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Judith: written in Greek or Hebrew

April 6, 2014

Many years ago, many, many – I took a course in Septuagint and wrote a paper listing all the types of second language learner errors and patterns and analyzed a book of the deuterocanon – I don’t remember which – as having been written in Greek, but full of second language speaker patterns. I was taking a course on second language acquisition at the time and really felt confident about my approach. Not sure that I did too well on that paper. So here is what the NETS says about the Book of Judith, NETS. 2009.  page 441,

From its language one can infer with some measure of confidence not only that the text represents the translation of a Hebrew parent, but that it represents a certain kind of translation, namely, one which has rendered its parent in a relatively metaphrastic fashion; that is to say that within the constraints of grammaticality, the Greek of the translation shows every indication of an isomorphic and quantitative fidelity to the language of its source. Implicit in the verbal texture of any translation is its relationship with another text in another language. In an interlinear translation, this relationship is characterized by a high degree of dependence; the Greek of Ioudith reads as it does in large measure because the hebrew of its parent read as it did.

And here is a statement from the introduction to A Pious Seductress: Studies in the Book of Judith by S. D. Ryan, edited by Géza G. Xeravits, 2012. page 2, 

Helmut Engel defines the original language of Judith as that language in which the original author wrote and thought. Both Engel and Jeremy Corley hold that this was most likely Greek, or, in Engel’s words, Septuaginta-Griechisch. That is, Greek written in the style of Septuagint Greek, perhaps, as Corley suggests, by an author for whom Greek was a second and acquired language.

Corley’s article lists citations from the Septuagint and allusions to other Greek literature, and he concludes, page 27

The allusions to Jewish and non-Jewish works in Greek make me consider that the book’s original language was Greek. Where verbal links exist between the book’s Greek text and earlier literary models, some direct dependence is probable.

Two examples are:

The Lord who crushes wars Ex. 12:29 Judith 13:1

The Lord will go before you as vengeance on your enemies 2 Sam. 4:8 Judith 8:35

Corley has written an earlier article, 2010, summarized here,

From the second part, I look at co-editor Jeremy Corley’s study, “Septuagentalisms, Semitic Interference, and the Original Language of the Book of Judith,” which is one of the longest in this collection. As noted by Corley, Carey Moore, in his well-regarded 1985 Anchor Bible commentary on Judith, was expressing the consensus view when he argued that the Greek text of Judith was a translation from the Hebrew. Moore constructed a detailed list to bolster his case, consisting of conjectured translation errors, Hebraic idioms, and Hebraic syntax.

Before tackling this list, Corley observes that the past two decades have seen a shift in scholarly views or at least a willingness to consider Judith as an original Greek composition—which is the view Corley champions. Far from denying that the author of this Greek text was much influenced, directly and indirectly, by Hebrew, Corley looks to “Septuagintalisms” and Semitic interference as the key elements in explaining the Hebraic character of the Greek. Corley’s careful analysis must be taken into account in all further discussions of this and parallel occurrences. Moreover, as Corley points out, his conclusions are consistent with Gagnac’s understanding of much of the Greek of the New Testament.

I wrote my paper in 19 70 – something and turned it in my prof, the editor of the NETS, but I have since lost the copy of my paper, I think – at least, my mind is a little hazy on the whole thing – but I guess I was a few decades before the right time for this kind of analysis. Glad to see at any rate that the possible Greek origin of Judith is being discussed. (Of course, I wrote the paper as a baby so that may have influenced the quality. :)


Corley, Jeremy. Septuagentalisms, Semitic Interference, and the Original Language of the Book of Judith in Studies in the Greek Bible: Essays in Honor of Francis T. Gignac ed. Leonard Greenspoon. Hebrew Studies. Volume 51, 2010. pp. 392-394

Corley, Jeremy. Imitation of Septuagint Narrative in A Pious Seductress: Studies in the Book of Judith edited by Géza G. Xeravits. Walter de Gruyter. 2012

Ryan S. D. The Ancient Versions of Judith in A Pious Seductress: Studies in the Book of Judith edited by Géza G. Xeravits. Walter de Gruyter. 2012

Is baal a careless master or a faithful husband?

April 5, 2014

Kurk has pointed out a fundamental problem with the translation of baal as husband in my last post. 

I will just work with Jeremiah and only two verses, but lots of contrasts.

אֲשֶׁר-הֵמָּה הֵפֵרוּ אֶת-בְּרִיתִי
וְאָנֹכִי בָּעַלְתִּי בָם–נְאֻם-יְהוָה

which my covenant they brake,
although I was an husband (baalti) unto them, saith the Lord: KJV

or they violated that covenant,
even though I was like a faithful husband to them,” says the Lord. NETS

the covenant which they made void,
and I had dominion over them, saith the Lord. Douay Rheims 1899

forasmuch as they broke My covenant,
although I was a lord over them, saith the LORD. JPS 1917

οτι αυτοι ουκ ενεμειναν εν τη διαθηκη μου
και εγω ημελησα αυτων φησιν κυριος LXX

because they did not abide in my covenant,
and I was unconcerned for them, quoth the Lord, NETS

Now let’s look at the only other use of this word in Jeremiah – 3:14,

שׁוּבוּ בָנִים שׁוֹבָבִים נְאֻם-יְהוָה,
כִּי אָנֹכִי בָּעַלְתִּי בָכֶם

Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord;
for I am married unto you KJV

“Come back to me, my wayward sons,” says theLord,
“for I am your true master. NET Bible

Return, O ye revolting children, saith the Lord:
for I am your husband: D-R 1899

Return, O backsliding children, saith the LORD;
for I am a lord unto you, JPS 1917

επιστραφητε υιοι αφεστηκοτες λεγει κυριος
διοτι εγω κατακυριευσω υμων LXX

Return, O apostate sons, says the Lord,
for I will be your lord, NETS

But let’s be honest here. We all know that katakurieuvw is a synonym of kurieuvw. And what does that make it? This is the word used for the wrong way that Adam will treat Eve, the wrong way that rulers treat their people, the wrong way that pastors treat their flock and the wrong way that women treat men. It is all wrong. At least, one gets that impression. And maybe that is why God says that he will no longer be a baali, but an ishi, a partner and not a boss.

This is the model in the trinity, not eternal hierarchy and subordination. We have to understand that these are projections, models for how we, as humans, interpret God. What God is, that we don’t know. But we can understand God as the source of authority and submission, or we can understand God as the source of compassion, partnership and mutuality. God asks to be ishi and not baali.

Gen. 3:16

και αυτος σου κυριευσει

and he will rule you

Matt. 20:25-26

25 ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς προσκαλεσάμενος αὐτοὺς εἶπεν·
Οἴδατε ὅτι οἱ ἄρχοντες τῶν ἐθνῶν κατακυριεύουσιν αὐτῶν
καὶ οἱ μεγάλοι κατεξουσιάζουσιν αὐτῶν.
26 οὐχ οὕτως[a]ἔσται ἐν ὑμῖν·
ἀλλ’ ὃς [b]ἂν θέλῃ ἐν ὑμῖν μέγας γενέσθαι ἔσται ὑμῶν διάκονος,

25 But Jesus called them and said,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and those in high positions use their authority over them.
26 It must not be this way among you!
Instead whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant,

1 Peter 5:3

μηδ’ ὡς κατακυριεύοντες τῶν κλήρων
ἀλλὰ τύποι γινόμενοι τοῦ ποιμνίου·

And do not lord it over those entrusted to you,
but be examples to the flock.NET Bible

1 Tim. 2:12

12 [a]διδάσκειν δὲ γυναικὶ οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω,

οὐδὲ αὐθεντεῖν ἀνδρός,
ἀλλ’ εἶναι ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ.

12 But I do not allow a woman to teach
or exercise authority over a man.
She must remain quiet.

And what is the connection between katakurieuw, to rule, or to lord it over someone, and authentew in 1 Tim. 2:12. Jerome, in translating the Vulgate, translated all these words with the Latin verb dominari. The first person of this verb is dominor, if you want to look it up. It does not mean “to exercise authority” or “to be a leader in church” but the exact opposite. But we have seen that baal is a domineering master, or a faithful husband, depending on how you want to translate.
Here are the verbs in the Vulgate, just to document it.
Gen. 3:16 dominabitur tui
Jeremiah 3:14 quia ego vir vester “I am your man.”??
Jer. 31:32 ego dominatus sum “I am your lord.”
Matt. 20:25 dominantur eorum
1 Tim. 2:12 dominari in virum
1 Peter 5:3 dominantes in cleris
Notice how easy it is for a word that seems to mean “be a ruler of” or “lord it over someone” morphs into “true master” “faithful husband” and “exercise authority” as in “be a church leader.” There is a certain sense in which every verse in the Bible cn be made to mean something and mean the opposite of that something, at the same time.
Update: I have not in any way responded to why the Septuagint has “I was unconcerned for them.” Sometimes, you just do a pile of research and it doesn’t give an answer, but poses more questions.

Ishi not Baali

April 3, 2014

I have been working on this Hebrew word ish a little more. I was recently told that in Israel, women no longer call their husbands baali (my master) but ishi (my man.) So ishi it is –  “my man” and not “my master.” This reminds me of Hosea 2:18, especially in the King James Bible,

יח וְהָיָה בַיּוֹם-הַהוּא נְאֻם-יְהוָה
תִּקְרְאִי אִישִׁי
וְלֹא-תִקְרְאִי-לִי עוֹד, בַּעְלִי

And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord,
that thou shalt call me Ishi;
and shalt call me no more Baali.

And in more recent translations,

“And in that day, declares the Lord,
you will call me ‘My Husband,’
and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ ESV

On that day, says the Lord,
you will call me, “My husband,”
and no longer will you call me, “My Lord.” CEB

“In that day,” declares the Lord,
“you will call me ‘my husband’;
you will no longer call me ‘my master.[a]’ NIV

So these translations agree that “husband” is ishi, not baali. Baali means “owner” and “lord and master.” But what happens when it comes to the verb, in Jeremiah 31:32,

וְאָנֹכִי בָּעַלְתִּי בָם–נְאֻם-יְהוָה

I was an husband (baalti) unto them, saith the Lord: KJV

Here baalti is husband. Hey, what? God was the husband as in “their lord and master” the baal of his people. But baalti in this verse is always translated as “husband” and not “master” – although the NIV does have a note saying “or was their master.” So the NIV is the only translation that provides any consistency in the translation of baal, the verb בָּעַל and the noun בַּעַל, at least in these two verses.

In any case, I think this verse in Hosea 2:18 speaks to a current linguistic trend in Israel and supports the notion that God promotes egalitarian marriage, where the husband is not a baal, but an ish. In Hebrew one now says ishi (my man) and ishti (my woman) or perhaps these words really mean “partner.” Here is the rabbinical commentary,

What’s the Hebrew word for ‘husband’?

Actually, you have two choices. Both are in use in Hebrew today. and both were used in the time of the bible. The first word is ‘ba’al’. If a woman in Israel today wants to refer to her husband, she might refer to him as ‘ba’ali’ – ‘my husband.’

But if you know Hebrew, you know that the same word ‘baal’ can mean ‘owner.’ For example, ‘ba’al ha-bayit’ means ‘home-owner’ or ‘master of the house.’ And more insidiously, the owner of a slave is also referred to in the bible as ‘baal’.

So you can see this term’s etymological origin. It is a relic of a time when a woman’s relationship with her husband wasn’t that different from the relationship between a servant and master. There are some people who won’t use the word baal on principle for this reason. So what word would they use instead? The word ‘ish’. Most literally, ‘ish’ simply means ‘man’ – but there are some points in the bible where the word ‘ish’ also means ‘husband.’ Someone who wanted to say the words ‘my husband’ in Hebrew could also say ‘ishi,’ which is very similar to the Hebrew word for ‘my wife,’ which is ‘ishti.’ The words ‘ish’ and ‘ishah’, meaning ‘man’ and ‘woman,’ are etymologically egalitarian words, unlike the Hebrew word ‘ba’al,’ which establishes a hierarchical relationship between husband and wife.

When we think of the history of marriage in Jewish tradition – actually, when we think of the history of gender relations in Jewish tradition – there have been times when the predominant paradigm was the hierarchical relationship of ‘baal’ and ‘ishah,’ and other times when the predominant paradigm was the egalitarian relationship ‘ish’ and ‘ishah.’

Normally, I love to talk about how enlightened Jewish tradition has always been about gender relations and has been far ahead of its time in treating women with respect and honor. But whereas it’s true that Jewish tradition was rather enlightened relative to many of its neighbors, it is sadly abundantly clear that women have been at a significant power disadvantage throughout much of Jewish history.

One of the most uncomfortable demonstrations of this inequality comes in the haftarah portion from the book of Hosea that Jewish communities around the world read to accompany the Torah portion of Bamidbar (this year to be read on May 11). In this passage, the prophet Hosea tries to express why God has been so angry at the people of Israel. He uses the image of a husband whose wife had been unfaithful. He says: Isn’t this what you would expect when a husband suspects his wife has been unfaithful? Wouldn’t you expect him to “strip her naked and leave her as on the day she was born; to make her like a wilderness, render her like desert land, and let her die of thirst — to hedge up her roads with thorns and raise walls against her” (Hosea 2:5) — ? Hosea continues: now we know why God is taking such violent anger towards us. It is because we have been unfaithful, worshipping other gods, and God has responded exactly as we would expect any reasonable husband to respond to such infidelity.

This marriage metaphor is the central idea in the book of Hosea, and we presume that this metaphor resonated with his audience, who found such a violent response against a disobedient wife to be logical and justified. While we have no data on the extent of domestic violence
in the earliest years of our people, the existence of this metaphor in the Bible leads many scholars to the upsetting assumption that it was a phenomenon that was at least widely known, and probably widespread.

However, a few verses later, the book of Hosea includes a line that can only be understood by those who understand the contrast between the Hebrew words ish and ba’al (see above). After God and Israel are reconciled again, God says, ‘tikre’i ishi, ve-lo tikre’i li od ba’ali.’ ‘It will happen soon that you will call me ‘ishi,’ ‘my husband,’ and you will no longer call me ‘ba’ali,’ ‘my master.’ (Hosea 2:18)

Most biblical commentators, traditional and modern, understand Hosea’s word play to be a reference to the fact that many Israelites were worshipping one of the Canaanite gods whose name was Ba’al. But I cannot help but read this line in the light of these two paradigms for a marital relationship — the hierarchical paradigm of ‘ba’al’ and the egalitarian paradigm of ‘ish’. God indicates that someday soon, the relationship between God and Israel will operate on the ‘ish’ paradigm – the paradigm of mutual respect rather than the paradigm of domination and hierarchy.

continued here … 



Russell Crowe knitting

April 2, 2014

I really wondered how Emma Watson and Jennifer Connelly got such great knit tops and scarves for the movie Noah. No knitting needles in sight. Did Russell Crowe himself knit them? Guess not, although he has knit, at least at one point in time. Here is the story about Matt Reitsma, the textile designer for this movie – really fascinating, if you love fabrics. Many movies are worthwhile for the costumes alone. Here is my recent effort at knitting, finished and delivered. Russell_Crowe_Knittingphoto-4

Kevin DeYoung and the subordination of women: cont.

April 2, 2014

I said I would write more about this because new evidence for the interpretation of Gen. 3:16 iw being called into play, and DeYoung is going to speak on he Beauty of Difference in Heaven and on Earth.

First, let me demonstrate that some complementarian women, some of those who speak out, do not believe in the subordination of women in creation, but rather that subordination comes with the fall. This, of course, is the belief of egalitarians as well. In some ways, vocal complementarian men and women are seriously out of sinc. For example Tim Challies in 2006 wrote

I have discussed this topic with several women and have been a little bit surprised by their reactions. It seems to me that women would be glad to know that the idea of submission precedes the fall. This shows us that the headship of the husband is not rooted in a punishment, and perhaps even an unfair punishment where woman was given the harsher penalty of having to submit, but is rooted in the very purpose and creation of mankind. Yet women have told me that they prefer to think that submission is a product of the Fall. Perhaps this shows just what a poor job the church has done in teaching this subject and what a poor job husbands have done in making submission joyful.

You would think he would be embarrassed to express his views on the submission of women given this feedback. But not so. He reblogged this notion herehere and here. Next Wendy Alsup and Lisa Robinson, influential and strong bloggers, who were at least at one time affiliated with well known complementation groups, have blogged on “New Wave Complementarianism.” These women disagree on a fundamental point. They do not hold to Susan Foh’s intepretation of teshuqah in Gen. 3:16. They do not believe that it means “to desire to control your husband.” Not that some don’t, but just as much the other way around, a pitched battle of sorts for some people. Other couples do seem to live in peace.

However, Kevin DeYoung takes exception to the protest of Wendy Alsup against this interpretation. DeYoung needs women to be in the wrong, and to be submissive in creation, and submissive perhaps for eternity. Here is his response to Wendy Alsup,

Susan Foh – Her argument that the “desire” in Genesis 3:16 is the women’s desire to domineer over her husband makes sense to me from the parallel passage in Genesis 4:7 (cf. Claire Smith’s excellent post defending this view). Alsup believes this is an entirely new interpretation that was never before heard of until Susan Foh argued for it in 1975. Even if this were the case—and my quick perusal of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture shows that Johannes Brenz (1499-1570) wrote about “when women aspire to dominate their husbands in running the household” in his commentary on Genesis 3:16—it doesn’t do much to alter the central point; namely, that the blessing of the male-female relationship has been twisted into a burden by sin. Husbands, who can be tyrannical, need to love their wives; and wives, who can chafe at submission, need to respect their husbands (Eph. 5:33). This basic point is hardly dependent on Foh or her almost 40 year old article, which no one but a handful of scholars has heard of or references.

Sounds like Brenz believed, like Foh, that teshuqah meant that a woman would aspire to dominate her husband. But not so fast. Has DeYoung pulled a fast one? Perhaps, and it is starting to spread among those who want to believe it. And the fact that few reference Susan Foh is neither here nor there. So much is written without decent footnotes. Let’s read what Brenz says about Gen. 3:16,

Woman’s “Corrections” Johannes Brenz,

Now let us attend to the cross – or what they call the “corrections” (for so they call the works of satisfaction that are customarily imposed on sinners for the sake of correcting their lives) – that God imposes on the woman. … There are two parts to a woman’s cross. One concerns conception and childbirth. This includes all the sorrow, all the labor, all the worry and anxiety of bearing and raising children. …

The other part of a woman’s cross is subjection to the man’s authority. This is a great cross. Just as the woman, if she hadn’t sinned, would have given birth not only without pain but even with great joy and delight, so also she would have been equal to the man in the administration of things, though the man would always have been head of the woman. But now, having sinned, she is subjected to the will and authority and domination of the man. Accordingly, God not only imposes this cross on the woman … but also establishes this order in the public administration of things, so that the man may be the ruler and the woman would be under the man’s authority. page 164 – 165 Gen. 1-11, Thompson, John L. Inter Varsity Press 2012.

So Brenz thought that the authority of her husband was a great cross, not a delight and joy as complementarians believe. He would not be surprised that women “chafe” at submission. Would Brenz have said that women would be under male authority in heaven? I don’t think so. These reformers were a little more realistic. DeYoung got his quote from Brenz on how a woman desires to dominate from another passage by Brenz based on his personal observations of real life and a discussion of Deborah and the Amazons. He did not get it from Brenz exegeting Gen. 3:16 word by word, which we have above. Let’s not forget that the Geneva Bible said, “thy desire shall be subject to thine husband, and he shall rule over thee.” That was the cross a woman would bear.

Here are a couple more opinions on this line first from Peter Martyr Vermigli,

God wants her to have troubles and toil, to care for her family and to labor over household concerns. If she should strive to void or mitigate these things by using maids or servants, nonetheless by these means she cannot, in any case, escape the hardships of childbearing. But this punishment seems rightly to have been fulfilled when she is captivated by the desire for children.

Martin Luther,

If she had not sinned, Eve would have carried her child in her womb without any inconvenience and with great joy. Now there is also added to these sorrows of gestation and both that Eve has been placed under the power of her husband, she who previously was very free and, as the sharer of all the gifts of God, was in no respect inferior to her husband. … If Eve had persisted in the truth, she would not only not have been subjected to the rule of her husband, but she herself would also have been a partner in the rule which is now entirely the concern of males.

Konrad Pellikan,

Having forsaken the man, you stuck with the serpent and sought delights against my precept; you desired to be like God, and you deceived the man, Therefore, I will increase your afflictions and impose sorrowful conceptions upon you. Your delights will be subject to your husband, to look always to him and to pay attention mindfully.

This is a smattering of the Reformers on teshuqah. No, they did not think that this word meant “to control” or “to desire to control.” They thought it meant that desire subjected the woman to her husband. Of course, they said lots of things about the submission of women, but they never thought of it as something a woman would like. They were a little more realistic than that. Go back and read what Tim Challies wrote,

It seems to me that women would be glad to know that the idea of submission precedes the fall. This shows us that the headship of the husband is not rooted in a punishment, and perhaps even an unfair punishment where woman was given the harsher penalty of having to submit, but is rooted in the very purpose and creation of mankind.

It appears that men and women in complementarianism are going their separate ways. Men just don’t understand that submission does not feel like the purpose of creation. It is a great cross. This stuff is such a pain, but I like to remind people that exegesis is based on different understandings of the text in different times. If you don’t take this into account, you won’t understand what you are reading.

Kevin DeYoung is speaking on this topic of the submission of women on April 8.

Notes: Gen. 1-11, Thompson, John L. Inter Varsity Press 2012. pages 162 – 165




Adam and Ish

April 1, 2014

I was studying the difference between the Hebrew words adam and ish, looking at places where they seem to refer to the same class of people, a group that is all female. Here are the two Hebrew passages, Numbers 31:35 and 1 Sam. 30:2. These are my own translations, since any published Bible translation is not literal enough to follow, switching the phrase order around.

וְנֶפֶשׁ אָדָם–מִן-הַנָּשִׁים
אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יָדְעוּ מִשְׁכַּב זָכָר:
כָּל-נֶפֶש שְׁנַיִם וּשְׁלֹשִׁים אָלֶף. 

and the humans – from the women
that had not known a male by lying with him
all being thirty and two thousand

וַיִּשְׁבּוּ אֶת-הַנָּשִׁים אֲשֶׁר-בָּהּ מִקָּטֹן
לֹא הֵמִיתוּ אִישׁ;
וַיִּנְהֲגוּ וַיֵּלְכוּ לְדַרְכָּם

and had taken captive the women that were therein,
both small and great;
they slew not any person,
but carried them off, and went their way.

I commented in a recent blog thread elsewhere,

In one case, adam is used for all the humans in contrast to the animals, but all the humans in the passage are young girls. Numbers 31. In 1 Sam 30:2, the word ish is used for all the individuals concerned, every one, and the group was all female again.

And this is the response,

As you note, adam is juxtaposed with behemah. The point Moses is making is that both people and animals were taken as plunder. Apparently, there were boys among the group taken (vs. 17) so it seems inaccurate to say all the humans in the passage are young girls. That the word adam is used to refer to a group exclusively female (vss 35, 40) may underscore the primacy of males in the Pentateuch. Are there counter-examples, i.e., where the feminine counterpart to adam (whatever that would be in BH) is used to refer to a group that is exclusively male?

In the 1 Sam. 30 example you give, that no one was killed is stated via the negated qatal clause. The action described is fast paced. Hence the flurry of wayyiqtol clauses. I don’t think BH negates wayyiqtol clauses (if so, it is rare). So IMO, the narrator is giving the reader the simple fact that although everyone was captured, no one was killed. Was there a more succinct way to state this in BH narrative? So that ish was used in a context that was mostly female may strengthen the view that males held primacy in the OT culture. And for the record, there were boys among the group (vss. 3, 6).

This is not to critique someone else’s knowledge of Hebrew, but just to wonder at what is meant by “the feminine counterpart to adam.” I have always thought of myself as a human, so I wonder what the feminine counterpart to human is. (I’ll pass on the references to the primacy of the male.) However, I did think that women were adam. But recently I have noticed that sometimes women are also ish. Here is an even better example of the ishness of women, in Esther 9:19,

עַל-כֵּן הַיְּהוּדִים הפרוזים
הַיֹּשְׁבִים בְּעָרֵי הַפְּרָזוֹת
עֹשִׂים אֵת יוֹם אַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר לְחֹדֶשׁ אֲדָר
שִׂמְחָה וּמִשְׁתֶּה וְיוֹם טוֹב
וּמִשְׁלֹחַ מָנוֹת, אִישׁ לְרֵעֵהוּ.

Therefore do the Jews of the villages,
that dwell in the unwalled towns,
make the fourteenth day of the month Adar
of gladness and feasting, and a good day,
and of sending food one to another.

Purim, the celebration of the victory of Esther and Mordecai over Hamaan, is the time when Jews send parcels of food to each other, and it is still observed among some Jews today. But, of course, it is the women who bake, and men, women and children send parcels to their fellows, to their friends and neighbours.

It may only be in certain contexts that ish refers to women, but clearly it has that sense. Perhaps it is true then that as David E. S. Stein writes here,

How was it that ’ish came to have gender-neutral referents? Traditionally, scholars have understood that its gender-inclusive sense is the result of a semantic extension of the noun’s intrinsic maleness, as if men were the measure of all things—or at least of all human beings. However, my analysis suggests that the answer is fundamentally a matter of grammar and syntax. Meanwhile, we did face a semantic challenge: we had to recognize that “man” (adult male) is not the primary sense of ’ish.

In conclusion, I will borrow from linguistic terminology: rather than call ’ish a male term, it is more accurate to say that this noun is “unmarked for social gender.” The maleness of ’ish is a grammatical feature rather than a semantic one.

He continues,

… this memorandum suggests (V.B), in the Bible ’ish usually has a gender neutral sense; and the constructions in which it takes that sense, grammatically speaking, are broad: all nonspecific indefinite usage, and all nonparticular definite usage. The word ’ish is employed for various non-human referents, further dissociating the Hebrew term’s grammatical gender from the social gender of its referent. Most likely, then, in the mind of the ancient Israelite audience the noun ’ish first conjured up a non-gendered concept such as “member” or “party,” which was then narrowed as needed to account for a male-only referent.

If so, then the words “man” and ’ish approach social gender from opposite directions. Hence, as we shall see, the rendering “man” often comes across with a stronger male sense than the word ’ish that it represents. To that extent, “man” mistranslates the original text.

I have struggled with the concept for some time. One is generally given the impression that adam means “human” and ish means “man,” but what if adam means “a human being,” and ish means “a member of the group, relevant to the event?”


Noah: A rabbi’s review

March 29, 2014

I went to see Noah – by Darren Arnofsky and Ari Handel – last night – took the kids, got a headache from the improved and marvellous dolby sound system, truly painful. Okay, what’s not to like besides the unremitting racket? The women were too submissive, really horrible to watch. It was all about “be a man,” “act like a man”  and “what would a man do?”  Not much that is good. I was somewhat more interested in what the women would do and they did do something but was it enough? Unfortunately it required a somewhat deus ex machina ending. Russell Crowe, aka, Noah, kept having man tantrums, ruining any sympathy I might have had for his character. Only Ham and Ila were interesting as characters. Noah was a vegetarian warrior against strip-mining, etc.The clothing fashions were from last year, few animal hides, lots of great knitted outfits, and funky woven jackets, on top of blue jeans? When did Noah’s wife have time for spinning, weaving and sewing? Not shown. The watchers, the nephilim, were essentially transformers which would appeal to the imagination of 10 year old boys. Too many people, too much modern industrial wasteland, war and shades of Mad Max, rocket launchers, destroyed landscape etc. only this time in Iceland.

What I did like. The watchers were portrayed as angels of light encased in golem like bodies, so even though reminiscent of transformers, they also followed some Jewish legends about golem. They were essentially jinni, encased in outer bodies of mud. Tubal Cain was developed as a secondary character, as someone to challenge Noah’s views, and argue against him, and present a different view of God and humanity. This produced the only dialogue worth listening to. There was a certain suspense developed around the problem of how to find wives for Noah’s three sons. The Bible says that there were 8 humans in the Ark. How would that play out? This was the main tension in the movie. Would the human race survive to reproduce? A clever denouement. They other plot line  involved the wrapping of tefillin and passing on the birth right – but why a snakeskin tefillin, that eluded me. And then there was a least a modern feminist three seconds towards the end of the movie. That pulled it out of the hole.

I think the movie is highly irritating, but I did enjoy interpreting the different plot lines and themes. The overall impression was unremitting racket and silly nonsense. Here is a rabbi’s assessment, poor on entertainment, but high on discussable religious points,

To recap: The value of the movie isn’t the entertainment — which I think is not great — nor in its faithfulness to the Bible — which it doesn’t have much of — but it doesn’t have to have. But, this movie discusses an issue that is both ancient and modern. It asks one of the biggest questions of all: What is religion’s purpose?

‘It asks one of the biggest questions of all: What is religion’s purpose?’

Is the purpose of religion to be the sword of God? The blade of morality which condemns the wicked and the unrighteous?

I have written two books about why innocent people suffer. And what I say is this: there are people who believe that the explanation for human suffering is straightforward. You see it in the Flood, in Sodom and Gommorah and with Moses and the Golden Calf. And yet, the principal distinction between Noah on one hand and Moses and Abraham on the other is that Noah accepts God’s judgement.

The film does a good job of showing this. Noah is not a hero in Jewish lore. The Bible says that Noah was a righteous man “in his generation.” He was only a righteous man compared to the others who were far worse than he.

Now, why wasn’t he righteous? Because righteousness is all about what you do for your fellow man. And Noah does NOTHING for his fellow man. He doesn’t care, he has no compassion. He executes God’s commandment to the letter. So when God says “I’m going to kill everybody,” Noah says, “will you save my skin? Oh, I get an Ark? Okay, fine.”

This is a traditional explanation of why Noah is not the father of the Jewish people.

So he was a facilitator, not a leader.

No, he failed in the greatest mission of all. He failed to protect human life. And failed to fight with God when he wanted to take human life. He refuses to wrestle with God. Noah is a fundamentalist. He’s a religious extremist. God says “everyone will die” and Noah says nothing. But this is not what God wants. God wants people with moxie! God wants people with spiritual audacity! He does not want the obedient man of belief. He wants the defiant man of faith.

‘God wants people with moxie! God wants people with spiritual audacity’

It isn’t until Abraham, when God says “we have the rainbow and I promise not to destroy everyone, but I will destroy these two cities Sodom and Gomorah,” Abraham does something audacious. He says “will the judge of the entire Earth not practice justice?” He lifts his fists to heaven! He raises a cudgel to Heaven! This made him the first Jew. A Jew does not just accept a divine decree, he does not just bow his head in silent obedience.

The word “Islam” means “obedience before God” or “submission before God.” Soren Kierkegaard the great Danish theologian sums up Christianity as being a “leap of faith.”

Judaism has no leap of faith. “Israel” means “he who wrestles with God.” You see none of that in Noah. Neither in the Torah or in this film, so in that regard, this movie portrays this very well. No other religion does this, they would see this as heresy. It’s amazing, it’s breathtaking!

‘A Jew does not just accept a divine decree, he does not just bow his head in silent obedience’

I’m not going so far as to say the Bible portrays Noah as a right-wing nut-job who captures his humanity only at the end — to the extent of the film – but I will say the Bible dismisses him. Noah is a father to mankind, but a footnote in the Bible. Never discussed again, because he’s a failure.

I would have loved to see, in this film, the family challenging Noah more – challenging him to fight with God.

Read the whole review here.  Well,yes, now that he mentions it, Noah really has distinct similarity to right wing nut jobs, but makes some feeble attempt to appear normal near the end.



A Short Note on God’s First Greek Puns: Earth, Birth-Word, Woman, Know

March 28, 2014

Here’s Abram K-J’s “A Short Note on God’s First Greek Words.”

And so here are a few short notes on God’s first Greek puns:

  1. Γενηθήτω or GenēTHḗtō and Γενηθήτωσαν or GenēTHḗtōsan are not only “the first words attributed to God, [such that the] LXX-G establishes a formulaic speech pattern that continues throughout the chapter” that begins the Bible (as per Susan Brayford’s commentary in Abram’s post). But these Greek words also are neologisms. That is, before the Septuagint, to the extent our extant Greek literature shows us, these words did not exist. So the LXX translator is already beginning to be rather creative from the get go. These verbs mean, “Let there be…” Or “Let there by this word be birthed. . . .”
  2. The noun τὴν γῆν or tḕn gẽn in Genesis 1:1 (the Greek version), comes before the verb already discussed. It means the Earth that God so poetically and creatively made. (At least in Greek it’s poetry; here’s the first verb of the Greek translation of the Bible: ἐποίησεν or époíēsen.)
  3. Not long after, God fashions a γυναῖκα or gynaίka, a wife or woman (or perhaps in English we could pun a wombman).
  4. Not long after, she “knows,” which in Greek can be tricky. (It’s a double pun when translating Hebrew into neologistic Hebraic Hellene.) She comes to know good and evil. She comes to know the man, her husband. To know or ἔγνω or égnō leads to a new birth, the first-born human. This is all very God-like in Greek: the earth creativity, the birth creativity, the birthing-woman creativity, the knowing creativity.
  5. Plato had played with this sort of thing. Or perhaps the γυναῖκα named Aspasia did, since she was a teacher of rhetoric for Socrates.
  6. Euripides with Electra does some similar wordplay, but this stuff is rare (outside of this playwright’s play and outside of Plato’s one dialogue mentioned above).
  7. In Hebraic Hellene this all sounds so much better. The translating adds and finds (rather than subtracts and loses).

Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

March 27, 2014

Caleb’s Crossing is the story of the first native American graduate of Harvard, Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk. The story is told from the perspective of the fictional daughter of the preacher who first tutored Caleb in English, Latin, Greek and Hebrew, preparing him for the classics program at Harvard. One of the most disturbing aspects of the book is the theory of how all students, not just the native students, were deprived of adequate nutrition and exercise, in these early days. Some students were fortified by extra food sent from home, but the native American boys did not have this benefit. Caleb died of tuberculosis shortly after graduating with top grades. Of the very few other native American students, some died young and one became a mariner. It’s a fascinating story, and much revolves around the exclusion of girls from education, as the fictional main character, Bethia, works in the kitchen at Harvard, but listens to Chauncy’s lectures through the doorway. She eventually marries a tutor at Harvard, and their courting often takes place in the main library among John Harvard’s original book collection. Here is the historical background from the Harvard site.

Like his predecessor, Charles Chauncy (1592-1672) got into trouble for his religious beliefs. Chauncy’s troubles, however, preceded his arrival in the New World and, in fact, probably contributed to his decision to emigrate in 1638. Prone to quibble over small points, Chauncy had even served a brief prison sentence imposed because of “his tender conscience in the matter of ceremonies.” (Samuel Eliot Morison)

Despite such episodes of nonconformity, President Chauncy continued along the path laid out by Henry Dunster. Chauncy’s outlook embraced both religious orthodoxy and scientific curiosity. On the one hand, he demanded that students adhere to a rigorous program of religious devotions. (As Morison observes, “It is a safe guess that no generation of Harvard students listened to so many sermons as the pupils of President Chauncy.”) On the other, he supported Galileo’s modern astronomical perspective, and the College received its first telescope shortly before he died in office. Many regard Chauncy as the leading scholar in the New England of his day and perhaps the most learned of all Harvard presidents of the colonial era. Arabic was but one of the several foreign languages at his command.

During the Chauncy years, America’s first university press blossomed in the Yard, producing materials in both English and Native languages. (Not all such activity found favor across the river in Boston: in 1662, responding to unspecified volumes from Harvard’s printing press, the Great and General Court passed the Bay Colony’s first law on book censorship.) Perhaps the most notable publication was the 1,200-page Indian Bible (1663), translated into Algonquian by John Eliot. The Indian Bible – the first Bible printed in North America – remained in use for almost two centuries. This period also brought Harvard’s first Native American graduate: Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk, Class of 1665.

One never-ending frustration was Chauncy’s annual salary of £100, much of it paid in goods. This was more than Dunster’s salary (averaging £55 a year) but hardly enough for Chauncy’s wife, eight children (Chauncy’s six sons graduated from Harvard: two in 1651, one in 1657, and three in 1661), and three servants. Despite various appeals to the colonial legislature in Boston, Chauncy never succeeded in getting a raise.

Chauncy died in office on Feb. 29, 1672 (= Feb. 19, 1671, in the Julian calendar then used by English colonists).

The Nicene-Constantinople Creed, part 1: Translation, Theology, and more

March 24, 2014

Over at Vox Nova, David Cruz-Uribe is hosting a three week scriptural reflection on the Creed as a Lenten exercise. He has asked that the discussion there remain focused on scripture, and not digress to talk about issues of translation or other theological sources.

So I thought I’d open up a companion/overflow series here, where we can do just that, in parallel.

Here is the first part of the Creed, in the current Roman Catholic English missal translation:

I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.

Here is the Latin:

Credo in unum Deum,
Patrem omnipoténtem,
Factórem cæli et terræ,
Visibílium ómnium et invisibílium.
Et in unum Dóminum Iesum Christum,
Fílium Dei Unigénitum,
Et ex Patre natum ante ómnia sæcula.
Deum de Deo, lumen de lúmine, Deum verum de Deo vero,
Génitum, non factum, consubstantiálem Patri:
Per quem ómnia facta sunt.

and here is the Greek:

Πιστεύω εἰς ἕνα Θεόν, Πατέρα, Παντοκράτορα, ποιητὴν οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς, ὁρατῶν τε πάντων καὶ ἀοράτων.

Καὶ εἰς ἕνα Κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν, τὸν Υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ τὸν μονογενῆ, τὸν ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς γεννηθέντα πρὸ πάντων τῶν αἰώνων·

φῶς ἐκ φωτός, Θεὸν ἀληθινὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ ἀληθινοῦ, γεννηθέντα οὐ ποιηθέντα, ὁμοούσιον τῷ Πατρί, δι’ οὗ τὰ πάντα ἐγένετο.

Transliterated (per St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church):

Pistévo is éna Theón, Patéra, Pantokrátora, Piitín ouranoú ke gis, oratón te pánton ke aoráton.

Ke is éna Kírion, Iisoún Hristón, ton Ión tou Theoú ton monogení, ton ek tou Patrós gennithénta pró pánton ton eónon.

Fós ek Fotós, Theón alithinón, ek Theoú alithinoú gennithénta, ou piithénta, omooúsion to Patrí, di Ou ta Pánta egéneto

Roman Catholics recite the creed at every mass; normally the Nicene creed, though since the new translation of the missal came out, the Apostle’s Creed is also an option. It used to be the most boring part of mass for me, but I now find it a contemplative high point. Perhaps this is partly because, as I’ve studied theology, I’ve learned more about the theological concepts and doctrinal disputes that it was drawn up to settle: so it has much more depth for me than it used to.

I believe in one God: we lead with an affirmation of monotheism. Trinitarian monotheism, to be sure; but not tritheism. This is an affirmation that the God of Christians, the God and Father of Jesus, is the God of the Shared Scriptures.

God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God: this is such a beautiful image.

only-begotten: I’ve sung the Creed in Latin a few times, and somehow “unigenitum” more clearly and compactly conveys the concept to me.

consubstantial: I grew up saying “one in being” with the Father, in the 1970 ICEL translation. It wasn’t until I got to grad school that I came across the notion that Jesus is not only consubstantial with the Father (in his divine nature), but also consubstantial with us (in his human nature), because that part’s not in the creed. I suppose no one at the time challenged Jesus’ human nature, only his relationship with God; whereas nowadays it’s so easy for Christians to simply equate Jesus with God and overlook the implications of “fully human and fully divine,” “like us in all things but sin.” So I always think of that, when we get to this word.

I think, too, of the major controversy as to whether Christ was “of the same substance” homoousia or “of similar substance” homoiousia, the two Greek words differing by only the letter iota, thus giving rise to the idiom “not one iota’s worth of difference”. :) It’s too bad this is invisible in the English.

Please share your thoughts on this part of the Creed. Please quote the bit you’re commenting on, as I did above; feel free to quote from a different translation, if you have one. Thoughts on translation, theology, history, patristic commentary, or personal reflection are all welcome.

Jelly Roll Morton and Tipper Gore

March 24, 2014

I had a chance to pick up a new sealed copy of the CD version of the Jelly Roll Morton interviews and performances recorded in Alan Lomax in 1938 for the Library of Congress at a terrific price ($20).  As a web page on the Library of Congress brags, this release won two Grammy awards.  That web page tells a little about the history of recording the set:

In his essay [in the liner notes, jazz scholar and folklorist John] Szwed explains that BBC journalist and broadcaster Alistair Cooke told [Library of Congress audio archivist Alan] Lomax to seek out [Jelly Roll] Morton at the Music Box, a U Street nightclub in Washington, D.C., where the jazz legend occasionally played piano and regaled local devotees with tales of his glory days. There Morton would also expound on the history of jazz, which he claimed to have invented in 1902 and which, he said, few musicians born outside of New Orleans played well.

"He was thoroughly prepared," Alan Lomax said of Morton. "He’d thought about the whole thing. And we had a few minutes’ conversation and I knew I had a winner, and I had my own plot and I knew he had his plot and I ran up the stairs [of the Library’s Coolidge Auditorium] to Harold Spivacke [then head of the Library’s Music Division and Lomax’s boss], and I said, ‘Harold, I want to have a guarantee of a hundred discs—we’re going to do the history of New Orleans jazz!’"

Lomax’s subsequent conversations with Morton, made from the stage of the Library’s Coolidge Auditorium, produced the original 1938 recordings, which, indeed, amount to the first oral history of jazz.

More than 25 years ago, I had read a book that was edited from the transcripts of these sessions, so I knew that they were often bawdy (for example,Morton began playing piano at a brothel when he was 14; his adopted stage name includes a profane slang term).  Nonetheless, I was still surprised to find a parental advisory sticker on the cover of the  box set.   (An actual walk through New Orlean’s French Quarter is a far more jarring experience than listening to Morton’s jazz.)



I gave the matter due thought and consideration, and after meditating on it for several minutes, finally decided that I could go ahead and make the purchase without calling up my mother and father and asking permission.

Now the story of how this sticker came to be included on record music has been recounted many times before, but involves Tipper Gore and several other high-profile Washington politician wives who, under the name Parents Music Resource Center (but universally called the “Washington Wives”) decided to lobby Congress to mandate a rating system similar to the system used by the Motion Picture Association of America to rate movies.  (The MPAA system is theoretically optional, but is a de facto requirement for almost all commercial movie releases).   As part of a compromise, the  Recording Industry Association of America agreed to place this mark on recordings that may have inappropriate content for youth, although there is no particular standard on when recordings get this particular mark.  The label is called a “Tipper Sticker.”   A number of retailers (notably Walmart) do not carry recordings marked with a Tipper Sticker in their retail stores.

Interestingly, I own several recordings of readings of the Bible in original languages and in translation, and although there is certainly ample adult content in that work, I do not recall seeing a Tipper Sticker on any of those recordings.  Even more confusingly, I have yet to see a Tipper Sticker on any of the several opera recordings that I own, although those are far more profane than anything Jelly Roll Morton said. 

I do not believe that the availability of Morton recordings represents any particular threat to moral fiber of our youth – I have yet to hear of gangs of wayward young people gathering to listen to jazz recordings from the 1930s.  Certainly, as a contemporary popular force, a certain tasteless dance by Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke (that seemingly every adolescent in America has seen) appears to still be more prominent in the public imagination.

At the end of the day, putting a Tipper Sticker on the Morton recordings appears just a meaningless gesture; except perhaps, as a blog devoted to Morton says, the kids won’t be finding out about Jelly Roll Morton at Walmart anytime soon.

3 winners for the 2013 Willis Barnstone Translation Prize

March 23, 2014

For the 12th annual Willis Barnstone Translation Prize, there are three winners. Congratulations go to Stephen CampiglioSara Nović, and Marci Vogel!

If you entered the contest, as I did, then you received the notice last week. Here’s the letter I received: Barnstone Translation Prize 2013.

If anybody might be interested, and might appreciate a Vietnamese poem rendered into English, I’m sharing a couple of things below: a bit of a preface to one of my entries submitted, and then a bit from that poem and translation.



CBMW: A Brave New Movement: Kevin DeYoung and the Eternal Subordination of Women

March 20, 2014

I am going to blog for a few days on the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. You can read up on some details at the Wartburg Watch. I was given a copy of Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in 1992, and have been familiar with the movement on and off from then until now. Here are some of it’s distinctive beliefs, and how they differ from the historic Reformation doctrines about women.

1. CBMW – Women are subordinate in creation, and that is a good thing.

The Reformers held widely varying beliefs about whether women were subordinate in creation, or as a consequence of the fall.

1b. Women will be subordinate in heaven, which is the new creation. CBMW from time to time tentatively proposes this. I have no idea what the Reformers thought about this. I don’t know if they wrote about it.

2. CBMW – The consequence of the fall for women is that they now desire to control their husbands. This is the meaning of the Hebrew word teshuqa, traditionally translated as “desire.” This new meaning was introduced by Susan Foh in 1974. 

In the Reformation, the Geneva Bible said “thy desire shall be subject to thine husband” and this was the basic belief of theologians at that time. I will post about this later with evidence. As you can see having one’s desire subject to someone else is the complete opposite of desiring to control someone. There is nothing traditional about complementarian beliefs about women.

Well, that’s it. That is the core. Women were subordinate in creation and in the new creation they will also be subordinate, and their sin is that they desire to control their husbands or men, in general. This sums up CBMW.

This is important because on April 8 CBMW is hosting a conference and one of the speakers, Kevin DeYoung will speak on the Beauty of Differences in Heaven and on Earth. We all know the difference, the beautiful difference is that men lead and women follow. At least, if women follow, then it is beautiful.

This is not new to CBMW. This is article which appeared in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 1991, by John Frame  on the topic of gender in heaven. He asks, “Will We Be Male and Female in Heaven?” page 234.  He then affirms,

I am, however, inclined toward an affirmative answer: (1) Those who appear after death in Scripture always appear similar to their earthly forms (1 Samuel 28:11-15; Matthew 17:1-13; 27:52ff.; Revelation 11:1-12). I would assume that the men continued to appear as bearded (if they wore beards on earth), speaking with masculine voices. This fact seems to yield some presumption, at least, that we retain our sexual characteristics after death.

In Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood, 2002, on page 275, there is an article by Daniel R. Heimbach called, The Unchangeable Difference: Eternally Fixed Sexual Identity for an Age of Plastic Sexuality. He does not actually say that women will be subordinate, but the rest of the book does explain that sexual identity necessarily involves the “element of priority given to the male.” page 84 So that’s eternal. Here is an excerpt from Heimbach’s resumé. 

Professor Heimbach has been teaching Christian Ethics at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary since 1993. Before that he served 1 year as Executive Director of the Defense Readiness Council, 2 years as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower, 2 years on the White House staff under President George H. W. Bush both as Associate Director for Domestic Policy and as Deputy Executive Secretary to the Domestic Policy Council, and 2 years as Political Advisor and Legislative Assistant to Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana.

In JBMW Spring 2004, pages 17 – 28, Mark Walton wrote What We Shall Be: A Look at Gender and the New Creation, Walton concludes,

The only view that could be shown to have genuine biblical support was the sexual view, which maintains that gender distinctions will remain in the new creation.

Next, in JBMW Spring 2006, Relationships and Roles in the New Creation, page 14 – 15, Walton wrote,

First, consider the argument concerning man and woman as originally created. There is virtually universal agreement that man and woman are ontologically equal, equal in essence and worth, because both were created in the image of God. In the ordering of his creation, however, God formed the man first and gave him responsibility and authority as the head of the human race.41 This headship, far from being a result of the fall-feminist and egalitarian claims notwithstanding-is a central feature of the divine created order.42 Because the new creation is, fundamentally, a return to the divine order that prevailed before the fall, it follows that male headship will remain in the new creation.

Walton also expansively explains,

The social fabric of gender-based distinctions of roles was weaved in a pattern that accords with the prelapsarian decree of the Creator. In the new creation, that fabric will not be discarded or destroyed. The stains will be removed and rips mended. The fabric will be cleaned and pressed. But the pattern established in God’s “very good” creation will remain.

Okay, that’s enough. We shall wait and see what Kevin DeYoung has to say about this on April 8. Here is  hint from the conference coordinator, Grant Castleberry on what DeYoung might say,

God holds men accountable for what happens in their marriages, whether they want to be held accountable or not, because it is clear that God expects men to be the leaders of their households. …. Men and women are different, but we both bear the image of God (Gen. 1:27). We represent God’s rule on this earth in our differences. And in the new heavens and new earth we will finally break through the trappings of sin to experience creation as God intended.

I will post next about other arguments by DeYoung about the “desire to control” and how this has introduced me to an exciting new resource on Reformation theology.

The Invention of Wings

March 18, 2014

I am a little astounded that there are already 1,771 reviews of The Invention of Wings on Amazon and it was only published two months ago. Apparently the Kindle edition has notes by Oprah Winfrey, which most readers don’t seem to appreciate all that much. I bought a lovely hard back edition and enjoyed the book thoroughly. I see people reading this book everywhere I go.

Last month, while driving through upstate NY, I suddenly realized that we were in Seneca Falls, and the name sounded familiar but not immediately recognizable. We soon came to the Women’s Rights Museum and enjoyed an afternoon of education and interest. The area has the look and feel of the 19th century, houses with heavy gingerbread trim, and the Erie canal running through. It was an area of Quaker settlement at the time of the women’s rights convention in 1848. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who wrote The Women’s Bible, lived down the street. At the museum I bought The Ladies of Seneca Falls by Miriam Gurko and it was a couple of weeks later that I saw The Invention of Wings in a bookstore and had to have it. It tells the story of two earlier feminists, Sarah and Angelina Grimké.

I found the story of the Grimké sisters compelling on many fronts. They were raised in a wealthy slave-holding family in South Carolina. From an early age they were both deeply repelled by the cruelty of slavery as practiced on their own property and around them. They were both deeply religious, but moved from church to church seeking a way to express their revulsion of slavery and wishing, against their parents’ will, to contribute in some way to end it. After their father died, Sarah Grimké travelled in the north and became a Quaker. When she went back to South Carolina dressed as a Quaker, she was shouted down in the street and unable to live in peace and safety. Both sisters moved to the north where they wrote and spoke against slavery.

These sisters lived in the early 19th century, and Angelina Grimké the first woman on record to address a legislative body. These women are typical of many early feminists. They were heart broken and deeply touched by the plight of the slaves they saw around them, and, when wishing to address the public about this, they met many roadblocks since they were women. These were the early feminists.

Sue Monk Kidd does a great job of bringing this story to the attention of a broad audience. While she stays close to the facts in the narrative of the sisters, she also recounts a more fictional narrative about the slaves who lived in their household. I have read a few of Sue Monk Kidd’s books, but this one really stands out for me. I had to continue researching and reading about the Grimké sisters and their deep faith and theological reflection to get some idea of the the depth of their study and the legacy they left.

This theme has been rounded out for me by also reading 12 Years a Slave, The Spymistress, and curiously, 419, a recent Canadian novel. If you like offbeat and informative books, this is a good one. It takes place in Calgary, Alberta, and in Nigeria. I also just finished Transmission by Hari Kunzru, quirky but satisfying if you are interested in code and Bollywood movies, both of which I have at least a fleeting interest in.

Women of Courage: Kairos

March 18, 2014

In reading and writing about “women of valour” I noticed a group, which I should have known of before, called “Women of Courage.” They are an interdenominational Canadian group helping out women in different parts of the world, calling for female leadership and participation in leadership and decision-making by those most affected, the victimsof violence and rape.

I can’t help but think that they draw their name from the phrase in Hebrewshet eshet chayil, “woman of valour.” We need this kind of rhetoric, we need Bibles with phrases like “woman of courage” and “the peacemakers shall be called the children of God.” This is  about female leadership in peacemaking and protection. How sad that Bibles which do not contain these phrases have so much traction in the evangelical community. We need to keep fighting for inclusive Bibles for everyone, for other countries, to give away, to permeate society, inclusive Bibles for the Gideons, for example. What a thought! Why spread the gospel of the exclusion of women from God’s plans for human leadership?

We should speak up always about inclusive Bibles, and make sure that ministers and preachers who sneak non-inclusive Bibles up onto the screen, are made aware that this is not acceptable to the congregation. I have recently heard of Anglican churches using non-inclusive Bibles on the digital screen, and of churches where the minister has bought and put in the pews non-inclusive Bibles without consulting the congregation. Either Christianity is inclusive or it is not. If not, women need to get out.

Let me put out as a reminder that the Anglo-Saxon Gospels, Wycliffe’s translation, the King James Version, Calvin’s and Luther’s Bibles, and all pew Bibles until the last century, contained the expression in Matt. 5:9, the “children of God.” Anyone who teaches otherwise is distant from the intent of the original language and not connected to the history of interpretation. Get the word out that inclusive Bibles are the only way to go. Women around the world need access to leadership and equality.

Canadian Women of Valour

March 12, 2014

Sort of imitating Rachel Held Evans here, but for good reason. Of course, I really want to talk about hockey – we are so proud of our women, as well as our men! And my sister just saw K. D. Lang yesterday, reminding me of her rendition of Hallelujah. Here is Cohen on Hallelujah. I remember k.d. lang from the days when she wore skirts and boots and a cowboy hat, sang country and danced to the fiddle. (Okay, I can’t find any more youtube sites without some awful advertising so that’s enough.)

I saw two blog posts recently on memorable Canadian Christian feminists that I want to share. The first is about Nellie McClung, whose book, Clearing in the West, I read as a child.

The second post was about the quiet feminism of Bernice Gerard, who was recognized by the Vancouver Sun as the most influential spiritual leader in British Columbia of the last century. I used to love watching her TV programme as she was such a calm and matter of fact preacher, such a gentle and no nonsense person. She was a Vancouver city counsellor, pastor and preacher, anti-abortion, anti-pornography, and anti nudity on Wreck Beach. She lost those fights but she happily commented that she was content to have her say even if she didn’t win.  She was no sourpuss. She was a foster child in an abusive household and was rescued, educated, became a teacher and travelling preacher.


Gustave Doré

March 9, 2014

There is an exhibition of Gustave Doré in the Musée d’Orsay this winter, and then it moves on to Ottawa, Canada (yes, the capital city that many Harvard students can’t name) this summer. I am very excited about this exhibition, but also have the opportunity soon to view some original prints in a bound edition from 1880 that a friend inherited from his great grandfather.

Gustave Doré (1832-1883): Master of Imagination
From June 13 to September 14, 2014
Organized in collaboration with the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Gustave Doré (1832-1883): Master of Imagination is the first comprehensive retrospective devoted to this major artist. It will include prints, drawings, paintings, and sculptures. A hundred works, ranging from spectacular panoramas to intimate studies on paper, will be brought together to illustrate Doré’s great artistic diversity. NGC chief curator Paul Lang worked with Edouard Papet, chief curator at the Musée d’Orsay, and Philippe Kaenel, professor of art history at the University of Lausanne and an expert on Doré.

Today, Gustave Doré is probably better known as an illustrator; his notable works include Perrault’s fairy tales, La Fontaine’s Fables, Dante’s epic poems, and his incredibly successful edition of the Bible. He worked mostly at the more intimate scale of the book, but he also created paintings and sculptures of monumental proportions.

Doré also revived history painting in order to bear witness to the disasters of the Franco-Prussian War from 1870-71 and the consequent loss of his native Alsace. An incisive caricaturist, Doré contributed to the birth of the comic strip and the graphic novel.

Visitors will be surprised by how familiar they are with Doré’s works. His influence on film and photography is a testament to this. For example, the Victorian London in Oliver Twist by Roman Polanski pays tribute to his illustrated book London, A Pilgrimage.


The Minimum Bible

March 7, 2014

Joseph Novak has put up a “Minimum Bible” site with minimalist graphic posters illustrating the books of the Protestant Bible.  Here are three examples:





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