Friday, April 29, 2011

Order of Service for the Royal wedding

Here is the order of service for the Royal wedding. Today, in front of 2 billion people, the natural heir of the King James Bible was read aloud. James Middleton, brother of Kate Middleton, read from Romans 12 in the New Revised Standard Version. From today on the standard has been established that the scriptures addressed brothers and sisters equally. From today on, those who read the word of God, those who hear the word of God, will expect to hear "sisters" along with "brothers."

Perhaps the most beautiful thing about this wedding was the sense of equality and friendship between brothers, between brothers and sisters, between bride and groom. There is perhaps no other phrase which is so evocative of Christian love between members of the opposite sex, as the phrase "brothers and sisters."

But did the Greek scriptures contain that phrase? Yes, they did. The Greek word adelphoi, had already been used to refer to another couple, a couple not blessed with happiness, but a couple who were both brother and sister from birth, and husband and wife (although there is no evidence that this union was consumated.) Cleopatra and Ptolemy were called adelphoi, that is brother and sister.

When the apostle Paul used this word adelphoi, he was using a word that that had the accepted usage of "brothers and sisters." From Saint Paul to the Royal wedding, from adelphoi to "brethren" to "brothers and sisters", the tradition is unbroken.

The Liddell, Scott Lexicon is widely accepted by Bible scholars as the most authoritative lexicon of ancient Greek, including New Testament Greek, and it has recorded the meaning of adelphoi as "brothers and sisters" at least back to 1871. (Previous lexicons were from Greek into Latin.)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

a promise to obey the Holy Virgin

Don't take this as some kind of endorsement, but I do think that there was a loss of metaphorical female authority in the Reformation. Martin Luther's vows are described as follows,
"I, brother Martin, profess and promise to obey the Almighty God and the Holy Virgin, and you, brother Winand, prior of this monastery, in the name of the vicar-general of order ... and to live without property and in chastity according to the rule of St. Augustin ... unto death."
From page 136 in Young Man Luther.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

David Norton on Pagninus

I have contended for some time, that no translation in the Reformation was "from the original languages." Over the last few years, I have been surprised that so little attention is paid to the two most influential translations which precede the first translation into English not made from the Vulgate. They are Erasmus' Latin translation of the New Testament, and Pagninus' Latin translation of the Hebrew Bible. Most printed Bibles in Greek and Hebrew had a Latin translation as either an interlinear or as a parallel column. Translators into English usually worked from a text which had a Latin translation, usually derived from or influenced by these two translations, Erasmus and Pagninus.

David Nortion who has written The King James Bible: A Short History from Tyndale to Today wrote,

The Hebrew and Greek were often printed with other versions, notably Latin versions. These were of great use for translators, for Latin was the international vernacular of scholarship. The polyglots, the Complutensian and Plantin’s Antwerp polyglot (1569–72), included other ancient versions with sometimes interlinear Latin translations. Erasmus’s NT had his Latin translation, the Novum Instrumentum, in a parallel column.

Sanctes Pagninus’s extremely literal Latin translation, Veteris et Novi Testamenti nova translatio (1528), was highly influential, not just its literal Latin translation of the OT (other versions superseded its NT), but also because of its extensive use of rabbinic sources. Translators in several languages found their teacher in Pagninus. Coverdale was one such; the Bishops’ Bible translators were instructed to follow Pagninus and Münster ‘for the verity of the Hebrew’, and the KJB drew on Pagninus for some readings.6 Sebastian Münster had published an annotated Latin version of the OT, printed alongside the Hebrew in 1535 which also drew extensively on rabbinic sources. Though his translation did not have the enduring success of Pagninus’s, his annotations were long valued.

The Zurich Latin Bible of 1543 included a new translation of the Apocrypha, and a revised version of Erasmus’s Latin NT. The latest of these influential, annotated, Jewish-influenced Latin OTs was the work of Immanuel Tremellius and his son-in-law Franciscus Junius. It included translations of the OT, the Peshitta NT and the Apocrypha. The main new Latin version of the NT after Erasmus’s was Beza’s (1557); both included annotations and were frequently reprinted.

Presentation often enhanced the value of these versions, for they were usually presented as cribs. Ways of highlighting the connections between the Latin and the original languages were developed. The Complutensian Polyglot tied the words of the NT to the Vulgate by using superscript letters: the reader had only to glance from the Greek in the left column to the Latin in the right to see which word represented which.7 Interlinear texts were even easier to use. After the publication of Pagninus’s translation, 1528, few, perhaps none of the translators would have found themselves working from the original languages alone, aided by nothing more than grammars and dictionaries, and never would they have found themselves working without an already vast knowledge of the text in their heads: most knew the Vulgate intimately.
From the unknown first Hebrew writer to Beza, all these men contributed, directly or indirectly, to the KJB. Many more, especially continental vernacular translators such as Martin Luther and the makers of dictionaries, grammars and concordances, should be added, but this is sufficient to give a sense of the books the English translators worked from.

Friday, April 08, 2011

What Jimmy Carter said

I was in a rush this morning so I did not cite Carter, but here is what he said. It is worth reading the full article. I have not seen an actual transcription of his speech or interview, but this gives a good idea. Here are a few paragraphs. First, he does explicitly mention Christians, not just religion, any religion. He centres out the Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention. He said,

“In Christian communities, as well, there is gross discrimination against women. Our people at the Carter Center believe that women should be treated equally in the eyes of God and that includes Islam and also Christianity and other religions. But, as you know, [in] the Catholic Church, they practically worship the Virgin Mary, but won’t let a woman be a priest,” he added. ...

“The discrimination against women on a global basis is almost attributable to the declaration by religious leaders in Christianity, Islam and other religions that women are inferior in the eyes of God, and this gives men a right to abuse women, whether it’s the husband beating up his wife or depriving a woman of her basic rights,” he added.

Meanwhile, in his keynote address Carter said his own Southern Baptist Convention leaders ordained, in recent years, that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors, chaplains in the military service, or teachers of men.

He said they based this on a few carefully selected quotations from St. Paul and also the book of Genesis claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin. Carter said this was in conflict with his belief that we are all equal in the eyes of God.

The former president said this view that God considers women to be inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or tradition. Its influence does not stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue, or temple. Women, he stated, are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths creating an environment in which violations against women are justified.

It is worth pointing out that Carter is explicitly saying that it is the selection of passages which discrminates against women. There are only two verses usually cited to restrict women from ministry. And yet there are many examples of women who are clearly leaders in ministry. There are many verses about treating others as you want to be treated, about esteeming others greater than oneself, about submitting one to another.

This is the point. It is not the Bible per se, or relgion itself, but it is the way the Bible is used. It is the choice that people make to focus on two verses at the expense of other verses, verses which state that both men and women will prophecy, that say both men and women proclaim the good news.

The two verses, 2 Tim. 2:12, and 1 Cor. 14;35 both pose difficulties of interpretation. In the case of the former, the translation has been altered. It used to say that a women may not be the lord of the man, or usurp authority, but now in many recent translations, it says that a woman may not "exercise authority." Who selected this text and changed the translation? That is what Jimmy Carter is talking about.

Jimmy Carter blasts religion

I hereby confess that I read about this on Kurk's blog, and did not link back to him, since I was rushing out to work.

Jimmy Carter has spoken out again. In case some don't understand how he attributes wife abuse to religious leaders, let me cite Bruce Ware on this topic,
    The very wise and good plan of God, of male headship, is sought to be overturned as women now, as sinners, want instead to have their way, instead of submitting to their husbands, to do what they would like to do, and seek to work to have their husbands fulfill their will, rather than serving them;

    and their husbands on their part, because they are sinners, now respond to that threat to their authority either by being abusive, which is, of course, one of the ways men can respond when their authority is challenged, or more commonly by becoming passive, acquiescing and simply not asserting the leadership they ought to as men in their homes and churches.
in a sermon at the Denton Bible Church, June 22, 2008. According to Ware, men ought to assert their leadership, and women ought not to challenge this. Otherwise who knows what may happen. Since Ware and others claim women are designed for submission under men, I do think one can say that this implies that women are designed for the inferior position. It has something to do with carrying weight on our hips. But what about women who don't carry weight on their hips? What about men who do?

Thursday, April 07, 2011

brothers and sisters

This is from the Liddell Scott Lexicon printed to be used in schools in 1879 in the United States for those preparing to go to university. How is it that so few people actually believe that the first and most literal meaning of adelphoi truly is "brothers and sisters?"

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

On Women

There have been a myriad of posts about women in the bibliosphere over the last week or so. I have also just finished reading Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and it has lead me to think a lot about what we should be doing in the west in order to foster better circumstances for women in other countries. I found one answer in Daniel Kirk's thoughtful review here and here of Half the Church by Carolyn Custis James.

I had been thinking that perhaps women have it so well in the west that we should just be grateful for what we do have, and concentrate on how one can contribute to improving things for women in other parts of the world. I was thinking that perhaps continuing to fight for equality in the context of the North American church was trivial in comparison to what is going on elsewhere. Perhaps even counter productive. However, Daniel Kirk writes,
As James’ own stories show, failure to ordain women, failure to treat women as equal, is not good news to women. The church in North America will fail to be the champion of justice for women as long as it continues to teach, preach, and embody the very patriarchal system that creates the injustices she has denounced around the world. This book is about the unimpeachable, biblical importance of women–but, I fear, only for the 2/3 world “out there”, not the 1/3 or the 1% who are subjected to the power of patriarchal systems here at home.
So perhaps, on the other hand, it is important to continue to champion equality in the church for women here in North America, as an important factor which can influence equality for women elsewhere. Perhaps, if the church in the west recognizes women as truly equal, rather than uniquely destined for submission, we can rise above Islam in a significant way. I don't want some man in another country saying to his wife "see, even in America, women have to submit."

Craig is offering a giveaway copy of Half the Church. Go here for the rules. I know most of them are impossible for me but have a try.

In the same week, TC has also blogged about women preachers, and Jennifer mentioned her own post on this topic. If you are a woman in ministry, or hoping to be so, this post is for you. I hope that Shirley and Jennifer read each others blogs. No one brings more passion to this topic than Shirley.

At the same time, the issue of female bibliobloggers has come up again. Kurk has blogged about it here, here, here and here. Rod of Alexandria starts a campaign for more women bibliobloggers. I also shake my head in bewilderment as I see my name among the top ten bibliobloggers by vote again. Thank you so much. You know who you.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Why not choose the ESV for your church

If someone were to ask me which translation to use in an evangelical church today, I would suggest either the NRSV or the NIV 2011. I am guessing that the latter version would have more appeal, as the NIV has been for some time a popular choice among evangelicals. However, recently there has been an upswing of interest in the ESV as the more accurate translation. In my view, this is not the case.

The way I see it is that the ESV, like the RSV and the NRSV, has maintained the general style of the King James Bible which is still familiar to and respected by many. Although the ESV has the style of the KJB, it does not communicate gender in an accurate manner. If someone truly wants a Bible in that tradition, I would heartily recommend the NRSV.

However, I am aware that many people would rather have a Bible that is more closely associated with the evangelical community than the NRSV, and the NIV certainly is. So the NIV 2011 is really a perfect choice at this time.

Here are some passages where there is a significant difference in the way gender is treated in the ESV and the NIV2011.

1 Tim. 2:12
I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. ESV

I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. NIV 2011
There are three different ways that this verse has been translated. First, it occurs as the Latin equivalent of "to be the lord of" in the Vulgate, then "usurp authority" in the KJV and now "exercise authority" in the ESV. There is no reason to think that the word had the positive connotation of "to exercise authority" and so the NIV 2011 is closer to the KJV and to the original meaning than the ESV. Women need to have whatever authority is commensurate with their responsibilities in exactly the same way that men do. Neither men nor women should use authority in a negative way, or domineer over the other.

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

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. NIV 2011
The Greek word in this verse translated as "men" is actually anthropos, which means, quite simply, "people" or "human beings." There is no justification at all for the ESV to use the word "men" in English here. This kind of pattern is repeated throughout the ESV, where a word that means "people" is translated as "men." The ESV hides from the reader that the word in Greek means "people."

1 Tim. 5:8
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. ESV

Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. NIV 2011
The Greek word which is translated as "anyone" means what it says - anyone. It does not refer to a male only and in the Greek of this passage, there are no masculine pronouns or masculine indicators of any kind. This verse does not refer to men as the providers in the home, but assigns equal responsibility to both men and women. The NIV2011 avoids the misunderstanding often caused by the masculine pronouns of the ESV.

In addition to this, the Greek word adelphoi was translated in the King James Bible as "brethren." However, in Greek this word applied to the brothers and sisters in one family. In reality the word always has meant "brothers and sisters." This is a more accurate translation of the Greek.

Romans 16:7
Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. ESV

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. NIV 2011
There is no evidence to suggest that Junia was not an apostle. It is better to stick with the historic understanding in both the Latin Vulgate and in the King James Bible, that Junia was an apostle.

May I commend to you the NIV 2011 or the NRSV, and gender inclusive Bibles in general, which do, in fact, reflect the Greek of the original in a better fashion than our traditional Bibles do.