Sunday, April 29, 2007

"Word for word"

Yesterday I finished my post with this quote and implied that I did not agree with it.

    The application may be right from the text, but it is not applications or ideas that are inspired. It is words.
And I don't agree with it. Here is why. First, Jesus and the writers of the Christian scriptures quoted the Hebrew scriptures in a way that can be called eclectic and paraphrastic. Not word for word. Here is the article that I am planning to write about some time on the BBB. Which Old Tesament did Jesus prefer and quote from? So why should we differ from what Jesus did?

Next, what was the model of translation given to us. The Greek Septuagint, I would suppose. After all this time I would have thought that I would know that there is no "word for word" concordance between words in the Hebrew and words in the Greek. But I really thought that people who argued for "word for word" had something up their sleeve.

Lately, I've been reading a few Psalms in the Greek and Latin and then checking a little on the Hebrew, just a word here and there. And finally I realised that there are 4 words for "man" "human being" in Hebrew and 2 in Greek, and there is no set pattern as to how to translate them. In fact, each Hebrew word is translated into Greek by both Greek words. So, that's it - no "word for word" translation there.

Well, at least there might be the same number of words in Greek as in Hebrew, right? No, actually there seem to be twice as many words in the Greek Septuagint as there are in Hebrew. So, not "word for word" in that way, either.

Eclectic, paraphrastic, good enough for Jesus, good enough for me. That's why I don't worry about Bibles being "word for word".

Ruth Tucker

About 15 years ago I read Women in the Maze by Ruth Tucker. It was one of about 5 books which I read at the time which supported women's equality in the church. I gave or lent out all of those books and only remember them when I come across a related story. This is what happened today.

I discovered a new blog called Parchment and Pen and sat and read few posts. I then took a look at the contributors and saw Ruth Tucker's name in the sidebar. Ruth had been teaching at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids until recently when she was forced to leave under very unpleasant circumstances. This story was publicized last summer and I read it at the time but did not have time to post about it.

It is a detailed account of gender discrimination in the church and seminary and leads to other issues such as whether one should expose wrong-doing in the church. Her different sites and posts dealing with the issue of when to go public are thought-provoking and insightful.

The wrong doing that most concerns me also relates to gender discrimination. However, the people most maligned are for the most part men. These are the translators of the TNIV Bible translation, which has been accused of creating a translation which allows God's image to be distorted. Or in the words of the executive director of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, as reported on this blog,

    Christians should respond by purchasing Bibles that reflect an essentially literal translation. Will we read translations that reflect the most accurate depiction of God or will we read translations that provide room for His image to be distorted? The application may be right from the text, but it is not applications or ideas that are inspired. It is words.
I guess this post has wondered a bit from one topic to another, but the issue of when and how to speak out is a tough one and deserves reflection.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Reading Lolita in Tehran

by Azar Nafisi. This is a recounting of a "lady professors" experiences in Iran through the 80's and 90's. As a professor of English literature she exposes her students to "decadent" western novels. Her passion for freedom of opinion and literary expression is contagious and I read every page in wonder that I did not value this much the books which were freely available to me.

It is only when the freedom of choice is removed and thought and opinion are prescribed that one becomes sensitive to the value of reading as transformation.

Here are her thoughts on wearing the veil,
    The issue was not so much the veil itself as freedom of choice. My grandmother had refused to leave the house for three months when she was forced to unveil. I would be similiarly adamant in my own refusal. Little did I know that I would soon be given the choice of either veiling or being jailed, flogged and perhaps killed if I disobeyed. page 152

    A stern ayatollah, a blind and improbable philosopher-king, had decided to impose his dream on a country and a people and to re-create us in his own myopic vision. So he had formulated an ideal of me as a Muslim woman, as a Muslim woman teacher, and wanted me to look, act and in short live according to that ideal. Laleh and I , in refusing to accept that ideal, were taking not a political stance but an existential one. No, I could tell Mr. Bahri, it was not that piece of cloth that I rejected, it was the transformation being imposed on me that made me look in the mirror and hate the stranger I had become. page 165

Christian women also have the right not to be objects molded according to someone else's vision. Is there anything more revolting than the stereotype of "so-called" biblical men and women. When will we remember how Paul nurtured the younger Christians and Phoebe protected and provided for him?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Speaking Out

I recently read this post, To Speak or Not to Speak ? which mentioned R. Groothuis thoughts on speaking out.

    I recently re-read an article by Rebecca Groothuis where she categorizes people into 3 groups concerning biblical equality. She discourages conversation with people who are very vocally against what they term ‘worldly feminism’ and says it is most often a fruitless exercise to try to convince a person whose mind is made up.

    Those who hold to hierarchy but accept that Christians who have other views are also concerned for being true to the scriptures are good candidates for some discussion but here again, it seldom convinces them to change their view. The most profitable group to speak with are those who have genuine questions and are willing to discuss different ways of translating certain passages and are open to learning what we have to communicate.
If I wonder why other women are not speaking out in the conservative blogosphere, I guess this post gives me a clue. For me, I feel that I am happy to write as long as it represents problem-solving for my own thinking. I am not simply repeating myself for the fun of it.

I know it may look as if I am sometimes, but each time I tackle an issue I seek greater depth or competence in some way. I have been surprised at how rewarding it is to comb through footnotes, etc, trying to get at the core of someone else's thinking. If nothing else, it is an academic discipline that I feel sure will pay off when applied to other areas.

It is interesting though that Jimmy Carter in Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis, called for more women to speak out. He writes,

    Women are greatly abused in many countries in the world, and the alleviation of their plight is made less likely by the mandated subservience of women by Christian fundamentalists. What is especially disappointing to me is the docile acceptance by so many strong Christian women of their subjugation and restricted role. page 93
So I speak out and wonder in what way I can impact on the condition of women in other countries and cultures. I remember recently Stephen Lewis, a Canadian politician, returned from Africa and was speaking on the radio about the condition of women in places in Africa he had visited. He started to cry and was unable to continue speaking for a few minutes.

It is not only there but here, and not only women, but men and children, it is the lack of human rights and dignity anywhere that should call to us.

This is in answer to a recent comment on my blog.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Between Two Worlds: "Why Is There No Respect for Motherhood? Why Does the West Not Value Its Women?"

Between Two Worlds: "Why Is There No Respect for Motherhood? Why Does the West Not Value Its Women?"

I live in a very mixed ethnic society. I have one student whose mother was murdered by her father-in-law; this mother is one of many women murdered routinely by family members in our city. I have another student who was whisked overseas to be married at the age of 14. I have seen other things I wish I had not.

But I feel proud to know that a Vancouver beauty queen is heading up this campaign.

    This website was created to spread information about the 19-year old Iranian girl Nazanin Mahabad Fatehi, who was previously sentenced to death by hanging for killing a man who ambushed and tried to rape her. At the end of May, the Iranian head of Judiciary overturned her death sentence, and sent the case back to a lower court. Nazanin's re-trial ended on Jan 10 2007.
Nazanin was released on Jan. 31 after three years of prison. In Iran girls are considered adults at the age of 9 and can be married off to old men or found guilty of immorality.

So I was just bowled over to find out that the plight of one adult female in combat fatigues has influenced certain so-called Christian males to make common cause with the president of Iran. One adult woman decides to exercise her contitutional freedom and some people forget that 9 year old girls can be legally married and impregnated according to the laws of this regime.

No wonder Catherine Booth makes more sense to me as a preacher and defender of women than this bunch of chumps who wish to set themselves up as models of male leadership.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Susan Wise Bauer on Stackhouse.

Here is an excellent review by Bauer on Finally Feminist by John Stackhouse. I recommend it to anyone who wishes to know more about his book.

HT Jim Hamilton.

I commented today on Jim Hamilton's post where he mentions Bauer's review of Stackhouse's book but Jim deleted me. I had been involved in a discussion on the original post by Bauer as well as some other blog threads on the topic so I was familiar with the discussion.

I later received an email from Stackhouse, who wrote to commiserate with me on the sad treatment that some of us former Plymouth Brethren have suffered for expressing our so-called 'feminist' views! I include John's email as encouragement for myself and others as an example of Plymouth Brethren who extend their egalitarian views on church government to women. F. F. Bruce is another. God bless them both.
    Dear Sister Suzanne,

    We have not met, I don't think, although I have picked up clues that we almost have! I have come across a little correspondence you have had with members of the ****[a blog which shall go unmentioned] on-line.

    Wow. ..... Your composure in the face of attacks by ****& co I find frankly astonishing--a tremendous tribute to the grace of Christ and your submission to him. Bless you for this excellent example, that both convicts and encourages me.

    I hope we do meet someday,


    John G. Stackhouse, Jr.,
    Ph.D.Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology and Culture
    Regent College
And yes we did later meet.

The Places in Between

by Rory Stewart

I felt great sympathy with this man's mother before I finished the book. He did not get enough to eat, nor did the dog! A harrowing story of a lone walk across Afghanistan in 2002. But a engaging narrative with a perfect blend of contemporary characters, history, culture and landscape.

And this is why I loved this book. He wrote these lines,

    As we ate, our host, Khalife Amir, played a tamboura lute made from a small, yellow plastic oil bottle, a table leg and two wooden awls. He fingered only the lower string. I had not heard music for a month. My days had passed in silences with flurries of thought in a landscape that changed slowly.
    Note by note the music brought a sense of time back to me. Each pause was charged with anticipation of the next note and the slow revelation of a tune. Khalife Amir measured silence, dividing each minute into a succession of clear notes from the string and then weaving time together again with his tenor voice.
Here is the NY Times review.

An interesting character mentioned in passing in this book was Nancy Dupree who wrote An Historical Guide to Afghanistan. I had not heard of her before. Another historic personnage who figured in this book was Babur.

After reading this book the traveller knows that there is always somewhere to go to get away from the crowds.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Catherine Booth Resources

I have enjoyed rereading this biography of Catherine Booth, Catherine Booth — a Sketch by Colonel Mildred Duff , which was given to me by one of my sisters when I was a teenager. It is written in an easy style and I find is quite engaging.

However, it does not compare with reading the actual writings of Catherine Booth. They are powerful and articulate. Some of her works here are sermons recorded in shorthand and edited by Booth and then published. I highly recommend reading some of her sermons and other writing.

Here is a piece that I found particularly moving. In this short paragraph taken from The Iniquity of State Regulated Vice (1884) we get a glimpse of Catherine Booth as a mother (she had 8 children), as a preacher, as a social reformer and a women who was not afraid to confront parliament in a time when women did not have the right to vote. She knew what it meant to care for widows and orphans. In a A Speech Delivered at Exeter Hall, London, on February 6th, 1884,on the Iniquity of State Regulated Vice,
    I did not think we were so low as this--that one member should suggest that the age of these innocents should be heightened to 14, and that another suggested it should be not so high. Another that it should be reduced to 10, and oh! my God, pleaded that it was hard for a man--HARD--for a man!--having a charge brought against him, not to be able to plead the consent of a child like that.
    I would not tell what, but for the grace of God, I should feel like doing to the man who brought that argument to bear on my child. (Applause.) I have a sweet innocent little girl--many of you have also--of 14, as innocent as an infant of any such things--what, if a man should make an application of this doctrine to her. Well may the higher classes take such care of their little girls? Well may they be so careful never to let them go out without efficient protectors. But what is to become of the little girls of poor unprotected widows?

I highly recommend these writings - they are as pertinent today as when they were written, is some cases sadly so.

Female Ministry, Or, Woman's Right to Preach the Gospel (1859)

Female Teaching: Or, The Rev. A.A. Rees versus Mrs. Palmer (1861)

Godliness: Being Reports of a Series of Addresses Delivered At James's Hall, London, W., During 1881

The Iniquity of State Regulated Vice (1884)

Papers on Aggressive Christianity (1880)

Papers on Practical Religion (1879)

Popular Christianity: A Series of Lectures (1888) (2nd ed.)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Laura Margolis

I am watching Shanghai Ghetto about Jewish refugees from Germany in Shanghai during WWII. I have read more about the Russian Jewish community in Shanghai, but this is a detailed documentary with interviews from those who lived as children in the Shanghai ghetto.

I decided that I had to check out more information about Laura Margolis who was featured in this film. She died in 1997 at the age of 93. Here is a bit about her life,

    Born in Istanbul, where her father was a doctor to the Sultan of Turkey. Ms. Margolis came to the United States with her family in 1907. She worked with Settlement House helping immigrants in Buffalo, N.Y. and for Jewish Social Services in Cleveland before becoming the first female field agent of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in 1937.

    The JDC first sent her to Cuba to help refugees fleeing Europe who were not being permitted to come directly to the USA. She tried to find a port of entry for a ship, the St. Louis, carrying Jews, but it was forced to return to Europe. In 1939, she was sent to Shanghai, where tens of thousands of fleeing Jews found refuge.

    Ms. Margolis, at considerable personal risk to herself, saved the lives of some 4,000 Jewish refugees who, close to starvation, precariously survived in the Heime (camps) in the Shanghai ghetto.

The White Countess is a drama that gives a more atmospheric notion of pre WWII Shanghai. I enjoyed it.