Friday, August 29, 2008

A young woman from Sydney

Just before listening to Sarah Palin's acceptance speech on being invited to be the running mate for John McCain in the US presidential campaign, I met another beautiful and intelligent young woman. She had just completed an undergrad degree and had recently come here from Sydney, Australia.

She told me that had just joined a ministry training program for a year. I asked what the purpose of the program was and she said that it was developed to "train men to plant churches." I asked how she had become part of it and she explained. This is how I remember what she said.
It is a huge problem being a woman. Everything is against me. They said in the interview that I was an ideal candidate in every way and that I was just what they were looking for and had all the qualifications, but it was a problem because I was not a man. I mean, I would have been the ideal candidate if only I had been a man. But I said, you need women for the women's ministry, women's ministry is growing, you need women. So they let me join. I mean I can lead a Bible study for young mothers, right?


I do not have an official opinion on the recent Gafcon Conference and Jerusalem statement. I had once supported the Anglican Network churches, but now, for a variety of reasons do not. I attend a small Anglican church which remains within the ACC.

The issues are much broader than just same sex blessing. There are facets of geography and ethnicity, conservatism and national identity. I can only express a personal experience. I saw that the major issue in my personal context was the role of women. I was not aware that our church had had any applications for same sex blessing ceremonies. I also was aware that a prominent member of our congregation had signed the statement of concern regarding the TNIV Bible translation. I could not agree that Christians should behave like this. These are internal issues and perhaps specific to my particular context.

I have come a long way from a fundamentalist background to a strong conviction on the equal ministry of women. This best recognizes the contribution that women have made throughout history, especially in the remote areas of Canada and Australia.

I have been deeply appreciative of the atmosphere at our local Anglican Seminary where the Native Ministries also has a home, and the campus Hillel group have a temporary home during their renovations.

I no longer view separation from fellowship with those who promote the same sex blessing to be high on the agenda. I have twice before in my life been in churches which split so this is just one more human driven fracture to my thinking. It is sad to see, but I am grateful to remain in the ACC at this time.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The deaconesses of Sydney Diocese Part 1

I have decided to post a few small excerpts from a lengthly chapter on the deaconesses of the Sydney Diocese. I had been thinking of how the first women ordained in Canada came from a worthy tradition of women who worked for little pay in the north and marginal areas of Canada. These self-sacrificing pioneers took on some very physically demanding assignments and often served where a church could not afford male clergy.

From halfway down the page,

So, away from the arena of churchmen scheming on their perpetual subordination, how did the Australian deaconesses themselves perform ?

As well as their Christian outreach to the urban poor in Melbourne and Sydney, deaconesses played an important role in inland and overseas missions. The Bush Church Aid Society depended on deaconesses for much of its outback ministry. The main areas of operation were in Bathurst, the Riverina, Gippsland and Willochra dioceses. As Judd and Cable comment in their history of Sydney Anglicanism: “The most striking aspect of Bush Church Aid work was the crucial part played by women in the growth of the Society”

They pointed out that in Sydney, while “male lay readers and catechists could assist the clergyman, deaconesses could not preach but only ”address" the congregation and read services in his absence". In the Bush, the deaconesses were allowed to lead local worship. As noted in Chapter One, away from direct clergy supervision women in ministry were allowed more opportunities to develop their talent and demonstrate their resourcefulness.

The Annual Reports of the Deaconess Institution from 1920-21 included a section “Bush Deaconess Report”. In these reports, the formidable tasks being assigned to young female graduates of the Institution were recorded, items such as: “Sometimes a whole month is spent by the Deaconess riding on and on through scattered parishes... visiting, teaching in schools and holding services”.

Deaconess Winifred Shoobridge, assigned to Gippsland Diocese, was reported to have “her own pony and thus can work more expeditiously”. By 1937, Deaconess Shoobridge was “travelling in a little Morris Oxford which is equipped with a bicycle (which helps with the daily visiting), a lantern outfit, Bibles, supplies of Mothers’ Union magazines and other literature”. Deaconess Shoobridge noted that bush women would greet her with comments such as “I’m glad it’s a woman come instead” or “Come in, you’re the first woman I’ve seen for ten months”.

Sydney deaconess Dorothy Almond also worked in Gippsland, in the “Big Scrub” region in the East, stationed at Cann River District, working among “pioneer settlers”, the nearest doctor being “sixty miles distant”. Dorothy Almond in 1923 was written up in the Victorian newspapers for her heroic efforts to save a desperately ill woman in the remote Croajingolong area of Gippsland. She rode forty miles and then walked sixteen miles in stormy weather in order to bring medical aid to the patient. “Through her ministry, in conjunction with that of a doctor, who was able to come out later, the woman’s life was saved”.

Deaconess Agnes McGregor, working for Bush Church Aid in the Far West near Wilcannia, in the late twenties, commented: “One has so many experiences that it is hard to know which is best to relate - punctures on treeless plains when the temperature is 115oin the shade (but there is no shade!) or well down to the footboards in sand and having to use the spade for two hours (no one to give the needed push) or trying to find the track in a blinding duststorm.”

In Gippsland Diocese, it became practice to appoint deaconesses to areas which could not afford the stipend of a priest or a deacon, and which were too demanding for a trainee lay reader. Mrs. Edith Littleton, eldest daughter of Bishop Cranswick, recalled that the deaconesses “were very poorly paid but there was no other way we could staff the diocese in those days”. Underlying this statement was an admission that the Diocese of Gippsland was prepared to exploit women workers for the sake of serving the Church’s frontier areas.

The Diocese could not get male clergy to accept such conditions. The positive aspect was that these difficult situations allowed deaconesses to prove themselves capable of carrying out the duties of clergy. Yet, despite his progressive views on women, Bishop Cranswick, while allowing the deaconesses to be addressed as “the Reverend”, did not give them the right to sit in the House of Clergy in Gippsland Synod. They were not given clergy seats in the diocesan Synod until April 1949.

In time, the deaconesses in Gippsland were placed in charge of parochial districts, officially under the aegis of some remote priest. They were permitted to conduct funerals, baptise infants, preside at Parochial Councils (before women were allowed to be members of them), prepare and present candidates for Confirmation, conduct Morning and Evening Prayer Services and preach. So highly were the deaconesses regarded in Gippsland that Deaconess Nancy Drew recalled that she was appointed to succeed Deaconess Winifred Halter to the parish of Nowa Nowa in 1955 because the people had petitioned the Bishop for another deaconess even though a male priest could have been appointed. When Deaconess Drew left in 1963, the people again asked for a deaconess.

Formal Women’s Ministry : The Deaconess
from Freedom From Sanctified Sexism - Women Transforming the Church by Mavis Rose, pp. 56-75.
Allira Publications, 17 Cervantes Street, MacGregor, Queensland 4109, Australia.
Copyright: Mavis Rose 1996.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

ReFocus Canada and Bruce Ware

I have been asked to put together a short list of articles which outline my concern with Bruce Ware's influence on the churches of Vancouver, in particular, the Anglican Network churches such as St. John's Shaughnessy.

I am aware that the present disunity in the Anglican Communion worldwide is made up of many competing concerns, of race and geography, of male and female, of local autonomy vs unity and hierarchy. However, I have personally experienced the current trend as an effort to keep women out of the pulpit and make them submissive in the home.

While this is couched in terms of "obedience to the word," I would like to point out that slaves remaining submissive to their masters is also "obedience to the word," as well as colonies to empire, and subjects to the crown.

Back to my central concern. On April 14-15, 2008 Bruce Ware spoke at the Willingdon church to a group of pastors at the reFocus Canada conference. The goal of the conference was to "equip pastors to preach the full counsel of God." The focus was indeed on the authority of God over Christ, Christ over the church and leaders given authority over the church.

However, Bruce Ware is also a noted speaker on complementarianism, the teaching that men and women have distinct and complementary functions in the home and in church. Although he did not focus on gender relations at reFocus Canada, he did say,
    Marvel at the submission of the eternal Son to the eternal Father, carried out with absolute fidelity to His Father's will, and with nothing but joy and happiness and satisfaction. Note: this is true not merely of the incarnate Son, but of the eternal Son, to the eternal Father! And marvel at the Spirit's joyful willingness to be eternally in submission to the Father and to the Son. Take this to heart, and apply this principle broadly in ministry:

    It is as God-like to submit joyfully and gladly to rightful authority as it is God-like to exercise wise and benevolent rightful authority.
    Is it any wonder that that when God created human beings in His image, that He made them equal in essence, but distinct in function? Relationships of authority and submission in human relationships, then, derive from and should be modelled after the relations of authority and submission in the Godhead.

    Bottom line: The basis for authority is in the eternal Godhead. What is authority if there is nothing to submit? Does authority originate with creation? No. Authority and submission is eternal within the very Godhead. We as Christian people and Christian communities ought to be among those who are the most counter-cultural in the societies in which we live: rather than chafe at and despise submitting to authority, we ought to joyfully and gladly submit to God and do the will of the Father. Wives to husbands, church members to elders, employees to employers, citizens to the states. This is not some device simply to maintain control, but a reflection of the divine order.
The complementary function of male and female is then for the male to have authority and the female to submit to that authority.

John Neufeld also spoke on the issue of gender at this conference. He said about elders,
    And they are men. In the Old Testament, elders appear to have been male. Then see Paul's counsel in 1 Timothy 2:12, which is explained in verse 13 because Adam was formed first, then Eve. The explanation of the command is grounded in creation: there is an order in creation. The man, Adam, is given federal headship over the human race, just as Christ, the second Adam, is also given federal headship over the human race.
Further readings from Bruce Ware:

Male and Female Complementarity and the Image of God

[W]hile unified in our essential human equality and our common responsibility to do the will of God, the temporal priority of the image of God in the man, through whom the woman is formed as a human bearer of God's image, supports the principle of male-headship in functioning as the image of God persons both men and women are. This is precisely Paul's point in 1 Cor. 11.

The reason he is concerned about head coverings is that he knows that God has designed women and men to function so that each respects the other's God-ordained roles. Women are to honor and men are to embrace the special responsibility that God has given men in the spiritual leadership in the home and believing community. Where male-headship is not acknowledged, our functioning as the image of God is hampered and diminished.

This puts Paul's instruction in Ephesians 5 in a new light. What we realize is that when wives submit to their husbands as the church submits to Christ (5:22-24), and when husbands love their wives as Christ loves the church (5:25-27), they exhibit their God-ordained roles as bearers of the image of God. It is not only in their equality that they are image of God. They also bear and express God's image as they function in a manner that acknowledges the headship of the male in the bestowing of image of God (1 Cor. 11:7-9).

Summaries of the Egalitarian and Complementarian Positions on the Role of Women in the Home and in Christian Ministry
Male and female were created by God as equal in dignity, value, essence and human nature, but also distinct in role whereby the male was given the responsibility of loving authority over the female, and the female was to offer willing, glad-hearted and submissive assistance to the man. Gen. 1:26-27 makes clear that male and female are equally created as God's image, and so are, by God's created design, equally and fully human.

But, as Gen. 2 bears out (as seen in its own context and as understood by Paul in 1 Cor. 11 and 1 Tim. 2), their humanity would find expression differently, in a relationship of complementarity, with the female functioning in a submissive role under the leadership and authority of the male.

These articles are from the website of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

Sermons by Bruce Ware,

Building Strong Families in Your Church
Identity is rooted in priority given to the male… Her identity as female is inextricably tied to and rooted in the identity of the male… Her created glory is a reflection of the man’s… has her glory through the man. Seth is the image of God because he was born through the fatherhood of Adam. Specifically Adam is mentioned and not Eve. As Seth is born in the likeness and image of Adam, so is he born in the likeness and image of God. Male headship is a part of the very constitution of woman.
Complementarian Vision of Creation
The very wise and good plan of God, of male headship, is sought to be overturned as women now, as sinners, want instead to have their way, instead of submitting to their husbands, to do what they would like to do, and seek to work to have their husbands fulfill their will, rather than serving them;

and their husbands on their part, because they are sinners, now respond to that threat to their authority either by being abusive, which is, of course, one of the ways men can respond when their authority is challenged, or more commonly by becoming passive, acquiescing and simply not asserting the leadership they ought to as men in their homes and churches.
I apologize for this being a repeat of information for some.

Update: Here is where Ware says that women demonstrate that they are Christians by embracing their role to bear children.

Monday, August 25, 2008


I have not forgotten about women bible translators but I have not been able to give the topic the attention that it deserves so I will come back to it soon.

Here is the first woman ordained in the Anglican church worldwide. Click on her name to read my post about her.

Florence Li Tim Oi

Sunday, August 24, 2008

St. John's Shaughnessy Church Vancouver

Tonight at St. John's Shaughnessy Church for the beginning of VYC, Richard James spoke and said that the high rate of divorce is because women will not accept their role, Eve's sin was her rebellion against Adam, women's desire is against their husband, God has put men in charge to end all arguments, men have authority and women have submission. This is God's word and a test of faith.

This is the biggest Anglican Church in Canada. This church has left the Anglican Church of Canada and joined the province of the Southern Cone. This is the church of Dr. James Packer who edited the ESV Bible and has signed a statement that another Bible, the TNIV Bible, translated by men who worked in the same institution as him, was "untrustworthy."

Addendum: I am recording what was told to me by my daughter. I have not attended this church myself for the last two years. She got up and walked out of this service which was the evening youth service.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


If anyone links abortion with an egalitarian society, they need to think again. Abortion and infanticide were commonly practiced in patriarchal societies. These practices permeate every type of society. Female infanticide is a continuing crime. The figures I have seen are about 50 million missing women in China and perhaps the same in India. Is this not a holocaust created by the belief in the lesser value of women as providers and protectors and bearers of the family honour?

The statistics very widely, but frankly 100 million or 50 million, what is the difference? Why is any Christian allowed to restrict the functions of greater value to the male? Why are these people permitted the label of Christian?

I am not saying that this injustice is worse than the disruptions of war and famine in other places. Gender injustice is not the only evil on earth, but it is an evil.

A group of us teachers were sitting around chatting tonight about classrooms of Asian students that have twice as many boys as girls in them. I don't know what our sex ratio is here, but it got me thinking.

desire to control

Last year attended two courses taught by well known evangelical theologians. The one, an Old Testament specialist, taught Gen. 3:16. He said something to the effect that women "desire to take control" and this is the cause of the recent increase in the rate of divorce.

I talked to him privately later and asked him to think of the couples that he knew who were divorced. I asked him if he felt that most of these divorces were caused by the woman's desire to control. He said on reflection, perhaps not. But 200 young people heard his public teaching that day and only I heard his private admission.

Not long after I listened to the other theologian, an egalitarian, a NT specialist, teach on 1 Cor. 7. He looked up from the text and commented that divorce is a terrible thing. And then he tearfully said that the things that men and women do to each other makes him weep. He told a story of a friend of his, in his 70's who had recently left his wife to live with his secretary.

The things that people do to each other, both men and women, are very cruel. There is no need to lay this burden on the shoulders of women alone. Let us all be egalitarian in the way we distribute guilt and blame. I would rather not know that some complementarians give the priority of leadership to the man, and the priority of blame to the woman.

So, when I read in this book, page 30,

"you will desire to control your husband,
but he will rule over you,"

I would be a lot happier if I had not heard that text over and over again used to prove that women are the primary cause of divorce. I would be a lot happier if there were a footnote. I would be a lot happier if someone explained that this is the insight of Susan Foh, writing in the 1970's and not the eternal word of God. In fact, I don't even know what translation this is. Is it the private translation of the authors of this book.

Update: I can't believe that I did not realize that this was from the NLT. That was really fuzzy of me. Not a translation I would recommend. Give me Pagnini. English is not doing it for me today. I am going to have to work off my cranky mood somehow. The NLT does have a footnote, which I accept as good enough, but the book I cited does not include the footnote.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Equal access to decision-making

I will be continuing to write about women and Bible translation. This evening I have been rereading Queen of the Dark Chamber, the autobiography of Christiana Tsai, who records that she was one of the first women in China to graduate from high school. She became an evangelist and was instrumental in the training and encouragement of many other Chinese women who became preachers and church planters throughout China.

I will write more about Tsai soon but this got me thinking about women and decision-making. Christiana's book is almost entirely about women as leaders and actors. Here is a UN statement on women as decision-makers. I am reflecting on how women missionaries were once so convicted that they were teaching a gospel of dignity and participation for women. I am trying to figure out what happened.


The Beijing Platform for Action also affirms that women have the equal right to participate in governance and, through that participation, contribute to the redefining of political priorities, placing new questions on the political agenda and providing new perspectives on mainstream political issues. The Platform defined two strategic objectives under this critical area: to ensure women's equal access to and full participation in power structures and decision-making, and to increase women's capacity to participate in decision-making and leadership.

Besides the Beijing document, a number of international instruments have affirmed the principle of equal participation of women and men in power and decision-making, including the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

At its forty-first session in 1997, the UN Commission on the Status of Women reaffirmed the need to identify and implement the measures that would redress the under-representation of women in decision-making. The removal of discriminatory practices and the introduction of positive action programmes were identified as effective policy instruments to that end.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Diary of Ma Yan

Recently a friend dropped by and returned The Diary of Ma Yan, which she had borrowed from me a few years ago. For anyone interested in China as a country, its education and rural economy, this book is a fascinating and legitimate easy-to-read introduction. It is the diary of a 13 year old girl who was unable to continue her education due the extreme poverty of her family life.

Her diary came into the hands of Pierre Haski, a French journalist, who published it as a book with his added commentary. He started a fund to offer support to Ma Yan and other young students in the province of Ningxia. Here is an excerpt,

Excerpt: "Mom said to me: ‘My child, I have something to tell you. I’m afraid that this is the last time you can go to school.’ I opened my eyes wide in astonishment, stared at her and said ‘How can you say such a thing to me? People cannot survive without knowledge these days. Even a peasant needs knowledge to work his land, or he will have no harvest.’

“Mom continued speaking: ‘With your brothers and you going to school, that makes three. Your father is the only one who works. We cannot afford to pay for you all. Your two brothers must continue their studies,’" explained Ma Yan.

"I then asked Mom: ‘Why do boys get to study and girls cannot?’ Mom replied: ‘You are still young, you do not understand. You’ll understand when you are older.’

“I want to study, Mom, I do not want to come back home. It would be so magnificent if I could stay at school forever,” said Ma Yan.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

He pitched her tent cont.

Kirk Gayle has supplied more to the story of Gen. 12:8. He cites,

And here's from Rabbi Jeff Forsythe's notes on Midrash Beraishis Raba's teaching:

The Torah writes (Genesis 12:8) that Avraham prioritized his wife before himself. Avraham traveled and pitched "oheloH (his tent)." In Hebrew, the suffix "H" makes a noun possessive in the feminine gender (i.e "her" object). The masculine possessive comes with the vowel "O" as a suffix (i.e. "his" object). The Torah in Genesis 12:8 uses the strange combination of vowel "O" and the consonant "H" with the noun "ohel (tent)." The translation of the text as spoken is "his tent," and the translation of the text as written is "her tent." So what is the meaning of the Torah's placing of this unusual "O" and "H" together? The midrash explains that Avraham first pitched the tent of Sara, his wife, before he pitched his own. We see this because the "H" is a consonant which is more dominant in Hebrew grammar than a vowel ("O"). The Torah is teaching us that whenever a husband needs to do something for himself and his wife, he must take care of his wife's needs first. This will apply to all forms of help, respect, kindness and consideration for his wife.

Kurk also adds some further resources on women and Bible translation. This conversation will continue as I receive more information on this topic every day.

Robert Morrison: The Chinese Bible

Robert Morrison, 1782 - 1834, a missionary of the London Missionary Society contributed an enormous amount to knowledge of Chinese in England. During his life he baptised only ten converts. His translation of the Bible into Chinese, the first complete translation, was published in 1823. For a scholarly account of his life read his bibliography and refer to the Morrison Collection on the Babelstone site.

The bicentenary of Morrison's arrival in China was celebrated in Hong Kong and in Washington in 2007,

The second ‘remarkable’ characteristic was the aim of the conference, namely to commemorate the bicentenary of Robert Morrison’s arrival to China. The question beckons why a missionary should be commemorated whose calling produced only the slimmest of concrete returns. A missionary without a sizeable number of converts would certainly have to be regarded as a failure; common sense would seem to dictate.

Furthermore, Morrison is all too often remembered as a hard-hearted hermit who neglected his family in order to compete with Marshman, his arch-rival in Serampore (India), in a race to complete the first translation of the Bible into Chinese. Such fanaticism would hardly bode well for future remembrance.

The conference, however, produced fascinating insight into aspects of Robert Morrison’s private - as well as professional – life, dispelling his rather sombre reputation as insubstantial. In particular the keynote paper by Barton Starr, as well as the insight provided by Christopher Hancock painted a much more nuanced portrait of Morrison, revealing a person capable of a high degree of tolerance as well as tender affection.

This biography presents the other translation and scholarly work that he was involved in and explains his importance to our knowledge of Chinese - English relations during that era.

Robert Morrison:

- born near Morpeth, Northumberland, England, 1782; grew up in Newcastle-upon-Tyne; following a rudimentary education, apprenticed to his father as a last and boot-tree maker; joined the Presbyterian church, 1798; decided to prepare for missionary work; studied at Hoxton Academy (later Highbury College), London, 1803; studied at the Missionary Academy, Gosport, Hampshire, 1804; appointed by the London Missionary Society (LMS) and studied medicine, astronomy and Chinese in London, 1805;

- ordained and sailed via Philadelphia and New York to Canton, 1807; pioneering Protestant missionary to China, though he saw few conversions himself; married Mary Morton (1791-1821), daughter of an East India Company surgeon, in Macau, 1809;

- became translator to the East India Company's factory in Canton, securing a legal basis for residence and a means of supporting himself, 1809; completed the translation of the New Testament into Chinese, 1813; it was printed, 1814; viewed with hostility by Chinese officials; baptised the first Protestant Chinese Christian, 1814;

- served as translator on Lord Amherst's abortive embassy to Peking (Beijing), 1816-1817; returned to Canton, 1817; on the completion of his Anglo-Chinese dictionary, received the degree of Doctor of Divinity, University of Glasgow, 1817; with William Milne (1785-1822) founded the Anglo-Chinese College, Malacca, for training missionaries in the Far East, 1818; with Milne, completed the translation of the Bible, 1819; visited Malacca, 1823; travelled to England, 1823-1824; Fellow of the Royal Society, 1824;

- helped to established the short-lived Language Institution in London; ordained the first Chinese native pastor, 1825; married Eliza Armstrong (1795-1874), 1825; left England and returned to Canton, 1826; died at Canton, 1834. Publications include: Dictionary of the Chinese Language (1815-1823); Grammar of the Chinese Language (1815); Chinese Bible and numerous Chinese tracts, translations, and works on philology. His son from his first marriage, John Robert Morrison (1814-1843), succeeded his father at the East India Company and became secretary to the Hong Kong government.

For an excellent scholarly book on Anglo-Chinese relations at the time, I would recommend
The Collision of Two Civilizations: Immobile Empire.

For information on contemporary Chinese Bible translations see this.

A bibliography of Morrison's works. Anyone interested in linguistics will enjoy perusing this list!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The language Jesus spoke

Jim Davila has posted on the Syrian village which still speaks Aramaic. Here is a favourite children's book recently translated into Aramaic. Malkuno Zcuro is The Little Prince in Aramaic.

Aramaic also appears on the Wind Tower at Regent College in Vancouver. The Lord's Prayer is written in Aramaic down the side.

Syriac is also notable for being one of the scripts on the Xian Stele in China, as well as on the tombstones in Quangzhou. (I have not found and image for this yet.)

(Oddly the Estrangelo Syriac script also appears on the bookplate for the Gleason Moss Collection of H.A. Gleason, Jr., who was my first and well-loved linguistics professor. His father was the botanist H.A. Gleason. Don't ask me how I know this, but somewhere there is a larger image of this tiny one. I seem to have lost it.)

Francis Siewart

Many thanks to El Shaddai for mentioning Francis Siewart of the Amplified Bible.

The story of the Amplified Bible is a remarkable story of faith, hope, and love. It's the story of a woman, a foundation, a committee, and a publisher. Commitment, energy, enthusiasm, and giftedness--these are the words that paint the picture, the picture of the making of a translation.

Frances Siewert (Litt. B., B.D., M.A., Litt. D.) was a woman with an intense dedication to the study of the Bible. It was Mrs. Siewert (1881-1967) who laid the foundation of the Amplified Bible, devoting her life to a familiarity with the Bible, with the Hebrew and Greek languages, and with the cultural and archaeological background of Biblical times, which would result in the publication of this unique translation.

Remembered by The Lockman Foundation for her long life of tireless devotion to God, her expertise in the Greek language, and for her impressive knowledge concerning Scripture, Mrs. Frances Siewert went home to be with the Lord late Wednesday night, March 29, 1967. As the official Research Secretary of the Amplified Bibleproject, Mrs. Siewert displayed her tremendous passion for the Lord. This passion shown brightly throughout her monumental task of laying the translation foundation for the Amplified Bible.

Born in 1881, Mrs. Siewert (Litt. B., B.D., M.A., Litt. D.) dedicated her life to the intensive study of the Scriptures as well as to the cultural and archaeological background of biblical times. When asked by The Lockman Foundation in 1956 to recount, in her own words, her long journey as a Christian, Mrs. Siewert submitted the following amazing list concerning her life as a Christian to that point:

At six years of age knew scores of hymns and Bible verses.
At ten passed an oral examination on the Catechism.
At fifteen entered the academy of Pacific University, deeply religious atmosphere, compulsory Bible study.
At seventeen was meeting regularly with classmates to help them prepare for their Bible lessons.
At eighteen entered Willamette University. Elected president of the Y.W.C.A. under intensely spiritual stimulus. Elected editor of the Willamette Collegian by unanimous vote of all factions of the student body. (With no Bible in Willamette’s curriculum, she started a campaign to have it introduced, which authorities honored and was graduated at barely twenty with the degree of Bachelor of Literature, "cum laude.")
At twenty-two married a minister, who was a brilliant Greek student.
At twenty-four began helping ministers with their public written work, religious authors and editors with their manuscripts, writing stories for Sunday School material, some to be translated into German. Later, articles for such periodicals as the Sunday School Times.
At twenty-nine received Master of Arts degree from Willamette University. Thesis subject, "The Effect of the Bible on English Language."
At thirty-two received bachelor of divinity degree from Schuylkill Seminary (to which the credits had been transferred to make the graduation of a woman possible).
At thirty-three teaching Bible to girls and women on campus at the University of Washington, downtown in Seattle from city’s high schools and factories.
At thirty-six teaching young people and teachers of Bible in Denver, Colorado.
At forty teaching Bible daily in Clay County High School, Kansas, sixteen communities represented. In constant demand for Bible lectures at clubs, conventions, and in organized classes -- 254 such talks in one year. In meantime, completed seventeen reading courses at University of Indiana, and earned considerable credit in Psychology and teacher training at Kansas State College. Studied all of the courses pertinent to Bible teaching.
In 1940 left a widow. Devoted full time to biblical research for ministers and religious writers.
From 1952 to the present (1956) devoted time entirely to the translation task now in hand, with the work of the Gospel of John, which preceded it.

For all her immense educational preparation and thorough knowledge of Scripture, Mrs. Siewert always remained a humble servant of the Lord. In correspondence dated Sept. 8, 1954 to The Lockman Foundation President and Founder, F. Dewey Lockman, she stated, "Every day, almost, I find myself bubbling with the thrill of discovering some shade of meaning in the original Greek that had never been evident to me before. I have averaged 4 hours a day of serious Bible study since 1914, when I was already a theological seminary graduate, and yet I am finding daily evidence of the fact that there are countless Scripture passages which have been obscure to me until now."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

He pitched her tent

I only have time for a very short thought. Before the end of the summer one should take a moment to think of a curious challenge in Bible translation regarding the pitching of a tent.

In Genesis 12:8, the Hebrew text says about Abraham, "and he pitched her tent." I know of no translation which honours the Masoretic text in this verse. They all record simply, "and pitched his tent."

"He pitched his tent" (Bereishit 12:8). The spelling, however, is OHELOH, which means "her tent". From here, we learn that Abraham first pitched Sarah's tent and, only after he had looked after her needs, did he pitch his own tent (Midrash Aggada, Bereishit 12:13). Lech Lecha

Velveteen Rabbi discusses her language lessons and struggles with trying to use gender properly in Hebrew.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Speaking inTongues:

The History of Language. This was a great TV show that I saw recently featuring not only Peter Ladefoged but also Salikoko Mufwene among others. Let's not forget Chomsky. I noticed that an internet friend, Peter T. Daniels, was a consultant for this series.

Currently there are more than 6,000 languages spoken around the world. This five-part series traces the history and evolution of language and attendant theories and controversies while evaluating the scope of linguistic diversity, the dissemination of language, the expansion of language into written form, and the life cycle of language. Prominent figures in the field of linguistics—Noam Chomsky, John McWhorter, and Peter Ladefoged, to name only three—are featured. 5-part series, 48 minutes each.

One striking fact was that out of 6,000 languages in existence today, only 600 will survive as living languages into the next century. Touchingly, Ladefoged talked about the reasons why the younger generation do not carry on the language of their parents. He spoke of the enormous loss of ecological diversity.

Mufwene injected some realism into the discussion by suggesting linguists should show more concern about the people and maybe a little less about the dying languages. It is not always to the benefit of the users of the language to be speakers of a minority language. The cost may be high.

I highly recommend this series but I don't know when it will be available elsewhere.

Not lording it over 1 Peter 5:3

Once again there has been a post on Between Two Worlds on 1 Tim. 2:12 featuring Dr. Kostenberger's interpretation of that verse. It is interesting to me that no less than 15 other blogs have linked to that post. It indicates that there is a strong thirst for a justification for restricting women's roles.

I entered the fray and as usual have found that my knowledge is deepened as I peruse other resources for ways to present this topic to the non-reader of Greek.

Here is where to start. The entries from the BDAG and Louw and Nida lexicons,
    “to assume a stance of independent authority, give orders to, dictate to” (BDAG 150). Louw and Nida elaborate further, suggesting that the appropriate rendering for authenteo in 1 Tim 2:12 is “to control, to domineer” or “to control in a domineering manner” (37.21).
Next, one can look at the primary evidence. I have done so. However, to save you time, we can note that Dr. Kostenberger remarks that there are only one or two occurrences of this word early enough to be used as evidence. The one certain citation is listed in the original study by Baldwin under the meaning of "to compel, to influence someone." and Grudem agrees with the translation "compel." (Ev. Fem & Biblical Truth. page 677 - 680.) According to Grudem other translators suggest "prevail" and mention that this is a hostile relationship involving insolence.

The other occurrence of authenteo at the time, in Philodemus, is now agreed upon as reconstructed with meaning unknown. That is why Dr. Kostenberger hesitates to claim two occurrences. Later evidence demonstrates that authenteo tends to have a negative connotation, more often than not.

Third, Dr. Kostenberger claims that the two verbs in 1 Tim. 2:12 must either both have a negative connotation or both a positive connotation. Most people agree with this. However, where Dr. Kostenberger says that didaskein "virtually always" has a positive connotation, others note that in Titus 1:11, didaskein does have a negative connotation. Therefore, it is more likely that authenteo and didaskein both have a negative connotation in this verse.

Fourth, Dr. Kostenberger assumes that the meaning of authentein is somewhat synonymous with having a leadership role in the church. However, previous translations show that this is a recent assumption. The Latin Vulgate has dominare and Luther's Bible has herrschen - "to lord it over."

In 1 Peter 5:3 these two words dominare and herrschen are found again. For both Jerome and Luther, the word in 1 Tim. 2:12 was not a synonym for pastoring but was a synonym for "domineering" over someone else, as in 1 Peter 5:3,
    not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. ESV
These are not translations of the same word in Greek. 1 Tim. 2:12 has authenteo and 1 Peter 5:3 has katakurieuo. However, we can say that Jerome and Luther thought that these words were synonymous and respectively translated both these words identically with a word meaning "to lord it over."

How did the English translations come to have "have authority" in 1 Tim. 2:12 then? In 1516, Erasmus provided the Greek text of the New Testament in printed form in parallel with his translation into Latin. He translated authenteo as "authoritatem usurpare." The Latin lexicons list usurpare as "use, seize, grab, take, have, exercise." From that, some translators derived the meaning "to have authority" and others, such as the KJV, as "to usurp authority."

I suggest that 1 Tim. 2 :12 ought to properly be translated as,
    I do not permit a woman to teach or to domineer over a man; rather, she is to be quiet.
I am aware that this does not resolve all the hermeneutical and pragmatic difficulties of the passage. However it does provide us with a starting place.

For further reading, I suggest

Belleville, Linda. Teaching and Usurping Authority: 1 Timothy 2:11-15" (Ch 12) in Discovering Biblical Equality.

And these posts by Ben Witherington and Emily Hunter McGowin.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The ESV: A woman's Bible, not

Update: Dr. Packer told me a few years ago that there was a special effort being made to market the ESV in China, and now we know its true.

There have been several posts on the ESV again. I would like to explain why I cannot endorse this translation myself. I understand that many people will not share my view, but nonetheless, there are few enough women who review Bibles, so bear with me.

First, the ESV is a revision of the RSV and the KJV before that. Therefore, it inherits some of the very positive aspects of those translations. These would include the literal and literary qualities of the KJV. The KJV was known for not inserting implied wording into the translation any more than absolutely necessary to make the English grammatical. It was also tested for readability, a sense of rhythm and flow, and use of poetic and emotive language. It was both literal and literary.

The ESV inherits some of these qualities. It retains some of the original KJV style but not always successfully. Literalness also is retained in a very uneven way, so one is never really assured of whether a phrase is literal or not. For example,
    No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. ESV

    No one has ever seen God, but the one and only [Son], who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. TNIV

    No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known. NRSV

    No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. KJV
In moving away from the KJV, the ESV has not settled on a successful update for the archaic "in the bosom." The NRSV and the TNIV have been more successful theologically.

The overall treatment of gender in the ESV is not "transparent to the Greek." Here is what the preface of the ESV says,
    [T]he words “man” and “men” are retained where a male meaning component is part of the original Greek or Hebrew. Likewise, the word “man” has been retained where the original text intends to convey a clear contrast between “God” on the one hand and “man” on the other hand, with “man” being used in the collective sense of the whole human race (see Luke 2:52).
If, for simplicity's sake, we assume for the purposes of this exercise that the Greek word anthropos means a "human being" and aner means a "male adult human being," we can see how the ESV is not transparent to the Greek. Let's look at 1 Tim. 2.
    First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people (anthropos) 1 Tim. 2:1

    I desire then that in every place the men (aner) should pray, lifting holy hands 1 Tim. 2:8

    there is one mediator between God and men (anthropos), the man (anthropos) Christ Jesus. 1 Tim. 2:5.

This chapter is not transparent to the Greek in respect to words for human beings. How does this work in other passages?
    For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s (anthropos) gospel, For I did not receive it from any man (anthropos), nor was I taught it, Gal. 1:11-12

    and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men (anthropos) who will be able to teach others also. 2 Tim. 2:2

    When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men (anthropos)." ... he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers Eph. 4:8
In each of these passages, the Greek word is anthropos and could very well apply equally to women as well as men, just as 1 Tim. 2:1 also applies to women. There is no 'clear contrast between “God” on the one hand and “man” on the other hand' and one is at loss as to whether to interpret these verses as applying to "men" or to the human race.

There are ministries and websites that use these verses and limit teaching ministry to men. It is hard to say what role these verses play. However, New Frontiers is known for saying "We are working with teams of gifted men."

This further example shows once again how little one can say that the ESV is "transparent to the Greek."
    For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man (anthropos), but men (anthropos) spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:21

    he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man (aner), but of God. John 1:12-13.
And so, over and over again, in verses where teaching or prophecy or gifts of the Spirit are mentioned, the word which normally means "human being" is translated as "man." This will make little difference to a man, since he is both "man" and "human" but how about women, are they only human when the text is translated "people" or do all occurrences of "man" refer to women also? Either, one must use an interlinear or one must guess, or just take someone else's word for it.

I cannot recommend the ESV to a woman.

Note: I acknowledge that I have not included a discussion of the footnotes in this post. In some cases, the footnotes ameliorate the situation, but not consistently.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Dear Molly, guess what

you are still a homeschooling mom. Just because the children also go to school does not mean that you are not a homeschooling mom. Maybe you don't want to hear this, but the kids will always need to be read to - they will need help with homework and projects, music lessons or sports. They will still require an awful lot of time, but that time will shift from morning to evening.

I know some homeschooling moms and just on purely anecdotal evidence, I think my relationship with my kids is as close and loving and cuddly and healthy as anyone else's. Your children will need to be fed and hugged and bandaided and rocked, for ever.

And don't anyone take me to the woodshed for not letting my kids leave home. They have more experience under their belts than I would want for most people in a lifetime.

Helen Spurrell

Many thanks to El Shaddai Edwards, Rick Mansfield and David Reimer for the ongoing success of this series on women Bible translators. Rick mentioned Helen Spurrell in a comment on El Shaddai's blog. I will be getting to Frances Siewert soon.

In Multipurpose Tools for Bible Study by F. Danker, page 188, we can read,

The nineteenth century saw a number of noncommittee type versions of the Bible, but the most noteworthy is a version of the Old Testament, published in 1885, whose claim fo fame was obscured by the prestige of the RV, which apeared in the same year.

At the age of fifty, Helen Spurrell, already accomplished in music, painting, and sculpture, decided to learn Hebrew with a view to translating the Bible of Israel. using the unpointed Hebrew text as her base, "she made free use," observes Pope, "of the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Septuagint version, substituting their readings for that of the Hebrew text in a number of passages ... She printed her text in paragraphs, not in verses, with the poetical passages laid out as poetry - devices that had just been adopted in the Revised Version.

Here is the only excerpt that I can find from her translation, Psalm 119:150-151,
    "When designing pursuers approached me, who are far from thy law;
    then Thou, O Jehovah, wast near, with all thy faithful commandments..." Surrell

    They draw nigh that follow after mischief: they are far from thy law.
    Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth. KJV
To get some sense of her theology we can read,
    In her translation of the Old Testament Scriptures, Helen Spurrell expressed the following wish for all who should read her translation: "May very many exclaim, as the translator has often done when studying numerous passages in the original, I have found the Messiah!"
She is also mentioned in the introduction to Let Her Speak for Herself by Marion Taylor and Heather Weir. Anyone interested in women in biblical scholarship will find this book fascinating reading.

Mike Bird on Junia

I think some people are still interested in Junia, especially now that Mike Burer has put her on the shelf for years, and the ESV and NET Bibles have just decided to leave her there. Here is a comment from Mike Bird made on July 30, 2008, on the Sola panel,

Thanks for a great post on Romans 16 and it certinly gives much pause for thought on women in church based service. Keep in mind that I’m not an egalitarian, but I have a few quibbles with your handling of Rom. 16.7:

1.There are over 200 inscriptions of Junia and in every single one it is feminine and in every single manuscript of Romans (except two) it is feminine as well. This is hardly ambiguous, it is overwhelming.

2. “Outstanding ... apostles” is certainly ambiguous in the Greek, but in most translations Andronicus and Junia are regarded as apostles. Chrysostom has an excellent comment about how great she must have been to have been counted worthy of the designation apostle. See also Linda Belleville’s article on this against Dan Wallace.

3. Apostle here could mean apostle in the sense of a delegate of a church, much like Epaphroditus from Philippi, but usually the name of the sending church is also given or some kind of qualifier (e.g. your apostle). I surmize that A & J were either the founders of the first Jewish Christian ekklesia in Rome, or else they were among the extended witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection.

An excellent read on this verse is the book by Eldon J. Epp.

My comments are motivated by the fact that I cannot believe the violence done to the text by the ESV translators. Junia is no longer a women and no longer an apostle. This is the clearest case of agenda-driven textual tinkering that I’ve ever seen.

What is really nice to know is that when it comes to caring about good scholarship many complementarians and egalitarians are on the same page.

What happened to Junia?

Mike Burer had commented about a year and a half ago that he would try to respond to my posts on Junia. He made an initial attempt here. However, it did not really do justice to the case as presented by myself, based on an article by Linda Belleville. He admitted as much and told me in an email that he would be working on a response.

Recently a short article by him was published in the JBMW journal on this topic. He writes,
    Epp spends some space demonstrating that all of these issues—the gender of the name, the nature of "apostle," and the relationship of this person to the apostolic group—are intertwined in the history of interpretation and create something of a domino effect, depending upon the point of view of the interpreter. Then the majority of the chapter is spent in a refutation of the aforementioned article that I coauthored with Wallace, "Was Junia Really an Apostle?"

    Important to mention are two other critiques of our work, which Epp refers to often: Richard Bauckham, Gospel Women: Studies of the Named Women in the Gospels (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 165-80; and Linda L. Belleville, " vIounian ... evpi,shmoi evn toi/j avposto,loij: A Re-Examination of Romans 16.7 in Light of Primary Source Materials," New Testament Studies 51, no. 2 (April 2005): 231-39.

    My schedule has not permitted me time to develop an in-depth response to any of these reviews. What I can say at this point is that I have not read anything in any of them that has dissuaded me from the viewpoint Wallace and I advanced in the original article. (In the next few years I hope to develop a suitable response to these critiques.)
Clearly it is not worth my publishing any challenge to this kind of writing. There is no interest whatsoever in defending a thesis. Several Bibles translate Romans 16:7 to the effect that Junia is "well known to the apostles" and no one feels the need to defend this. Belleville and Bauckham defend the notion that the church fathers, Greek speakers themselves, considered Junia to be a woman apostle. The modern Greek Vamva version is also unequivocal.

When will the general public realize that much of the Bible scholarship on women in the Bible has little credibility?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Singing Owl blogs on headship

There has been a lot of strong blogging on the gender debate recently. Here is a series from Singing Owl. She writes,

Just last week I had a conversation in which I was assured that Adam (Man) was designed for leadership and Eve (Woman) was designed to follow. The man was designed to be over the woman. God's plan was a hierarchy--a loving hierarchy of God - Man - Woman. If I would read the creation account it would be clear, I was told. Friends, I believe we are applying the results of a scheme that came from Darkness and calling it "God's divine plan" for men and women.

That grieves my heart for so many reasons, not least of which is that I believe it is a dreadful thing to attribute the work of evil to God, even with the best of intentions. So what does it say in Genesis? Aren't there very different and God-given roles for a man and a woman?

Read the rest here

Annie Cressman

A couple of years ago I blogged about Annie Cressman on the BBB. Here is another post about her.

I had not heard of Annie Cressman before so it was with delight that I discovered that she was a Mennonite farm girl, born in Elmira, Ontario, Canada. In 1935 she was reading a copy of The Pentcostal Testimony when she noticed a report by Sophie Nygaard, a Liberian missionary. Annie realized that this was God calling her to Liberia, West Africa.

As a missionary of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, she devoted her life to Liberia, studying the Tchien dialect, translating scripture and teaching the Bible. While teaching in an English language Bible School in Liberia in the 1950's, she realized that she was having to spend too much time explaining the basic meaning of the text.

Cressman then started preparing passages in an easier form of English. The gospel of Mark was first published by Full Gospel Publishing in Toronto, Canada in 1959 and the whole New Testament was published in 1969 as the New Testment in Worldwide English.

Amazingly the vocabulary is made up of only 1,500 words plus names - much fewer than any other simple English edition. "Each word and phrase has been carefully checked to give true understanding in different countries and regions." The Worldwide English New Testament is now available as a Palm Bible or Pocket PC

Cressman is also the author of The Pastor, "meant to help pastors understand their calling and responsibility in a better way."

While Cressman's Bible in Worldwide English BWE, is not a translation but a paraphrase, it represents a paradigm shift in Bible versions. I will write more about this Bible version next.


Koinonia is a new Bible translation blog which I will be interested in following. It is hosted by Zondervan Academic and friends.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Helen Barrett Montgomery

Biography: American Baptist Missions Author and Promoter

Montgomery translated the Centenary Translation of the New Testament and was the first woman president of an American Denomination, the Northern Baptist Convention in 1920.

Montgomery, Helen Barrett (1861-1934)Helen Barrett, 1862-1934, was born in Kingsville, Ohio, the eldest of three children of Adoniram Judson Barrett and Emily B. Barrows. She graduated from Wellesley College and Brown University, where she majored in classical literature. For a time she taught school in Philadelphia; in 1887 she married William A. Montgomery and the couple moved to Rochester, New York, where William Montgomery became a successful automobile industrialist.

In Rochester Helen Montgomery became active in civic and educational affairs. She advocated a women’s college at the University of Rochester and became the first woman elected to the city school board. She also became interested in overseas missions work and was much in demand as a platform speaker and writer.

In 1914 she was elected the first president of the national Woman’s American Baptist Foreign Mission Society. With her close friend Lucy W. Peabody, Montgomery joined the Central Committee on the United Study of Foreign Missions and wrote widely for the development of cooperative women’s missionary work. In 1910 she wrote Western Women in Eastern Lands, which sold over 100,000 copies; that same year she toured the United States on behalf of the International Jubilee of Women’s Missions, delivering almost 200 speeches. In 1913, in response to an invitation to attend the Edinburgh Continuation Committee meeting in The Hague, she and Lucy Peabody toured Europe, the Middle East, India, and the Far East, assessing the conditions of women’s education. Everywhere she visited she spoke boldly on behalf of Christian schools and the training of women teachers. Seven Christian schools in the Far East were started or strengthened as a result of the tour. At the conclusion of the trip, Montgomery and Peabody advocated the establishing of an annual day of world prayer to unite women of the world and emphasize their issues; the federation of Women’s Boards of Foreign Missions adopted this timely suggestion, which eventually became the World Day of Prayer.

In 1920, Montgomery was elected the first woman president of an American denomination, the Northern Baptist Convention. In this role she advocated the Baptist principle of “soul liberty” against a rising tide of fundamentalism and urged that priority be placed on the missionary task of the church rather than on divisive theological issues. Her greatest literary achievement was the Centenary Translation of the New Testament (1924), the first New Testament translation by a woman scholar. The sales derived from this translation went directly to mission projects supported by Northern Baptists.

This blogger calls her one of the most influential Christians you have never heard of.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Jane Aitken

Jane Aitken (1764-1832), is a significant historical figure for several reasons. One of the first American female printers, Jane Aitken was also a bookseller, bookbinder, businesswoman, and employer during the early nineteenth century, a time when the independence of women was actively discouraged.

According to printing historian Leona Hudak, almost nothing is known of Jane Aitken’s personal life and work. She was the daughter of Robert Aitken, a printer, bookbinder, and bookseller who emigrated from Paisley, Scotland to Philadelphia in 1769. Her father had the distinction of publishing the first complete English-language Bible printed in America and the only one ever authorized and approved by Congress. Jane’s own unique contribution to American printing history was the first American translation of the Bible, published in four octavo volumes in 1808.

The Bible that Aitken published was historic for more than one reason. It was the first English translation of the Septuagint.

Charles Thomson was the Secretary to the United States Congress from 1774 to 1789, when he resigned to pursue his scholarly interests. Thomson was fascinated with the early Greek manuscripts of the New Testament and the Greek translation of the Old Testament called the “Septuagint”. He produced the first translation of the Septuagint into English, and the first new modern-English translation of the New Testament in the western hemisphere. Charles Thomson spent twenty years perfecting his translation, and then he sought a publisher

The publisher he found was the daughter of the famous Robert Aitken, who had produced the first English Bible printed in America in 1782. Her name was Jane Aitken. On September 12, 1808, in Philadelphia, Jane Aitken published Charles Thomson’s translation of the Bible into modern English in four volumes, making her the first woman to ever print a Bible, and the first publisher of a modern-English Bible since the King James version of two centuries earlier.

PS She is not a woman bible translator but she best fits this series.

Julia Evelina Smith

Update: Here is a longish article about Julia Smith in French that I will take time to finish reading soon.

I'm fine so I am going to post a few passages on women and Bible translation. About time, eh? Here is Julia E. Smith,

    Julia Smith's translation of the Bible stands out unique among all translations. It is the only one ever made by a woman, and the only one, it appears, ever made by man or woman without help.

    Wyclif, "the morning star of the Reformation," made a translation from the Vulgate, assisted by Nicholas of Hereford. He was not sufficiently familiar with Hebrew and Greek to translate from those tongues.

    Coverdale's translation was not done alone. In his dedication to the king he says he has humbly followed his interpreters and that under correction. Tyndale, in his translation, had the assistance of Frye, of William Roye, and also of Miles Coverdale.

    Julia Smith translated the whole Bible absolutely alone, without consultation with any one. And this not once, but five times--twice from the Hebrew, twice from the Greek and once from the Latin. Literalness was one end she kept constantly in view, though this does not work so well with the Hebrew tenses. But she did not mind that. Frequently her wording is an improvement, or brings one closer to the original than the common translation.

    Thus in I. Corinthians viii, 1, of the King James translation, we have: "Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth." Julia Smith version: "Knowledge puffs up and love builds the house." She uses "love" in place of "charity" every time. And her translation was made nearly forty years before the revised version of our day, which also does the same.

    Tyndale, in his translation nearly three hundred and seventy-five years ago, made the same translation of this word; but Julia Smith did not know that and never saw his translation. This word "charity" was one of the words that Sir Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of England, charged Tyndale with mistranslating.

    The other two words were "priest'' and "church," Tyndale calling priests "seniors," and church, "congregation." Both Julia Smith and the revised version call them priests and church. And he gives the word, "Life" for "Eve" "And Adam will call his wife's name Life, for she was the mother of all living."
And here is a book about her,
    Working in isolation on a Connecticut farm, Julia Smith (1792–1886) translated the Bible into English. She was the only woman to translate the entire Bible, but her work has been alternately ignored or disparaged by subsequent biblical scholars. This is in part because no English translation other than the King James Version attracted significant attention until the appearance of the Revised Standard Version in 1952.

    In With Her Own Eyes, Emily Sampson argues that Smith’s work anticipated trends followed by later, usually male, translators and that she deserves recognition as a pioneering and influential biblical scholar in her own right. Smith was the daughter of a preacher and lawyer and a mother who wrote poetry and studied linguistics, mathematics, and astronomy.

    When William Miller’s predictions of the end of the world failed, she began translating for herself from the original languages. Trained in Greek and Latin, Smith taught herself Hebrew and ultimately produced five translations. In 1876 Smith published a very literal translation at her own expense. She hoped not only that her Bible would reveal additions made to the King James Version but that her work would help bolster the case that women were, in many respects, the equal of men.

    Sampson also details Smith’s striking personal history. She and her four sisters were seen as eccentrics in the small town of Glastonbury. They were active in the abolitionist movement in the decades before the Civil War and later in the temperance and women’s suffrage movements. Smith attended the first meeting of the Association of the Advancement of Women, and she and her sister Abby became famous in Connecticut for their refusal to pay taxes until given the right to vote in town meetings.

    A comprehensive look at the intellectual, social, and political circles of Julia Smith, With Her Own Eyes is a singular portrait of one of the most remarkable autodidacts in the history of American intellectual life.

    Emily Sampson teaches in the Humanities Department at Cuyamaca College in California.