Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Subservient to men

Sometimes people wonder when a woman bristles. But it is clear that some complementarians do think that women are to be subservient. At Parchment and Pen, Michael, (I assume it is the blog author who wrote this) writes,
Egalitarianism: Theological position held by many Christians (contra complementarianism) believing the Bible does not teach that women are in any sense, functionally or ontologically, subservient to men. Women and men hold positions in society, ministry, and the family according to their gifts, not their gender. The principle of mutual submission teaches that husbands and wives are to submit to each other equally. Prominent egalitarians include Doug Groothuis, Ruth Tucker, William Webb, Gorden Fee, and Linda Belleville.
Imagine that! Terrible, isn't it to think that some Christians do not think of women as subservient to men. Shocking.

But men who write things like this are still treated as great buddies by many egalitarian men.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What I am looking at right now

I am at a teacher tech conference right now. Here is what we have just watched.

Update: Crap, just as I posted this, I noticed that the keynote speaker had said my name and everyone was staring at me. It turned out that she had a long quote from one of my articles on special needs students and udl up on the screen.

I do have some unpublished articles as well. I have had a lot of non-writing projects on the go lately but I do need to get back to writing some day.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I have just finished reading the trilogy and viewing the first two movies in Stieg Larsson's series. I have noticed many basic misunderstandings from those who have only seen the movies. I haven't much time but here are some central themes in the books.

Lisbeth Salander is a young woman who suffered from several kinds of abuse as a child. Her father caused her mother lasting physical and mental injury in front of Lisbeth. Lisbeth was later institutionalized and restrained with a straitjacket for months on end. All her appeals to social workers and psychologists were unacknowledged since the Swedish government did not want a record of her father's existance. Lisbeth is not just an example of what happens as a result of abuse, but of what happens as a result of unacknowledged abuse.

Lisbeth is declared incompetent because she does not answer questions posed to her by the psychiatrist during a psychiatric evaluation. This raises the very real issue of how to tell the difference between selective mutism, low verbal IQ and Aspergers. While the story makes clear that Lisbeth is on one level a genius, we don't know for sure if she is selectively mute because of trauma or if she really is an individual with Asperger's syndrome.

Lisbeth is called bisexual by some reviewers of the movie. This completely overlooks the fact that Lisbeth has an constant attachment and desire for the main character, Michael. He is, on the other hand, unable to return her love since he is promiscuous. Ultimately, he feels that he is too old for her, but he may consider settling down with a woman who does not appear until the third book.

Lisbeth engages in sexual activity with a female friend with the understanding that this is an expression of physical intimacy and tenderness that she is in need of and has not experienced from her parents. She is not bisexual in the sense of desiring a female life partner.

I know too many children who have experienced some measure of the abuse that Lisbeth Salander suffered. The series was a fascinating read for me. The movies seem to leave out anything at all that I found interesting in the book. The character of Lisbeth Salander is very well protrayed, but the complexities of her life are drawn too sketchily to get a sense of her morality.

Eat, Pray, Love, on the other hand, is a much better movie than a book. Actually, they are both rather appalling, but I wanted to see what some other people are reading and viewing. I was rather amused to find that an earnest complementarian quoted from Eat, Pray, Love recently to prove that biblical womanhood is written in our hearts. The truth is that I don't eat pasta, I don't like to chant, and being run over would NOT be my preferred way to meet a guy. Sheesh.

ad hoc

Sometimes I really miss the Better Bibles blog and its commenters.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Has Hebrew gender usage influenced English?

Jim Hamilton asks this question in his post, Was Gender Usage in the English Language Shaped by the Old Testament in Hebrew?

I am quite open to considering that biblical usage has affected our language so I am willing to consider this. Jim opens his post with this context,
I’m not presenting a thesis here, just making some observations and posing a question. In the guidelines for a dictionary article I’m in the process of writing, I read this:

    In particular, articles should avoid referring to “man” (likewise “mankind,” “men,” “he,” “his” and so on) generically. Language often regarded as patriarchal should be modified to avoid giving wrong impressions.
Jim then discusses the use of the Hebrew word adam in Gen. 1 - 5, where it is used to refer to both men and women, to refer to the human race, and to refer to an individual person. (I have to ask, at this point, if the Hebrew word adam can refer to "a man" as a single male human being? If anyone can offer an example, that would be great.)

Next, he presents some thinking out loud on this topic. He makes some good points.

So let me rehearse some things we know, and then I’ll me ask my question: We know that William Tyndale’s translation of the Bible profoundly shaped the English language. We know that many, many users of the English language—people whose use of it is/was widely imitated by others, authors, poets, and such—were profoundly shaped by the use of the English language in the Bible, not least the stately King James. Knowing these things, here’s my question:

Was the generic use of the masculine (man, he, him, etc.) urged against in the quote above something that entered the English language because man is spoken of this way in the Hebrew of Genesis 1–2?

And having asked my question, I have another observation. Earle Ellis once explained that he quit the NRSV translation team once he realized that the translation was being driven by an egalitarian agenda. He noted that more literal translation philosophy results in the thought patterns and language uses employed in the Bible shaping the language of the target-culture, whereas more dynamic equivalent translations risk the target culture setting undue boundaries around the renderings of Bible translators.[1]

How shall a man respond to these things? He can be shaped by his culture, or he can speak and write the way the biblical authors did. If it was good enough for them . . .

Regarding the influence of Tyndale's translation, I would agree that it has had enormous influence, but I have also found that in certain cases, it has not had the influence that some people attribute to it. For example, an editor of the ESV told me that "propitiation" was in the Tyndale translation. However, it is fairly common knowledge that Tyndale created the word "atonement" to translate those Greek words that are normally translated as "propitiation" in the King James Bible. The use of the word "propitiation" was wrongly attributed to Tyndale's translation.

So, I am curious to see how Tyndale translated the Hebrew word adam. Usually, it is translated as "man" or "Adam." However, in Numbers 31 adam is translated as "women" because it refers to a group of all females. In the King James Version and subsequent Bibles, adam is translated as "persons" in Numbers 31.

Just this brief discussion provides some data. I will summarize as much relevant information as I can from this and other language resources.

The Hebrew word adam can be translated into English as

- a man
- Adam
- a human life
- persons
- women

I assume that it can also refer to a group of men, but I cannot come up with a reference for this.

The English word "man" can translate the following Hebrew words,

- adam
- enosh
- geber
- ish

So, right away, one can see that there is enormous difficulty in mapping Hebrew into English.

I believe the following is also useful information. In Hebrew, Greek, Latin and German, there were different words for "man" referring to human beings, and "man," a male/citizen. I personally think that we are better off in modern English with both "human being" and "man.."

Hebrew - adam/ish, geber
Greek - anthropos/aner
Latin - homo/vir
German - Mensch/Mann
Finally, I personally would go first to German and Middle English to find out the precedent of the word "man" in Tyndale's translation. In Luther's translation, of course, adam is translated by the word Mensch. I know that it might seem that the English word "man" is closest to the German word Mann, a male. However, that is not the case. In German, the word for "someone" is quite simply man, a person, a human being, a somebody, an indefinite pronoun referring to a person.

And in Middle English, of course, there is man, also "someone," an indefinite pronoun, as in German. For a male person, there is the word wer/were. And that is how we know that a werewolf is a male human being who transforms into a wolf at night.

If God had wanted to call the human race after male human beings, he would have needed to use a word designating maleness in Hebrew, and this might have been translated as were by Tyndale in an effort to be specific. We might have retained the word were in English, if the attribute of maleness had been considered important to the early translators. The human race might have been called were, which is just a little bit better than being called has been.

Somehow, I am in favour of asking the kind of questions that Jim Hamilton asks, but I find the research does not lead to simple answers. Or does it? Am I a man? Yes, I am a "somebody." Am I a woman? Yes, a stereotypic woman, in fact. Am I a were or a has been? No, but I will be some day, in the manner of all human beings.

Update: This is my response to Denny Burk's response to Jim Hamilton's discussion. I don't know whether Jim will publish my comments but this is what I posted on his blog.

Next, I would like to respond to these points of Denny Burk,

Usually, a linguistic justification goes something like this. “We can’t use generic masculines because language has changed, and we don’t want to confuse readers. Modern readers are likely to mistake generic “he” as a signifying only males. Therefore, we cannot use it.”

This justification at least has the merit of being linguistic, though I think it is profoundly wrong.

My research indicates to me that the following men mistook the generic "he" pronoun in 1 Tim. 5:8 for a reference to males only - Dennis Rainey, Russell Moore, Robert Sagers, Stuart Scott, John McArthur and Owen Strachan. It appears not only readers of the Bible are confused but also expounders of the Bible are confused.

I think feminists were right to argue that patriarchy is embedded in language (though I think they were wrong to attempt an artificial expunging of the usage). Masculine terms are routinely used in a generic sense in scores of languages, and I think the usage probably stems from a patriarchal impulse that originally informed the language. It’s ish then a derivative ishah. It’s man then a derivative womanor (womb-man).

To be parallel to Hebrew, we would need to see adam and adama as a parallel to "man" and "woman". However, adam and adama, are parallel to "human" and "humus", as Robert Alter translates them, in order to perserve the literalness of the Hebrew. Alter is commited to translating literally in order to reveal the meaning and the form of Hebrew, its poetry and rhythm.

I wouldn’t press any deep anthropological points as if men are therefore the “default” sex. But I do think that the name and its derivative reflects a patriarchal sense. That adam would stand for both man and woman is not surprising in this kind of a linguistic world. But it’s not just Hebrew. The phenomenon occurs in numerous languages.

Hebrew has four words which English translates as "man" and Greek, German and Latin have two words. English is much better able to indicate the Hebrew pattern if we use "human being" for adam, and "man" for ish. It is not a perfect match, but closer than simply using "man" for four distinct Hebrew words.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Jana Chapman Gates on Complementarianism

Gates has written an article for Christianity Today on complementarianism - Woman as Folly. Denny Burk has written it off as caricature. I thought it was relatively mild.

However, it is interesting that Denny Burk jumped to the conclusion that Gates reported that the teaching she was exposed to said that women were more prone to sin. Here is what Gates wrote,
The speaker on the DVD said these verses showed that women should appreciate the desire of men to analyze and provide counsel. But I had a hard time moving beyond the underlying premise, at least as I heard it: Women are foolish.
But Burk misreads her article and writes,
Gates’s article is interesting, but it is ultimately not that helpful. Mainstream complementarians are not making the case that women are more prone to sin than men.
And that is not what Gates said. She said that mainstream complementarians are teaching that women are not as able to analyze as men. Here is Tom Schreiner on male and female differences. I think his views here are fairly mainstream.
because of the different inclinations present in Adam and Eve. Generally speaking, women are more relational and nurturing and men are more given to rational analysis and objectivity.
Complementarians are saying that men are more analytic than women. Complementarians also believe that men have the right to make decisions for women. Two plus two .... as they say. I would suggest that Denny analyze Gates' article a little more carefully.

Thomas Schreiner, “An interpretation of 1 Timothy 2: 9-15: A dialogue with scholarship” in Women in the Church: A Fresh Analysis of 1 Timothy 2: 9-15 Eds. Andreas Kostenberger, Thomas R Schreiner and H. Scott Baldwin (Grand Rapids: Baker Book Houser, 1995) 145-6.

The Bible and its Traditions

Jim West has blogged about a new set of reference works called La Bible et ses Traditions. I noticed that Jim passed on a list of resources. Since I have many additional resources, I felt that perhaps I should list them here.

Greek New Testament
Look Higher (200 Bible translations)
The Greek Text of the Orthodox Church
German Bible Portal
French Bible Portal (godieu)
Hebrew-English Bible
Hebrew with Rashi
Calvin's Latin commentaries and translation
Erasmus Center for Early Modern Studies
Gothic Bible
Geneva Bible
Julia Smith's Bible
Hekman Library

That's a start. This does not include lexicons, etc. I'll see what I can do.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Douay-Rheims 1610

When researching Bibles on the internet, it is always better to view a facsimile rather than an electronic version. Of course, they are not searchable in the normal way, and resist the student who wants to line something up using software.

Here is 1 Tim. 2:12 in the Challoner version of the Douay-Rheims. This Bible is found in electronic form on many sites.
But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to use authority over the man: but to be in silence.
But I have found the 1610 version of the Douay-Rheims so far only here, where we can read,
But to teach, I permit not unto a woman, nor to have dominion over the man: but to be in silence.

Can authentein mean "to lead in church?"

This is much disputed. Odd, since the Southern Baptist Church and many other churches prohibit women from leadership of a mixed group on the basis of 1 Timothy 2:12.

After a blog discussion with Andreas Köstenberger a few years back, he posted on the topic, 1 Timothy 2:12—Once More.

The discussion is broken into two parts. First, there is the argument from lexical evidence. Regarding this, Köstenberger writes,
At the heart of the book were the two chapters devoted to lexical and semantic analysis. In the former, the likelihood was suggested that “exercise authority” (Grk. authentein) carries a neutral or positive connotation, but owing to the scarcity of the term in ancient literature (the only NT occurrence is 1 Tim. 2:12; found only twice preceding the NT in extrabiblical literature) no firm conclusions could be reached on the basis of lexical study alone.
Note that Köstenberger makes no assertion that there is any evidence for a "positive" connotation. He only says that "the liklihood was suggested." He does not attach his endorsement to this notion. I suggest that he knows there is none.

He then suggests that we cannot come to a firm conclusion on the basis of lexical data alone. However, here is an occurence of the word in the second century AD,

3 cent. AD) Hippolytus (d. AD 235) On the End of the World. De consummatione mundi, in Hippolyt’s kleinere exegetische und homiletische Schrften, ed. H. Achelis in De griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller, 1.2 (Leipzig: Himrichs, 1897), 239-309.

“Therefore, everyone will walk according to his won desire, and the children will lay hands upon their parents, a wife will hand over her own husband to death and a man his own wife to judgment as deserving to render account. Inhuman masters will authentein their servants and servants shall put on an unruly disposition toward their masters.”

I am omitting a couple of other occurences because they are found in reconstructed fragments, but neither of them have a positive connotation. There are many other occurences of cognates of the word authentein and some of these are very negative.

Köstenberger then proceeds to discuss the grammatical arguments for why the word authentein should be considered to have a positive connotation. He indicates that other scholars agree that authentein and didaskein should have the same force. I agree, and believe that authentein and didaskein are both related to a negative activity in this case. Sometimes teaching is negative - it is unhelpful or false. This use of didaskein occurs in Titus 1,
they must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.
And, in fact, Köstenberger recognizes that Marshal comes to this conclusion.

A case in point is I. H. Marshall. In his 1999 ICC commentary on the Pastorals, Marshall at the outset indicates his acceptance of the findings of my study by noting that it has “argued convincingly on the basis of a wide range of Gk. usage that the construction employed in this verse is one in which the writer expresses the same attitude (whether positive or negative) to both of the items joined together by oude.”

Yet Marshall proceeds to opt for a negative connotation of both terms “teach” and “have authority,” because he says false teaching is implied in the reference to Adam and Eve in verse 14.
But Köstenberger continues,
This, however, is hardly the case. More likely, Paul’s concern was with women being the victims of false teaching, not its perpetrators (see esp. 1 Tim. 5:14–15). Also, Marshall fails to adequately consider the above-mentioned point, that teaching is virtually always construed as a positive activity in the Pastorals and that it should therefore be construed positively also in 1 Timothy 2:12.
Köstenberger does not support his statement that "this ... is hardly the case" and he ignores the fact that didaskein does occur with a negative connotation in Titus 1:11.

In conclusion, only one interpretation fits the facts - that of Marshall. Authentein is most likely a word with a negative connotation, and in this verse didaskein refers to some innapropriate teaching which women were involved in. It may very well be that the author of this epistle meant that women should not teach in a mixed group. I really cannot tell from this verse.

One thing is very clear to me. There is no evidence, lexical, semantic, grammatical or otherwise, which supports the notion that authentein could mean "pastoral leadership."