing about the influences on Peter Martyr, explains,
Massive and meticulously documented, it can double as a fairly complete concordance. Some of its entries, which run on for pages, can be profitably studied by the Latin-Hebrew reader even today. The dictionaries of Reuchlin and Münster are so brief as to render it impossible to trace their influence in Martyr's exposition. Pagnini's lexicon, on the other hand, has word studies so detailed that its influence is traceable.
Keil and Delitzsch (original here) express the following opinion of Pagnini's importance,
Justinianus, Pagninus, and Felix were the three highest authorities on the original text at the commencement of the Reformation. The first two had gained their knowledge of the original from Jewish sources and Felix Pratensis, whose Psalterium ex hebreo diligentissime ad verbum fere translatum, 1522, appeared under Leo X, was a proselyte.
Ancient Hebrew Poetry (my series on Pagnini) Pt 1, Pt 2


If you are interested in Pagnini, or the NIV, or women, or whatever, I am going to be shameless and ask you to vote for me at bibliobloggerstop10 ( a ) This should keep me on track for another month.

PS What happened to TC? Please, TC, we miss you.

Ancient Hebrew Poetry Pt 2

In my previous post I suggested that Pagnini's (Pagninus/Pagnino) translation is the missing link between ancient Hebrew poetry and the language of the King James Bible. The first thing to establish then is that the early translators of the Bible had access to Pagnini's translation and that his translation was distinctive.

Pagnini, an Italian Domican scholar, translated the entire Bible into Latin and published it in 1528. This makes it the first major translation of the Hebrew Bible into Latin since the Latin Vulgate. He also published a Hebrew Latin lexicon. Pagnini's translation was commissioned by Pope Leo X and the printing was licensed by Pope Clement VII. It never replaced the Latin Vulgate as the authoritative text of the Roman church, due to the literal nature of the translation.

Pagnini also preached against Lutherism and Waldenianism as heresies, so his translation would not become "popular" with Protestants. Luther felt that his translation displayed too much influence from the rabbincial tradition. While Pagnini's translation was used by Hebrew scholars for centuries, neither Catholics nor Protestants, place his text in the mainstream of their tradition.

And yet, according to Saebo,
Pagninus's edition of the Bible and the Thesaurus were frequently reprinted, and they were widely used by scholars of all Christian persuasions...
Norton also writes,
After the publication of Pagninus’s translation, 1528, few, perhaps none of the translators would have found themselves working from the original languages alone, aided by nothing more than grammars and dictionaries, and never would they have found themselves working without an already vast knowledge of the text in their heads: most knew the Vulgate intimately.
Pagnini's Latin translation was frequently printed as the Latin text in a Hebrew-Latin Bible, sometimes as the interlinear Latin text to aid in the study of the original Hebrew. While the Complutensian polyglot has the Latin Vulgage between the Hebrew and the Greek of the Old Testament, the Antwerp polyglot also provides Pagnini's Latin as an interlinear text above the Hebrew.

Coverdale cites this translation as one of his source texts, and it would have been known to the translators of the Bishop's Bible, and King James Bible. According to this record,
The Trinitarian Bible Society in their April - June 1979 Quarterly Record cites this volume as being at the disposal of the translators for the KING JAMES BIBLE. The Book: Pagninus, "Thesaurus Linguæ Sanctæ", Lugduni, 1575. ... Pagninus was perhaps the greatest of Christian Lexicographers and whose work was fundamental as an aid to 16th-century scriptural translators
In fact, translators have always referred to all previous transations and commentaries, as well as the original languages. The Greek New Testament, was first printed as a bilingual edition alongside Erasmus' Latin translation, and the Hebrew was printed typically along with either the Vulgate, or Pagnini, or both.

Factors which may have caused Pagnini's translation to fall into the background, are its association with some heresies. Michael Servetus, burned in Geneva as a heretic, was editor for an edition of Pagnini's Bible. Pagnini's translation was also the first to use the name "Jehovah" for יהוה, instead of "Dominus." Luther felt that Pagnini's translation followed the rabbis too much, as did Katherine Bushnell, who was unhappy with the fact that Pagnini introduced the word "desire" into Gen. 3:16.

But there is no reason for Pagnini's translation to be relatively unknown among Bible scholars today. I would argue that his is the single most important translation of the Bible in the Reformation period. We know for certain that both the translation and the lexical work of Pagnini was known to the translators in the King James tradition. I will continue soon with the distinctive nature of Pagnini's translation.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A few links

Chris Brady is writing a paper on the book of Ruth. He has some interesting speculations about Naomi. Age in the Book of Ruth and a proxy marriage, Are Men Marginalized in Ruth?, One or Two Articles on Boaz?

Claude Mariottini has written about Gen. 3:15, here, here and here. Kurk has a post on Pearl Buck. Tim has written a series on Grudem on Adam and Eve, here, here and here.

I hope you enjoy. There is some really great stuff being written consistently by men about women. Thank you. I do wish that there were more women writing in the bibliosphere, but these posts are top notch.

Rumana Monzur

Rumana Monzur, a grad student at UBC, was blinded by her husband who gouged her eyes and mutilated her nose. Apparently he thought she had done something to displease him,

Ms. Monzur’s commitment to her studies is said to have been a factor in the attack, UBC president Stephen Toope said.

“This tragic occasion is a poignant marker of the need to work to protect the fundamental human right of all women to pursue education,” he said in a statement.

Bangladeshi media reports say Ms. Monzur’s husband also suspected her of having an affair with a fellow graduate student.

With her eyes swollen and nose bandaged, an emotional Ms. Monzur spoke to reporters from her hospital bed to describe what happened and defend herself. Much of the coverage in the Bangladeshi media has focused on her rebuttals of the allegations – as if infidelity would have justified the beating.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Brethren and the tattoo

It turns out that "brethren" is, in fact, a gender-neutral term in English today. Niles turned to Daphne, on a rerun of Frasier tonight, and said "you and your tattooed, mumu-wearing brethren!" However, he could not have said with the same meaning, "you and your tattoed, mumu-wearing brothers!" It seems that "brethren" is gender neutral and "brothers" is not.

On the other hand, perhaps Niles meant that men wear mumus. Hmm. I don't think so. This is why I find the KJV quite acceptable, and then the NRSV and NIV 2011. "Brethren" is gender inclusive, and "brothers and sisters" is gender inclusive. "Brothers" is not.

It happens that in Hebrew as well, the word often translated "brothers" also meant all the brothers and sisters in a biological family. We see that use in Joshua 6:23. When it says that the "brothers" of Rahab were saved, it means "all the brothers and sisters" as we can see in chapter 2. That is the simple usage of the word, the meaning, one might say.

NIV 2011, SBC and brothers and sisters

For those who believe that a gender inclusive translation is a post modern endeavor that veils the original languages, please consider the following.

At the time that the King James Bible was printed, there were two terms "brethren," which referred to groups of people who had a common humanity, and may or may not be male; and "brothers," who were the male children in the same biological family. "Brethren" was the common way to address men and women together in the family of God. In the 1940's, "brethren" was changed to "brothers" in the Revised Version, and for the first time, the translation gave the impression that the scriptures in the original languages may have actually addressed men only.

However, since the very first Greek-English lexicons were published in the 1800's, the plural of the Greek word adelphos, which was translated as "brothers" in the RSV, was said to mean "brothers and sisters." This is because adelphoi (plural of adelphos) was a term which was commonly used in Greek to refer to the brothers and sisters in a family. It was the normal term for "brothers and sisters." In English "brothers" is not the normal way to refer to the brothers and sisters in a family. "Brothers" in English is not a term which has the same usage as adelphoi in Greek.

The simple fact is that "brothers" was never an adequate translation for the Greek word adelphoi. In the 1980's the New Revised Standard Version made the correction, and adelphoi was translated as "brothers and sisters." Not long after that other translations followed suite - the NLT, NET, CEV, TNIV and now the NIV 2011.

But rather than rejoicing in the accurate inclusion of sisters in the common address of the authors of the epistles, many today have rejected the phrasing "and sisters."

I honestly do not understand why there has not been a community wide acceptance of accuracy on this point. There should have been a seamless transition from "brethren" to "brothers" (briefly) and then to the more accurate "brothers and sisters." This is what one would expect, and for many this has been the case. But I ask myself why so many, men and women that I know, reject this simple truth.

Ancient Hebrew Poetry

I was reminded recently by a fellow blogger of the fun that we had blogging about Psalm 68 some time ago. I love poetry and so much of the Hebrew scriptures, whether poetry or prose, are full of poetic elements like alliteration, assonance, rhyme and onomatopoeia. These are the elements which relate to the sound of the poetry, and are enough to begin with. The other elements, formed by an arrangement according to meaning, such as parallelism and punning, will have to wait.

But I would say that the first poetic elements, which are usually regarded as relating to the sound of the words, are in fact best perceived, or rather felt in the mouth. The first person to experience alliteration in a poem, is not the passive listener, but the one who writes. And just as the sound of a kiss, is not the same as the kiss itself, so the sound of alliteration, is not the same as the feel of alliteration in one's own mouth and mind.

To write, to speak, to sound out alliteration, one engages the lips and tongue, the words become the placement of the points of articulation, and not the sounds in the ear. And that is the power of alliteration. Don't let the textbooks tell you anything else.

So I dipped into my Pagnini Psalms again, that missing link in the history of translation, and found a few lines where the Dominican (Pagnini that is) showed that he had a sense of the feel of the words. Not surprising, since I suspect that he too loved the alphabet, that out of which the world was created, (if you have read the Book of Formation, Sefer Yetsira, the ur-text of the Kabbalah.)

Here is Psalm 122:6-7 in various translations. I am not going to offer you the Hebrew tonight, but only compare the Latin and English.

6 Rogate quæ ad pacem sunt Jerusalem,
et abundantia diligentibus te.
7 Fiat pax in virtute tua,
et abundantia in turribus tuis. Vulgate

Postulate pacem Jerusalem:
prospere agant diligentes te
Sit pax in antemurali tuo:
prosperitas in palatiis tuis Pagnini

6Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
they shall prosper that love thee.
7Peace be within thy walls,
and prosperity within thy palaces. KJV

6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
"May they be secure who love you!
7Peace be within your walls
and security within your towers!" ESV

6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
7 May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.” NIV

I argue that you can't really understand the history of the translation of the Bible without Pagnini, or without understanding the constraints that poetic elements put on both the original writer, and on the translator. In fact, I would argue that given the presence of poetic elements, there can never be a definitive translation of the Hebrew. Each translation is a new piece of literature.

Ancient Hebrew Poetry Pt 2, Pt 3

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

NIV 2011 and the SBC resolution

More Links

Rev. Mark Stevens
Quadrilateral Thoughts
Aristotle's Feminist Subject
Bridget Jack Jeffries

A few links,

Apprentice to Jesus
συνεσταύρωμαι: living the crucified life
Claude Mariottini
A 'Goula Blogger
Unsettled Christianity
The Wartburg Watch

More tomorrow. Here is something that puzzles me. The SBC rejects the wording of 1 Tim. 2:12, "to assume authority" in the NIV 2011. Since that is only a moderate version of what is in the KJV, "to usurp authority" does that mean that the SBC would not accept the KJV? Does this leave us without any common Bible, not even the KJV? That is what I am trying to figure out.

NIV 2011 and 1 Tim. 2:12

In the debate about the NIV there is no question that adelphoi means "brothers and sisters" as a primary meaning of the word. It was the word to describe Cleopatra and her brother Ptolemy. There is no question that the Greek pronoun tis is gender neutral.

But the reason why the NIV 2011 has a resolution against it is as follows,
One cannot underestimate the importance of 1 Timothy 2:12 in the intra-evangelical debate over gender roles and women in ministry. There is a reason why countless articles and even an entire book have been written on the interpretation of this single verse. In many ways, this verse is the most disputed text in the debate.
The verse in question in the NIV 2011 is -
I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man;[a] she must be quiet.
Here it is in the KJV -

But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

And here it is in the Calvin Bible.

But I suffer not the woman to teach, nor to assume authority over the man, but to be silent.

So it turns out that the NIV 2011 has a resolution against it because of the way in which it is similar to the King James Bible and the Calvin Bible.

Monday, June 20, 2011

SBC on the NIV2011

Catch the whole thing on Dr. Burk's blog. Dr. Moore contributes and yet I think he would have understood the scripture better if he had had a gender neutral translation. He once wrote,

"The headship of men in the church and home is rooted everywhere in Scripture in protection and provision. This is why the apostle Paul calls the man who will not provide for his family "worse than an unbeliever" (1 Tim 5:8 ESV)."
I am conservative in my views on translation, and support the KJV, as the one Bible which we have commonly available, for being the closest to the Greek. However, today, readers are no longer able to undestand that the English pronoun "he" is generic and often occurs in English where there is no pronoun at all in Greek.

I am acquainted with Dr. Bruce Waltke also, a translator of the NIV, and you have no idea how not a feminist that man is! But I like him. He just isn't a feminist. Oh brother. The evangelical world is coming apart at the seams. This is not a split between the liberals and the conservatives. This is an ingroup rift between the conservative evangelicals and the more conservative evangelicals. And it is over women. Women are caught in the middle.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Here is a particularly tricky passage. What does skeuos mean in this verse? Vessel, body, wife, private parts? Hmm.

εἰδέναι ἕκαστον ὑμῶν τὸ ἑαυτοῦ σκεῦος κτᾶσθαι ἐν ἁγιασμῷ καὶ τιμῇ, 1 Thess. 4:4

Skeuos means equipment, inanimate thing, body vs soul, or subordinate being. Here are the two most likely options.

1. Skeuos could mean "wife." Each person, that is each man, should acquire his own wife. Ktaomai usually means "acquire" so it is likely that this does not refer to one's own body. However, skeuos had not been used to refer to a wife prior to this text.

2. Skeuos means "one's own body." This is consistent with the use of the word elsewhere in the Greek scriptures. Ktaomai could mean "to become the master of."

I tend to think that skeuos refers to one's own body, since Paul does not indicate that he is talking only to men in this passage. He does not say, "You men, .... "

On the other hand, perhaps the author of 1 Thessalonians really is calling a wife a skeuos. We cringe because it sounds sexist. What do we do if we believe the scriptures are sexist? How do we respond to this?

Some feel that Paul really did refer to a wife here, and that he was sexist, althought this is not a criticism of Paul, but just simple acceptance that we have moved beyond this ethic, that we don't have to adhere to everything Paul says, but only abide in the instructions for holiness and love.

Others feel that Paul, who was a friend and co-worker of many women, would not call a wife a skeuos.

So, I commend to you the King James Version,

That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;

Michael Marlowe

There are reasons why I think that Marlowe's theology needs to be made clear. He writes about the application of 1 Cor. 11 to men,
First there are the implications of the uncovered head. Paul states that the reason for this bareheadedness is that the Christian man must exhibit the "image-glory of God," which we have understood in the sense that he must identify with and imitate God, as ruler of the creation. This is no small responsibility for men. We are all familiar with the biblical teaching that men must obey and serve God. The Bible in many places calls God's people His servants, and the word usually translated "servants" really means slaves.

But even so, where Christian men are concerned, the biblical concept of our relationship to God is more perfectly expressed as one of sonship. And a son is not a slave; he both obeys and imitates his Father. The incongruity of this metaphor in relation to women is obvious enough. A woman should not be asked to think of herself as a son who must imitate the Father. But this is what Christian men are called to do. A manly soul is not content to obey, he goes beyond that and makes his royal Father's interests his own. He inherits the dominion.

There is therefore a certain emulation of God proper for men which is not characteristic of female piety. This stance, symbolized by the uncovered head, is going to have consequences for the way in which a man worships God and lives out his faith.

I just think that we need to undertand the theological underpinnings of this kind of Christianity.

the same virtue

So, what I have been trying to say is that far from being complementary, men and women have the same virtue, they are not identical but the nature and excellence of men and women is, to a large degree, overlapping. It is the overlapping characteristics of men and women which we call "human" traits. Here is a post by Chris Heard,

Ever heard somebody claim that Christianity is largely to blame for sexism, or at least has done nothing to oppose it? While many Christians and institutional churches have certainly engaged in more than their share of sexist behavior, a strong tradition of Christian egalitarianism runs deep. Consider Clement of Alexandria:

Let us understand that the same virtue pertains to men and women. For if there is one God for both, there is also one Pedagogue for both. One church, one self-restraint, one modesty, a common food, a common marriage bond, breath, sight, hearing, knowledge, hope, obedience, love, all are alike. Those who have life in common, grace in common, and indeed salvation in common also have virtue and a way of life in common. … Therefore also the name “human” is common to men and women.

— Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 6.100.2–3, trans. Roberts and Donaldson, quoted from Nonna Verna Harrison, God’s Many-Splendored Image (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2010)

Clement was not, of course, an egalitarian in the modern sense—he probably would have opposed the idea of a female bishop, for example—but theological understandings like his laid the foundations that would eventually lead to modern gender egalitarianism.

To CBMW Re: NIV 2011

Here is an email that I wrote to CBMW last week. I have not heard back from them.

Hi Chris,

About four years ago, I wrote to discuss some details on your website and you agreed at that time to link to an article I wrote demonstrating that aner had as established usage that was gender inclusive in ancient Greek. I have noticed that this link no longer remains. I have renewed the discussion here.

I remember that Dr. Grudem has said that he would be eager to acknowledge this evidence if it was presented to him, so I hope that you will make this information known to your readers, as I am sure it is the wish of all involved to be aware of the best evidence.

I noticed recently that Denny Burk has written an article on the NIV2011 in which he cites Dr. Grudem on 1 Tim. 2:12, and says,

In 1 Timothy 2:12 the TNIV adopts a highly suspect and novel translation that gives the egalitarian side everything they have wanted for years in a Bible translation. It reads, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man”....

I feel certain that you would like to add to this information that the King James Version had "to usurp authority" much stronger than "to assume authority." However, I think it is even more important to let your readers know that the origin of "to assume authority" is from John Calvin's Latin translation, which was translated into English in the 19th century and contained the English phrase "to assume authority."

In fact, the NIV2011 has remained close to the King James Version for both 1 Tim. 2:12, and Romans 16:7. Dr. Kostenberger's syntactic argument for the meaning of authenteo, is not supported by evidence, since didasko has a negative sense in Titus 1. There is little support for the claim made by CBMW on the meaning of authenteo, and the NIV2011 follows a much more conservative path choosing "assume" as a halfway point between "usurp" and "exercise." I would like to see the CBMW site make a formal acknowledgement of the conservative and mediating position of the NIV2011.

Regarding the use of the generic masculine pronoun, I am very concerned that many preachers cited on your website, are not able to understand the generic masculine. I noticed in particular this citation from Russel Moore.

Male headship is strictly defined in Scripture as the opposite of a grasp for power. The headship of men in the church and home is rooted everywhere in Scripture in protection and provision. This is why the apostle Paul calls the man who will not provide for his family "worse than an unbeliever" (1 Tim 5:8 ESV).

In 1 Tim. 5:8, the English masculine pronoun "he" is generic and refers equally to men and women. The Greek lacks a pronoun entirely and is written equally to men and women. No word for "man" appears in this passage. It appears that Dr. Moore did not refer to the Greek for this verse, and misunderstood the generic masculine pronoun in the English.

While you may personally support the continued use of the generic masculine pronoun, among complementarian preachers, it is frequently misunderstood.

I hope you will understand that I would like most of all to see an acknowledgement of the truth that is in God's word, especially as it pertains to the NIV2011

Warm regards,

Suzanne McCarthy

Monday, June 13, 2011

because I am a girl ....

Because I am a girl is a campaign to raise money to nourish and educate girls worldwide. Here is one astounding statistic.

Fact: Young women put back 90% of their income into their household, but men only give back 30-40%. By directing the money they earn back into the household, girls can help their families to stay healthy, secure and educated.
I don't know the source for this, but certainly passages in Half the Sky back this up. If you want to fight hunger and poverty, you have no choice but to promote at least an equal decision-making role for women. Any desire and movement to keep women from equal decision-making, is a movement to keep children hungry and uneducated and empoverish households. Choose equality for women, and you are choosing life. That is why Adam called his wife the mother of all living. Chava - "Life".

Sunday, June 12, 2011

She comes sailing on the wind


She comes sailing on the wind, her wings flashing in the sun,
On a journey just begun, she flies on.
And in the passage of her flight, her song rings out through the night,
Full of laughter, full of light, she flies on.

Silent waters rocking on the morning of our birth,
Like an empty cradle waiting to be filled,
And from the heart of God the Spirit moved upon the earth,
Like a mother breathing life into her child.

Many were the dreamers whose eyes were given sight
When the Spirit filled their dreams with life and form.
Deserts turned to gardens, broken hearts found new delight,
And then down the ages still she flew on.

To a gentle girl in Galilee a gentle breeze she came,
a whisper softly calling in the dark,
The promise of a child of peace whose reign would never end,
Mary sang the Spirit song within her heart.

Flying to the river, she waited circling high
Above the child now grown so full of grace.
As he rose up from the water, she swept down from the sky,
And she carried him away in her embrace.

Long after the deep darkness that fell upon the world,
After dawn returned in flame of rising sun,
The Spirit touched the earth again, again her wings unfurled,
bringing life in wind and fire as she flew on.

Text and melody: Gordon Light; arr. Andrew Donaldson.©
Text and melody © 1987 Common Cup Company.
Used with permission.

This is for Shawna, if she is not already familiar with this hymn.

a radical feminist?

When I want to make someone who knows me in the concrete world of the flesh laugh, I tell them that I have been called a "radical feminist." That's just funny, because I learned all the domestic skills, I have a job in an area that is almost entirely female, and I don't promote the line that women have to have "careers." I have among my friends, many who have stayed at home with the kids, some who have worked part time, and some who were so blessed that they have been able to share the parenting with their spouse in ways that are roughly equal over time.

Life is about compromise. There is no ideal role for either men or women. Men who want to go as missionaries, have to make many very tough decisions, and face conflicting demands. It is simply very difficult. It is the same way for women. All women. We all of us, in varying degress, have the nature to create, design, produce, innovate, initiate, and lead. We are born with ambition to succeed and to contribute to society in any way that our skills enable us to. It can be overwhelming.

For some people, both men and women, ambition is muted. But others are driven. Men and women have this ambition. But most women are made aware early on of the need to balance conflicting demands and compromise. Some women don't. I regret that.

The strength of feminism is that it recognizes the equal nature of women. It makes me feel like a real human being - something that was missing for me for many years. I lived in psychological isolation and despair for many years.

Now, I am free of that. But, guess what. My life is made up of the need to compromise, and balance conflicting demands. That is just another part of being human. Men face this too, but perhaps a little later than earlier. Perhaps the weakness of feminism was that it was not always honest about how much of being human is about balancing conflicting demands. But feminism is right about getting women the vote, equal pay, equal right to work, equal right to not be beaten and raped.

Just think of women in the Bible - Lydia, a merchant of the expensive purple cloth, Phoebe, Chloe, Junia and so on. I think also of Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, and many other women of the Hebrew Bible who are not known to have children. But then there was Hannah, who would not compromise, and there were Bathsheba and Tamar who did compromise. And they are all honoured, the idealists and the compromisers alike.

This makes me free to be both the kind of woman who is driven, and the kind of woman who makes outrageous sacrifices for my children. That's just what it means to be human. I don't exclude men from this dilemma. I think of men as being human also.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Complementary vs overlapping distribution

In linguistics complementary and overlapping distribution contrast. Phonemes are found in either complementary or overlapping distribution, but not both. Men and women are complementary in their reproductive organs, but that's about it. The height of men and women has overlapping distribution, and there participation in the workforce likewise. Men and women are not identical, but they have widely overlapping characteristics.

So all my writing about what men and women in the Bible do is simply to note that they have overlapping skills and roles. Men and women both participate in subsistence farming, in skilled artisanship, and in managerial roles. Since this has always been true, to varying extents, it seems that women are by nature geared towards productive work, skilled craft, and leadership positions, as are men. It is only for a brief few years, from about the 1920's to the 1970's that most women were out of the work force.

When women are ambitious for work, it is not because they are rebellious against God, sinful, disrespectful of their husband, and so on. It is because this is the nature of being human. We all have a drive to create, design and produce. Some women don't have the opportunity for this kind of women until their 40's and 50's. Its a tricky thing. But it is best to realize that when women want to get out and work, it is because this is caused by our basic human ambition to work. We could not survive without this.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Biblical manhood and womanhood

From Exodus 35,
30(AG) Then Moses said to the people of Israel, "See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; 31and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with(AH) skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, 32to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, 33in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. 34And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. 35He has(AI) filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer. ESV

30 Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 32 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 33 to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. 34 And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. 35 He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers. NIV2011
I thought after reading the ESV that men were doing the embroidery. But after reading the NIV2011, I came to think that both men and women are "skilled workers and designers," and the women were doing the embroidery. I am not quite sure. Any ideas?

Women did have a role producing trade goods and artefacts. They were not restricted to reproduction only. Even though I do know how to spin, weave and embroider, (not terribly well, but I have tried them all) - these activites take a significant commitment of time, space and funds that I don't actually have. I don't recommend them now in lieu of a "job." Boring, I know, but that's my experience.

It is important to understand that there was never a time in the Bible when men were considered to be created to work and produce goods, and women were not. Women were always producers and designers, as well as mothers. That is just the way it was. No matter how hard you try, a woman who stays home with her children, is on the periphery of the economy, a consumer and not a producer. That is not biblical. I understand why women are at home with their children, and I am not critizing it - I just don't know how to reconcile it with the model of womanhood in the Bible, where women were driven to create and produce goods, as well as children.

Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I still have my first piece of embroidery that I did at the age of four. It is a small petit point pattern of a box full of kittens. Hence my affinity with the curmudgeonly Roger Moore in this film.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Women's work or men's work

I had been thinking about what women did in the Bible, and now I can't figure out whether weaving and embroidery were women's work or men's work. Two relevant passages are Exodus 35 and 36, and 2 Chronicles 2. I am getting a little worried that the hours I spent embroidering in the past, was practicing men's work. On the other hand, women spun and dyed, especially purple, producing important trade goods that were often lumped in scripture with gold and silver.

There was likely no time in a biblical woman's life that she did not produce income earning goods, even if only in barter. The urge to work is God-given and not a product of femininst ideology. I am not sure about embroidery, however.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Denny Burk on the NIV2011

Denny Burk has become the voice of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood on translation. Here is his latest critique.

I find it fascinating that he writes,
The new NIV adopts feminist translations of key verses
He then proceeds to cite 1 Tim. 2:12 and Romans 16:7. And yet the NIV 2011 follows in the tradition of Calvin's commentary and the King James version in these two verses. Here is Calvin,
Salutate Andronicum et Juniam, cognatos meos et cocaptivos meos, qui sunt insignes inter Apostolos, qui etiam ante me fuerunt in Christo. Romans 16:7

Docere autem muliere non permitto, neque auctoritatem sibi sumere in virum, sed quietam esse. 1 Tim. 2:12
To tell you the truth, I am not sure why Denny Burk does not compare the wording of the NIV 2011 with the King James Bible, Luther's Bible and Calvin's Latin translation. He would see that Luther did not hesitate to translate the word used for "human being" in Greek with a word used for "human being" in German. I see no reason why such instances in English find themselves in Wayne Grudem's list of "inaccuracies."

Denny also claims that the generic "he" pronoun is understood today. That may be so, but here I have listed those preachers who did not understand that the masculine pronoun in English does not translate a semantically masculine pronoun in Greek, notably Russell Moore, who wrote,
Male headship is strictly defined in Scripture as the opposite of a grasp for power. The headship of men in the church and home is rooted everywhere in Scripture in protection and provision. This is why the apostle Paul calls the man who will not provide for his family "worse than an unbeliever" (1 Tim 5:8 ESV).
In fact, this passage contains no reference to a "man" or to an implied "he" at all. I have been thinking that this verse has been reinterpreted to fill a felt need. Certain complementarians may have felt that there ought to be a verse in the Bible which states that the man is the provider, and so this verse has been brought in the fill the gap.

I don't want to be unkind to Denny's review, but I do wish that the CBMW would be open to review.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Is the Bible sufficient?

I want to thank those who vote me into the top 10 biblioblogs. I heretofore promise that, to the best of my ability, I will attempt to keep the Bible and women, sometimes separately and sometimes together, as the recurring theme of this blog.

Tonight, I want to write about the National Geographic article on child brides. It will make you cry, whoever you are. Here is the part which relates to my view of the Bible,
"If there were any danger in early marriage, Allah would have forbidden it," a Yemeni member of parliament named Mohammed Al-Hamzi told me in the capital city of Sanaa one day. "Something that Allah himself did not forbid, we cannot forbid." Al-Hamzi, a religious conservative, is vigorously opposed to the legislative efforts in Yemen to prohibit marriage for girls below a certain age (17, in a recent version), and so far those efforts have met with failure.

Islam does not permit marital relations before a girl is physically ready, he said, but the Holy Koran contains no specific age restrictions and so these matters are properly the province of family and religious guidance, not national law. Besides, there is the matter of the Prophet Muhammad's beloved Ayesha—nine years old, according to the conventional account, when the marriage was consummated.
Just because something is not in the scriptures, does that mean that it is okay? Is it right and proper to allow girls under 18 to marry? But Jesus did not rail against this, nor Paul either. Isn't it right and proper to grant a divorce to a woman who has been beaten by her husband, even if such an allowance is not in the Bible?

Sure, we here in the west would say that the Koran is not sufficient, but is the Bible sufficient? Perhaps what I mean is, is the Bible explicit enough? I don't think so.

On the other hand, the Bible clearly articulates the ethos that we should love the one next to us as ourselves. We should love our fellow human being as ourselves. We should treat our husband or wife in such a way as to give them the happiness they desire, at the same time respecting our own dignity and integrity. We should care for those who lack food, education and health care, at the same time guarding our own power and ability to be helpful, to provide.

These are the big questions, the ones I am struggling with. The Bible is not sufficient, we need to interpret the Bible through the prism of the command of Christ. Ironically, this command is also found clearly articulated in all the great religions.

The Inverse Danvers Statement

I find this to be very cleverly done. I know it may seem to be ridiculing this belief, but I hope that it is not seen as cruel, but just as an alternative look at how scripture could be selected and prioritized. No sin in that, surely.

However, I am not sure if one very important verse is used to advantage. 1 Tim. 5:14, says, in the most literal translation possible,
"I am minded, therefore, that the younger ones marry, bear children, be head of the house, - giving no single occasion, unto the opposer, as a cause of reviling;" (adapted from Rotherham)
Here is the inverse Danvers Statement, and here is the original Danvers Statement.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Origen on Phoebe

Daniel Kirk has blogged briefly about Origen's commentary on Romans 16:1-2,

Romans 16:1-2 reads:

“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is also a minister of the church at Cenchreae: that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints and that you help her in whatever matter in which she may have need of you. For she has been a helper of many, including myself.”

Upon which Origen commented as follows:

This passage teaches with apostolic authority that women are likewise appointed to the ministry of the church. (Origen, Comm. Rom. 10.17.2)

I responded with this comment,

I think it is likely that prostatis refers back to ezer in Genesis, although that is translated as beothos.

What is really interesting is that Christ was addressed as prostates and boethos in Clement. These two words βοηθος and πρστατης are used as titles for Christ alongside “saviour” and “high priest.” Here is how the words were used in 1 Clement 36:1.

Αυτη η οδος, αγαπητοι, εν η ευρομεν το σωτεριον ημων, Ιησουν Χρστον, τον αρχιερεα των προσφορων ημων, τον προστατην και βοηθον της ασθενειας ημων.

This is the way, beloved, in which we found our salvation; even Jesus Christ, the high priest of our oblations, the champion and defender of our weakness. tr. Charles Hoole 1885
This is the way, dearly beloved, wherein we found our salvation, even Jesus Christ the High priest of our offerings, the Guardian and Helper of our J. B. Lightfoot.

Along with examples of women as an apostle and prophet, I fail to find that the scriptures place women beneath men in the church.

Here is an article I wrote a couple of years ago on this topic.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Banker to the Poor

This book is on my "to read" list. I mention it today, because I want to recognize the essential role of those men who champion women's empowerment and access to equal resources. Even though I strongly believe that women are to help other women, in a man's world, women do experience validation through the support of men. In fact, it is probably impossible for women to take on an expanded role in many domains without the acquiesence and encouragement of at least some men.

Mitt Romney

A provocative article,

To many voters, Romney and Huntsman therefore raise a thorny question: is it wrong to oppose candidates because you dislike or fundamentally disagree with their faith? Some would call that bigotry; others a matter of personal judgment. Either way, when voters explore LDS theology, a good portion seems to decide that the basic premise of the faith is so stupendously unlikely that the judgment of anyone who buys into it is fundamentally flawed.

Latter-day Saints believe that in 1827, Smith, a farmer's son from upstate New York, experienced a revelation in which Moroni (the angel from Salt Lake City's temple) appeared and told him to dig a hole in a local hillside. He apparently discovered a book made from golden plates inscribed with illegible hieroglyphics. By using some diamond-encrusted spectacles and occasionally peering into a hat that had a brown rock in the bottom of it, he mysteriously found himself able translate these elaborate symbols. The result, when the golden plates were fully transcribed, was a new scripture: The Book of Mormon.

Mormons study this text in tandem with the Old and New Testaments, as a sort of third holy book. While the Bible is set largely in the Middle East, Smith's creation tells a history of the Americas from 600BC to roughly AD400. It posits that, after his resurrection, Jesus visited the continent for a period of weeks or months. The fundamentals of how their church is organised and the moral code by which members are expected to live are outlined in the Doctrine and Covenants.

When first written, a good portion of the Doctrine and Covenants was devoted to an endorsement of polygamy, which Mormons practiced energetically during the first 60 years of their church's existence. Other bits railed against tea, coffee and alcohol. But in time, the polygamous lifestyle began to attract criticism. Fortunately, Latter-day Saints believe that the covenants can be amended whenever the church's serving president announces that God has instructed him to make an alteration.

Such an event occurred in the 1890s, when Utah wanted to join the US but was prevented from doing so because of hostility towards polygamy. Essentially, the church announced that God decided suddenly to declare the practice immoral (the roughly 30,000 surviving polygamists in Utah are members of fundamentalist sects). It occurred again in the 1970s, when society became uneasy about a Mormon doctrine that banned people of colour from the priesthood; again, God authorised a change that opened it up to "all worthy males".

On a spiritual front, Mormons are encouraged to follow a moral code akin to evangelical Christians, who believe abortion, swearing and sex outside of marriage is bad news. The faith is focused around family life and three-hour church services each Sunday are presided over by a lay ministry of male patriarchs. Provided members pray regularly and follow the church's moral code, they expect, after death, to spend eternity in a multi-tiered Heaven, alongside their extended families.

Do Romney and Huntsman buy into this? We must accept that they do. Is that a big deal? Some theologians believe so. A religion which still accepts the possibility of divine inspiration can present conflicts of interest for a head of state. "If you're a mainstream Christian, you can say that you simply believe in the New Testament, God has said all he's going to say. In the LDS, that isn't the case," Kathleen Flake, a professor of US Religious History at Vanderbilt University, said. "They believe the leader of the church today still literally speaks to God."

What would happen, therefore, if a church leader instructed a Mormon president to nuke Iran? In theory, the president would have to push the red button. What might occur if a Mormon president conducted foreign policy according to instincts derived from his faith? On paper, given the church's belief that Jesus visited the Americas, he would set great store by the concept of American exceptionalism. Most pressingly, can a man who belives in the fundamental truth of a Victorian story that revolves around gold-detecting angels and buried treasure do the most important job in the world? In 18 months, we may find out.

Fighting Poverty

If we were half serious about fighting poverty, we would make women the major decision-makers for the family. This is what the research says. I cringe when I read it, but I don't dare contradict it. This does not mean that those who want to keep men in the role of major decision-maker for the family wish to promote poor nutrition, illiteracy and poverty. They are rather promoting the notion that it is more godly to try and change the way men make decisions, than to shift decision-making over to women.

However, microfinance is a powerful tool to shift resources and decision-making for those resources over to women. It can be done. Christianity sometimes changes the way men make decisions, and sometimes it doesn't. It is an iffy proposition.

Here are Kristof and WuDunn on this topic,
WHY DO MICROFINANCE organizations usually focus their assistance on women? And why does everyone benefit when women enter the work force and bring home regular pay checks? One reason involves the dirty little secret of global poverty: some of the most wretched suffering is caused not just by low incomes but also by unwise spending by the poor — especially by men. Surprisingly frequently, we’ve come across a mother mourning a child who has just died of malaria for want of a $5 mosquito bed net; the mother says that the family couldn’t afford a bed net and she means it, but then we find the father at a nearby bar. He goes three evenings a week to the bar, spending $5 each week.

Our interviews and perusal of the data available suggest that the poorest families in the world spend approximately 10 times as much (20 percent of their incomes on average) on a combination of alcohol, prostitution, candy, sugary drinks and lavish feasts as they do on educating their children (2 percent). If poor families spent only as much on educating their children as they do on beer and prostitutes, there would be a breakthrough in the prospects of poor countries. Girls, since they are the ones kept home from school now, would be the biggest beneficiaries. Moreover, one way to reallocate family expenditures in this way is to put more money in the hands of women. A series of studies has found that when women hold assets or gain incomes, family money is more likely to be spent on nutrition, medicine and housing, and consequently children are healthier.

In Ivory Coast, one research project examined the different crops that men and women grow for their private kitties: men grow coffee, cocoa and pineapple, and women grow plantains, bananas, coconuts and vegetables. Some years the “men’s crops” have good harvests and the men are flush with cash, and other years it is the women who prosper. Money is to some extent shared. But even so, the economist Esther Duflo of M.I.T. found that when the men’s crops flourish, the household spends more money on alcohol and tobacco. When the women have a good crop, the households spend more money on food. “When women command greater power, child health and nutrition improves,” Duflo says.

And here is a contrasting message from True Woman,

God never intended for us to have to run it all, ladies. His intent was for us to follow our husband’s lead in willing submission. To be sure, any wise husband will want to utilize his wife’s gifts and strengths for the good of the family, but the role of final decision maker and leader for the family rests with the husband.

Some cultures are more matriarchal; and in these cases wives must work hard to resist that natural inclination to take the ball and run with it. We need to empower our men to lead by encouraging them where we see sparks of leadership potential. And we must work hard not to criticize when their efforts at leading fall short. This can be especially difficult if your husband has never accepted the mantle of leadership before.
One thing I felt strongly from the stories in Kristof and WuDunn's book is that as the women gained power and earned money, their husbands treated them better and gained self-respect at the same time - that is everyone benefitted from empowering women.

It is important that the money be given as a loan requiring investment and control. If the money had simply been donated, the husband could co-opt it.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Biblical Womanhood

I enjoy reading posts from Carolyn, Rachel, and Mary, with their diverse insights into biblical womanhood. It got me thinking about it in more concrete and down to earth terms. What do I think biblical womanhood is?

First and foremost, I think it is caring for others, fulfilling one's God-given and natural responsibility to protect and provide. But first one has to care for oneself, one's own health and well-being in order to do that. So the best part of the past four years has been about getting back on my feet. It's still a struggle some days, but it's okay.

But I blog about that theme quite a bit. Its the overriding theme of this blog. Being a woman means that, like men, we take care of others. And that's another theme - to have more feeling with men rather than in contrast to men.

However, today I was thinking in more concrete terms. What kind of physical activities belong with historic biblical womanhood. And here is a great site to give us insight. It opens,
Work, especially food production, was necessary for survival. No one was exempt. Most of the population worked in their village or on the land around it - even children worked beside their parents in the fields and in the home.

When the grain had been winnowed, it had to be ground to separate the hard outer shell from the flour. In earlier times, and in many small communities, this work was done by women. They ground the grain into a course flour using a pestle and mortar, before preparing the dough and baking it.
For Proverbs 31, it adds,
  • keeping herself physically and mentally strong and fit
  • giving religious instruction to her children: she was their first teacher
  • gathering food and assembling a varied and healthy diet for the members of the household
  • administering the finances of the family and overseeing the family business
  • buying investment property wisely
  • supervising investments then re-investing the profits
  • performing charitable work and caring for the poor
  • organizing and supervising the tasks of all servants
  • overseeing the emotional and physical well-being of all the members of the household
  • being available at all times to anyone who needed her.
Women were largely responsible for production of clothing in all stages of manufacture. They
* shared responsibility for tending the animals in the flock
* sorted and carded the wood after the goats and sheep had been shorn
* spun the wool into lengths of fabric
* grew and harvested flax for linen
* dried the flax
* carded and spun the flax into either fine or coarse linen strips (linen produced by the Egyptians could be woven finer than the fabric in a modern handkerchief).
* prepared dyes of various colors. in the flock
* sorted and carded the wood after the goats and sheep had been shorn
* spun the wool into lengths of fabric
* grew and harvested flax for linen
* dried the flax
* carded and spun the flax into either fine or coarse linen strips (linen produced by the Egyptians could be woven finer than the fabric in a modern handkerchief).
* prepared dyes of various colors.
I confess - I was intensely interested in some of these crafts at one time. I was raised to sew all my own clothes, knit, embroider and bake bread, etc. so that was nothing new. But as a young adult, I learned to card wool, spin it, dye it with beautiful lichen-based dyes, knit and weave. I don't have the leisure time for this right now, but I know their appeal.

However, the biblical woman worked in the field, cared for animals, spun, wove and sewed, made tents, pitched tents, folded tents, fed the family and produced goods for trading. Whew.