Saturday, January 31, 2009

Francis Werner

I have mentioned Julia E. Smith as a Bible translator of the 19th century who had provided the most literal, or word for word, translation of the Hebrew Bible available until recently.

Last year the Ancient Roots Hebrew Bible appeared. Francis Werner was inspired through her own Bible study and by Beth Moore to provide a "translinear" translation of the Hebrew Bible. She writes,
    The Translinear method was born from a detailed scientific analysis of several bible versions. A portion of the analysis can be found in the Compare Bible Versions section of this website. (I have published the analysis of 20 bible versions under the Truth in Translation series. Truth in Translation: Accuracy and Surprising Bias in the Old Testament is now available on this website.) The reason we need resources like cross-references and Interlinear bibles is because none of the bibles that have been published to date are close enough to the original language. They have extra words, are missing many unique words, and were not utilizing English consistently with the original language.
    So all the classic bible study tools are needed to find out what the ancient text really said.But what would happen if all the all the ancient words matched the English language 100% of the time? You wouldn’t need a cross reference column. You wouldn’t need to compare them in an Interlinear bible. You wouldn’t need to double check the original word in a concordance.

    The highest compliment I've received so far is from a Hebrew professor in town: "This would be very beneficial for our students, mainly because they will be able to tell much more than the usual translation gives them concerning some of the features of the original languages without having to know those languages." And I didn't even bribe him.
    Put on the "magic glasses" and see the Old Testament exactly the way it was written. Transport yourself to the Ancient Roots of the original language with the most exact methodology ever published for completeness and consistency. Join me and enjoy the outpouring of insights.
You can browse this Bible here. Werner has also reviewed other study Bibles on Amazon. For an academic review of her accomplishment I recommend this commentary. Her book Truth in Translation has also received singularly negative reviews.

However, she has provided a view into the Hebrew roots of words and if one wants to find more about the poetic language and imagery of Hebrew, this reveals something of the language to non-Hebrew readers. Here is the Babel story from the Ancient Hebrew roots Bible,

    All the land was of one lip and of one word. As they were journeying east, they found a canyon in the land of Central-Iraq and they dwelled there. They had brick for stone and had bitumen for clay. Man said to neighbor, "Brick whitens by burning it thus on a pyre." They said, "Thus we will build a city and a tower with its head in heaven to make our name. Otherwise we will scatter over the face of the all the land." Yahweh descended to see the city and the tower which the sons of Adam built. Yahweh said, "Behold, one people, all with one lip, all began to do this! Now none are protected from their plotting which they do.
It has a close resemblance to Julia Smith's version. It is an odd thing really. I have seen some people invent the most impossible interpretations of the Bible from using interlinear's like Werner's. But the truth is that even among those who claim to know the original languages well enough, one sometimes comes across oddities. I recommend using this Bible in combination with your favourite translation, perhaps the NRSV.

In my view the Ancient Roots Hebrew Bible is one more tool, and does not replace learning Hebrew, but realistically who has time. It also reflects the desire of women to participate in the creation of meaning around the sacred text. Perhaps if more women were included in the academy women might not produce translations which so singularly lack endorsement.

Francis Werner must be listed as a woman bible translator.

babble from Babel:11

A post which I linked to previously has disappeared so I must redo some thinking here. I did not save the post so I can only provide some small insight into what was written.

The only part that remains in my memory is the story of Moses in the bulrushes. There are too many similarities to the Babel theme for me to let this one fall by the wayside.

Instead of providing the Hebrew and Greek this time, I will provide some literal translations and compare them. The first is Julia E. Smith's translation of the Hebrew Bible, the second is a literal translation of the Septuagint, and the third is the Douay Rheims translation of the Latin Vulgate.

    And she will not be able able any more to hide him, and she will take for him an ark of bulrush and will pitch it with bitumen and pitch, and she will put in it the child, and will put it in the sedge by the lip of the river. Julia E. Smith's translation of the Hebrew.

    But when they could hide it no longer, its mother took a basket and plastered it with a mix of pitch and tar and she put the child in it and placed it in the marsh beside the river. New English Translation of the Septuagint.

    And when she could hide him no longer, she took a basket made of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and pitch: and put the little babe therein, and laid him in the sedges by the river’s brink, Douay-Rheims
Once again the term for "lip" goes completely untranslated in the Greek, while in most English translations one can read "brink" or "bank." In fact, the Greek word for "lip" cheilos can mean "brink" or "rim" but here the translators of the LXX simply did not translate the Hebrew with any term at all. The reader falls on empty space.

While the word itself refers simply to the lip, it was also used to refer to the womb. By leaving out the Greek word cheilos as a translation for the Hebrew word for "lip." a feminine metaphor was lost. It was not until Julia Smith made her literal translation from the Hebrew that this term was finally translated into English.

I am arguing here for the participation of women in the enterprise of Bible translation, as a means to engage with the full range of semantic and poetic content of the original writings. While "lip" represents the womb, or women as life-generating agents; the "lip" also represents one of the points of articulation for language, one that is essential for generating meaning.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

babble from Babel:10

In blogging about Babel it was not my original purpose to blog about gender. But metaphor lends itself to gender. I have taken some poetic license with these posts. I do not claim that the authors of the original Hebrew writings used certain words with the intent of communicating something about gender, but I argue that later translators were influenced by the subliminal gendered metaphors, to translate, or not translate, certain concrete imagery. This happened over and over until the language has become impoverished of many images. The preponderance of those images saved and transformed into every day language are more likely to be masculine.

Perhaps this is not accurate, and my thesis will just be an incentive for the reader to pay closer attention to the detail, and form an opinion of her or his own.

And now for my post this evening, I will cite a passage written by Dante in Latin on the topic of the tower of Babel and then provide the translation by Umberto Eco into Italian and finally an English translation of Eco's Italian. You can see for yourself the image that is lost.

Here is Dante's Latin,

    qua quidem forma omnis lingua loquentium uteretur, nisi culpa presumptionis humane dissipata fuisset, ut inferius ostendetur. Hac forma locutionis locutus est Adam; hac forma locutionis locuti sunt omnes posteri eius usque ad edificationem turris Babel, que ‘turris confusionis’ interpretatur; hanc formam locutionis hereditati sunt filii Heber, qui ab eo dicti sunt Hebrei. Hiis solis post confusionem remansit, ut Redemptor noster, qui ex illis oriturus erat secundum humanitatem, non lingua confusionis, sed gratie frueretur. Fuit ergo hebraicum ydioma illud quod primi loquentis labia fabricarunt.
Here is [a Spanish translation of] Umberto Eco's original Italian,

    y es precisamente tal forma la que habrian utilizado todos los habiantes en su lengua, si no hubiera sido desmembrada por culpa de la presuncion humana, como se mostrara mas abajo. Con esta forma linguistica hablo Adan: gracias a esta forma linguistica hablaron todos sus descendientes hasta la construccion de la torre de Babel, que es interpretada como 'torre de la confusion': esta forma linguistica fue la que heredaron los hijos de heber, que de el tomaron el nombre de hebreos. Solo ellos la conservaron despues de la confusion, para que nuestro Redentor, que segun el lado humano de su naturaleza debia nacer de ellos, disfrutase no de una lengua de la confusion, sino de una lengua de gracia. Fue, por tanto, el idioma hebreo el que pronunciaron los labios del primer hablante.
And here is Fentress' English translation of Eco's Italian,

    and it is precisely this form that all speakers would make use of in their language had it not been dismembered through the fault of human presumption, as I shall demonstrate below. By this linguistic form Adam spoke: by this linguistic form spoke all his descendants unitl the construction of the Tower of Babel - which is interpreted as the 'tower of confusion': this was the linguistic form that the sons of Eber, called Hebrews after him, inherited. It remained to them alone after the confusion, so that our Saviour, who because of the human side of his nature had to be born of them, could use a language not of confusion but of grace. it was thus the Hebrew tongue that was constructed by the first being endowed with speech.
And now here is the literal English translation of the last line in the [Spanish translation of] Eco's Italian,

    It was, thus, the Hebrew idiom which the lips of the first speaker pronounced.

Another case of disappearing lips! What is it with these guys? We all have lips - plain, old, ordinary lips to speak with, but we see that the LXX translators, the editor of the Sefer Yetsira, Bible translators, and now James Fentress, Eco's translator, just wrote "lips" right out of the text. And so we speak only with our tongue, with an impoverished tongue.

Eco, Umberto. The Search for the Perfect Language.

Eco, Umberto. La Busqueda de La Lengua Perfecta.

Notes: And I don't have a copy of this book in Italian. If you do I would be delighted to post Eco's original translation of Dante.

I have committed some kind of grievous error writing Spanish without accents, but it is not a language that I am familiar with, and I am still on a borrowed computer without my usual keyboard.

I am sure that my complete ignorance of Spanish must seem funny but there is very little Spanish in my Canadian environment.

Marie Dentière: Defense of Women

Let her speak for herself,

Not only would some slanderers and adversaries of the truth want to accuse us of too great audacity and boldness, but also some of the faithful, saying that women are too bold to write to one another about Holy Scripture. To them one can allowably respond that all those who have written and who have been named in Holy Scripture are not judged to be too bold, since some [women] are named and praised in Holy Scripture as much for their good morals, actions, behavior, and examples as for their faith and doctrine. Like Sarah and Rebecca, and principally among all the others of the Old Testament, the mother of Moses who, in spite of the edict of the King, had dared to keep her son from death and have him raised in the house of the Pharaoh, as it is amply declared in Exodus 2. Regarding Deborah, who judged the people of Israel during the time of the Judges, she is not to be disregarded. (Judges 4.)

I ask, would it be necessary to condemn Ruth even though she is of the feminine sex, on account of the history written about her in her book? I do not think so, seeing that she is numbered in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. [3]

What wisdom had the Queen of Sheba, who is not only named in the Old Testament, but Jesus had dared to name her among the other sages. [4] If it is a question of speaking of the graces which have been given to women, what greater [grace] has been given to any creature on the earth than to the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, to have carried the son of God? [5] It was not less [than that given] to Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, to have given birth to a son so miraculously, being sterile. [6]

What preacher has done more than the Samaritan woman [7] who was not ashamed to preach Jesus and his word, proclaiming him openly before all the world as soon as she understood from Jesus that it is necessary to adore God in spirit and in truth? Where is the one who can boast to have seen the first manifestation of the great mystery of the resurrection if not Mary Magdalene, from whom he had expelled seven demons? And the other women to whom it was declared by his Angel, rather than to men, and commanded to speak, preach and declare it to others?

And although there has been some imperfection in all women, nevertheless men have not been exempt from it. Why is it so necessary to criticize women, seeing that a woman never sold nor betrayed Jesus, but a man named Judas. Who are the ones, I ask you, who have so invented and fabricated ceremonies, heresies, and false doctrines on the earth, if not men, and the poor women have been seduced by them.

Never was a woman found to be a false prophet, although they have been fooled by them; although by this I do not wish to excuse the great malice of some women, which can surpass all measure, but there is no reason to make of it a general rule without any exception, as they [the critics of women] make daily; and principally Faustus, that mocker, in his Bucoliques ; seeing that, I certainly cannot keep silent, since these are more recommended and utilized than the Gospel of Jesus which is prohibited to us [women] and this story-teller [Faustus] is held to be good in the schools. [8]

Therefore, if God has given grace to some good women, revealing something good and holy to them through his Holy Scriptures, will they dare not write, tell, or declare it to one another for the sake of the slanderers of the truth? Ah, to wish to hinder them would be too impudent, and it would be too foolish to hide the talent that God has given us, we ought to have the grace to persevere until the end. Amen.

Jeanne de Jussie & Marie Dentiere
Dentiere by J. D. Douglass

Sunday, January 25, 2009

bibble babble

Our Computer, who art in cyberspace,
Infallible be thy name,
Thy sphere come,
Thy code be done,
On paper as it is pixels.
Give us this day our daily byte
And forgive us our typos
As we forgive those who type against us
but deliver us from all error

For thine are the pixels,
and the power and the process
for ever and ever amen.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

babble from Babel 9

My post today will be too simply invite you to read Kurk's post here on the naming of Moses, and how it relates to some of the ideas I have been exploring here. Amazingly, we see again the proximity of pitch and bitumen, of lip and naming.So Kurk's post must be babble from Bable post # 9.

I also want to signal the emergence of two bloggers, Kurk and Iyov, with women's voices, participating in the creation of meaning. Iyov, now in retirement, was the first who inspired me to study the story of Miriam, and to revisit the books of the law with new eyes. Kurk as reconsidered his retirement and continues to explore the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

babble from Babel 8

Genesis 11:4

    And they said Come on!
    let us build for ourselves a city,
    and a tower with its head in the heavens,
    so let us make for ourselves a name,
    - lest we be scattered abroad
    over the face of all the earth. Rotherham

    And they will say, Come,
    we will build to us a city,
    and a tower, its head to the heavens;
    and we will make to us a name,
    lest we shall be dispensed
    over the face of the earth. Julia Smith

    Dixerunt itaque, Agite
    aedificemus nobis civitatem & turrim,
    cuius caput centingat caelum, atq;
    ita faciamus nobis nomen;
    ne forte dispergamur
    super faciem universae terrae. Pagnini

    et dixerunt venite
    faciamus nobis civitatem
    et turrem cuius culmen pertingat ad caelum
    et celebremus nomen nostrum
    antequam dividamur in universas terras. Vulgate

It is striking that both Smith and Rotherham retain the terms "head" and "face." The tower has a "head" and the earth has a "face." These are not translated into the Latin of the Vulgate but do find a place in Pagnini's Latin translation. Pagnini is known for a more literal rendering of the Hebrew than Jerome. Jerome's translation must be considered to be of the dynamic equivalent type for this passage.

Whatever your views on translation, it is good to know these names, Pagnini, Rotherham and Smith. They are the heroes of transparency and word for word translation. They have a sense of the sound and flow of the language. They are not just translating meaning, but metaphor and imagery, alliteration and assonance.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

babble from Babel 7

Here is the story of the tower from Julia Smith's Bible. HT Kurk I love the rhythm and minimalism. Its transparent to the Hebrew for the most part.

    1. And all the earth shall be one lip, and the same words.
    2. And it shall be in their removing from the east they shall find a valley in the land of Shinar; and they shall dwell there.
    3. And they shall say a man to his neighbour, Come, we will make bricks, and we will burn to a burning, and brick shall be to them for stone, and potter's clay shall be to them for potter's clay.
    4. And they will say, Come, we will build to us a city, and a tower, its head to the heavens; and we will make to us a name, lest we shall be dispensed over the face of the earth.
    5. And Jehovah will come down to see the city, and the tower which the sons of men built.
    6. And Jehovan will say, Behold, the people one, and one lip to them all and this they begin to do; and now it will not be restrained from them all which they shall imagine to do.
    7. Come, we will come down and mix their lip that they shall not hear a man the lip of his neighbor.
    8. And Jehovah will disperse them from thence over the face of all the earth; and they will cease to build the city.
    9. Therefore its name was called confusion, for there Jehovah confounded the lip of all the earth; and from thence Jehovah dispersed them over the face of all the earth.
Its right and proper that a woman would translate the Hebrew word for lip with the English one. While lip in Hebrew is one common way to talk about language, along with tongue, it does not usually appear in English. The lip came to represent the feminine, receptivity and passivity.

It is a very odd thing, but in one of the additions to the Sefer Yetsira, the Book of Creation, which is a treatise on language and creation, the five places of articulation are described. One would expect that the lip would appear as one of the places. But in this masculinist text, all the places of articuation are represented by the tongue. The lip is not mentioned. Clearly from other parts of the text, the tongue was related to circumcision - it was a parallel organ of generation.

Here is the passage from Peter Hayman's translation, page 93,

    The twenty-two letters are the foundation: three primary letters, seven double (letters), and twelve simple (letters). They are carved out by the voice, hewn out in the air, fixed in the mouth in five positions: Aleph, Het, He, Ayin, Bet, Waw, Mem, Pe, Gimel, Yod, Kaph, Qof, Dalet, Tet, Lamed, Nun, Taw, Zayin, Samek, Sade, Resh, Shin, They are bound to the tip of the tongue as the flame to the burning coal.

    Aleph, He, Het, Ayin are pronounced at the back of tongue and in the throat.

    Bet, Waw, Mem, Pe are pronounced between the teeth and by the tip of the tongue.

    Gimel, Yod, Kaph, Qof, are cut off a third of the way up the tongue.

    Dalet, Tet, Lamed, Nun, Taw, are pronounced by tip of the tongue with the voice.

    Zayin, Samech, Sade, Resh, Shin (are pronounced) between the teeth with the tongue relaxed.
Notice the complete lack of any reference to the lips and the assignment of all articulation to the tongue. While the circumcised organ has agency in creating new life; the tongue, or language, has agency in the creation of the world. In this book the world is created by language, a masculine form of energy having agency. Only the tongue articulates language and not the lips.

And why does the lip not appear in the Sefer Yetsira? I don't know, but its absence is peculiar. Is the feminine imagery absent on purpose?

The point is that the lips are a necessary location of articulation for language. The lips are no more passive than the tongue. Just as the tongue has agency, so do the lips. The lips are a different, complementary point of articulation. They are not a passive receptacle. Nor is the womb.

The feminine image of vessels for sefirot, now prevalent in Kabalah, does not appear in the Sefer Yetsira. It is a book which morphed over time, both in Hebrew and in its many interpretations. While the masculine imagery is deliberate in at least one of the additions to this book, it may be absent in other versions. I offer only some remarks on the oddity of the absence of the lips from this book.

We need a world which accepts and lauds the agency and creativity of women alongside the agency and creativity of men. We need both the masculine and the feminine voice to create our world in the image of God. This is the meaning of the Sefer Yetsira, for this reader, that as we articulate language we create meaning, we create the world we live in. It is the language given us by God, to both men and women, to people of all races. If we listen only to one voice, we lack a full understanding of what is being said. It is as if we were listening to someone talk with only the tongue and no lips, or only the lips and no tongue.

Marie Fortune

Lundy Bancroft's book has been considered one of the best on the topic. He also recommends Marie Fortune of the Faith Trust Institute. This if from her website.

    "For the most part clergy have hindered rather than helped women break free from their abusive partners. Our apathy, denial, exhortations, ignorance, and misinterpretations of the Bible have added to women's pain and suffering and placed them in even greater danger. The time is long overdue for us pastors to stop turning our backs on domestic violence and begin speaking out against this sin. We have a responsibility to preach and teach the biblical truths about God's love, which binds women and men together as equals rather than ordering them in a hierarchy. As long as we refuse to fully carry out our pastoral duties, victims of domestic violence will continue to crumble emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually underneath the weight of brutality and scriptural misinterpretations, which no human deserves.

    - Rev. Al Miles Domestic Violence: What Every Pastor Needs to Know

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Abusive Mentality:1

I feel that this topic is so serious and so severely misunderstood that I am going to blog pieces of Lundy Bancroft's book for a bit. Here are a list of realities about abusers,

1. He is controlling.
2. He feels entitled.
3. He twists things into their opposites.
4. He disrespects his partner and feels that he is superior to her.
5. He confuses love and abuse.
6. He is manipulative.
7. He strives to have a good public image.
8. He feels justified.
9. Abusers deny and minimize their abuse.
10. Abusers are possessive.

I'll get into the details later. I firmly believe that the teaching that the husband has more authority than the wife is a condition in which abuse thrives. This does not mean that men who are not exposed to this teaching in church cannot find it somewhere else. This does not mean that women cannot be abusive. This means, simply put, the notion that one person has more authority than the other is a reality of abuse.

I feel that this is a safety issue, so I am going to comment on compegal.

Myths about abuse by Lundy Bancroft

In complegalitarian the conversation has turned to spousal violence. It is a place where many commenters like to be anonymous, although maintaining a name of some kind. I support anonymity in this context and I am disappointed that real names have been introduced into published comments in this context, betraying the confidentiality of at least one commenter. Let me repeat, I support anonymity in this context and I would like to promote it.

For this reason and others, I am a conscientious objector to the complegalitarian blog. However, I feel the need to comment on this most recent post. First, the author, Marilyn asks some good questions.

One commenter responds,

    Yes, symptoms become causes in their own right, but the root causes are nonetheless other.

    A person’s personality type (here, OCEAN, the big five personality traits, is more helpful perhaps than Myers-Briggs: watch out for neuroticism and disagreeableness), upbringing, history of being abused by others, family of origin’s history of mental illness and personal history of mental illness, personal choices in terms of substance abuse, self-medication, and patterns of addiction - these things are the root causes of abuse.
Now, let me introduce you to Lundy Bancroft, who I believe is a recognized author in this area. In fact, I believe he is the best.

    The Myths about Abusers page 23 - 24

    1. He was abused as a child.
    2.His previous partner abused him.
    3.He abuses those he loves the most.
    4. He holds in his feelings too much.
    5. He has an aggressive personality.
    6. He loses control.
    7. He is too angry.
    8.He is mentally ill.
    9. He hates women.
    10. He is afraid of intimacy and abandonment.
    11. He has low-self-esteem.
    12.His boss mistreats him.
    13.He has poor skills in communication and conflict resolution.
    14. There are as many abusive women as abusive men.
    15.His abusiveness is as bad for him as for his partner.
    16.He is a victim of racism.
    17. He abuses alcohol or drugs.
Bancroft meticulously supports his claims that it is a myth that these things cause someone to become an abuser.

Thank you, Lundy Bancroft. I will blog soon about some of the causes of abuse.

Bancroft, Lundy. Why Does He Do That? I recommend this as the best book on the topic. It takes no position on any religious viewpoint. It is refreshingly devoid of that kind of comment. Every pastor should own this book.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Internet Anonymity

Anonymity is a common feature on the internet. On this post at my last count, 87 out of 135 commenters were simply "Anonymous." It appeared that the blog owner may have been commenting anonymously also.

The topic? Complementarianism and egalitarianism. The tempers run high. A few people still use their full names there. Others link to their own blogs. This is a serious place and in my opinion, it is the premiere spot on the internet for debating this topic.

The mix of commenters is fascinating. It ranges from totally unknown and outrageously scrappy surivors of abuse, to ministers and authors of published books. (Versus those of us whose books are neither written nor published.:-)

On another note, in the last month 4 or 5 complementarian blogs have either posted about me, or invited me to comment at length or invited me to post, all with my real name. It's interesting because sometimes an egalitarian will say to me that I approach exegesis like a complementarian. I don't know about that, but I do read complementarian books.

Here is lonely old me, having abandoned the brotherhood of man, and now I am working on the siblinghood of humanity. What next? I read a comment recently using "Babel" as a symbol of the disunity between comps and egals. Perhaps introducing a new babble can lead to some bridge building.

Equal participation in decision-making for women

From a paper by World Vision,

  • Create programmes and raise awareness among men and women to acknowledge and alleviate the burdens of women’s triple role in their home, workplace, and community, and promote women’s equal participation in decision-making.
  • Enhance the social support system to enable women to work outside of the home by providing free/subsidised and good quality day-care centres for infants and elders.
  • Governmental and international agencies, NGOs, employers, and trade unions must ensure equal rights and equal pay for all women.
    Women in leadership must be encouraged to build their capacity, confidence, assertiveness, and leadership skills while increasing the number of female staff who serve as role models. At the same time, men must be made aware of the shared benefits of gender equality, enabling them to relate to and work positively with empowered women.
  • Furthermore, World Vision suggests partnership with social institutions such as churches, council of elders, community leaders and other sources of influence to remove barriers that prevent women from full participation.
  • Educate men and women on shared gender roles that allow familial and social equity leading to households and societies where both genders have equal opportunities and access to resources and decision making.

You might read this paper and be glad that you don't live under the conditions described within. Yes, but considering the comparative prosperity of North America, women still suffer from a shocking amount of violence and discrimination. Since this is the same within the Christian community as outside it, it is time for the church as a whole to make a stand against the denial of equal decision-making power to women around the world and at home.

Let's pull together on this and better the lives of women and children here and around the world.

And here are some thoughts from Carolyn McCulley on this.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ish as "participant"

I need to do a lot of organizational stuff on this blog and add a recent comments widget among other things.

I want to thank David E Stein for an extended comment on Babel 3. This is regarding the gender connotations of ish.

Monday, January 12, 2009

kephale: head of the Roman army?

A commenter recently posted this comment,

    If “kephale” is in fact used to refer to generals of armies, the Roman Emperor, and the leaders of tribes (which Sue confirmed for us), then is this even really remotely debatable anymore?
I confirmed that kephale was used as tribal leader, uniquely for Jephthah. This passage is so problematic that this use of kephale is sometimes not cited as proof that God is (supposedly) the authority over Christ, or the husband is (supposedly) an authority over the wife.

But what about the "general of the army. "

Here is a passage from Grudem's study and his rebuttal to Richard Cervin,

    The next example Cervin rejects as ambiguous is:

      (23) Plutarch, Pelopidas 2.1.3: In an army, The light-armed troops are like the hands, the cavalry like the feet, the line of men-at-arms itself like chest and breastplate, and the general is like the head.

    Here Cervin says, Plutarch is using the human body as a simile for the army. This is obvious in context, which Grudem again fails to provide{20} . " . . Plutarch does not call the general the 'head of the army'; he is merely employing a simile. This example is ambiguous at best, and may thus be dispensed with" (p. 101).

    In response, Cervin is correct to point out that this is not a metaphorical use of head in which the general is called the head of the army but is indeed a simile in which Plutarch says, The general is like the head. It is indeed a helpful distinction to point out these similes and put them in a separate category, for, while they may be helpful in clarifying the use of a related metaphor, they are not precisely parallel. (my emphasis)

    But I would not agree that the example therefore may be dispensed with, as Cervin says, for it is of some value in understanding the metaphor, but precision of analysis would be better served by putting it in a distinct category. I appreciate Mr. Cervin's suggestion at this point.

Here is more of the context,

    For if, as Iphicrates analyzed the matter, the light-armed troops are like the hands, the cavalry like the feet, the line of men-at‑arms itself like chest and breastplate, and the general like the head, then he, in taking undue risks and being over bold, would seem to neglect not himself, but all, inasmuch as their safety depends on him, and their destruction too.

First, it is significant that the text says, "as Iphicrates analyzed the matter" indicating that "head" was not the normal way to refer to the general. This is an image used uniquely in this one place. It has to be explained that the general was "like" the head.

Next, Plutarch was born between 45 and 50 AD. Here he is writing about the general of a Roman army. In Latin the word caput had a more extended range than kephale had in Greek.

In Greek, the word kephale had a technical use in military terms, the right-hand half of a phalanx in Arrian's Tactica 8.3, which is a late first/early 2nd century treatise on Roman military practice, in Aelianus' Taktike 7.3 written about the Greek army, and the word is used for a band of men in Job 1:17 LXX. If kephale has a technical military use as something else, it is not easily pressed into use for the "general."

Last, but not least, the general in an army is one person over many. There is no indication that this is useful in 1 Cor. 11 for either the trinity or for marriage. This metaphor is not particulary useful for wedding sermons either.

The purpose of this post is not a further exploration of this topic, but just an opportunity to make available some of what has ;aready been written on this topic.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

ESV Study Bible on authentein

Here is a selection from the ESV Study Bible on 1 Tim. 2:12. HT Evangelical Village. I have bolded one particular sentence.

    1 Tim. 2:12 I do not permit. Paul self-consciously writes with the authority of an apostle (e.g., 1 Thess. 4:1; 2 Thess. 3:6), rather than simply offering an opinion. This statement is given in the context of Paul’s apostolic instructions to the church for the ordering of church practice when the church is assembled together. In that context, two things are prohibited: (1) Women are not permitted to publicly teach Scripture and/or Christian doctrine to men in church (the context implies these topics), and (2) women are not permitted to exercise authority over men in church. (The reference for both “teaching” and “exercise authority” here is within the context of the assembled church.)

    Women teaching other women, and women teaching children, are not in view here, and both are encouraged elsewhere (on women teaching women, cf. Titus 2:4; on women teaching children, cf. 2 Tim. 1:5). Nor does this passage have in view the role of women in leadership situations outside the church (e.g., business or government).

    The presence of the word or (Gk. oude) between “to teach” and “to exercise authority” indicates that two different activities are in view, not a single activity of “authoritative teaching.” “Exercise authority” represents Greekauthenteō, found only here in the NT. Over 80 examples of this word exist outside the NT, however, clearly establishing that the meaning is “exercise authority” (not “usurp authority” or “abuse authority,” etc., as sometimes has been argued).

    Since the role of pastor/elder/overseer is rooted in the task of teaching and exercising authority over the church, this verse would also exclude women from serving in this office (cf. 1 Tim. 3:2). Thus when Paul calls for the women to be quiet, he means “quiet” with respect to the teaching responsibility that is limited in the assembled church. Paul elsewhere indicates that women do speak in other ways in the church assembly (see 1 Cor. 11:5). See also note on 1 Cor. 14:34–35.
Now I would like to cite the well known complementarian scholar Dr. Kostengerger on the lexical evidence for the meaning of authentein. On Between Two Worlds he responded to a series of questions on 1 Tim. 2:12. Once again, I have bolded the relevant sentences.

    Second, H. S. Baldwin takes up the matter of the likely meaning of authentein. The KJV translates this word “usurp authority,” and more recently many feminists, such as I. H. Marshall, have argued that the word has a negative connotation. If so, they say, Paul prohibited only women’s negative exercise of authority in the church, as well as women’s false teaching, not their exercise of these functions, properly conceived. Baldwin’s study shows that authentein was an exceedingly rare word in NT times that occurs in the NT only in 1 Tim 2:12 and elsewhere only once or twice prior to the writing of 1 Timothy.

    3. So, then, in the case of 1 Tim 2:12, is the word study method by itself inconclusive?

    Yes, I believe that’s right. The fact that lexical study in this case, owing to the limited data, of necessity remains inconclusive leads naturally to the next chapter in the book,
I am concerned at the impression of near certainty that the ESV Study Bible communicates to its readers. There is no evidence that warrants this. When dealing with the word of God, used as law in the lives of many people, it is a serious issue when information which is vague and indecisive is presented as solid and trustworthy. I wish to let people know that the ESV Study Bible does not always reflect the consensus of scholarship.

Rick Warren says no to divorce

There are about a dozen things that are extremely disturbing in this post.

Rick Warren: Abuse is no excuse for women to seek divorce

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Bruce Ware and the Westminister Confession

Thanks to Peter's comments on the preceding post, I have found that the ETS doctrinal statement is based on an answer to a question in the Westminster catechism. This, in turn, is based on the Westminister Confession.

    In the unity of the Godhead head there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God Son, and God the Holy Ghost.1

    In Deitatis unitate personæ tres sunt unius ejusdemque essentiæ, potential ac æternitatis; Deus Pater, Deus Filius, ac Deus Spiritus Sanctus.


Potentia is the liturgical Latin equivalent for potestas, meaning authority. The meaning of potentia in Lewis and Short includes the following -
  • might, force, power.
  • ability, faculty, capacity
  • political power, authority, sway, influence
  • the rule of an individual, monarchical power,
  • supreme dominion, sovereignty,
I do not believe that the Son can be equal to the Father in power and under him in authority. This is consistent with what we know about the word kephale. It has no meaning of "authority over" in the Liddell Scott lexicon. There is not one occurrence prior to the New Testament of kephale meaning to have "authority over" one's own people. That is why it is not in the lexicon.

I was not aware that for many years, in sitting under the leadership of Dave Short and Jim Packer, that I was being taught by those who would nuance the fundamental creeds of historic Christianity. I am very disappointed at my own naivete.

My difficulty with Kevin Giles is that he attempts to demonstrate that power and authority mean the same thing in English. Whether they do or not is completely irrelevant. The fact is that "power" or potestas in the Vulgate and the creeds represents exousia in Greek, and this is now translated into English as "authority." In English it is possible for "power" and "authority" to have distinctive meanings. In classical and liturgical Latin it is not. (Potestas translates exousia and is translated into English as "power.") And this is what the creeds were written in.

When I left David Short's church, he pressed me to read Grudem's kephale study. I was unimpressed. I was unaware of exactly how divergent the Christianity of that church had become.

In my opinion few members of the congregation are aware of this controversy. However, last spring Bruce Ware spoke at a local pastors' conference with Dave Short. A younger pastor preached the doctrine best formulated by Ware in our church last summer. I do know that a couple of people walked out publicly. I have no first hand knowledge of further reaction, but I would not be surprised if some resistance emerges.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Bruce Ware and historic Christianity

I have been concerned that some might believe that Bruce Ware had said that Christ was not equal to God. However, he strongly affirms that the Son is equal to the Father in essence. Yet he clearly states that the Son has a distinct role.

To confirm some of what Dr. Ware has said, I looked at Father, Son and Holy Spirit where he wrote,
    Yet notice one more detail. Paul begins his prayer bowing his knees neither to the Son nor to the Spirit but to the Father, "from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named." The Father then is the Sovereign Ruler over heaven and earth, controlling even the very names that every creature is given. From this position of sovereign supremacy, it is the Father who has the authority to grant this prayer's fulfillment, and so ultimately all glory and thanksgiving must go to him.

    Because of this, Paul prays to the Father that the Spirit will enlarge the likeness and experience of Christ in those who believe. As Paul's prayer so clearly indicates, then, the Spirit works in our sanctification to bring honour and glory to the Son, to the ultimate glory of the Father.
From this it appears to me that Ware affirms:

1 The Father has sovereign supremacy above Christ.
2 The Father is supreme in authority over Christ.
3 The Father uniquely has authority to grant answers to prayer.
4. All thanks and glory go to the Father.

I note that the doctrinal statement of the Evangelical Theological Society is this.

    God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory.
The Athanasian Creed says,

    But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.

    Sed Patris, et Fili, et Spiritus Sancti una est divinitas, aequalis gloria, coeterna maiestas.
Augustine writes,

    For he was not sent in virtue of some disparity of power or substance or anything in him that was not equal to the Father, but in virtue of the Son being from the Father, not the Father being from the Son.”*

    non secundum imparem potestatem uel substantiam uel aliquid quod in eo patri non sit aequale missus est, sed secundum id quod filius a patre est, non pater a filio.
Here are extracts from the Lewis and Short Latin dictionary.


  • greatness, grandeur, dignity, majesty

  • sovereign power

  • the paternal authority


  • Political power, dominion, rule, empire, sovereignty

  • Magisterial power, authority, office, magistracy
  • have lawful authority and jurisdiction

In addition to this the Latin word potestas uniquely translates the Greek word exousia in the Vulgate and must be presumed to mean "authority. " I do not see how it can be shown that Augustine did not say that the Son was not unequal to the Father in "authority."

I suggest that majesty and power are synonyms of sovereignty and authority. A study of Latin will demonstrate that potestas did indeed mean authority, and maiestas meant sovereignty. Christ is equal to the Father in authority and sovereignty according to historic Christianity.

I believe that historic Christianity taught that Christ was equal to his Father in authority, power, sovereignty, dominion and rule.

babble from Babel 6

Here is the second half of Gen. 11:3 in several different forms.

נִלְבְּנָה לְבֵנִים‏
niləbənâ ləḇēnîm ‏‏
let us make bricks,

‎ ‏‏ וְנִשְׂרְפָה לִשְׂרֵפָה
wəniśərəfâ liśərēfâ
and burn them thoroughly

הַלְּבֵנָה לְאָבֶן
halləḇēnâ lə’āḇen
brick for stone

וְהַחֵמָר לַחֹמֶר
wəhaḥēmār laḥōmer:
and slime for mortar

In these four lines the second proposition repeats the sounds of the first one. The first two times this is achieved by using a cognate word, a related word, really a different form of the first word. In the third line, the two words are not related semantically but are still similar in sound. In the fourth line, the words are once again related.

Four lines each having a repeated set of sounds, creates the "babel" or "babble" of the people talking, the meaninglessness of the yammering, the repetitive nature of this talk, whose goal was to promote the building of a city and a tower. No wonder God broke it up and dispersed these people.

Let's try this. (linking words are omitted with the readers indulgence.

bake ourselves bricks
fire them with fire
brick for block
bitumen for bond

Now you get the some rhythm, some babble. Let's see how the translators dealt with this.

πλινθεύσωμεν πλίνθους
ὀπτήσωμεν αὐτὰς πυρί
ἡ πλίνθος εἰς λίθον
ἄσφαλτος ὁ πηλός

In the Septuagint there was clearly an attempt to maintain the alliterative aspect of this speech.

faciamus lateres,
coquamus eos igni.
lateres pro saxis
bitumen pro cæmento Vulgate

faciamus lateres,
igni coquamus
lateres vice lapidum
bitumen vice cæmento Pagnini

Pagnini makes only one revision from the Vulgate replacing saxis with lapidum. However he does this in order to create an additional alliteration. It appears to be deliberate.

Gen. 11:3 is one of the most evocative verses of the Bible.

They spoke,
person to the one next,
let us
bake ourselves bricks
fire them with fire
brick for block
and bitumen for bond

Here we have one of the most important propositions of the bible, that each of us is in reciprocal relations with our next one. Here we also have one of the most alliterative utterances of the bible, brick for block.

What a perfect presentation of precept and pleasure..... But what happens next?

Monday, January 05, 2009

babble from Babel 5

Note: The discussion of vocabulary for circumcision in this post reflects issues which would have affected the translators of the scriptures into Greek. It does not reflect the language for circumcision in Hebrew.

This is not exactly from Babel but it has to be part of this series. First, you must read Kurk's post here and the last section on how circumcision was translated into Greek.

Here is a funny thing. In Hebrew there was the akrobustia (1) which was peritemno, or cut around, we now say, circumcised; but also the word of your mouth, logos, which if you remember well is called the "lip" in Hebrew, ought to be likewise circumcised, but in the case of Moses was, in fact, un-cut-around - he stammered.

And this does not sound so bad in Hebrew, since the heart Lev 26:41; Jer 9:26 can also be un-cut-around and the ears too Jer 6:10. So, in Hebrew, this is just an expression.

But the Greeks would have none of that. The translators of the Septuagint could not write that Moses was of "uncircumcised lips." They clearly found this kind of formal equivalence to be impossible and refused to accept such a foreign notion in this case. In Greek the ears could literally be "uncircumcised" and the heart, as well. This leads me to believe that the Greek translators did, indeed, associate the "lips" with the female pudenda, and deliberately rejected the possibility that "lips" could be circumcised.

Here we see the stammering dynamic equivalence of the Greek translation. But first, the Hebrew is

    וַאֲנִי עֲרַל שְׂפָתָיִם
and literally means "I am of uncircumcised lips" KJV

The Greek translators, however, tried out both ἄλογός and ἰσχνόφωνός, an indication of their inhibitions on this topic.

    ἐγὼ δὲ ἄλογός εἰμι Ex. 6:12

    I am un wordy (wild and irrational)

    ἐγὼ ἰσχνόφωνός εἰμι Ex. 6:30
    I am weakvoiced (stammering)

    cum incircumcisus sim labiis? Jerome (I lack Pagnini's Exodus)

    with uncircumcised lips
The Greeks, of course, knew that the ancient Egyptians practiced female circumcision, and perhaps the Hebrews did not want that phrase found in their scriptures. The earliest written record of female circumcision dates back to Herodotus.

    It has not been possible to determine when or where female circumcision originated. Theories and supposition date it as far back as the 5th century, BC. Herodotus stated that the Egyptians, Phoenicians, Hittites, and Ethiopians practiced female genital excision 500 years before the birth of Christ. Although it is commonly believed that female circumcision originated in Egypt at the time of the pharaohs, there is no evidence of infibulation in the Egyptian mummies.
    The practice has been documented in pre-Islamic Arabia, ancient Rome, and tsarist Russia.l As late as 1870, British surgeons performed female circumcision to treat psychological disorders. In the United States, as late as 1954, clitoridectomy was practiced for the treatment of melancholia and had been recommended for nymphomania, hysteria, epilepsy, kleptomania, and even truancy.2
    Today, female circumcision is common in 30 African countries, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Yemen.3
But traveling back from Ex. 6 to Ex. 1, we find another story of bricks and mortar. This time the Hebrews, both men and women, were making bricks as slaves. Pharoah wanted to eliminate the baby boys but he could not,

    And the midwives said unto Pharaoh: 'Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwife come unto them.'
The Hebrew women were lively or חָיוֹת and did not have trouble giving birth. I want to know if this means that the Hebrew women were "lively" or like "livestock," either one would work well here. Were the Hebrew women uncircumcised and able to give birth with greater ease than the Egyptian women? And why are we still debating this topic, or rather being silent on this topic still today? Has the world progressed in several thousand years?

These are my questions and not my answers. But we do know for sure that the translators of the Septuagint chose to use dynamic equivalence in translation instead of a foreignizing oddness when they felt they needed to. No sign of a circumcision of the lips here.

Thanks to Carolyn McCulley for posting on this topic recently.


(1)LSJ 1. akro-bustia , ,
A. foreskin, LXX Ge.17.11, al., Ph.Fr.49 H., Act.Ap.11.3.
II. state of having the foreskin, uncircumcision, Ep.Rom.2.25, etc.
2. collect., the uncircumcised, ib.2.26, 3.30, etc. (Prob. from akros and a Semitic root, cf. Bab. buśtu 'pudenda', Heb. bōsheth 'shame': wrongly derived from akros, buô by EM53.48.)

Liddell and Scott 1871 (only for use in schools) says this:

akrobustia - uncircumcision

(No doubt teenage boys should not be reading about pudenda!)

Sunday, January 04, 2009

babble from Babel 4

It happens that I live at a point in the city that gets a fair bit of snow. It is still snowing almost three weeks from when it began. I can't drive anywhere and walking is difficult too. Some streets are plowed but our neighbourhood is a mess.

In this exercise I am working for transparency and not a finished translation.

Once again, here are the first few words of Gen. 11:3.
    Dixitque alter ad proximum suum Jerome

    And he said other to his next one

    Dixeruntque alter ad alterum Pagnini

    And they said other to other

    καὶ εἶπεν ἄνθρωπος τῷ πλησίον

    And he/she said person to the one next

    וַיֹּאמְרוּ אִישׁ אֶל-רֵעֵהוּ

    And they said ish to his/her fellow
Some of the questions are about reciprocity. Is there a plural verb because the ish says something to the next one who then reciprocates. In English as well, they spoke one to another. Clearly they both/all spoke. This is reciprocity. Not that some spoke to others. At least that is not what Pagnini says, but other to other.

And then there is the question of whether ish is a man, or a person. There is no indication here either way. I am not aware of any translations which use a word for a male adult human, such as man, in this case. The literal Greek clearly translates ish as anthropos, a person.

The last interesting feature here is the use of the Hebrew word reicha, usually translated into English as "neighbour." In English this has the connotation of next door neighbour, but in Hebrew it is anyone from your "companion" to a "fellow human." This is much debated. In Greek, it is the "one who is next." The question of who is one's next one, and how one loves one's next one, is a daunting moral question, but of paramount importance.

Here is the mitzvah of V’Ahavta L’Reicha Kamocha (love your neighbor as you love yourself.)

    This mitzva is one of the most popularly quoted and least understood mitzvot. How can you command someone to love? What is the definition of your neighbor? How can you love someone like yourself? Ramban asks these questions and bases his interpretation of the mitzva on the explanation of Hillel who restates the pasuk in the following way (as per the story of teaching the whole Torah standing on one foot):

      "What is hateful to you do not do unto your neighbor. This is the entire Torah, all the rest is commentary" (Shabbat 31a)
Rest in peace.

Calvin 3

I edited this post because John has since explained to me that he intended to use a mixture of dynamic equivalence and formal equivalence to compare the Latin and the French of the first few passages of Calvin's Intutitutes. When the dynamic equivalent passages were compared, and an additional factor of dropped words, and added metaphors were added in, the comparison between the two was lost in the English, at least to my eyes. I simply did not recognize how he was revealing differences in the original structures.

On the other hand, when I am comparing the Latin of Jerome and Pagnini, I take a completely opposite approach and begin with an extremely literal word for word translation in order to reveal the differences and demonstrate the contrasting vocabulary. Words are less likely to be dropped in this case, as I compare each word in turn. This creates an awkard working translation which is what I am aiming at.

It happens that John had an entirely different and equally valid goal in mind. Sometimes two different people approach a task in contrasting ways.

babble from Babel 3

This series on Babel, in Gen. 11, has been on my mind for a very long time. This is one of my favourite stories in Genesis, full of rhythm and alliteration. It was not chosen to highlight any gender aspects of the language, but that has become a unifying theme for this study. It is important for readers to keep in mind that I am writing commentary, not theology, and this should be read for the fun of it.

I am looking mainly at the differences between Jerome's Latin and Pagnini's Latin. Pagnini's translation from the Hebrew, in the early 1500's, became one of the four or five reference texts for Coverdale and subsequent Bible translation into English.

I pass now from the disconcerting opening, here and here, from the finding that the people were of one lip - and no tongue - to the third verse.

Here we read that "they spoke" or is it "he spoke" one to another. This raises many questions for each lexical item. Here are the contrasting texts,

    Dixitque alter ad proximum suum Jerome

    Dixeruntque alter ad alterum Pagnini

    καὶ εἶπεν ἄνθρωπος τῷ πλησίον

    וַיֹּאמְרוּ אִישׁ אֶל-רֵעֵהוּ

There we have it - some sort of singular "they or rather a plural "one." The verb in Hebrew "to speak" is plural and the subject ish (man or person) is singular. Of course, it is not singular at all because this phrase represents reciprocal action - reciprocity in grammatical construction. Each person spoke to another person, who spoke back in return, and they said to each other, let us bake bricks and burn them black and build ....

(but I get ahead of myself and slide into the alliterative future of the ba ba ba the babble of Babel before its time.)

I stop and ask myself, for the sake of this verb, if women also make bricks. Can wayyomaru ish mean that men and women spoke to each other and said "Let us make bricks."

We don't know who spoke in this line, but we do know that women made bricks. Brickmaking was the task of slaves and the lowest people in the group. But here it seems that they all took it on, they made the bricks voluntarily because it says, "Let us ..." and they spoke to their neighbours, their peers, let us make bricks.

Now here is a story of a woman and her bricks - and her baby.

    "Come, let us build us a city and a tower." Many, many years were spent building the tower. It reached so great a height that it took a year to mount to the top. A brick was, therefore, more precious in the sight of the builders than a human being. If a man fell down and met his death, none took notice of it; but if a brick dropped, they wept, because it would take a year to replace it. So intent were they upon accomplishing their purpose that they would not permit a woman to interrupt her work of brickmaking when the hour of travail came upon her. Moulding bricks, she gave birth to her child, and tying it round her body in a sheet, she went on moulding bricks.
    -- Louis Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews
It's not that women want to make bricks, but don't let anyone tell you that women did not labour side by side with men. They did, and they do.

So wayyomaru ish, which one could argue is literally "the man spoke," seems more suitably translated in a gender neutral way - perhaps "and they said to one another" would do just as well. It turns out that even the most conservative and literal of Bible translations, check yours out, the translations of great transparency, do not translate this word ish with man, but translate it as "they said to one another."

Looking back to the Septuagint, it supplied anthropos for ish, the gender neutral human being for ish, which some say is "man" only. But "man" disappears in the Latin and we read alter, or "other." So, "other said to other" or "they spoke other to other." Let's stop this post now and each of us find our other.

I invite you, if you want to understand that ish may be anyone, man or woman, who puts a hand to a brick, to read the articles on this page by David Stein.

Calvin 2

In John's original post he wrote,

The Latin lacks an explicit note to the effect that the two sides of the epistemological coin “form a unity with one another.” On the other hand, the Latin uses a precise expression – “give birth from itself” (“from itself” is in all English translations to date) – that is lacking in the French
Then I wrote to John offering this translation from the French,

“As to the rest, inasmuch as they are united, one another, by many links, it is not always easy to discern which one goes ahead and produces the other.”

And this one from the Latin,
As to the rest, inasmuch as they are interconnected by many links, it isnot always easy to discern which of the two goes before and produces from itself,
They are very close to my mind. He responds,
That is more literal, but also more stilted, than the translation I offer. “Go ahead (of)” I take in the sense of “prepare.” She notes that in the parallel Latin text, the verb pario (from which we get the expression “postpartum”) probably has a washed-out sense of “produce” in this context. I concur. It’s just that the translation “give birth” also has a washed-out sense of “produce” in context. Hence my retention of vehicle and tenor.

My point is that I sent John a literal translation because he has deliberately created two divergent translations from the Latin and the French. It is not a matter of "vehicle and tenor" but that he has used the flowery metaphor "give birth" in one translation and the utilitarian "produce" in the other to create a divergent effect when the French and Latin simply do not warrant this.

He created the phrase "form a unity" but I am not sure how he did that. Once again it creates the appearance of divergence which does not exist in the original Latin and French.

I do admit that the Latin has "from itself" in it and this is indeed a divergence between the Latin and French. I think that there is a fair bit of work to be done at the ground level on these translations. Calvin is really not an interest of mine, but I do look him up if someone cites him and I question it for some reason. I was trained in a Swiss Bible school and still have my Instituts in French from when they were handed out to me on entry into the school


John has written a post on Calvin and I can't interact on his blog by posting comments in the usual way, so I must record them here. This is what I wrote to John, more or less,


This is a fascinating study. I will give you my English version of the French and then see how it compares to the Latin.

Au reste, combien qu'elles soyent unies l'une l'autre par beaucoup de liens, si n'est-il pas toutesfois aisé discerner laquelle vadevant et produit l'autre.

For the rest, insofar as they form a unity with one another through a host of links, it is not always easy to discern which prepares for and produces the other. (John)

( The French does not say “form a unity with one another.” And pario means pario, to *bear*, bring forth, produce/ create, make, get")

As to the rest, inasmuch as they are united, one another, by many links, it is not always easy to discern which one goes ahead and produces the other, (Mine)

Caeterum, quum multis inter se vinculis connexae sitit, utra tamen alterampraecedat, et ex se pariat, non facile est discernere.

To be sure, because they are interconnected by multiple links, it is noteasy to discern which of the two precedes the other, and gives birth fromitself. (John)

As to the rest, inasmuch as they are interconnected by many links, it isnot always easy to discern which of the two goes before and produces from itself. (Mine)

I admit that there are some interesting differences and it is a fascinating study. But you obscure the significant differences by creating differences that are not there in the original. You have sometimes exaggerated the differences between the original Latin and the French in your translation.

Notes and corrections -

- soyent unies means "are united"
- pario I think this is just "produce" but the ex se part is interesting
- you missed translating guttatim (drop by drop)
- bonorum is pl and not sing. the good things>
- "tant mieux" not quite right.
- lost a comma in the original.after Pareillement, so that whole section is off and should be redone from scratch like this.

Pareillement de ceste petite et maigro portion, l'infinité de tous biens qui reside en Dieu apparoist tant mieux:

Compared to this tiny, meager portion, the infinity of all the benefits which reside in God appears that much more clearly: (John)

Equally, by this small and meager portion, the infiinity of goods which reside in God become more apparent. (mine)

- "biens" should be translated the same way every time tomaintain the connection
- "host of" for "beaucoup" is not really possible

These are rough notes which should more rightly be posted in the comment section of John's blog, but this is not possible. This is all I have time for right now.

Update: I would like to add a little commentary. It is one thing to talk about a foreignizing translation and another to create one that is not really justified.

I also think it is useful to work with an English text of Calvin unless one reads French better than the translators themselves do. Calvin wrote the Institutes first in Latin and then translated them into French. His written Latin was fluent, he used it all through high school. He was trained as a lawyer. I think it is adequate to read Calvin's Latin translated into English, with notes, because his French translation was intended to reflect the Latin.

However, I will add that for those who wish to critique some theological issues, it is vital to understand the sequence of Calvin's thought. It is worth knowing that he read the Latin Vulgate first, and composed much of his theology in Latin, then wrote in French.

It is my suggestion that we owe to Calvin's Latin the word "propitiation." This does not appear as an English word or a French word, as far as I know before Calvin. It does not appear in the first few major English translations of the Bible. Calvin composed theology in Latin, translated it into French and then it was translated into English. It is worth knowing sometimes how words entered the English language. It worries me when a theologian attributes the word "propitiation" to Tyndale. We need to understand that it was a Latin word and Tyndale was more for using English words and creating them if he had to.

So, in sum, if you want to work with original works of theology, then you should really learn to read Latin, French and German fluently. But who has the time?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

babble from Babel 2

This is an extension of part 1. The upshot of part 1 is that there were two words for language in Hebrew, sefat, the lip; and lashon, the tongue. And in Genesis 11 the word used is sefat. However, in the Septuagint the word cheila is used at first and then the word glossa, for tongue.

This devolution turns up in the Latin Vulgate as well, first labium and then lingua. Pagnini tries to retrap the original Hebrew, that was his game, but in the English it all became "language," which comes from lingua.

Since sefat and lashon are both used in Hebrew, and we see sefat here, then the word with a feminine connotation has been chosen. However, once the story came into Greek, Latin and the other European languages, the word "tongue" or "language" was used. There is no way to avoid this that I know.

Of course, this was not a deliberate obscuring of the feminine and perhaps has no real significance, but it is a demonstration of the fact that original feminine imagery is sometimes lost. We might say that in this case, Greek and Latin have contributed to a subtle masculinization of the text.

The point of this story of Babel? Alter says that it is a "polemic against urbanization and the overweening confidance of humanity in the feats of technology."

Alter, Robert. The Five Books of Moses page 38

babble from Babel 1

Kurk has inspired me to set off on a new track for a bit. As I mentioned earlier Martin and some others have been commited to a way of translating which reveals the intertextual connections, the puns and wordplays, and opens up the underlying source text in new ways. While this is in some ways "literal" it really involves much more than that.

It involves understanding that choices were made between words, on whether to use transliteration or another mode, whether to retain the grammatical features, and so on.

Kurk brings many of his points back to gender and sexuality and I will to, but more for the fun of it: some of this is not theological. Whatever that means.

Kurk is writing on the first few chapters of Genesis, as is Martin. I hope there can be some cross semination of ideas. I am going to weigh in with a little Latin for a bit.

Here are some thoughts from the story of the tower of Babel in Gen. 11. Read Kurk's analysis here.

The first striking thing is that in Hebrew there are two words for language, sefat, or lip, and lashon or tongue. Here is the first verse.

Erat autem terra labii unius, et sermonum eorumdem. Vulgate

Erat autem universa terra labii unius, et verborum eorumdem

And the whole earth was of one lip, and of one sermon/word.

But in verse 7 working from the Greek OT, the Vulgate surrenders the "lip" and writes,

et confundamus ibi linguam eorum, ut non audiat unusquisque vocem proximi sui. Vulgate

and confound there their tongue, that they may not hear each one the voice of their next one.

(If that isn't just like marriage!)

And Pagnini translates,

et confundamus ibi labium eorum ut non exaudiunt singuli labium proximi sui.

and confound there their lip, that they may not hear each one the lip of their next one.
And so we begin to establish Pagnini's transparency to the Hebrew. The Vulgate broke down and refered finally to "tongue" in fidelity to the Septuagint in this case, Pagnini stayed with the "lip" the foreignizing element.

Both sefat and lashon are common ways to refer to language in Hebrew. However, in the Sefer Yetsira, a Hebrew text of the early centuries AD, we see that lashon had a masculine connotation. Likely "lip" did not.

The Ten Sefirot of Nothingness: The number of the ten fingers, five opposite five, with a single covenent precisely in the middle, like the circumcision of the tongue and the circumcision of the membrum.
But in Genesis 11, we see that the voice of the people was expressed as the "lip," a normal way to say "language." Nothing remarkable in this, but note that the Septuagint and the Vulgate have to interject with the normal Greek and Latin usage, that this lip is really the tongue. Pagnini does not. So many layers of translation before we get to the English.

Perhaps the choice of words in the Vulgate for verse 7 is because one cannot traditionally "hear" the lip of another person, when speaking Greek, or Latin, or English, but you can hear the tongue or voice of another person. The tongue provides the imagery of masculine agency and the lip, the latent feminine and receptive quality. But in Hebrew "lip" and "tongue" equally represent the active spoken language on par. They stand side by side as synonymous terms.

There will be much more babble from Babel. (In search of "transparent translation.")

Friday, January 02, 2009

The deceit of formal equivalence

The translation debate continues. There are good arguments for a very exacting formal equivalent translation. Martin (HT John) mentions possible intertextual links, linguistic parallels, or formal features of the original text. He then goes on to cite Venuti who says,
By producing the illusion of transparency, a fluent translation masquerades as true semantic equivalence when it in fact inscribes the foreign text with a partial interpretation, partial to English-language values, reducing if not simply excluding the very difference that translation is called on to convey.1

So, not only can intertextual links, associations and connotations be lost, but the naturalness of an English translation can seduce us into forgetting how foreign the worldview of the text really was.

In the meantime let me remind you of a very simple case where a formal translation has difficulty resolving a problem posed to English by the Greek.

In Greek the words adelphos and adelphe (pronounced atherfos and atherfee in some dialects of modern Greek) mean "brother" and "sister." The plural of adelphos is adelphoi and means either "brothers" or "siblings." It refers to all siblings in a family inclusive of females if they are not otherwise qualified.

Two famous sister-brother pairs were called adelphoi. These are Cleopatra and Ptolemy, and Electra and Orestes. Adelphoi also refers to one's tribal connection or people, or one's peers, in a gender inclusive sense. The Greek did not have an easy way to distinguish between a group who were all brothers and a group made up of brothers and sisters.

The problem is whether a formal equivalent translation is being faithful to the original if it translates adelphoi as "brothers." There really is no easy way to do this. If one wanted to bring attention to the foreigness of the text I suppose that "brethren" might do, but it also has male associations in some contexts. This is just one example of the problem of formal equivalence.

On the other hand, formal equivalence, if used carefully, can introduce the readers to new aspects of the original text. I look forward to Martin's next post on this topic, presenting a third way.

1. Lawrence Venuti, The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation (London: Routledge, 1995) 21.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The WOMBman's Bible

I have almost almost given up writing about translation because there has been little to stimulate new thoughts and approaches. Mostly rehashing the same old thing.

But here is a new blog called The WOMBman's Bible. In this post, there are several very striking observations about worldplay in the Greek translation of the first few chapters of Genesis.


Even more interesting to me are the perhaps unintended Hebrew-now-Hellene interplays between A) Γένεσις and B) τὴν γῆν and C) τῷ ποταμῷ τῷ δευτέρῳ Γηων and D) γινώσκειν καλὸν καὶ πονηρόν and E) γυναῖκα / γυνή. Here, in Greek (not Hebrew) there are rhymes --puns made between A) the title of the book "Birthings" and B) the "birthing ground" which the god made and C) the second River transliterated (in contrast to the first river transliterated to sound like the Greek word for snake) and D) the "birthing knowledge of good form and evil (see Aristotle's notes above).....and E) the womb-man for birthing. (Homer and the lovers of his epics played with words in this way--which is something Plato and Aristotle even more despised and disparaged).

It's also fascinating that Adam is transliterated while "Eve" is translated, at first: καὶ ἐκάλεσεν Αδαμ τὸ ὄνομα τῆς γυναικὸς αὐτοῦ Ζωή, ὅτι αὕτη μήτηρ πάντων τῶν ζώντων (Genesis 3:20). It's not until some point later in the text that Adam's wombman, his woman, his wife is called by the Hebrew sounding name meaning "life" or "Ζωή": Αδαμ δὲ ἔγνω Ευαν τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ (Genesis 4:1) -- which might be understood in Greek as "and Adam committed birthing knowledge on Eve, his birthing woman" -- but I'm getting a bit ahead of myself into the traditional chapter 4.

To sum up, the Jewish translators made Greek choices, knowing the various traditions of the Hellenes. They seem defiant and rebellious in working against Aristotelianism and perhaps Platonism. The prefer the wordplays, the puns, the creativity, the novelties in sound tradition, the pluralities within which to re-cast their mono-theism. These are the things of Homer, Hesiod, Euripides, even of Sappho, and especially of mother Helen (μήτηρ πάντων τῶν ζώντων of pan-Hellenism).


There is more new stuff in this than I have learned in a long time. Really great. Enjoy.