Thursday, February 19, 2009

Armstrong on Greek plays

I am reading Karen Armstrong's Great Traditions. I love how she treats Greek plays. So often one hears about Greek philosophy and sometimes too much of the negative stuff too. But Greek plays are are right up my alley. Here is Armstrong. (p.227)

    By placing a tortured individual in front of the polis, analysing that person's pain, and helping the audience to empathize with him or her, the fifth-century tragedians - Aeschylus (c. 525-456), Sophocles (c. 496-405) and Euripides (c. 484-406) - had arrived at the heart of Axial Age spirituality. The Greeks firmly believed that the sharing of grief and tears created a valuable bond between people.

Ps I hate to say this but I guess I should. If I cite someone it does not mean that I agree with everything they write. Its too bad that I feel I have to say this. I am enjoying this book and am constantly in dialogue with the author in my mind.

In pursuit of a good map

I am working on finding the appropriate world map. I prefer a Pacific Centric map for obvious reasons, but the last one was not balanced in the north south sense.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Guns, Germs and Steel

I notice that a few people have mentioned Guns, Germs and Steel recently. I read it about 10 years ago along with several other people on our staff at school. It is nice to integrate some of the big sweep books into the elementary curriculum.

We have been reading a lot of books lately on immigrants to North America - the Chinese in San Francisco, the Black pioneers of Nicodemus, Kansas, and the Gold Rush in the Yukon. We also read about pandas in China. To tie things together we have been doing a unit on staple foods around the world.

This really suits me right now. It is so much fun for the kids to eat food that is mentioned in the book they are reading, and then find out where it grows on a map of the world. It is so easy for me to cook up cornmeal mush and serve it with molasses, or cook up some yams in the oven or boil rice. I did tell the kids emphatically that I would not be taking them fishing.

I have been thinking a lot about how to present a map of the world. Traditionally the Atlantic Ocean is in the middle. But this does not suit us who are on the Pacific Rim. So I am using this one for now, and will see how I like it.

In any case, Guns, Germs and Steel is a stimulating book to read if one is teaching resources or world history and geography. Here is an excerpt of one review from Amazon,

    The deep significance of this book is that Diamond's thesis is not simply idle speculation. He proves that the Eurasian land mass had by far the best biological resources with which to develop agricultural societies, and was thus more able to form large, coherent, and powerful social entities.

    To support this idea, Diamond introduces thorough set of well-researched data on what kinds of plants and animals are necessary to support a farming society. He investigates the biological resources available to potential farmers in all parts of the world. The people of Eurasia had access to a suite of plants and animals that provided for their needs. Potential farmers in other parts of the world didn't-- and so their fertile soil went untilled.

    After establishing this strong foundation, Diamond falls into repeating ideas about the formation of large-scale societies. These ideas, while unoriginal, are still compelling, and Diamond presents them in a very clear and well-written way.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Links of interest

Peter and Dave are having a real rip on the feminization of the church. Lots of fun between those two.

Mike is providing an in depth examination of the Eph. 5:21-22 passage. Great stuff. He is trying to put a wrestling hold on the word "submit."

Ben Witherington has the best Valentine's Day post that I have seen. Ha ha.

Here's a novel translation of Gen. 1.

The Mathematics of Love

Update: This post has been edited for brevity. Read the whole article if you want the parts that I edited out. Here are a few excerpts from the THE MATHEMATICS OF LOVE [4.14.04] A Talk with John Gottman HT John Hobbins,

    I am sure that universality is there. We are no less social than bees, and Von Frisch discovered the language of bees by going right to the hive and watching them dance. So we will discover the human dance. What's an example of what we may find? So far I believe we're going to find that respect and affection are essential to all relationships working and contempt destroys them. It may differ from culture to culture how to communicate respect, and how to communicate affection, and how not to do it, but I think we'll find that those are universal things.

    For the past eight years I've been really involved, working with my amazingly talented wife, trying to put these ideas together and use our theory so that it that helps couples and babies. And we now know that these interventions really make a big difference. We can turn around 75 percent of distressed couples with a two-day workshop and nine sessions of marital therapy. These are couples that have waited as long as six years to get any kind of help. So it's a considerably deteriorated situation. ...

    It sounds as if we have a stake in relationships staying together — but we don't. My major stake is in understanding. We have a stake in people not staying together if they don't feel good about their relationship and it's not really going anywhere for them, it's not really helping them build one another's dreams, it's not a relationship that has dignity. But we like to help people understand why it is that it didn't work, so that the next relationship, or next set of relationships, can be better.

    One of the major things we found is that honoring your partner's dreams is absolutely critical. A lot of times people have incompatible dreams — or they don't want to honor their partner's dreams, or they don't want to yield power, they don't want to share power. So that explains a lot of times why they don't really belong together.
It's a pretty fantastic article overall. It really resonated with something I mentioned recently in compegal blog, that "love and respect" should not be divided, as they appear to be in Eggerichs' book, but should be offered to one another as a matched couplet. I got the notion that love and respect were something that each partner wanted from Paul Tournier's To Understand Each Other, and from I Married You by Walter Trobisch.

I have some reflections on two parts of the article. First, he divides violence into two kinds.

    We've reconstructed it from what we have learned by talking to people about it, and it does seem that there are two very distinct forms of violence. One form is where the conflict escalates, and people somehow lose control. They get to a point where the trigger seems to be feeling disrespected and there's a loss to their dignity. They feel driven to defend that dignity, and start doing things like posturing and threatening while in a state of high and diffuse physiological arousal, and they increasingly have a loss of control. The violence tends to be symmetrical, and there is not a clear victim and perpetrator.

    Another kind of violence, which is very different, is where one person in the relationship is using violence to control and intimidate the other person and is very much not physiologically aroused, very much in control and trying to do something to the other person that alters their idea of reality. There is a perpetrator and a victim here, The late Neil Jacobsen and I have called this kind of mind control "gaslighting," after the movie with Ingrid Bergman.

    I'd like to understand those two kinds of violence. I think the first one is treatable, particularly early, by looking at the couple relationship and changing the relationship. It may be even treatable later on, by slowing things down enough and physiological arousal has a place in it. The second type of violence is more elusive at the moment, although some initial experiments that I and Julia Babcock and her students have designed show promising proximal, that is, short term effects with these perpetrators.
After this, the author does not discuss violence in this article. But he does later say,

    Because men are different. Men have a lot of trouble when they reach a state of vigilance, when they think there's real danger, they have a lot of trouble calming down. and there's probably an evolutionary history to that. Because it functioned very well for our hominid ancestors, anthropologists think, for men to stay physiologically aroused and vigilant, in cooperative hunting and protecting the tribe, which was a role that males had very early in our evolutionary history.

    Whereas women had the opposite sort of role, in terms of survival of the species, those women reproduced more effectively who had the milk-let-down reflex, which only happens when oxytocin is secreted in the brain, it only happens when women — as any woman knows who's been breast-feeding, you have to be able to calm down and relax. But oxytocin is also the hormone of affiliation. So women have developed this sort of social order, caring for one another, helping one another, and affiliating, that also allows them to really calm down and have the milk let-down reflex. And so — it's one of nature's jokes. Women can calm down, men can't; they stay aroused and vigilant.
What the article does not discuss is that in a violent relationship of the second kind, if the vicitm is a woman, she is prevented from all affiliation. And she develops a noticable startle reflex. So, in fact, I reacted to this particular aspect of the article. I have never noticed men with a pronounced startle reflex. But, when others noticed this in me, in social settings, I began to realize that violence had a price, it was a harsh paymaster. While I have never noticed a startle reflex in another adult, I have noticed it in children every once in a while.

This aspect of things was not really discussed in the article. Women who are mistreated are prevented from affiliation and develop hypervigilance and all the negatives aspects of this. They travel from sadness to anger fairly quickly too.

The second reaction was about honouring your spouse's dreams. If your dreams are incompatible then you must part ways. Actually maybe I do agree with this. I don't know. I have a friend whose husband wanted to work in the north for a few years. I don't think he even asked her to go with him. He wanted a guy sort of experience in the far north. They are still married and they do keep in touch, but these kinds of things puzzle me. No answers here. Perhaps women leave too, this seems unmanageable. The scriptures say to just let someone go.

The really powerful part of the article was about the determining role of affection and humour, mutual respect and honour. In concluding my post on egalitarianism the other day, I wrote,

    Likewise in marriage we demonstrate Christ’s love if we love one another and honour each other with kindness and affection, bearing each other’s burdens.
Sounds a little preachy perhaps. However, I am trying to practice this. When I dropped my daughter off this morning, after near shipwrecks on matters of cleaning the kitchen, her telling me which route I should take to drive her to school and other petty stuff which really ticked me off, I waved good-bye with "I love you, sweetheart." And I meant it. I am not going to spend the rest of my life arguing with those I love. Not that I am not capable of it.

Right now, I am not really relating to this as a marriage issue, but I think all enduring relationships must communicate affection and respect. As Gottman said, these are universal things.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Eph. 5:22

As a follow up to my post on Eph. 5:21 is interesting to look at a post by Mike on Eph. 5:22. Interesting.

Blog Debate: “Why I Am An Egalitarian”

While some interactions on the women in the church and home issue have gone completely sideways for reasons that are not entirely clear; other interactions have been rather friendly and collegial to my mind.

In fact, recently I had commented on Denny Burk's blog and the Evangelical Village blog guys decided to have an egal vs comp debate, and what with one thing and another, I wrote the representative egal post. It was posted this morning.

I hope you enjoy my writing, dear friend.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

babble from babel 12

There are many who use the symbol of the tower of Babel for their enterprises. Babelfish is one common application. Lots of fun to be had there!

An exceptional blog using this theme is Babelstone. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in scripts and the east, unicode or Phags-pa. Andrew West is also the creator of the Babelmap. Here is his series on the Tower of Babel. I hope you enjoy the tour.

Another interesting post on the tower of Babel is at Koinonia. The British Museum has a show on Babylon as well.

I would like to get back to the story but I am not quite sure when.

Slumdog Millionaire

I had been hearing good things about this movie for a while so it was exciting to finally get to see it. I loved it. It had some very sad and realistic views of life in India along with scenes of religious violence and deaths. It also had strong child actors and just enough lightness to make it bearable.

I don't know whether a young child should be allowed to see some of the scenes. For example, there is a scene where a man chloroformed a boy and scooped out his eyes so he would earn more money as a beggar. I don't know the rating, but the movie is a must see. Just watch out for these scenes.

So where is the lightness? Perhaps riding the rails is a universal metaphor for finding a better life. Perhaps selling the shoes of foreigners who remove them and leave them in a pile before entering the Taj Mahal, represents pulling oneself up by the bootstraps. In any case, it strikes a universal chord.

Add to that the theme of the three musketeers running through the script. If you don't know the name of the third musketeer, I will not tell you. But I was familiar with Alexandre Dumas from a very young age and was delighted that, in this story, the third musketeer is a little girl named Latika.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Some people have been blogging about the Complegalitarian blog. I was one of the first posters on the blog but soon resigned. I was immediately convinced that it was counter intuitive. I did continue on and off to comment on the blog. However, after being subjected to a series of attacks involving false statements made about me, I left completely for some time. I also appealed to the moderator to have it closed since I was not comfortable with the premise.

Then I received an email from another commenter there expressing concern regarding the exegesis of Eph. 5:21. This is one of the statements made on complegalitarian with regards to this verse,

    I construe Ephesians 5:21 as it was always construed, so far as I am aware, until quite recently. That is, “one another” is understood not strictly but loosely to refer to some among the aggregate submitting to others in the aggregate rather than all in the aggregate submitting to all in the aggregate.
My particular difficulty with this is that the verse was not to my knowledge construed this way. I am not aware of anyone who construed it this way before Wayne Grudem.

Here is Clement,

    “So in our case let the whole body be saved in Christ Jesus, and let each man be subject (ὑποτασσέσθω) to his neighbor, to the degree determined by his spiritual gift,”1 Clement 38.1
Here is Chrysostom,

    Let there be an interchange of service and submission. For then will there be no such thing as slavish service. Let not one sit down in the rank of a freeman, and the other in the rank of a slave; rather it were better that both masters and slaves be servants to one another;—
He clearly indicates that this verse explicates mutual relations and not simply the reinforcement of the hierarchical value of the submission of some to others.

Here is Calvin,

    God has bound us so strongly to each other, that no man ought to endeavor to avoid subjection; and where love reigns, mutual services will be rendered. I do not except even kings and governors, whose very authority is held for the service of the community. It is highly proper that all should be exhorted to be subject to each other in their turn.
Here is Adam Clarke,

    Submitting-one to another] Let no man be so tenacious of his own will or his opinion in matters indifferent, as to disturb the peace of the Church; in all such matters give way to each other, and let love rule.
And here is BDAG,

    “Of submission in the sense of voluntary yieding in love. 1 Cor. 16:16, Eph. 5:21 … 1 Clement 38:1″
One of the main tenets of Christianity is usually to have an attitude that God is not a "respecter of persons." (Acts 10:34) At least that is how I was raised. If Eph. 5:21 means that some people are to submit to other people, then it sounds like a different religion than the one in which I was raised. Not that that was perfect by any means.

In any case, this is why I went back to comment on Complegalitarian. I would be interested in knowing if there were commenataries which suggested that Eph. 5:21 means that in the church some submit to others. Otherwise I will continue in the belief in which I was raised on this matter.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Welcome to the Sticks

If I am not blogging so much you will know I am at the movies. There has been a wonderful spate of French movies out recently and I went to see the latest tonight - Welcome to the Sticks - good for a belly laugh.

The humour is organized around two premises. First, through a series of mishaps, the main character ends up being transferred to the north of France instead of the Riviera as he had hoped. We can identify here, and all the "north" jokes go over well with a Canadian audience.

Second, in the "north" they speak a regional dialect somewhat reminiscient of a dialect I am familar with from Noranda, Quebec. This dialect also has a parallel in Judges 12,

    Gilead then cut Ephraim off from the fords of the Jordan, and whenever Ephraimite fugitives said, 'Let me cross,' the men of Gilead would ask, 'Are you an Ephraimite?' If he said, 'No,' they then said, 'Very well, say Shibboleth.' If anyone said, 'Sibboleth', because he could not pronounce it, then they would seize him and kill him by the fords of the Jordan. Forty-two thousand Ephraimites fell on this occasion.
Here is one of the main dialogues,

    Philippe (Kad Merad) : Mais pourquoi il est parti avec les meubles ?
    But why did he leave with the furniture?

    Antoine (Dany Boon) : Baaaah, ch'est p'tête les chiens...
    Uh, maybe they were his/the dogs...

    Philippe : Quels chiens ?
    What dogs?

    Antoine : Les meubles...
    The furniture ....

    Philippe : Mais pourquoi il aurait donné ses meubles à des chiens ?!
    But why would he give the furniture to the dogs?

    Antoine : Mais non : les chiens ! Pas les kiens [en ch'ti, "ch" se prononce "k" et inversement] il les a pas donné à des kiens ! Il est parti avec.
    No, his. Not the dogs. He didn't give it to the dogs. He left with it.

    Philippe : Mais pourquoi vous m'avez dit qu'il a donné ses meubles à des chiens ?
    So why did you tell me that he had given his furniture to the dogs?

    Antoine : Mais j'ai jamais dit cha !
    But I didn't say that/cat!

    Philippe : Quoi des chats ? Vous m'avez dit des chiens ?!
    What do you mean "cats?" You told me dogs!

    Antoine : Bah oui ch'est les chiens !
    Yes, they are his/at the dogs.

    Philippe : Ah... les siens !
    Oh, they are his!

    Antoine : Oui, les chiens, ch'est cha !
    Yes, his/the dogs, that's it/cat.

    Philippe : ...les chiens, les chats... Putain, mais tout le monde parle comme vous ici ?
    Dogs. Cats! Shit, does everyone talks like you here?
Anyway, you can see how untranslatable this is. The entire movie depends on this kind of silly word play. My neighbour had seen the movie and she complained about how she couldn't understand why the subtitles were so poorly translated because they were not a literal translation but tried to create a similar wordplay in English. I thought they did a reasonably good job with the subtitles, but the dialogue in French was very funny - although perhaps it wore thin towards the end.

It was a heartwarming plot in any case, and if you love the sound of the carillon, the movie will be worth it for you on that account alone.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Septuagint Day

One of the really fascinating things about the Septuagint is that the first published translation into English was done in the United States by Charles Thomson and printed by Jane Aitken.

    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.
I have been reading some of William Loader's book The Septuagint, Sexuality, and the New Testament and hope to blog about it soon.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Wolters on Junia

(Updated) I know it is still the last few moments of Septuagint Day and I am going to post on that soon. But more immediate things appear.

Al Wolters article on Junia which I blogged about earlier on the Better Bibles Blog, has appeared and was linked to by Mike. He writes,
    It’s a model of careful scholarship, and argues quite forcefully that Iounian is a retroversion of a Hebrew or Aramaic MALE name.
But, in fact, Wolters conclusions are here,
    Finally, although the Hebrew name yëhunnï is attested only for men, both it and the assumed longer form yëhunnïyàh(û) could in principle be women's names as well, since Hebrew sentence names are used indiscriminately for both genders.68 However, the case is different for Greek names like Νικίας. To the best of my knowledge, they are used exclusively of men, in both secular and biblical Greek.69 If the ΙΟΥΝΙΑΝ of Rom 16:7 belongs to this declensional type, then it is almost certainly a mans name.

    This conclusion still leaves open the question whether it is more likely that the IOTNIAN of Rom 16:7 reflects a Hebrew masculine name or a Latin feminine one. The answer to that question depends largely on how one assesses the likelihood that Paul would have considered a woman to be "prominent among the apostles" (see Metzger, Textual Commentary, 475). To some, probability will still favor the quasi consensus of recent scholarship that IOTNIAN in Rom 16:7 refers to a woman. To others, the epigraphic and philological evidence for the existence of a Hebrew name Yëhunnï/Ίουνιας will tip the scales in favor of a male apostle. In my own opinion, a plausible (but not a decisive) case can be made for either position.
What this does is simply demonstrate that anyone can interpret this passage according to what they already believe. Its a nice piece of writing otherwise.

There are a few things that Wolters does not explain. In fact, he writes,
    It is likely that this widespread interpretation of the name at least partially accounts for the fact that all accented manuscripts of Rom 16:7 have the reading Ίουνίαν (with acute accent)It would be a mistake to conclude from this that the scribes of these manuscripts all interpreted IOTNIAN as a feminine name
However, since the accents were added much later and by that time all the Greek commentators had already decided that she was a woman, this is hardly relevant. Chrysostom had written of her as a woman and there is no mention of Junias as a man until the 13th century. David Jones on the CBMW site writes,

    Many patristic exegetes understood the second person mentioned in Rom 16:7 to be the wife of Andronicus, such as: Ambrosiaster (c. 339-97); Jerome (c. 342-420); John Chrysostom (c. 347- 407); Jerome; Theodoret of Cyrrhus (c.393-458); Ps.-Primasius (c. 6th cent.); John Damascene (c. 675-749); Haymo (d. 1244); Hatto (?); Oecumenius (c. 6th cent.); Lanfranc of Bec (c.1005-89); Bruno the Carthusian (c.1032-1101); Theophylact (c. 11th cent.); Peter Abelard (1079-1142); and Peter Lombard (c. 1100-1160).39.
In this case, one must assume that manuscript copiers all believed that Junia was a woman.

Another thing to note is that the variant Julia also existed in P46, so this manuscript copier also thought she was a woman. Once again there is no secondary evidence preceding the 13th century that Junia would be male. Therefore, I fail to see the relevancy of discussing the accents.

It is, on the other hand, interesting that there is a remote possibility that this could be the transliteration of a male Hebrew name. That appears to me to be technically possible although there is no contemporary evidence for a masculine Junias. It is an interesting article and I always enjoy Al Wolters' writing, but I do not feel that his argument is forceful.

I would comment on Mike's blog but I can't remember my wordpress password, so I will have to let it pass.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Women Bible Translators: Index

I am listing here the women translators of the English Bible that I have blogged abut so far, or intend to blog about, as well as other women who have been involved in Bible translation. Their translations represent a wide spectrum from the overly literal to the colloquial and easier to read translations. So far it appears that woman have largely the same variety of concerns regarding Bible translation that men have. I hope to add more and look forward eventually to listing some women's commentaries.

Annie Cressman
Karen Jobes
Helen Barrett Montgomery
Ann Nyland
Francis Siewart
Julia E. Smith
Helen Spurrel
Francis Werner

Translators of the Psalms

Sylvia Dunstan
Anne Locke
Mary Sidney

Other notable women in Bible translation

Jane Aitken