Friday, December 30, 2005

Name Change

I have changed the name of this blog since Powerscourt is an important golfing and tourist destination in Ireland and I regret having used a name that was in use before. I have kept the URL since I am not sure that it would be a good idea to change it now. I see no reason for people to change their bookmarks for this site since I have explained the name Powerscourt in my subtitle.

Bookshelves are an important part of my existance and the one piece of furniture that I inherited from my mother is her personal bookshelf. It has a prominent position in our living room. I also inherited many of her books which include a collection on Arctic Exploration. From my grandmother and her sisters I have a collection of Geroge Elliot novels and a Greek dictionary and Greek Interlinear New Testament.

In fact, I really want to keep this site as a place for personal notes and unfinished ideas, since I participate in the Better Bibles Blog and my own research blog is Abecedaria. See sidebar.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Sense & Sensibility

I watched Pride & Prejudice recently and have written about it here.

'I have just been to see "Pride & Prejudice" and was reminded that in this novel, the characteristic of follower was not considered to be the domain of the woman, but of the loyal and malleable friend. Bingley, the follower, marries another like hmself; and Darcy, the leader and quiet philanthropist, chooses someone who will not follow him, but resist and stand up to him. Only the irreverent Lizzie is suitable to be his mate.

The movie was a visual pleasure but don't forget how the novel closes.

"Pemberley was now Georgiana's home; and the attachment of the sisters was exactly what Darcy had hoped to see. They were able to love each other even as well as they intended. Georgiana had the highest opinion in the world of Elizabeth; though at first she often listened with an astonishment bordering on alarm at her lively, sportive, manner of talking to her brother. He, who had always inspired in herself a respect which almost overcame her affection, she now saw the object of open pleasantry. Her mind received knowledge which had never before fallen in her way. By Elizabeth's instructions, she began to comprehend that a woman may take liberties with her husband which a brother will not always allow in a sister more than ten years younger than himself."

I don't propose this as theology but the story of 'Pride & Prejudice' has lasting human appeal. And it comes from a social setting briefly preceding Lady Powerscourt's.'

A few weeks later I got together with some friends to watch Sense & Sensibility. Again the male and females roles interested me. The older and life weary Colonel (Alan Rickman) marries the beautiful but now worldly wise teenager (Kate Winslet). (We could not imagine this today.She was supposed to be only 17!) And then the motherly manager Elinor (Emma Thompson) marries the modest Mr. Farrar (Hugh Grant, the eternal teenager), who is honest to a fault but not interested in a leadership role in life.

In Pride & Prejudice one scenario is worked out. Leader marries leader and follower marries follower. In Sense & Sensibility another pattern emerges. Leader marries follower and follower marries leader. These are not models of Christian ideals but they are portraits of life. They are a mirror held up to their era. I especially enjoy these insights into the world of 19th century England since a person raised in the Plymouth Brethren ultimately feels shaped by these mores.

To their intense regret the women in Jane Austins' novels were not in a position to support themselves. They lived in a different age, an age of class and dependence, experienced by men and women alike. Think of poor Farrar who has to be rescued by the Colonel.

I find that other Christian women like to blog about these movies and derive different but not conflicting lessons from them. They are the Ladies against Feminism. That's fine by me. The post is about honesty and many other good things. And here.

1 Corinthians 11 The Source

Here is this text from The Source translated by Ann Nyland.

"Ch.11:1 Become imitators of me just like I too am an imitator of the Anointed One!

Paul addresses more complaints and questions from the Corinthian assembly.

2-3 I praise you for always keeping me in mind and for adhering to the teachings that I handed over to you. Now, I want you to know that the source of every man is the Anointed One, the source of woman is man, and the source of the Anointed One is God.

4-9 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered disgraces his head. Every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered disgraces her head – it would be one and the same if she’d had a shaved head. If a woman doesn’t cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off, and since it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut off or
shaved off, she should cover her head.

On the one hand, a man ought not to cover his head as the man is the portrait of the beginning of God’s splendor, and on the other hand the woman is the splendor of man. Man is not from woman but the woman is from man, for in fact man was not created by means of a woman, but the woman was created by means of a man.

10-12 For this reason the woman ought to have her authority upon her head on account of the Messengers, except that, as far as the Lord is concerned, a woman isn’t separate from a man nor is a man separate from a woman. It’s a fact that just as the woman comes from the man, in the same way too the man comes through the woman! But all things are from God.

13-16 Judge for yourselves! Is it fitting for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Even nature itself teaches you that if a man has ornamentally arranged hair it disgraces him, but if a woman has ornamentally arranged hair it gives her splendor! Ornamentally arranged hair is given to her in place of a coat. But if anyone is inclined to be obstinate about this, let me say that we have no such custom, nor do any of God’s assemblies.

17 Now in giving you these instructions I don’t have any praise for you, because your meetings do more harm than good!"

My personal notes:

κεφαλη - this means the physical head of a person. However, there is no instance that I am aware of in Greek where head was used as a metaphor for leadership or position in an hierarchy.

In Scott and Liddell the meanings are ( I abbreviate this somewhat) I head II the head or upper part of anything, the head or source of river. III a wig or headdress IV metaphorical the point, sum, or conclusion. Related meanings are the principal amount of money, the summary of an argument, the finish of a thing.

If 'head' is used, it sounds hierarchical in English. If 'head' is not used then any relationship to covering the head because the woman is the splendour of the man is lost. Was the use of the word 'head' here an intentional play on words?

The use of the term is not insignificant and implies that the man represents the household, which I believe was true in that economy; and the wife is not independent of the husband, as the husband is not independent of the wife. Obviously, men are born of women, and originally woman was created from man. Balance. Man and woman come from each other.

It doesn't say anything about who makes decisions. Decision making in the family was set out very specifically by Aristotle. I will reread this some day. However, there is nothing in Corinthians 11 that refers to this aspect of life that I can see. Greek philosphy had a very detailed approach to the will of a person and decision making. (Women didn't have much capacity for that according to Aristotle) However, I do not believe that the word 'head' was ever used in this context. The usual word in that context was βουλη.

long hair - Does the Greek say 'long hair' or 'ornamentally arranged hair'? It does not say 'long' and 'hair'. The word here means growing your hair - κομαω but the usual context in Greek suggests that it was for decorative reasons.

verse 10 It simply says that a woman is to have 'power' on her head. That's it. I can't add much to that. However, many early church fathers had the word 'veil' here instead of power so we know what they thought.


I grew up in a meeting where we wore hats. I even remember briefly attending an assembly that had given up on hats and then saw the light and had a scarf table on the way in by the door. Now I attend an evangelical Anglican Church where hats are never discussed. I don't have an explanation for this chapter. However, I cannot see any possible connection between long hair and wearing a hat and spirituality.

Is a hat only a symbol of something that is so irritating a woman would never wear one unless she was commanded to do so? It then follows, if a woman wears a hat you know that the husband is in charge in that household. I don't actually think that is what was intended in this chapter. Maybe a woman should wear a hat in the spirit that the queen wears a hat. However, I have no idea why the queen wears a hat. I suppose that she likes to wear a hat. It certainly doesn't seem to indicate that she is under her husband's authority.

In my view, this is a chapter about good order and appropriate behaviour. In other epistles, it is not required for a church leader to have a wife that wears a hat. However, church leaders must have their families under control.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Geneva Bible

This is 1 Corinthians 11:1 - 16 from the Geneva Bible. It is pretty straightforward, with nothing much added.

"Be ye followers of me, even as I am of Christ.
2 Now brethren, I commend you, that ye remember all my things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.
3 But I will that ye know, that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the woman’s head, and God is Christ’s head.
4 Every man praying or prophesying having anything on his head, dishonoreth his head.
5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth bareheaded, dishonoreth her head, for it is even one very thing, as though she were shaven.
6 Therefore if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: and if it be shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.
7 For a man ought not to cover his head, for as much as he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of the man.
8 For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man.
9 For the man was not created for the woman’s sake; but the woman for the man’s sake.
10 Therefore ought the woman to have power on her head, because of the Angels.
11 Nevertheless, neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man in the Lord.
12 For as the woman is of the man, so is the man also by the woman; but all things are of God.
13 Judge in yourselves, Is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?
14 Doeth not nature itself teach you, that if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a praise unto her, for her hair is given her for a covering. 16 But if any man lust to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the Churches of God."

And here are some of the original notes from the Geneva Bible.

verse 8
He proveth the inequality of the woman, by that which the man is the matter whereof woman was first made.

verse 10
(9) The conclusion: Women must be covered, to shew by this external sign their subjection.
(c) A covering which is a token of subjection.
(*) Something to cover her head in sign of subjection.
(10) What this meaneth, I do not yet understand.
(♣) To whom they also shew their dissolution, and not only to Christ.

verse 11
A digression which the Apostle useth, that which he spake of the superiority of men, and lower degree of women in consideration of the policy of the Church, should be so taken as though there were no measure of this inequality. Therefore he teacheth that men have in such sort the preeminence, that God made them not alone, but women also. And woman was so made of man, that men also are born by the means of women, and this ought to put them in mind to observe the degree of every sex in such sort, that mutual conjunction may be cherished.
(d) By the Lord.
(*) Who is author and maintainer of their mutual conjunction.
(♣) For as God made the woman of man, so now is man multiplied by the woman.

Catherine Booth

I am the mother of a sixteen year old daughter and an eighteen year old son. I remembered recently that when I was 16 one of my older sisters gave me a biography of Catherine Booth, who with her husband William, started the Salvation Army. It had a strong influence on my beliefs about the role of women. I cannot find my copy of this book and am looking for where to buy another. In the meantime I thought I would post a few links and quotes about Catherine Booth.

From Spartacus.schoolnet,

"It was not until 1860 that Catherine Booth first started to preach. One day in Gateshead Bethseda Chapel, a strange compulsion seized her and she felt she must rise and speak. Later she recalled how an inner voice taunted her: "You will look like a fool and have nothing to say". Catherine decided that this was the Devil's voice: "That's just the point," she retorted, "I have never yet been willing to be a fool for Christ. Now I will be one."

Catherine's sermon was so impressive that William changed his mind about women's preachers. Catherine Booth soon developed a reputation as an outstanding speaker but many Christians were outraged by the idea. As Catherine pointed out at that time it was believed that a woman's place was in the home and "any respectable woman who raised her voice in public risked grave censure."

In 1864 the couple began in London's East End the Christian Mission which later developed into the Salvation Army. Catherine Booth took a leading role in these revival services and could often be seen preaching in the dockland parishes of Rotherhithe and Bermondsey. Though often imprisoned for preaching in the open air, members of the Salvation Army fought on, waging war on poverty and injustice....

It was while working with the poor in London that Catherine found out about what was known as "sweated labour". That is, women and children working long hours for low wages in very poor conditions. In the tenements of London, Catherine discovered red-eyed women hemming and stitching for eleven hours a day. These women were only paid 9d. a day, whereas men doing the same work in a factory were receiving over 3s. 6d. Catherine and fellow members of the Salvation Army attempted to shame employers into paying better wages. They also attempted to improve the working conditions of these women.

Catherine was particularly concerned about women making matches. Not only were these women only earning 1s. 4d. for a sixteen hour day, they were also risking their health when they dipped their match-heads in the yellow phosphorus supplied by manufacturers such as Bryant & May. A large number of these women suffered from 'Phossy Jaw' (necrosis of the bone) caused by the toxic fumes of the yellow phosphorus. The whole side of the face turned green and then black, discharging foul-smelling pus and finally death."

A biography of Catherine Booth is online here although this is not the same book that I was given so many years ago.

Here is a copy of her own book FEMALE MINISTRY; OR, Woman's Right to Preach the Gospel.

Monday, December 26, 2005

New Bible Resources

I have been challenged to look at different traditions in Bible translation. Many translations are available throught the Better Bibles Blog and Lesser of Two Weevils but there are a few that I have been adding here under Resources in the sidebar. First, The Source Online, next the Tyndale Bible, and then the Darby Bible in French.

I once used the Darby French translation for a Bible study at university in Toronto. I remember being quite surprised that the French student who lead the study had chosen it. He explained his choice by saying that it was 'plus intellectuelle.'

As a child in the 1960's I visited a Darbyiste Assembly in Switzerland with my parents, since that was their heritage. The men sat on one side of the room and the women on the other. I wonder what it is like today.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Forest Floor Turkey Dressing for Men

Here is my husband's traditional 'Forest Floor' turkey dressing. Use whole rosemary and broken up sage leaves that are about the size of large nailheads. The trick is not to use powdered herbs.

The main texture is whole rosemary which has the consistency of pine needles. We grow our own sage, rosemary and thyme but there is no need for this, as it is available from the local supermarket. Just be sure to buy the herbs dried but whole and not powdered. They are available on the spice rack in the baking goods aisle at Safeway.

The bread should be left out to dry and cut into bits a few days before you make the dressing. Make lots of dressing and put some into the turkey and cook the rest in a casserole dish.

1 cup butter
1 - 2 large onion, chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoon salt
thyme (sprinkle in leaves to taste.)
4 tablespoons rosemary (break up the small twigs using a rolling pin if you wish)
2-4 tablespoons sage (use dried sage leaves liberally)
2 teaspoon black pepper (grind fresh pepper into coarse chunks)
2 tablespoons dried parsley leaves
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
16 - 20 cups stale bread, brown or cracked wheat, broken into one-inch pieces
about 2 - 3 cups chicken soup stock made from boiling water and 2 - 3 teaspoons of chicken soup powder.

Serves 6-8

Melt butter in large skillet and add all ingredients except the bread and stock. Cook over medium heat until onions are soft. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Add the bread and chicken soup stock and mix well.

To stuff a turkey: Fill main turkey cavity and neck cavity with stuffing. Bake remaining dressing in a dish as outlined below.

To bake dressing in pan: Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 15 x 10 inch baking dish. Transfer stuffing to prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil and bake until heated through, about 45 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Instructions from here.

Sorry that this is too late for this year but maybe I will repost this next Christmas a little earlier. My husband dictated this to me - he makes it - we all eat it.


We had another family over for supper and they brought turkey dressing also. My friend had made a dressing from white bread flavoured with parsley and celery. We call it the garden vegetable turkey dressing. Everyone at the table had a good helping of both 'garden' and 'forest' turkey dressing. This is what makes us good complementarians. ;)

I made a cranberry relish with one bag of raw cranberries, (frozen works just as well) half a lime, cut in chunks with the rind on, one peeled tangerine and one cup of sugar. I put half the ingredients at a time into the food processor and puree till fine. This keeps well in the fridge so I often make two batches, one with lime and the other with an orange.

We also have squash, cooked and mashed with butter, lots of basil and fresh ground pepper and salt. Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy round out the meal with a green vegetable or salad of some kind. Desert is an afterthought and less interesting.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Beyond the Gates of Splendor

I came in from walking the dog to find the kids watching Beyond the Gates of Splendor. I watched the last part of this very powerful documentary about Steve Saints return to live with the Waodani.

Set in the Basin of Ecuador, the docu-drama tells the story of the Waodani, one of the most violent tribes the world has ever known. The primitive customs of this isolated tribe demanded that the Waodani kill not only their enemies and outsiders, but also their fellow tribes-people. Fueled by fearful superstition, they sometimes even buried their own children alive. The Waodani were the most violent society ever documented. Six of every ten deaths of Waodani adults were homicides. In 1956, following a promising initial exchange, five young missionaries further attempted to make peaceful contact with the notorious tribe, but were brutally speared to death. However, the violent end of the missionaries' lives was only the beginning of the Waodani story. Shortly after the killings, the wife of one of the fallen men and the sister of another went into the jungle to live with the Waodani. Two years later their message of peace and forgiveness had transformed the tribe. The homicide rate fell by 90%. Nearly forty years after the death of his father, Steve Saint returned to the jungle to live with the killers of his father. His new life with the tribesmen answered many childhood questions about his father's death. The irony of the story is revealed as the very same Waodani, who killed the five missionaries in 1956, now share in their incredible story of how their lives--and those of their people--have been changed forever.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Silent Women in the Church

Steven Harris has written about what Paul meant in 1 Corinthians 14 about women being silent in the church.

He gives a detailed argument, with these conclusions.

"I would argue in closing however, that this absolute prohibition is only an apparent absolute. Paul has already granted women the right to speak in the congregation back in 1 Cor 11, so 14:34-35 cannot be read as an all-time command for silence unless one is willing to argue that Paul is now abandoning the position he has set out just three chapters before. The speech in the Corinthian congregation seems to have been very disruptive, a sort of cacophony of uninterpreted tongues and multiple prophecies, which clearly many of the women (and undoubtedly many men too) did not understand. The women in turn then add to the disorder by asking their husbands what is going on. To restore this threefold disorder (babbling tongues, manifold prophecies and chattering women) Paul makes three corrections.

Firstly, those speaking in tongues should only speak one at a time and then if no interpretation follows, they should keep quiet (14:26).

Secondly, those prophesying should not all prophesy at once but take it in turns. If someone else has a revelation, the other prophet(s) are to stop speaking. (14:30)

Thirdly, the women who are asking questions and adding to the disruption are usurping the structure of their relationship with their husbands, and so they should remain quiet and ask questions at home. They are not permitted to speak in such a way that will disrupt the service and hinder the building up of the congregation in love.

So what about today? This verse cannot be read as a demand for complete silence from women on all occasions in church meetings, and even if we leave the tricky textual issues aside, the internal evidence does not permit us to read the text in such a way. Interestingly (I'm going to have a slight dig here) many of the denominations who have insisted on read 14:34-35 in such a way as to ban women from speaking have also been those who insist that speaking in tongues and prophesying no longer happen, which at the very best is a completely inconsistent and contradictory position to derive from 1 Cor 11-14, and despite pleas to the contrary is not 'sound biblical doctrine.'

So should women be silent in church? No, they may prophesy and speak in tongues and help to edify the congregation. Is this an all-time absolute? No, and I do not believe that Paul intended it to be read that way, or that it is indeed possible to read it that way. So when are women to be silent? If they are disrupting the service and hindering the edification of others they should not speak, because this prevents the building up of the church in love. I believe that, after all is said and done, this hermeneutic of love is the best way to read all of Paul's writing on spiritual gifts and women, and is the key to this text and indeed the rest of 1 Corinthians."

Thanks Paul for a very thoughtful post on this topic.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

"You Are the X"

"Then Simon Peter answered, you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. (of God who lives, the son.)" Matthew 16:16

I have posted about the use of the Chi Sign for Christ before, but I wanted to confirm that it was in current use. I have a copy of the The New Testament in James Bay Cree of Quebec. Canadian Bible Society. 2001. This New Testament was produced in collaboration with the people of Mistissini Quebec and Wycliffe Bible Translators.

The Chi sign X is used for the name of Christ in this New Testament published in 2001. In Unicode it is U+166D : CANADIAN SYLLABICS CHI SIGN.

The name for God, which is the word on the far right in the first line, is Chishe Manito, or the Gitchi Manitou of the Huron Christmas Carol “In the Moon of Wintertime" This carol is considered the first Canadian Christmas carol. (Also the first American Christmas carol.)

There is another way to write "Christ" in Cree. Here is a verse of Silent Night in Western Cree. At the beginning of the fourth line Christ’s name is written phonetically. However, ‘r’ is not a Cree sound and the syllabic used for ‘r’ shows that this is a non-Cree word. The double consonants are also foreign to Cree, so the name of Christ is identifiable as a foreign word in Cree when spelled out phonetically.

The Cree People of James Bay continue to speak this language on their land, in their homes, schools and churches. Xmas is a good time to remember these languages and recognize the desire of the Aboriginal people of North America to continue using their own languages.

Update: There is more about the Huron Christmas Carol on Tim Chesterton's blog. Dec. 16, 2005

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Patchouli Ponderings

I have found the post of Patchouli Ponderings that I specifically wanted to link to. It is Venus Responds where she counters Sproul's article Off with the skirt, On with the pants. Frankly I am surprised that anyone could respond to the mixed metaphors offered by Sproul but PP has put her heart into it.

I have also had conversations which include some of what PP says. They go like this.

"What Biblical woman exactly should I take as an example?"
"Why is that?"
"Because she called her husband Lord."
"She did?"
"Yes, she did."
"Should I imitate her behaviour?"
"Well, no, one has to consider the circumstances."
"Is there anyone else?"
"Let me think."

On other issues, I have had to edit my sidebar. Now the Better Bibles Blog has a female author, myself, and I have posted there twice, on issues related to specific Bible translations. I received an email, unanswered, I apologize, but from someone I believe from a Brethren or classical fundamentalist background. This has in part contributed to my post about Brethren and the KJV. This post is a partial response to your email. Thanks.

I will continue to post here about women's issues on occasion, but I also have a strong interest in writing systems, manuscripts, Bible translation and Brethren history so who knows what I will post next.

I have just finished a first reading of Griechische Tachygraphie und Tironische Noten by Herbert Boge and an article by Yves Duhoux. My French is good but my German less so. I have had someone offer to help me out a bit with the German but I think that if I am truly interested in ancient shorthand, I have no choice but to try and improve by rudimentary German skills.

I hope this gives some idea of what a hopelessly unfocused blogger I really am.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Woman's Siddur

Here is a worthy sequel to my previous post "God, I thank thee...". This manuscript in the library of the Jewish Theological Seminary speaks for itself.

JTS MS 8255) Italy 1471

Scribe: Abraham Farissol

"This Siddur of the Roman rite was copied for a woman by the noted scholar and scribe, Abraham Farissol, in 1471. It is written on fine vellum and measures 6 3/8 x 4 3/4 inches.

The text commences with the seventy-two verses relating to the kabbalistic seventy-two-letter name of God. The opening of the traditional text "eilu meah berakot" ("these are the hundred blessing [that one is obligated to recite each day]) begins on folio 3v, which is decorated with an elaborate floral border, executed in Ferrarese style. The three images within roundels were effaced, presumably at a later date. A text illustration, a crescnt moon embellished with gold leaf, is found on folio 63 accompanying the text for the New Moon. Many pages are decorated with red and purple penwork.

The liturgical text is noteworthy as it has been altered for recitation by a woman. Particularly striking is the morning blessing found on folio 5v thanking God for (among other things) "making me a woman and not a man." That the manuscript was destined for use by a woman is corroborated by the colophon on folio 145 in which Abraham Farissol, the son of Mordechai Farissol, states that he copied the siddur for the honorable [name erased] and his wife, the bride [name erased]. The text was censored in many places and bears the signature of the censor Camillo Jagel in 1611, folio 146v."

I highly recommend that you try out the magnification tool in the bottom righthand corner of the document loading page.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

A Canadian Xmas

I chanced on this exchange on The Official Site for Christian Blogs, where I read the usual discussion that comes up every year on whether Xmas is a sign of disrespect, leaving Christ out of Christmas; or the use of Greek χ sign for Christ.

Since Greek shorthand is one of the things I have been working on recently, I was even more interested in reading this post about a version of the Bible in text messaging.

One of my questions is when and how the notion that using a shorthand for the Bible is a sign of disrespect arose. There have been many Bibles printed in shorthand including but not restricted to Pitman's shorthand.

The use of the Greek letter chi for Christ has a long history. The first shorthand for Christ seems to have been ΧΡΣ P46. This site explains that the Nomina Sacra were used not as abbreviations but to set apart holy words in text.

Two kinds of shorthand were used from the third century up until the 16th century in Greek manuscripts. First, the nomina sacra, where a closed set of frequently occuring siginificant names were abbreviated to create a logographic entity. Second, there were ligatures which shortened or combined two or three letters, especially grammatical endings, later even including the accent in the ligature.

Χριστος has been represented by Χρς, or Χς, and by ΧΡ in art and other representation. I have not found the ΧΡ in manuscripts and would not expect it since the manuscript form always includes the grammatical ending.

A quick glance at some facsimiles of Greek manuscripts* shows that the words ισους, χριστος, θεος, ανθρωπος, πατερ, ματερ, πνευμα and some other words were represented by their initial and final one or two letters which represent the grammatical ending. This could be ς,υ,ν,οι, ι &c.

For this reason, I am assuming that the transition from Χς to Χ happened with the beginning of the use of the vernacular languages in Europe, when the ending was no longer relevant. There would be no reason to retain the last letter and X alone came to represent Christ. There is also no reason to see a sign of disrespect in the transition from Χς to Χ. And so Xmas first appeared in English texts in the 16th century.

Χ retained the meaning of Christ for those who knew Greek but possibly also in some form of British shorthand at least up until the last century. It occurs in the Cree writing system devised by James Evans in 1841 and now called Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics, pictured at the beginning of this post. It is recognized that Evans drew on his knowledge of early British shorthand for the Cree syllabary. However, he must also have studied Greek so either way he would be familiar with the chi X symbol.

* Barbour, Ruth. Greek Literary Hands. 1981. Clarendon Press. Oxford.

I have previously posted on the use of the Greek chi symbol here and Greek Literary Hands here.

As my posts often represent an incomplete or partial piece of research, I would be glad to receive any supplementary or clarifiying comments.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Seed of the Woman

On Lesser of Two Weevils Talmida posted this week about Genesis 3:15: who is crushing the snake?

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman,
and between thy seed and her seed;
it shall bruise thy head,
and thou shalt bruise his heel. (KJV)

She then shows how the Douay-Rheims Bible perpetuates an interpretation of the original which was made with the translation of the text into Latin.

I will put enmities between thee and the woman,
and thy seed and her seed:
she shall crush thy head,
and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel. (D-R)


Whoa! There's a twist! This is one of the Vulgate's little changes to Sacred Scripture that shows up in the Douay-Rheims. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia online,

The translation "she" of the Vulgate is interpretative; it originated after the fourth century, and cannot be defended critically.

In the comment section Talmida refered to a post of Peter's on the B-Hebrew list last year, where he says,

This depends what you mean by "seed". The Hebrew word is zera`, and it has several senses in English, the following according to BDB: ...

So the sense of zera` here must be sense 4, offspring or descendant. And there is no reason why sense 4 should be restricted to the descendants of a male. There is in fact at least one other place where zera` in this sense is used of a woman, and in a case where virgin birth is certainly not intended: Genesis 19:32, 34.

However, I wish to bring another ingredient into the mix. Arthur Custance, the author of the Doorway Papers wrote "The Seed of the Woman". It has recently been reprinted and is available online here.

He summarizes his chapter The Seed Of The Woman And The Seed Of The Man here on page 18,

In short, to summarize a long and complex chapter, it may be said that the seed of the woman is the only remnant that has retained the original immortality possessed by our first parents. By contrast, the seed of man and the body cells of both the man and the woman have been mortalized. Furthermore, even the seed of the woman is fatally poisoned by fusion with the male seed.

However, this poison affects only that portion of the woman's seed which will develop into body cells: the remainder of her seed continues to form the immortal stream of germ plasm. Only if an ovum from this germ plasm reservoir can be fertilized by some means not natural to man can a body with the original endowment of potential immortality be recovered again.

Custance has written an entire book on this topic. It is a real mind-bender. My mother was a great fan of Arthur Custance. I haven't read this book in its entirety and somehow I don't think I ever will; but I do remember that it was considered and apparently still is considered by some a magnus opus.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

O Anthropos part II

I have once again responded to Gerald at Iustificare on his interpretation of 'o anthropos' here in the comment section. However, I feel more sympathy than I have indicated and here is why.

I was working yesterday evening on a translation of this short Greek verse found on a tablet in Delphi.

Ἧ πολὺ κ[αλ]ίστωι σε θεαί, Μ[..., γέρησαν
Δώρωι Π[ιερ]ίδες παρθένοι ε[ὺπλόκαμοι]
Αίπερ σοι [τό]δε μούνωι ὲπιχθ[ονίων ἀνθρώπον,
Ὤπασα[ν] ἐξευρεῖν πείρατα πά[ντα τέχνης.]

A translation of this verse can be found here on my other blog. The point is that I started to translate 'anthropon' as 'the only one on earth', then I switched to 'the only man on earth', then I laughed as I realized that on my other blog, I wouldn't have to worry about being politically correct. Of course, it was a man. Who else would receive a gift from these shiny-haired Pieridean maidens (the Muses)? Then I caved in and wrote 'human'.

I am not a translator and only undertake translations when necessary to read up on scripts. However this happens often enough.

I have briefly thought about the process I go through. First, I try to find a translation already done. If there isn't one I resign myself. Then I mark each word and make a literal translation, then one that actually means something. Then I try to turn the whole thing back into something mildy poetic if the original was poetry. That makes three or four translations every time. I do not consider one of them as more accurate.

Eventually I was able to avoid the term 'man' or 'human' and simply say 'inventor'. Phew. I am not particularly opposed to the word 'man' but I fail to see that it is more correct or literal than 'human'.

In any case it is time for me to be off and read at greater length, Peter's post today on the Better Bibles Blog.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


"My very dear Friend,

I do not know where you are, but I think you must imagine that I have bade an eternal farewell to every thing below, so long have I been in answering your letters."

So begins a typical letter from Lady Powerscourt.

I, on the other hand, have clicked the wrong button and have unintentionally put comments into some kind of internet oblivion. Could I ask for anyone who has made a comment to repeat that kindness and then wish me luck in finding where I have gone wrong.

Lady Powerscourt II: Hierarchy

On Iustificare it has been argued that,

"In as much as there is a hierarchical structure within the shared-life of the divine community, so too the human community was created with a hierarchal structure. This hierarchal structure would be largely lost if God had created a genderless human community. "

While I leave it up to others to debate whether there is hierarchy within the divine community, that is, within the Trinity, I will remark on hierarchy as a social reality in the life of Lady Powerscourt. This enables me to remain with the intents of my own blog and respond to the concept of hierarchy at the same time.

Lady Powerscourt was by birth a member of the upper class and was married to Viscount Powerscourt. She became a widow while she was young and all mention of her relates to her life as a widow. I will restrict my comments to that period of her life. She had servants and tenants. In this sense she was the mistress and social superior of many men and women.

By being the widow of a landowner, she had a rector, a priest of the church on her property. This rector was the Rev. Robert Daly, her social equal but one who retained his position due to her endowment. He later became a bishop and eventually the editor of her letters. He held her up as an exemplary Christian, not as an exemplary woman.

Another man who entered her life at Powerscourt was John Nelson Darby. He was initially a lawyer but became an Anglican priest in the parish neighbouring Powerscourt. He came with Robert Daly to the prophetic conferences sponsored by Lady Powerscourt on her estate.

While Daly remained in the Anglican Church and later became a bishop, Darby became the leader, if not the founder of the Plymouth Brethren. The early meetings of the Brethren were in part funded by Lady Powerscourt who acted as patroness of the men and women who met to discuss scripture apart from the Established Church.

While the Brethren did not officially celebrate communion until after the death of Lady Powerscourt, she was considered one who by her wealth enabled this group to meet without the approval of the religious establishment. She provided a venue for clergymen to meet and eventually withdraw from the hierarchical church to which they belonged.

The Brethren are so named, not because they celebrate the role of the male, but because they have thrown off worldly and anti-Biblical hierarchy within the church. Within the Brethren there is a notion, at least, of egalitarian relations in the 'priesthood of all believers.' While in the early days women were often mentioned for their spiritual contributions, they quickly retreated into silence.

Unfortunately, Darby later in life became an authoritarian leader who excommunicated those he disagreed with. He was once engaged to Lady Powerscourt, but withdrew from the engagement in order to devote himself to teaching, study and travel in the establishment of the Brethren. Lady Powerscourt died shortly after at the age of 36.

In Lady Powerscourt's life we see illustrated the hierarchy of birth, land ownership, wealth, and episcopal church organization. She enjoyed the position of power in most of these contexts; in the church, she enabled many clergy to reject the hierarchy in which they found themselves. In relation to her husband, she was released from this hierarchical relationship, if indeed it was that, we do not know, by his death after a brief marriage.

In Lady Powerscourt's life, hierachy is, in fact, a powerful theme. However it bears little relation to the sex of the particpant.

In response to the statement on Justicare, I would ask why we wish to prolong the existance of lifelong hierarchical relations between men and woman, when we are only too glad to see the other hierarchical structures fall.

We all enter into task-related hierarchical structures as part of the necessity of daily life. However, we do not imagine that these are beautiful metaphors of the divine community. To see hierarchy as the best reflection of the image of God, opens up many other questions that we have in our society abandoned.

I fail to see any intrinsic and logical connection between the fact that the human race is male and female, and hierarchy; beyond the diverse and harsh realities of our human condition and all that we seek to overcome in looking beyond this world to another.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

O Anthropos part I

I have been in a bit of a debate on another blog, Iustificare, where it was being argued that 'o anthropos' is a male representative word. First, I am not quite sure what a male representative word is, but I was distinctly surprised that there was someone who did not know that 'anthropos' meant mankind, or the human race, or a member thereof. As in anthropology, which the last time I checked was the study about humans, not about 'man alone'.

So I mentioned the meaning of anthropos, given by Liddell and Scott, 1871. I have inherited some books from a great aunt who taught Greek at McGill many years ago. I have had this dictionary since she died when I was fourteen. No one else in the family was using it at the time.

ὁ ἄνθρωπος - man, Latin homo (not vir) pl. ὁι ἄνθρωποι, men in general, mankind; ... As opposed to ἀνήρ, it exresses contempt, as Latin homo opp. to vir: used in addressing slaves ὤ ἄνθρωπε. The fem. ἄνθρωπος ἡ, (like homo fem. in Latin) a woman.

(Homo as in homo sapiens)

This definition is from a classical Greek lexicon dated 1871 remember. It was not written to prove that 'anthropos' means human being or person. It is not part of a feminist plot to undermine the male in the Bible.

The Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon is a dictionary one can buy; or search by accessing it through the English-Greek search tool at the Perseus project. I put in the word 'man' in English and then went to 'anthropos'. Here is a relevant article on The Value of A Greek-English Lexicon (LSJ) for Biblical Studies.

I studied classical Greek for many years but I don't assume that these tools are very applicable if you don't read Greek. However, I will be blogging about a few dictionary entries now and then, simply because I have been so surprised by what others are either being taught or are allowed to infer.

Here is the full entry from Liddell and Scott at the Perseus Project.

anthrôpos [prob. from anêr, ôps, manfaced]

I. man, Lat. homo (not vir), opp. to gods, athanatôn te theôn, chamai erchomenôn t' anthrôpôn Il.
2. with or without the Art. to denote man generally, Plat., etc.
3. in pl. mankind, anthrôpôn, andrôn êde gunaikôn Il.; ho aristos en anthrôpois ortux the best quail in the world, Plat.; malista, hêkista anthrôpôn most, least of all, Hdt., etc.
4. with another Subst., to give it a contemptuous sense, anthr. hupogrammateus, sukophantês, Oratt.; so homo histrio Cic.:--so, anthrôpos or ho anthrôpos was used alone, the man, the fellow, Plat.:-- also in vocat. it was addressed contemptuously to slaves, anthrôpe or ô 'nthrôpe, sirrah! you sir! Hdt., Plat.
II. fem. (as homo also is fem.), a woman, Hdt., etc.; with a sense of pity, Dem.

More here.

Gerald, the author of Justicare, admits that he looked in six other lexicons and they all agree that 'anthropos' means man generic, a human being. (He seemed surprised.) However, he protests. For some reason he thinks that because the person refered to usually is a man this makes the word mean man.

If I heard the word 'American' used in movie titles and book titles only for a male American, would I then think that the word 'American' meant 'male'? Well, that is a distinct possibility, but I suppose someone would eventually correct me and tell me that female Americans are equally American.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Lady Powerscourt I

I have named my blog after Lady Powerscourt, not to say that I agree with everything she stood for, but rather to indicate that for me, she has been an inspiration, a beginning, and someone to remember. In the 1830's we find the origins of the modern evangelical movement and the development of many theological and social patterns which continue to shape our own age.

In sorting through my books, I picked up a dark green, gold-embossed copy of "Letters of Viscountess Powerscourt" edited by Robert Daly, Bishop of Cashel, sixteenth edition, printed in 1905. Thinking that she would be relatively unknown, I was surprised to find that this book has recently been reprinted.

Lady Powerscourt represents a female Christian leader of the 1830's whose advice and opinion was requested on scriptural and theological matters, even though she died at the age of thirty-six.

Here is an excerpt from Bishop Daly's preface.

"I thought that this candle which the Lord had lighted should not be hid under a bushel, but put on a candlestick, that it might give light to all that are in the house....

There will be original and strong thoughts, clothed in original and strong lanaguage, ... In truth I like those strong impressions: they bring back to my recollection, the image of the strongest mind that I ever met in any woman; they help to remind me of that which was her particular characteristic, - uncommon masculine strength, combined with the extremest feminine gentleness."

Bishop Cashel holds up Theodosia Powerscourt as an exemplar Christian, not as an exemplar woman. There is no mention of her being an example only to other women, but rather to 'all that are in the house.' (i.e. the church)

While we might read Cashel's statements as stereotyping women, and criticize his evinced surprise at Lady Powerscourt's strong mind, I prefer to see that here he espresses a theological perspective on gender. According to this portrait, the virtue of a Christian woman is to display both 'masculine strength' and 'feminine gentleness.' Christians best represent God when they embody what is the best of both the masculine and the feminine. This is the goal that we should strive towards as Christians, not the diverse complementary distribution of Christian virtue in men and women, so that we are not whole unless we make up couple.

I have just been to see "Pride & Prejudice" and was reminded that in this novel, the characteristic of follower was not considered to be the domain of the woman, but of the loyal and malleable friend. Bingley, the follower, marries another like hmself; and Darcy, the leader and quiet philanthropist, chooses someone who will not follow him, but resist and stand up to him. Only the irreverent Lizzie is suitable to be his mate.

The movie was a visual pleasure but don't forget how the novel closes.

"Pemberley was now Georgiana's home; and the attachment of the sisters was exactly what Darcy had hoped to see. They were able to love each other even as well as they intended. Georgiana had the highest opinion in the world of Elizabeth; though at first she often listened with an astonishment bordering on alarm at her lively, sportive, manner of talking to her brother. He, who had always inspired in herself a respect which almost overcame her affection, she now saw the object of open pleasantry. Her mind received knowledge which had never before fallen in her way. By Elizabeth's instructions, she began to comprehend that a woman may take liberties with her husband which a brother will not always allow in a sister more than ten years younger than himself."

I don't propose this as theology but the story of 'Pride & Prejudice' has lasting human appeal. And it comes from a social setting briefly preceding Lady Powerscourt's.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Power of The Word

I have been thinking a lot about דִבֶּר 'dabar' (davar), Hebrew for 'word' lately for a variety of reasons. One is that it is given an inexplicably prominent place in John's gospel, "In the beginning was the word..." I was fascinated to read this post by Talmida at Lesser of Two Weevils.

I am excited to expand my acquaintance with current Bibile translations to include the The Judaica Press Complete Tanach with Rashi, which I have recently heard mentioned as the 'Tanach'. Follow this explanation and see how much more literal and, at the same time, true to the original meaning it is.

This passage resonated so powerfully with me I want to shout it out! The verb diber means, to speak. The noun form, davar, means word, thing, affair. If you look in a modern Hebrew New Testament, the Gospel of John tells us that "in the beginning was davar". There's a reason for that.

The most common English translations have a similar spin on this verse of 2 Kings:

And the LORD said not that he would blot out the name of Israel (KJV)
But the LORD had not said that he would blot out the name of Israel (NRSV)
And the Lord did not say that he would blot out the name of Israel (D-R)

But check out the Judaica Press version:

And the Lord did not speak to eradicate the name of Israel (JPCT)

That's different! And more faithful to the original, in my opinion.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

God, I thank thee, that I was not born a ....

I picked this item on Alphafem' blog. I have several Jewish women friends and colleagues so it was interesting for me to read this example of what their perspective might be on women and the Bible.

God, I thank thee, for not making me a Xtian

Ironically, the three things about Judaism that xtian feminists critisize the most are actually Jewish customs that revere women the most… totally twisted out of context.

Firstly, the fact that within Judaism there exists rites and studies exclusive to only men… The xtian feminist presents this as a wrongful discrimination against women, and something that demonstrates that Jews consider women to be spiritually inferior to men… but the truth is that Jewish women are not *excluded* from these studies, rituals and rules… they are *exempt* from them… exempt from them because it is the Jewish belief that Women are so much more spiritually superior, that they do not *require* the same amount of rules and spiritual training as men do.

Secondly, the Orthodox Jewish Men’s Prayer… the one that has men express their gratitude for not being born women… the prayer is actually not one of such arrogance… the men are not thanking God for sparing them from an inferior existence… it is the total opposite… it is a prayer of humility, thanking God for the privilige of servanthood.

Thirdly, xtian feminists like to critisize the Jewish family structure… and how the women stayed at home (barefoot and pregnant, yadayada)… well it just pisses me off that people in general consider motherhood such an inferior social role. The Jews believed (and still believe) that raising children and managing a home are the most difficult and important of all human responsibilities… how does it disrespect women to acknowledge that they are more *capable* of fulfilling such important roles?

A Cakchiquel Translation

This is a story about women Bible translators in Guatamala, from the SCRIPTURE LANGUAGE REPORT 2003, by the United Bible Societies.

In 1993 in eastern Guatemala four Mayan women of humble origin began translating the Bible into their first language, Cakchiquel. Their participation in the project meant an enormous upheaval for them and their families: Mayan society normally depends exclusively on the women to look after children and wash the clothes, not to mention making corn into flour which they then bake into tortillas three or four times a day. (Mayan men, it seems, do not relish warmed-up tortillas.)

"[The women's participation] was definitely not part of the Mayan scheme of things," wrote UBS's Ron Ross in an article in World Report 384. It tested the understanding and commitment of their husbands, and the willingness of their mothers-in-law to care for small grandchildren… It would also test the mettle of the women themselves.

"At times the going was tough," he added. "Often, family pressures were enormous and the endless days exhausting. And the project was to last 10 long years."

It was not the women who gave up on the project, however. At the beginning there were men in the translation team, but as the tedium of long-term translation work began to set in, it was they who began to drift away until, finally, only one remained. In Ron Ross's words, "It was the women who bore the lion's share of the burden and who stayed the course until the project was completed."

In November 2003 they had the satisfaction of seeing the Bible they had lovingly translated being dedicated by the Rev Cornelio Midence Rodríguez, Executive Secretary of the Bible Society of Guatemala. And the Cakchiquel Bible is listed in the section of the Scripture Language Report 2003 headed 'Complete Bibles reported for the first time'.

Stories like this, when they can be found and told, serve to show that the new statistics, valuable though they are for reference purposes, remain, as ever, just a part of a richer, more complex story.

There is an interesting historical sidelight to the story of the Cakchiquel Bible. From 1917 to 1932, Dr Cameron Townsend, who was to become co-founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT), sold Bibles in Spanish to the Mayan people in Guatemala . One day one of them challenged him saying, "If your God is so great, why can't he speak my language?" It was as a result of that challenge that Dr Townsend set about translating the New Testament into Cakchiquel. The first full draft of his translation was completed in 1929 and it was dedicated and published in 1931.

Response to Traditionalists

From Pat Gundry's Noodle Factory, here is a mock debate between traditionalists and egalitarians.

Debate 2, And Critique: What Men Think About Women, Sort of

Trad: We are concerned about radical feminism, the breakdown of law and order, drug use, marital breakdown, and homosexuality.

Egal: It's interesting that traditionalists usually try to tie all those issues to egalitarianism. But, they have absolutely no connection whatever. Radical feminists, of which there are very few, have a parallel in radical traditionalists.

Most traditionalists do not believe women are evil and should be violently suppressed. But, there are traditionalists who do believe, teach, and live that. You have no problem differentiating between radical and moderate trads.

The supposed breakdown of law and order just hasn't happened. There is actually less crime now than previously. The building of new and bigger prisons has to do, not with more crime, but with the commercialization of prisons, "law and order" issue electability of politicians, and imprisonment for petty crime and drug use. It's a national scandal.

Divorce is more common among people in Bible Belt states, where traditionalism is most prevalent, than in more "liberal" states. So, it can hardly be proved that egalitarianism, considered by most trads to be a liberal position, is the cause of family breakdown.

As for civil rights for gays and lesbians, that issue has absolutely no connection whatever with equal opportunity for women. Both are social issues, but they have no more in common than do the issues of ageism and racism.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


This blog exists to collect blogs and articles by or about women and the Bible, more specifically Bible translation. Somehow I have not so far been able to find a blog or site that collects Biblioblogs authored by woman. When I do this blog may become inactive.

While I am dedicated to knitting, sewing costumes, church hymns and the education of children among other so-called womanly pursuits (and, oh yes, pets and recipes!) I will not be filling my sidebar with these blogs for the foreseeable future. It doesn't mean that I don't read knitting blogs, but this is my place for the female authored Biblioblog.