The difference that emerges here is not the polarity intrinsic in the dominant discourse, which reduces “woman to man’s opposite, his other, the negative of the positive.” No, this is an absolute and radical alterity that enfolds the other, as in pregnancy a woman’s immune system shuts down in such a way that she shelters and nourishes, rather than rejects and expels, the foreign body within her [as Julia Kristeva points out]: “Cells fuse, split, and proliferate; volumes grow, tissues stretch, and body fluids change rhythm, speeding up or slowing down. Within the body, growing as a graft, indomitable, there is an other. And no one is present, within that simultaneously dual and alien space, to signify what is going on.” Feminine discourse is not the language of opposites but a babel of eroticism, attachment, and empathy.
– Nancy Mairs
Every so often, (women) writers in the blogosphere demonstrate a rather different way of engaging in discourse than the same old, ho-hum, binary structured writing. I like to highlight such communication and did so some time back (at another blog), to try to illustrate some of what my BLT co-blogger Suzanne (then also writing at even another blog) was writing, and how. Likewise, Rachel Barenblat was writing up some very interesting observations about languages that emerges (from roots), and so I tried to demonstrate that a bit with the same post. Probably it’s good just to quote the two directly (again):
But you might ask me whether or not the Herbrew really says “fathers.” It does, and it does not. In Hebrew, as in Greek, the common word for “parents” is the plural of the word for “father.” But it is clear from its constant use for parents of both genders that this is its meaning – parents. In the English of today, the word “fathers” cannot refer to parents of both genders.
– Suzanne McCarthy
[Notice the difference that emerges from a Bible translator] like Everett Fox, whose translation of the Torah plays a lot with word-roots and etymology…. To me as a poet, the word roots do say something meaningful because they offer a place for wordplay and poetic resonance. I think of a book like Rabbi Marcia Prager’s The Path of Blessing — reviewed here — and of how much I’ve learned from her teachings about how word-roots can allow connotations to echo. But Prager’s techniques are poetic and devotional ones, and … [s]he’s also talking about liturgy, … which makes a difference.
– Rachel Barenblat
Last week there were two other blogposts that use language with a difference (from the binary), language that even gets at the mother/womb metaphors that Kristeva and Mairs have noted. Here they are:
By surviving the operation, I grew up believing that I had cheated death. By living, I was thumbing my nose at the Creator. God had wanted me to die, and I had disobeyed.
“You birthed me,” I remember blaming my mother when I was a teenager after had criticized my dirty room.
“Yes, I did, didn’t I?” she reflected, pausing in her vacuuming, holding the attachment perfectly still in the air between us, and tilting her head inquiringly as she contemplated this fact. She smiled mischievously, delighted with her discovery. “It certainly is my fault, yes. I can’t deny it – I birthed you.” We both laughed, but underneath my accusation, I was searching for the answer to an unasked question. I remember her once saying, “Even though you had a stomach problem, I felt lucky to have a girl.” Even though.
– Wendy Patrice Williams (as quoted by Julia Marks)
Lately I have been contemplating my ‘source of being’. I had always assumed it was my connection to the earth. It is this of course, but my revelation came when I realised it was the connection to my mother, and my connection to her mother – me as mother, and not just my birth mother, but all mothers. The earth as mother, the universal mother, cosmic mother. All of them, my source of being.
My memories of growing up start from a very young age. In fact, so young, I have vivid memories of being born. I remember being breastfed and the smell of my Mum’s skin which was such a source of comfort. Thinking about my source and having these early memories re-surface has come at quite a pertinent time of the year, considering that it is Beltane in the Southern Hemisphere, and Samhain in the North. At Beltane we celebrate the coming summer with fire and blessings of fertility, life and abundance. While at Samhain we are remembering our ancestors, those who have passed and loved ones who are still with us. Yesterday, the 31st, I flew from Australia to the USA and I have been able to experience both transitions. This following poem and accompanying artwork represents these polar opposites; birth and death. More importantly, it is an ode to Mum.
– Jassy Watson
These (women) writers “speak” with voices that go beyond the binary. As Mairs writes it, and says it:
[Such is characteristic of] women’s language, since women, for a variety of reasons, live in a polymorphic rather than a dimorphic world, a world in which the differentiation of self from other may never completely take place, in which multiple selves may engage multiply with the multiple desires of the creatures in it. Some theorists would claim that all subjects function thus. But as Julia Kristeva points out, female subjectivity, traditionally linked to cyclical and monumental time rather than to linear time, lies outside “language considered as the enunciation of sentences (noun + verb, topic – comment, beginning – ending).” Possessing an “irreducible identity, without equal in the opposite sex and, as such, exploded, plural, fluid,” a woman may be driven “to break the code, to shatter language, to find a specific discourse closer to the body and the emotions, to the unnamable repressed by the social contract.”
λέγει ἡ μήτηρ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ πρὸς αὐτόν…
καὶ λέγει αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς,
τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί,
the mother of Jesus said to him…
And Jesus said to her,
what does this have to do with me?”
- John 2 (ESV)
Ἰησοῦς οὖν ἰδὼν τὴν μητέρα καὶ τὸν μαθητὴν παρεστῶτα ὃν ἠγάπα
λέγει τῇ μητρί·
γύναι, ἴδε ὁ υἱός σου·
εἶτα λέγει τῷ μαθητῇ·
ἴδε ἡ μήτηρ σου.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby,
he said to his mother,
“Woman, behold, your son!”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother!”
- John 19 (ESV)
If Mark’s gospel Greek has Jesus crying Αββα ὁ πατήρ, the odd gospel of John has its Jesus saying some odd Greek indeed.
The Greek word John’s Jesus uses when talking to his mother is not that very distant formal Greek phrase ἡ μήτηρ /hē mḗtēr/. Nor is is that childish childlike and girlish little girl Greek, that overly familiar term of endearment like μάμμη /mamma/ or the unambiguous μαμμία, μαμμία, μαμμία /mammia mammia mammia/.
No, those would have English equivalents respectively to phrases like these:
- what author P. D. Eastman wrote “To My Mother,” when he wrote his book for children entitled Are You My Mother, which happens to be incidentally one of the first books I ever read with my mother.
- what songwriter Freddy Mercury sang to his Mama (i.e., “Mama, I killed a man“), after he “did a bit of research” to write this, to sing further (i.e., “Oh mama Mia mama Mia Mama Mia”), which seems pretty clearly obviously to be what prompted:
- what songwriter Tommy Shaw wrote (i.e., “Oh Mama, I’m in fear for my life…”).
In Greek, never mind these English translations, the phrase μάμμη would be one where the writer of 4 Maccabbees is mixing up mother/woman/grandmother familial familiar Greek phrases (in chapter 16) and Paul would use it later when making clear to young Timothy that he keeps distinct his Mammy Lois from his Mother Eunice (in 2 Timothy, chapter 1). And the phrase μαμμία, μαμμία, μαμμία is what the little baby of Myrrhini is made to cry out by the nasty Cinesias in the play of Lysistrata by Aristophanes (lines 877 to 890, where the words for Mother, Mama, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, and γυναιξί [gynaizi] get all mixed up).
Γύναι /Gynai/, of course, is what Jesus in the odd gospel Greek twice calls Mary, or Mariam, his mother.
Γύναι /Gynai/, of course, is what Jesus in the odd gospel Greek calls the unnamed loose wo-man of the outcast mixed-breeds of Samaria (in chapter 4).
Γύναι /Gynai/, of course, is what Jesus in the odd gospel Greek calls the unnamed wo-man caught in the act of having sex with another man’s husband (in chapter 8).
Γύναι /Gynai/, of course, is what Jesus in the odd gospel Greek twice calls an-Other Mary, or Mariam, who for all of her womanly public uncontrolled emotion fails to recognize him (in chapter 20).
It’s a far cry from crying Αββα ὁ πατήρ. So what are we to make of this odd gospel Greek?
How does Malcolm Gladwell write of Goliath? And David for that matter?
How are we to read it? The Bible Goliath and his?
First this (on the Bible Abraham) -
Above all we must keep in mind that narrative is a form of representation. Abraham in Genesis is not a real person any more than the painting of an apple is real fruit.
Now this -
It’s telling that of all the biblical verses Gladwell cites, he avoids the one that provides the key to the non-medical readings of the story: “I come against you in the name of the Lord of Hosts.” This theological explanation for David’s victory may not be accurate; it may have been a matter of fast against slow, nimble against encumbered, innovative against conservative, as Gladwell suggests. But disabling Goliath — and thereby rendering God unnecessary and impotent — is an anachronistic imposition on the ancient text. It produces a creative reading of the story, but it fails to give us what Gladwell claims to be providing: an objective, timeless key to understanding Goliath’s defeat.
Reading the text in Gladwell’s way is a form of “now-ism”: It assumes that we understand the data better than those who are actually providing it for us. It is, unfortunately, symptomatic of numerous medical readings of the Bible. Many characters have been paraded through the amateur physician’s consulting room. King Saul wasn’t afflicted by an evil spirit from God, he was bipolar; the prophet Ezekiel’s terrifying visions were not messages from God, but the result of paranoid schizophrenia; and Job’s painful boils were no divine punishment but merely hyperimmunoglobulin E syndrome, commonly known as “Job’s disease.”
The attempt to diagnose historical and literary figures using modern medicine obscures the fact that the significance of their physical characteristics has to be evaluated in context. The overconfident giant to be slain here is surely the short-sighted arrogance of modern diagnostics.
- Joel Baden
Over the past few days, and hours, there’s come news about the manuscripts of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein being digitized. See the Washington Post’s It’s alive — and digital!; the New York Times’ ‘Frankenstein’ Manuscript Comes Alive in Online Shelley Archive; the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Frankenstein’s Manuscript Draws Its First Breath Online; and The Shelly-Godwin Archive’s very own home-page announcement:
Please note that this is a temporary site that will only be active until we officially go live at 8:00 pm on Thursday, October 31st. Please visit us again after that time.
If you’re here and can’t wait the few more hours, then there is one preview image up already on this page: http://shelleygodwinarchive.org/images/Dep.c.534.1-92r.png.
I thought it interesting to see what Frankenstein changes Mary Shelley, or her editor(s), made from this handwritten manuscript to the January 1, 1869 print edition. The latter can be found in google books / google play, in the Project Gutenburg, and via amazon.com for the Kindle. I’ve highlighted the changes in the texts from hand to print, below. What do you make of them?
This is a “so what” post. I really like the comment of my co-blogger, Craig, saying, “I have always found this whole discussion irritating. Our words for our parents obviously come from infancy.” It is irritating, to me too. (This is a third, and final, post in a series; here are part one and two.)
Let me confess why, for me, there really is a “so what” that makes be want to engage in the discussion. It much has to do with how my parents submitted themselves to a certain “biblical parenthood” that had him as the alpha-male dominant Pater (as in Patriarchy, Head of Household, Spiritual Leader) and her as the submitter, with God, even the Trinitarian Christian God as the exemplary, the model, for this hierarchical arrangement. (I think it was Wayne Grudem’s continued publications of how he reads Paul’s letter to the Galatians that prompted my series of blogposts here, btw.)
To begin to do this confession of the why-this-irritating discussion of God-as-FATHER may be important, let me have us look at the MT and the LXX and certain Englishings of the Bible and how the Book represents certain ones by the sounds “Ab” and “Abba.”
Let’s look, for example, at Isaiah 9:6. At Christmastime we hear it in Handel’s Messiah sung:
And His name shall be call-ed,
The Mighty God,
The Everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace
We hear, the “child,” the “son,” … shall be called … Father.”
To hear this in the Jewish Publication Society’s English is to hear that this way:
“For a child is born unto us, a son is given unto us; and the government is upon his shoulder; and his name is called Pele-joez-el-gibbor-Abi-ad-sar-shalom.”
For this same Hebrew אֲבִי-עַד, Craig Smith in The Inclusive Bible, has “Eternal Protector,” with the footnote that says the Hebrew is “Literally ‘parent forever,’ though the context emphasizes a parent’s protective role.”
Well, the “biblical” name for this Child, this Son, prophesied as G-d in part sounds like אב. These are sounds children, even boys, have made for their parents throughout human history. The adult meanings attached extend from this intimacy, from this literality, in ways that the adult Father Walter Ong theorized from orality to literacy, as if one is primary and the other much more adult-like.
When adults, scholars, authorities like pastors, and Fathers, and complementarian “head” husbands interpret, they tend to do like Aristotle did. They tend to avoid ambiguities and to teach others to do so if they’re to use language properly and not improperly. They tend to separate the terms, one from another. They tend to divide meanings so that the one in the binary is absolutely not the other. And they tend to put the one as over and in opposition to the other. This is their “terministic screen” to borrow a term from the rhetorician Kenneth Burke.
After my days of atheism (in the household of my parents, who were Southern Baptist complementarian Trinitarian Christian missionaries), I found myself unable easily to refer to (much less to pray to) God as “Father” when the “Bible” so clearly endorsed sexism. In our home, we not only had to tolerate such but we fundamentally saw it as Natural, as the way of God and His Nature, as spoken in his adult Word, where children, and women, had no voice.
As an adult, I’m amused now by the whole discussion (or debate) over Abba. I’m irritated that the adults who taught me the Bible as a child didn’t show Isaiah’s images of God as Father as so different from human fathers, like my own (by reading, say, Isaiah 63:16 and Isaiah 64:8, which respectively have those Hellene translations of sú kúrie patḕr and kúrie patḕr hēmȭn [σύ κύριε πατὴρ and κύριε πατὴρ ἡμῶν]). And now when I find curious items in the Septuagint, like a mother being named Αββα, then I just blog about it; whatever the reason for that “translation” or slip of the tongue or the pen of an editor, it sure sounds like language play, which children and adults engage in with all of their meanings, some intimate like an inside joke. Language, or more precisely, all the ways we humans use our language, is a lot more robust than we often want to give ourselves credit for. The power for some in using language is their ability to contain Reality somehow by it, and even Language or languages or Αββα as Natural and self-evident. That’s hardly all that language is, nonetheless.
I am grateful for the blogging community, especially my cobloggers here, and for Craig’s work in Bible translation and his comment here. (Do read his Bible, and notice how he uses Abba throughout!). I appreciate James McGrath’s conversation and James Pate’s reblog. I also want to say a Thank You to Abram K-J blogger not only for his organizing the reading of Greek Isaiah but also for his ongoing Septuagint Studies Soirée, now with the third installment here.
Each of the three occurrences of αββα in the NT is followed by the Greek translation ο πατερ, “the father.” This translation makes clear its meaning to the writers; the form is a literal translation — “father” plus a definite article — and like abba can also be a vocative. But it is not a diminutive of “babytalk” form. There are Greek diminutives of father (e.g., παππας [pappas]), and the community chose not to use them.
- Mary Rose D’Angelo
The Greek word used in the New Testament is always the normal adult word πατήρ [pater] and never a diminutive or a word particularly belonging to the speech of children.
- James Barr
Barr rightly points out that in contrast to Aramaic or Hebrew “words somewhat similar in nuance and usage to our ‘Daddy’ did exist in Greek….” This does not show, however that abba was fully equivalent to the Greek ‘father’; since in Aramaic abba was not in contrast to another word [meaning 'daddy'] and [in Greek] pater was, their value was necessarily different.
- Anna Wierzbicka
The following statement in the Talmud was often used to support this view [that Abba may be Daddy]:
An infant cannot say “father” (abba) and “mother” (imma) until it has tasted of wheat [i.e., until it is weaned]. (b. Ber. 40a; b. Sanh. 70b; Tg. Isa. 8:4.)
…. While it is true that children would address their father as abba, it is also true that grown children would address their father as abba…. It is true that little children called their father abba, but these were the normal words of the language and they were “correct and grammatical adult Aramaic.” The early church and the writers of the NT demonstrate this understanding of the term in that they do not translate abba as “Daddy” but as “Father.” If they thought it meant “Daddy,” they could easily have revealed this by translating the term by the diminutive term patridion (“Daddy”). They never did this, however. They instead used patēr (“Father”). Thus it is best to understand abba as a reference by young or old to their “Father.”
- Robert H. Stein
This blogpost starts in by quoting the Mamas and the Papas of “Exactly How the N-T and the Early-Church Writers Literally Translate Abba into Greek as Meaning Only ‘Father’ (and NOT at all as daddy).”
Well, that’s not true is it?
To be sure, I have not quoted Moms and Dads but have used for my epigraphs for this blogpost only exact quotations by the literal mothers and the literal fathers of the semantics of the Aramaic phrase אבא and its Greek equivalent αββα. Ha ha, you my dear readers may respond. And, yes, I’m attempting to be funny. It is humorous how we can play with our language(s). It’s laughable to say that someone, or even something [like the semantics of a phrase], has more than one mother and more than one father, since, as we all know it literally takes one and only one father and one and only one mother to have babies. Ha ha, again.
But, of course, we’re now even using “literal” in a metaphorical sense.
And at no point so far in this post has our English really ever pointed to a literal, or shall we say a “biological,” mother or father.
This is some the point.
We get all hung up on what αββα in the Greek gospel of Mark isn’t. “Abba isn’t Daddy,” we say and we hear over and over. It is really only just simply merely Father, like adults would use for their address to their fathers. “Jesus really said αββα,” we hear the scholars declare. It’s clearly obviously indisputably in what Wierzbicka agrees is one of “the sayings widely regarded by reputable scholars as preserving Jesus’ ipsissima vox and ipsissima verba.” To put that in the words of some of those scholars, “If Jesus could not speak Greek, we [Members of the Jesus Seminar] must conclude that his exact words have been lost forever, with the exception of terms like ‘Abba,’ the Aramaic term for ‘Father,’ which Jesus used to address God…. The Fellows agreed that Jesus used the term ‘Abba’ (Aramaic for ‘Father’) to address God. To this term they gave a rare red designation.” The scholars writing using the English alphabet (for ‘Abba’) reading the gospel writer using the Greek alphabet (for αββα) all use the Greek appositive, or “translation,” ὁ πατήρ, to say what Jesus really meant. And Paul too. His extant letters, full of fragments though they might be, copyist revisions and the like, nonetheless maintain not one but two “Αββα, ὁ πατήρ” – s. This is a lot of scholarly weight. Especially when the scholars know exactly how the Greek works. Know the Greek, know the Aramaic that the Greek surely translates. It’s “Father.” “Abba isn’t Daddy.” Since Father, in Greek, isn’t Daddy. We know “babytalk” form; and this ain’t that. Wierzbicka, whose book What Did Jesus Mean?, explicates “The meaning and significance of the word abba,” says definitively that “it certainly did not mean ‘daddy’ and — unlike pápa [in French], papá [in Russian], babbo [in Italian], and tato [in Polish] — was not specifically a children’s word…. Barr rightly points out that in contrast to Aramaic or Hebrew ‘words somewhat similar in nuance and usage to our “Daddy” [in English] did exist in Greek….’ This does not show, however that abba was fully equivalent to the Greek ‘father’; since in Aramaic abba was not in contrast to another word [meaning 'daddy'] and [in Greek] pater was, their value was necessarily different.” Paul didn’t write Αββα ὦ πατρίδιον to his pals in Rome. Paul didn’t use Αββα ὦ παππία with his intimate buddies in Galatia. Mark’s Greek gospel fails to quote Jesus ipsissima vox or ipsissima verba as saying Αββα πάππαν. And therefore, case closed: “Abba isn’t Daddy.” Are we hung up on this yet?
Yes, and yet. Two problems with getting so hung up on this.
“father” and “père” and “otéc” and “padre” and “ojciec” do not necessarily and always indicate some strictly-spoken more-formal-than-baby-talk adult-talk for the male parent. The range of meanings of the Hebrew phrase אב, especially for G-d in the Bible, is vast. And to use this language is sort of anthropomorphic. It’s definitely a word that applies, in human terms, to animals and humans, to creatures created (or species evolved) and that are sexual and that are spawning offspring. How is it a name for the Creator? How is it a description of Deity? As soon as it’s applied to “him,” then it is no longer “literal.” And so if Jesus is calling God “Father,” and if Paul is writing only “Father” when using “Abba” for God, then already the meaning has shifted from the literal meaning of “father.” The use of such a term, in any language, is never literal when applied to God. It is always metaphorical. And translational.
Which brings us to Two.
the Greek terms for father/daddy that the Bible scholars I’ve quoted here say are always and only different terms (adult-talk / baby-talk) may indeed be variants of the same term.
ὦ πάτερ ὦ πάτερ
ὦ πάτερ πάτερ
And the “early church,” despite what Stein would insist, did see themselves as approaching God as little children.
Clement of Alexandria, for example, writes in his Protrepticus:
Ἡ δὲ ἐκ πολλῶν ἕνωσις ἐκ πολυφωνίας καὶ διασπορᾶς ἁρμονίαν λαβοῦσα θεϊκὴν μία γίνεται συμφωνία, ἑνὶ χορηγῷ καὶ διδασκάλῳ τῷ λόγῳ ἑπομένη, ἐπ’ αὐτὴν τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἀναπαυομένη, «Ἀββᾶ» λέγουσα «ὁ πατήρ»· ταύτην ὁ θεὸς τὴν φωνὴν τὴν ἀληθινὴν ἀσπάζεται παρὰ τῶν αὑτοῦ παίδων πρώτην καρπούμενος.
The union of many in one, issuing in the production of divine harmony out of a medley of sounds and division, becomes one symphony following one choir-leader and teacher, the Word, reaching and resting in the same truth, and crying Abba, Father. This, the true utterance of His children, God accepts with gracious welcome-the first-fruits He receives from them.
Pater may indeed be Daddy. And if so then what might Abba be?
“Abba Isn’t ‘Daddy’” said the late James Barr, scholar.
He quotes Mary Rose D’Angelo, who’s said:
The NT itself gives quite a different reading of αββα. Each of the three occurrences of αββα in the NT is followed by the Greek translation ο πατερ, “the father.” This translation makes clear its meaning to the writers; the form is a literal translation — “father” plus a definite article — and like abba can also be a vocative. But it is not a diminutive of “babytalk” form. There are Greek diminutives of father (e.g., παππας [pappas]), and the community chose not to use them.
Which sounds like what Barr’s said:
“The myth survives” nonetheless, says Caruso. And still lots of pastors and Bible bloggers and scholars have rather conclusively concluded that “Abba Isn’t Daddy.”
I’d like to contend something else. Mark the Greek gospel writer may just be making his Jesus sound like little girls in Greek. And Paul writing to Galatians in Greek and even to Greek readers (not Latin) in Rome could have been just a little more aware of the plays of Aristophanes than it seems Professor Barr was.
Let’s not belabor this too much. Here’s the girly Greek in Peace, one of the other plays by Aristophanes, starting at line 110:
ἰοὺ ἰοὺ ἰού:
ὦ παιδί᾽ ὁ πατὴρ ἀπολιπὼν ἀπέρχεται
ὑμᾶς ἐρήμους ἐς τὸν οὐρανὸν λάθρᾳ.
ἀλλ᾽ ἀντιβολεῖτε τὸν πατέρ ὦ κακοδαίμονα.
ὦ πάτερ ὦ πάτερ ἆρ᾽ ἔτυμός γε
δώμασιν ἡμετέροις φάτις ἥκει,
ὡς σὺ μετ᾽ ὀρνίθων προλιρὼν ἐμὲ
ἐς κόρακας βαδιεῖ μεταμώνιος;
ἔστι τι τῶνδ᾽ ἐτύμως; εἴπ᾽ ὦ πάτερ, εἴ τι φιλεῖς με.
δοξάσαι ἔστι κόραι, τὸ δ᾽ ἐτήτυμον ἄχθομαι ὑμῖν,
ἡνίκ᾽ ἂν αἰτίζητ᾽ ἄρτον πάππαν με καλοῦσαι,
ἔνδον δ᾽ ἀργυρίου μηδὲ ψακὰς ᾖ πάνυ πάμπαν.
ἢν δ᾽ ἐγὼ εὖ πράξας ἔλθω πάλιν, ἕξετ᾽ ἐν ὥρᾳ
κολλύραν μεγάλην καὶ κόνδυλον ὄψον ἐρ᾽ αὐτῇ.
καὶ τίς πόρος σοι τῆς ὁδοῦ γενήσεται;
ναῦς μὲν γὰρ οὐκ ἄξει σε ταύτην τὴν ὁδόν.
πτηνὸς πορεύσει πῶλος: οὐ ναυσθλώσομαι.
τίς δ᾽ ἡ ‘πίνοιά σοὐστὶν ὥστε κάνθαρον
ζεύξαντ᾽ ἐλαύνειν ἐς θεοὺς ὦ παππία;
ἐν τοῖσιν Αἰσώπου λόγοις ἐξηυρέθη
130μόνος πετεινῶν ἐς θεοὺς ἀφιγμένος.
ἄπιστον εἶπας μῦθον ὦ πάτερ πάτερ,
ὅπως κάκοσμον ζῷον ἦλθεν ἐς θεούς.
Now, read any good English language translation. Here’s a recent one by George Theodoridis:
Slave 2: (To the children, desperately)
Dear me, dear, dear, dear me! Children, your father is abandoning you, see? He’s secretly flying off, high into the sky. Beg him, please not to do that! Plead with him, please. Beg the idiot not to leave you here to us, all alone.
Daddy, daddy, is it true? Is it true you’re going to leave us here while you go flying off with the birds -is it true you’re leaving us to these cocks here? (Indicating the slaves) Is it true, really and truly? If you love me tell me father, is it true?
It’s true, daughters, but don’t make me angry, now, you two! You always give me this “daddy” talk when you need something, a piece of bread or something even if there’s no money in the house -not even a whiff of it anywhere. But look, if -no, when I succeed in this and in due time I return, I’ll give you a huge roll… stuffed full with my knuckles.
But how will you do this, daddy? There are no ships going that way!
No need for ships. I have saddled up this little winged stallion, here.
But what on Earth possessed you to put a saddle on a dung beetle’s back and fly of to the gods, daddy?
Because, my darlings, Aesop tells us that it’s the only winged animal that ever managed to go to the gods.
But that’s a myth, daddy! No one believes that! No one believes that such a terrible animal ever went to the gods!
Perhaps in comments, I’ll eventually include some of the other translators’ translations. What ought to be clear from this play and its wordplay is that Greek listeners and readers hear and see synonymous phrases:
ὦ πάτερ ὦ πάτερ
ὦ πάτερ πάτερ
It’s the little girl who gets the fact that her daddy is following a myth. It’s the playwright and his audience who’s let in on this fact, let in on the plenty funny and profuse proliferation of the P sound with the letter PI. Nobody mistakes this pappa for some distant formal father despite where he plans to go, no matter how he plans to abandon his children. The intimacy is rather undeniable. And so how may we respond, then, to the scholars of “abba”?
It’s already started! Just as predicted:
Last month Sheikh Salah al-Luhaydan, a well-known cleric who also practises psychology, claimed on a popular Saudi website that it has been scientifically proved that driving “affects the ovaries” and leads to clinical disorders in the children of women who are foolish enough to drive.
Yes, and Aristotle proved long ago in his History of Animals (493a):
Του δε θήλεος Ιδιον μερος ύστερα, καί του αρρενος αίδοιον [The respective part of a female is an emptiness, ovaries, utter hysteria, a uterus, and so different from that of the sane point of a male, a spear, a penis.]
This is the earliest report today so far I’ve seen, from USA. Watch at your own peril.
Yesterday, The Malaysian Insider continued to publish strong and public responses to news earlier this month that a “Malaysian appeals court has upheld a government ban against the use of the word ‘Allah’ to refer to God in non-Muslim faiths, overruling claims by Christians in this Muslim-majority nation that the restriction violates their religious rights.”
For instance, Bob Teoh writing in English to convey a conversation he had had with a Christian pastor in Kuching – presumably in English – talks in terms of war. The pastor and even Teoh himself are alluding to passages from the Hebrew Bible, in English translation. The Christian leader in Kuching paraphrases, saying:
Brother, the battle belongs to the Lord. The enemies are all confused now.
Although Teoh doesn’t explain to his English readers of The Malaysian Insider, the pastor is making a clear reference to 2 Chronicles 20:15 -
Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.
I’ve quoted the Bible directly from the New Living Translation in English. I’ve done that here because it’s what Teoh does in his post, “Allah, lost in translation.” Toeh goes on to elaborate his points about biblical “war” by quoting the following way:
The world may rely on Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” but the Bible actually has its own principles for going to war.
One of it is found in the fifth book by Moses (Musa in the Quran) in the Christian Old Testament or the Jewish Bible:
Regulations concerning War
“When you go out to fight your enemies and you face horses and chariots and an army greater than your own, do not be afraid. The Lord your God, who brought you out of (captivity from) the land of Egypt, is with you! For the Lord your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!” (Deuteronomy 20:1,4 New Living Translation).
What Teoh does not do is to use Malaysian. He, of course, could have quoted from a translation of the Bible into Malay or into Indonesian which Malay readers understand. And then readers of The Malaysian Insider would read of Allah there. For example, from a Christian Bible (Old Testament) online, one may read the above two passages as follows:
15. dan berseru: “Camkanlah, hai seluruh Yehuda dan penduduk Yerusalem dan tuanku raja Yosafat, beginilah firman TUHAN kepadamu: Janganlah kamu takut dan terkejut karena laskar yang besar ini, sebab bukan kamu yang akan berperang melainkan Allah.
1. “Apabila engkau keluar berperang melawan musuhmu, dan engkau melihat kuda dan kereta, yakni tentara yang lebih banyak dari padamu, maka janganlah engkau takut kepadanya, sebab TUHAN, Allahmu, yang telah menuntun engkau keluar dari tanah Mesir, menyertai engkau.
4. sebab TUHAN, Allahmu, Dialah yang berjalan menyertai kamu untuk berperang bagimu melawan musuhmu, dengan maksud memberikan kemenangan kepadamu.
Most Malaysian readers of English would be well aware of how their Bibles in Malay already include Allah as one of the references to God in the Malaysian language.
The allusion to God is not restricted to the Christian Old Testament but is also found in the New Testament. Thus, another writer for The Malaysian Insider, Rama Ramanathan, quotes the Lord’s Prayer, in English first and then in Malay:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, as we also have forgiven those who sinned against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.”
“Ya Bapa kami yang di syurga, Engkaulah Allah yang Esa, semoga Engkau disembah dan dihormati. Engkaulah Raja kami. Semoga Engkau memerintah di bumi, dan seperti di syurga, kehendakMu ditaati. Berilah kami makanan yang kami perlukan pada hari ini. Ampunkanlah kesalahan kami, seperti kami mengampuni orang yang bersalah terhadap kami. Janganlah biarkan kami kehilangan iman ketika dicubai, tetapi selamatkanlah kami daripada kuasa si Jahat. Engkaulah Raja yang berkuasa dan mulia untuk selama-lamanya. Amin.”
Also quoted are a number of allusions to Allah in Christian liturgies in Malaysia. Ramanathan’s post is entitled “Allah judgment: What the Special Branch saw on Sunday,” and you can read it here.
BLT readers might be interested, likewise, in seeing the tradition of using Allah in Indonesia by the Christian minority, whose language is very very similar to Malaysian. Here’s a site that compares various translations of numerous popular passages:
I am off to a super-slow start on my problematic composers series (Britten, Verdi, Wagner), but to illustrate some of the tensions, I wanted to point to Garry Wills’s insightful post at the New York Review of Books blog on Chicago Opera Theater’s using censored texts to present Verdi’s Giovanna d’Arco (Joan of Arc). (NB: I did not see this production).
Note that the Chicago Opera Theater was putatively basing its performance on the absolutely stunning new Verdi edition published by University of Chicago, but as Wills describes it, did not seem to have read it very carefully.
Like all of Verdi’s early operas, the seventh one, Giovanna d’Arco (Joan of Arc) (1845), has been revived and given multiple recordings in recent years. In this bicentennial year of Verdi’s birth, it has been performed in Salzburg with Placido Domingo in one of his new baritone roles as Giovanna’s father. On September 21, the Chicago Opera Theater presented what it billed as the first performance from the new scholarly edition in the great University of Chicago Verdi series, this one edited by Alberto Rizzuti. In recent decades, this once-popular opera has been newly appreciated.
Yet there is no denying that the work tugs against some of a modern audience’s values. When, for instance, Giovanna is accused of witchcraft, she is unable to deny it because she has fallen in love with the Dauphin she is striving to make King. Why does she feel that a love for an unmarried Christian man, one not even sexually satisfied, must paralyze her with guilt?
Schiller’s play, Die Jungfrau von Orleans (1801), which gave Temistocle Solera, Verdi’s librettist, much of his material, is more convincing on this point. Schiller’s Johanna falls in love with a soldier in the English army she is fighting. This adds an element of betrayal to her country, and explains her guilt. His Johanna purifies herself from this lapse into love for the enemy and goes on to die fighting for her cause.
What then are we to make of Verdi’s Giovanna, guilty merely of feeling love for her fellow leader in the good cause? The Chicago Opera Theater director, David Schweizer, decided that the only way to be convincing about such an obsession with sexual purity is to make the opera show “the perpetual heart-rending consequences of religious fanaticism.” So he frames the opera as one presented by a group of American evangelicals. When we entered Chicago’s Harris Theater, earnest young religious types passed out fliers thanking us for joining their meeting. Then we saw the meeting begin onstage, the cultists assembling under their pastor, who will play Giovanna’s faith-healing father, Giacomo, in the opera. The cultists, who have come with folding chairs, sit on them during Verdi’s orchestral prelude, watching clips from the 1948 Victor Fleming movie, with Ingrid Bergman as Joan. The evangelicals make ecstatic mourning gestures as Joan is seen burning at the stake, but cheering ones as she goes into battle with shining armor.
At a University of Chicago symposium before the production, David Schweizer was asked why he chose Fleming’s over other films about Joan (by Dreyer or Bresson, for instance). He answered that he wanted to show the shallowest and “most Hollywood” images he could find. The film is geared to the fanatics’ capacities. The way Schweizer was stacking the deck came out in the symposium when Philip Gossett, the eminent editor in chief of the Verdi editions, asked a question. The Joan of the production, soprano Suzan Hanson, had just sung (to piano accompaniment) her early prayer for armor. Gossett, following along with the new score, noted that she sang the version that had been censored for Austrian audiences in the nineteenth century, which omitted the person being prayed to, though Verdi’s original text, just re-edited, names “Vergin Maria.” Why desert the new text now that they have it and claim to be presenting it?
The conductor of the Chicago production, Francesco Milioto, said they kept the old text because they are depicting Fundamentalist fanatics who do not pray to the Virgin Mary. He said he was not mocking real (non-fundamentalist) religion. “Our reason is not the same as the Austrians. We’re not shying away from religion—and neither were the Austrians.” But the Austrians were, in fact, shying away from what they considered an illegitimate use of religion, as Maestro Milioto could have learned from the new edition. It cites an important article by the scholar of nineteenth-century opera Francesco Izzo, showing that Solera and Verdi made unusual use of Mary in the brief time (the 1840s) when she was seen as a Risorgimento patroness of liberty—like an Italian version of the French Marianne.
The Church of Pius IX was in collaboration with the Austrians, and it was shocked that “their” meek and mild Virgin could be glimpsed on the other side of the barricades. This was made strikingly clear when, during the brief liberation of Milan in 1848, three years after Verdi’s opera, the radical Princess Cristina Belgioioso (a friend to Verdi’s circle) led 160 troops into Milan. She was costumed, at the head of her little army, as Joan of Arc. Marianne, indeed! (The Chicago company’s program lists ten women in history who wore armor with the troops, but does not mention the most relevant—Princess Belgioioso.)
These are not matters incidental to the opera. Verdi’s Joan does not stay virgin because she feels that all sex is sin, but because she is the living representative of the Virgin. That is why she can redeem herself by rededication to her mission, and die, as in Schiller’s play, gloriously fighting for the cause. Neither in Schiller nor in Verdi is she a victim burned at the stake. But Schweizer’s production, responding perhaps to its own shallow clue given by Ingrid Bergman, gives her a quasi-incineration. In both play and opera, she is imprisoned with chains after being captured by the English. Here the cultists lift her onto a stake and stack their folding chairs as to form the pyre under her. Yet her pastor-father hears her praying to the true God and brings her down from the stake by a miracle (this pastor was earlier seen faith-healing English soldiers).
The Virgin Mary does show up in this staging, but not as an object of Giovanna’s devotion. When the Dauphin has a vision of the place where he can give up his armor, it is at a shrine to Mary. Here the kitchiest kind of Marian image pops up, with lots of candles burning in front of it as in a Catholic church. This is a Mary of the Fundamentalists’ horror, doing the devil’s work. No wonder her father concludes from the shrine that she is leagued with hell, and tells both the French and the English that she should die. But once convinced that she is praying to the proper God, on her pyre, he sends her back into battle.
She was not allowed to pray to Mary herself, because that is not her infidelity. Sexual desire is. In its grip, she thrashes in the convulsions of diabolical possession. Verdi gave the devils offstage voices, but the Chicago production brings them on as dancing demons (the people in the audience near me tittered). At the final scene, of her death from battle wounds, she is no longer in the guerrilla war garb she wore earlier, but clothed in glittering armor—the same Ingrid Bergman was seen wearing in the prelude. With her restored purity she ascends to a true believers’ heaven, while her cultists turn semi-automatic weapons on the audience, heavy-handedly linking Giovanna to terrorism.
I doubt that Verdi will do much damage to the jihadists of the world. […]. This is another case of Verdi’s music triumphing over a director’s most energetic pretzel-twistings. Verdi always rewards the ears, no matter what tricks are being played on the eyes.
The Emily Dickinson archive, containing high-resolution images of Emily Dickinson’s original handwritten manuscripts, is now live.
Emily Dickinson Archive makes high-resolution images of Dickinson’s surviving manuscripts available in open access, and provides readers with a website through which they can view images of manuscripts held in multiple libraries and archives. This first phase of the EDA includes images for the corpus of poems identified in The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Variorum Edition, edited by R. W. Franklin (Cambridge: Belknap Press of the Harvard University Press, 1998).
PS: I apply for having been so tardy in replying to many fine comments and posts on this blog. I am completely swamped with work just now.
When I read Psalm 34 in the Greek (aka the Septuagint’s Psalm 33), I have lots of questions. For example, does the psalmist have a possibly-pregnant female soul? Aristotle would not have gone for that, even if Plato might have.
And does this particular Hellene translation of the Hebrew add any literary sparks and the interpretive spins?
There are at least four peculiar changes from the Semitic text to the Greek:
1. In the very first part, the prelude, where David’s relationship with Abimelech is mentioned, there’s an added emphasis on τὸ πρόσωπον, or “the face,” which the Hebrew does not have. This seems to stress how David acts like God, when he does not favor Abimelech with his face as God does not shame the faces of those who draw near to him (in Hebrew verse 5, which is Greek verse 6: τὰ πρόσωπα ὑμῶν). Likewise, David is turning his face against Abimelech the way the LORD turns his face away from evil and evil doers (in Hebrew verse 16, which in Greek 17 has this: πρόσωπον δὲ κυρίου ἐπὶ ποιοῦντας κακὰ).
2. There’s an odd pause, a διάψαλμα /dia-psalma/, a “strum through” line, usually indicating the Hebrew Selah. This comes after the Greek verse numbered 11, but it’s absent from the original Hebrew or at least the Masoretic Text.
3. What is Greek verse 10 (Hebrew v 9) seems to add a phrase that is gendered. Let me bold it and transliterate it:
φοβήθητε τὸν κύριον, οἱ ἅγιοι αὐτοῦ,
ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν ὑστέρημα τοῖς φοβουμένοις αὐτόν.
It’s in English letters hysterma.
This makes us recall Aristotle’s explication of the uterus or the womb in his copious notes on animal copulation. He mentions the male penis as the present penetrating organ, and he suggests the female hysteria is the complement, the counterpart, the lack.
What is unusual is that the Hebrew verse 9 does not really require such a Greek construction. And the translator also had other Greek words to choose from. And, as we see in Greek verse 11 (Hebrew 10) there’s ἐλαττωθήσονται / elattothesontai/ which suggests lack and want.
4. Finally, Greek verse 11 removes the young hungry lions from the Hebrew (v 10) and replaces it with πλούσιοι ἐπτώχευσαν καὶ ἐπείνασαν, or “rich people who are poor and hungry.” We may recall that in Aristotle’s writings about lions, he makes this observation: “The lion, while he is eating, is most ferocious; but when he is not hungry and has had a good meal, he is quite gentle.” Is there some sort of motivation by the LXX translator to remove the explicit Hebrew reference to the hungry lions?
To compare the Hebrew and the Greek side by side, with the RSV and the Brenton English translations, you can visit Paul Ingram’s great website Kata Pi which produces this page here.
The only other interesting thing about this Greek translation called Psalm that I want to say is this: It seems to have had some reception in the reading and the writing and editing of Matthew’s gospel. At least, the Greek phrase τοὺς ταπεινοὺς τῷ πνεύματι “the lowly in spirit” seems to be part of Jesus’s beatitudes: οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι “the poor in spirit.”
Update: Grudem recants
everything he has said about women well almost everything … This makes me cry to think of how so many of us lived without these freedoms and now so easily, poof, all that reasoning is gone. We can now have all of this. A little late for some of us.
Believe it or not, he really has. In his new book, Poverty of Nations, coauthored by Barry Asmus, Grudem takes a strong position on equality for women. First he lists the freedoms of men,
1. Freedom to own property
2. Freedom to buy and sell
3. Freedom to travel and transport goods anywhere within the nation
[freedoms 4 and 5 are not available in google books.]
6. Freedom to start businesses
7. Freedom from excessive government regulation
8. Freedom from demands for bribes
9. Freedom for a person to work in any job.
10. Freedom for workers to be rewarded for their work
11. Freedom for employers to hire and fire
12. Freedom for employers to hire and fire employees based on merit
13. Freedom to utilize energy resources
14. Freedom to change and modernize
15. Freedom to access useful knowledge, freedom of information
Then he writes, or Asmus writes,
If a nation truly wants to move from poverty towards greater prosperity, it must ensure that all of the freedoms that we have discussed up to this point in this chapter are available to women as well as to men. page 292
Women must have the above mentioned freedoms available to them as well as to men. But in the past, no women had any freedoms at all that were not given to her by her husband. She only had the freedoms accorded under his leadership. Now a woman has all these freedoms. As someone who lived without most of these freedoms, it is very emotional for me to read this. Of course, I gave up complementation restrictions some time ago, but nonetheless, now complementation women have the freedom to own businesses, to do all that a business entails, to make decisions, to change and modernize, to have access to any education or information they want.
In the past, Grudem summarized complementarian practice as “boys and girls both educated, but different preferences, abilities, and sense of calling respected.” What different abilities?? Oh brother! Grudem also had a list of about 80 things that women could or could not do, all of them things that men could do. Grudem also said that a women as a boss had to nurture men in leadership according to their gender. Women as boss was a little touchy because this emasculated men, so he seemed to say in RBMW, page 43,
The God-given sense of responsibility for leadership in a mature man will not generally allow him to flourish under personal, directive leadership of a female superior.
But here is what Grudem and Asmus write in Poverty of Nations,
The British Library has published David Crystal’s recording Tyndale’s translation of St. Matthew’s Gospel. (I found the cheapest price – about $14 – by ordering from bookdepository.co.uk from a UK proxy). This goes perfectly with the British Library’s splendid edition of Tyndale’s New Testament in original spelling. (The British Library edition being in standard type, is much easier to read than the facsimile edition published by Hendrickson.) (From a review in the Contemporary Review: “Forget the fourth Harry Potter book, the publishing sensation of this year is the second edition of William Tyndale’s New Testament first published in 1526. This is an original spelling edition edited for the Tyndale Society by W. R. Cooper and published by the British Library. […] It has, astonishingly, in its first week, outsold Joanne Rowling’s Goblet of Fire in the British Library bookshop.)
I’ve written before about David Crystal’s “Original Pronunciation Movement” – and while I have some issues with Crystal’s web business practices, I’m very happy to see this edition – even though it seems to run against the usual raison d’être for audio Bibles: to make the Bible more accessible to a wider audience. In contrast, this is an audio Bible as a performance, pronounced in a dialect of English that has not been spoken for centuries. This work gets us closer to hearing Tyndale’s literary genius as a contemporary might have heard him.
Tyndale was midway between Chaucer’s Middle English and Shakespeare’s Early Modern English. While it is easy to find recordings of Beowulf or Chaucer or even Shakespeare in original pronunciation (and these are merely exemplary recordings – there are many more available), recordings of Tyndale in original pronunciation are much rarer – this is the only example I am aware of!
Many of our previous “weird Bibles” posts have had at a least a hint of opprobrium about them; but not in this case. This original pronunciation audio edition is now my favorite recording of the New Testament in English, replacing my previous favorite.
Weird Bibles 6: A “Sophisticated” Presidential Prayers Bible (plus another with “personal” reflections)
Weird Bibles 5: Jamaican Patois Bible
Weird Bibles 4: Digital Handwritten Bible
Weird Bibles 3: Playful Puppies Bible
Weird Bibles 2: Etymological New Testament
Weird Bibles 1: Archaic Aramaic script
An Orthodox translation
The Book of Doctrines and Opinions recently posted
An Interview with Dr. Shai Secunda about The Iranian Talmud that I thought might be of interest to BLT readers, particularly including the historical review at the beginning of the post:
The contextual study of the Talmud has generally focused on the Greco-Roman historical context. Asher Gulak in the field of Mishpat Ivri compared Roman and Talmudic Law, Boaz Cohen as a Talmudist compared concepts, and historian Shaye Cohen of Harvard situates Rabbinic family law in Roman context. In contrast, Chief Rabbi Herzog rejected the very idea of comparison. However for many, there was a standoff for decades between Erwin R. Goodenough who saw Judaism entirely enculturated in pagan Greco-Roman culture and Saul Lieberman who limited the influence to legal terms. Now, with the turn to cultural studies, Daniel Boyarin and others return the field to situating Rabbinics as part of a Greco-cultural world.
But what of Babylonian influence on the Talmud? Technically, we are speaking of the Sasanian dynasty that took power from the Parthians in 226 CE. It was bureaucratically centered in Mesopotamia which had a majority of Aramaic speakers, including Jews, Christians, and Mandeans, but also a ruling Persian speaking population. Their religion was Zoroastrian. Most scholars of the Talmud only made brief note of the context, leaving the discussion mainly to those in the field of religion.
They either saw Zoroastrian religion as polluting the pure ethics of the prophets or a conduit of perennial wisdom. They attributed much of the worldview unique to the Babylonian Talmud to this influence, including Talmudic magic, sorcery, angelology, demons as well as menstruation and purity laws. They also noted that Adam and Eve in the Bavli reflect the Iranian Mashya (man) and Mashyana, the Iranian Adam (man) and Eve. R. C. Zaehner, a professor of Eastern religions, argues for Zoroastrianism’s direct influence on Jewish eschatological myths, especially the resurrection of the dead with rewards and punishments.
The Hungarian Alexander Kohut, who edited and vastly expanded the classic 11th-century talmudic dictionary, the Arukh, and filled it with Persian etymologies, and was fascinated by the world of Zoroastrian angelology and demonology, charted many correspondences between the Persian system and its Jewish counterpart. The Austrian talmudist Isaac Hirsch Weiss was drawn to parallels between Zoroastrianism and the Talmud; he listed a number of critical areas in which, he argued, the rabbis had adopted Persian practices. Just as interesting, in other places Weiss claimed to have found signs of resistance—instances in which rabbis established practices specifically as a means of precluding certain “Persianisms.”
Although “in general, the Iranian element has been relatively slighted,” this seems to be changing in recent years. In 1982, E. S. Rosenthal “urged the mastery of Middle Persian, the Sassanian lingua franca, as a gateway to Talmud study” (emphasis mine).
Dr. Secunda is publishing a book giving an introduction to the Iranian situated Talmud, titled The Iranian Talmud. This semester, he is teaching a class on Women, Ritual and Religion in Late Antique Judaism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His second book will be based on the topic of his dissertation, a study of the Babylonian rabbinic law of menstruation in relation to corresponding Zoroastrian texts, and he has a forthcoming article on Zoroastrian and Rabbinic ‘Genealogies’ of Menstruation: Medicine, Myth, and Misogyny. In an excerpt from this article, he observes that
The gender politics of textual production dictate that for the most part, ancient religious works which have survived into modern times were produced by and for men. When women are the subject of these texts, it is always through the male gaze. Hence female physiological processes, like menstruation, are often interpreted via male physiognomy, and the normative body is usually the male body. When we look at the way menstruation is depicted in male-authored texts, we find that at the very least the phenomenon is a source of wonder, if not always revulsion and misogyny.
For Sasanian rabbis and Zorasterian dadwars, menstruation was a physiological phenomenon accompanied by a set of prohibitions and purification practices.
Do click through to read the interview, in which Dr. Secunda discusses what the Iranian context adds to the study of the Babylonian Talmud, how his approach relates to Gemara and halakha, the relationship between the Talmud, Sasanian law, and Greco-Roman law, the inclusion of feminist perspectives in the study of rabbinic texts, and more.