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I’m Not Political

February 11, 2017

Over the holidays, I had a conversation with a good friend who, when asked to call his senators to support something, adamantly refused. I’m not political, he declared. I vote in every election, but that’s the extent of it. I expect my representatives to represent me, and if they don’t, I’ll vote against them next time.

I was certainly taken aback, but I was especially struck by that assertion that he was “not political”. Because I don’t think what I have now just begun to do is “politics.” I think it is what the founders envisioned when they designed our governmental system. It’s not “politics” — it’s “active citizenship.”

When I was growing up, it was reasonably common to hear Americans referred to in public discourse as citizens. As I got older, somehow this changed — now we are most commonly referred to as consumers or voters (except during campaign speeches when some of us become working families and the rest of us are disappeared).

When I was growing up, I learned the theory of how our government was supposed to work, with elected representatives who were responsible to their constituents. But I never had a civics class per se, and I never had anything like a practicum in active citizenship — so I knew the theory, but I didn’t have a good grasp on how the process actually worked, the nitty-gritty implementation details.

As an adult, occasionally there would be an issue in the news that I cared about, and so I would call my senator or representative, and what I wanted to do was talk to my elected official and argue the merits of my case. But I never got to talk to them – it was staffers who picked up the phone, and I generally got the impression that all they were doing was counting “for” or “against” on the issue in question. It was demoralizing and frustrating. I felt as if I’d called once, so I had had a chance to express my opinion on this issue and I shouldn’t call again.

In the weeks following the election, many people voiced their desire to do something but they weren’t sure what or how, and delightfully, a number of experienced people, including some who presently or formerly worked as staffers, have stepped up to teach us how this active citizenship thing actually works. They have been kind and patient, consistently encouraging people to ask even baby questions, and I am profoundly grateful to them.

So here are some baby lessons that this newly active citizen has learned in the last few weeks:

– It’s okay to call more than once. It’s okay to call every day. This is called keeping the pressure on. They’ll know we’re calling every day because this is an issue that is important to us.

– It’s better to call than to send email. It’s better to call during office hours when you can talk to a staffer than to leave a voicemail. But it’s better to do any of those things than to do none of them. Faxes and letters also work. The important thing is to do what you can.

– If you call and can’t get through because the line is busy, be encouraged! This means that you are not alone: plenty of other active citizens are also calling to express their opinions.

– But also, be persistent: keep calling until you get through. I used to become discouraged and give up after 2 or 3 tries, or figure that the lines were flooded now and I should try again later, or even that I didn’t have to call because obviously everyone else was. Now, I think of it like those contests that radio stations have sometimes, where the Nth caller who can answer the question wins tickets to a concert or so forth. Did you ever enter those? Then you know the key is to hang up and dial again if you get a busy signal, over and over, to try to get through. And it’s easier now than it was when I was a teen – now we have a redial button!

– The national level isn’t the only thing that matters. You’re a citizen of your state and of your city or county, too, and your voice is proportionately louder at the local level because each elected official represents fewer constituents than at the national level. Politicians typically get their start on the local level, so you want to encourage the ones you approve of.

There are plenty more things I don’t know yet, but I’m learning, and I’m determined to stay active even after (please God) things become less dire. Because I’m not political — I’m a citizen.

Tips of the Hat to:

  • Whoever it was that wrote something like “the era of armchair citizenship is over” somewhere that I could read it in December but have been unable to find it since for proper citation.
  • John Senior for his essay at Political Theology  presenting a transactional model of politics with voting as the last step in the process (and contrasting it to a liturgical model, which is the thing that made me read the essay).
  • @celeste_pewter as one of those patient, kind, and helpful persons who is sorting out for us what the process is and what are the most important things to do today.
  • Doug M, for saying the thing that prompted this essay.

And high-fives to all the other people out there who, like me, are trying to do this for the first time in their lives. I see you, trying to figure things out, asking questions, making calls, writing letters, gradually getting the hang of it. Doing it even though you’re scared. Doing it because you’re scared. I see you. Rock on!

Translating Trump’s speeches

January 23, 2017

According to translator Bérengère Viennot, the highly non-linear speeches of Trump, particularly his ad-libbed and extemporaneous remarks present particular challenges to translation.

“Trump is not easy to translate, first of all, because, most of the time, when he speaks he seems not to know quite where he’s going. In my essay, I took the example of the interview he gave to The New York Times. He seems to hang onto a word in the question, or to a word that pops into his mind, repeating it over and over again. He shapes his thought around it and, sometimes, succeeds in giving part of an answer — often the same answer: namely, that he won the election. Trump seems to go from point A (the question) to point B (himself, most of the time) with no real logic. It’s as if he had thematic clouds in his head that he would pick from with no need of a logical thread to link them.”

Lost in Trumpslation: An Interview with Bérengère Viennot

“Je ne traduis pas des mots, je traduis des pensées. Des situations, des personnalités, des moments. Et j’emballe tout cela dans un vocabulaire, un champ sémantique qui en français devra créer chez le lecteur la même impression, la même réflexion que celles qui ont été suscitées chez le lecteur d’origine. Dans le cas d’Obama, c’était plutôt simple: la pensée est claire, le message précis et maîtrisé, le vocabulaire châtié, la syntaxe impeccable. Paradoxalement, la pensée de Trump qui est beaucoup plus creuse et qui tourne souvent autour du même sujet (dans le cas de cette interview, sa victoire), est bien plus compliquée à rendre. En cassant les codes du discours, en utilisant un vocabulaire limité et une syntaxe hachée et décousue, cet homme politique (si si, on est bien obligé de lui accorder ce statut maintenant) force le traducteur, il ME force, à réviser, à réduire et à appauvrir mon champ sémantique de travail.”

Pour les traducteurs, Trump est un casse-tête inédit et désolant

We the People, Our Literature

January 12, 2017

Those of us Americans who have read and taught To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee sense the deep irony in the calls to ban the book from schools. And never more was that irony accentuated than by the fact that the President of the United States encouraged us each this week and in the coming weeks to learn from it. I’ll just stop this blog post, then, with two quotations:

I’m not disputing this is great literature. But there is so much racial slurs in there and offensive wording that you can’t get past that, and right now we are a nation divided as it is.
Marie Rothstein-Williams, whose son is mixed race and who does not address the fact that one of the boys in the classroom in the novel calls his new teacher, Miss Caroline, a “sl*t.”


But laws alone won’t be enough. Hearts must change. It won’t change overnight. Social attitudes oftentimes take generations to change. But if our democracy is to work the way it should in this increasingly diverse nation, then each one of us need to try to heed the advice of a great character in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

For blacks and other minority groups, that means tying our own very real struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face. Not only the refugee or the immigrant or the rural poor or the transgender American, but also the middle-aged white guy who from the outside may seem like he’s got all the advantages, but has seen his world upended by economic, and cultural, and technological change.

We have to pay attention and listen.
Barack Hussein Obama, who is a mixed race man and is self identifying here in the context of literature on race and reading in America and whose quotation of Scout Finch’s father comes at the point in the book where the sources of her learning to read and write are revealed

Sarah Bernhardt, Cecily Brown, other artists and where you can appreciate their art

October 6, 2016

If you are in Washington DC, I would highly recommend your taking a couple of hours to visit “the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to recognizing women’s creative contributions.” This is the “National Museum of Women in the Arts” which “brings recognition to the achievements of women artists of all periods and nationalities by exhibiting, preserving, acquiring, and researching art by women and by teaching the public about their accomplishments.”

Of course you can visit the website here. And let me share with you two of the works that most struck me as I toured the museum. These are a sculpture by Sarah Bernhardt in the permanent collection and a painting by Cecily Brown in the special exhibit, “No Man’s Land: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection“:

My apologies for poor quality photos. Hopefully this encourages all the more to see the works with your own eyes without mediation.

My own commentary is that these two artists are re-mediating the dominant male artist male art. The art historian notes on the wall, for instance, tip us off to the fact that Bernhardt is riffing off of Michelangelo’s work (which happens to be one I’ve seen and appreciate very much). Rather than a holy high church piece of an adult mother grieving the death of an adult child, the Son of God, however, this other sculpture is from a woman artist ambiguously drawing attention to a horrific experience of a different mother, with the artist herself as witness, encouraging our empathy.

And Brown paints a woman nude. This seems cliche perhaps, when a male artist does this. And yet this female is lying stomach down, not exposed, her genitals not available to the male gaze at all. Then look closer, at the other “objects” in the painting. Are they birds? Angels? Look again. What if they are the male anatomy? Look again. Why do works of art have to take the human sexual form and draw attention that way? Look again. See the effect, the sensation of being awkward when female when gazed upon as an object?



ἀποστροφή in Oedipus at Colonus (1473), LXX Genesis (3:16)

September 29, 2016

Our co-blogger Victoria Gaile Laidler this week considers Genesis 3:16 in Jerome’s Latin here. And some of us some years ago considered Genesis 3:16 in the LXX translators’ Hebraic Hellene here.

And that made me wish to compare ἀποστροφή in Oedipus at Colonus (1473) with LXX Genesis (3:16) in my own poetic formatting and in translation here: apostrophe-by-sophocles-lxxtranslators-rendered-by-j-k-gayle.

There’s lots to consider here, and I believe there’s considerable lexical and semantic overlap between the two very short Greek passages, don’t you?

Crossway: “Permanent ESV a mistake”

September 28, 2016

September 28, 2016

We desired for there to be a stable and standard text that would serve the reading, memorizing, preaching, and liturgical needs of Christians worldwide from one generation to another.

We have become convinced that this decision was a mistake. We apologize for this and for any concern this has caused for readers of the ESV, and we want to explain what we now believe to be the way forward. Our desire, above all, is to do what is right before the Lord.

In the sufficiency of God’s grace,

Lane T. Dennis, PhD

President and CEO

[excerpted from]

For, Against, or Absent? Gen 3:16 and the Case of the Missing Desire

September 27, 2016

After reading a few posts here and elsewhere, and especially after reading About That Desire over at Women In Theology, I decided to check the Vulgate to see how the preposition in question was translated there. Whatever its flaws, the Vulgate was extremely influential in the Western church for about a thousand years, so I often check it out for an early Catholic perspective.

Given that the discussion of the Hebrew focused on “desire for or towards” as the dominant and traditional English translation; and given the prevalence in Catholic thought that things are ordered towards certain teloses (ends, purposes), I fully expected to see a nice little ad in the Vulgate.

Not only didn’t I find ad, I didn’t find desire!

Here’s the Latin, per the Blue Letter Bible:

mulieri quoque dixit multiplicabo aerumnas tuas
et conceptus tuos in dolore paries filios
et sub viri potestate eris
et ipse dominabitur tui

To the woman he said,
I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth,
and in sorrow you will bear children
and under the power of the man you will be
and he will have dominion over you

There’s no desire in this passage. None. There’s no reference to the woman’s agency at all, in fact: she is the passive object, not the active subject, of the last half of the verse.

As our coblogger Suzanne wrote:

The Vulgate was basically Jerome and Paula’s translation from the Hebrew, made while they were living in Bethlehem in the 4th century with the aid of local Jewish scholars which they were able to smuggle into their convent from time to time. Jerome made a point of saying that it was translated from the Hebrew in contrast to the Old Latin versions, which were translations of the Septuagint.

So what happened to the desire?

Did Jerome, or Paula, censor it from their translation? It was unusual enough that Jerome was collaborating with a woman. Perhaps they feared that a translation that openly discussed sexual desire would have pressed the bounds of propriety too far.

Is it hidden, implicit, in that “under his power”? Are we meant to read that as if the woman’s sexual desire for the man is so strong that it controls her, so that she has sex again and again despite the pain of pregnancy and childbirth? (And if so, is it possible there’s more than a little fantasy, wish fulfillment, self-aggrandizement going on here on Jerome’s part here?)

Was it omitted from the text, along with the woman’s agency, to double down on the patriarchy? As Kurk has written, Jerome certainly seems to have had sexist views of at least some women (unsurprisingly for a man of his time and place).

Or might “desire” actually have been absent from the Hebrew text they were using? Jerome’s Vulgate was translated from the Hebrew text several centuries before the Masoretic Text, which is the source text for most modern translations of the Hebrew Bible, was written down. The second half of the verse has power and dominion, potestate and dominabitur, in a parallel construction typical of the Hebrew scriptures: that’s awfully suggestive.

What do you think?

Suzanne McCarthy on Genesis 3:16

September 27, 2016

Well before the ESV Permanent text announcement and the blogging around the peculiarity of the new and now-final rendering of Genesis 3:16, Suzanne McCarthy had a few things to say.

Rather, she asked a few things and engaged in research and conversation. For example, in one reply to one commenter, she said:

My main purpose in this post, is to ask if Pagnini and so on used a translation that was pejorative to women.

This post about which there was the discussion is the one here, called Rashi, Pagnini, Zwingli and a woman’s desire.

When she wrote that, she had already puzzled a good bit of the questions. And a couple of years earlier she showed that when writing, Pagnini and Bushnell.

She clearly did not agree with Catherine “Kate” Bushnell on everything, and especially not simply because she also was a woman. And yet Suzanne did list her with other notable scholars in this post she entitled, Female Biblical Scholars Meme.

These years, when she was engaging others in talk about Genesis 3:16 and how the Hebrew had been translated, Suzanne was acutely aware how male translation bias, particularly how “complementarian” man-superiority, entered into Bible translations such as the ESV. Here is the entire concise post that gets right to this, with links to others, including to two of us who would become with her BLT co-bloggers right here (and if you follow the comments afterwards you’ll find a third eventual BLT co-blogger in the mix):

No women Bible scholars?

Apparently, according to the ESV Study Bible, there are no women qualified to write commentary on the Bible. This came up in a comment on my post a couple of days ago. Marg has taken up this point in her own post. I also found her story of moving towards biblical equality to be very compelling – and amusing. Thank you, Marg.

What do you think Suzanne would make of how the Hebrew grammar and syntax goes now, and how it forever like that goes on, for Genesis 3:16?

The Makings of a Racist, Sexist, Colonialist

September 25, 2016

White supremacy reigned and the other side of white supremacy is black inferiority. We were taught, as reasonably well bred white Southerners, to behave decently, but the whole racial etiquette that governed the way black and white interacted with each other, all of those customs and folk ways that were part of the Jim Crow South I absorbed. And the word I use in the book [The Making of a Racist] is osmosis. A lot of it, you didn’t have to be told. You just looked as a child growing up…. So you just absorb this stuff, and you’re told over and over again, this is best for both races.

— Charles Dew to Diane Rehm and Isabel Wilkerson (and to my white American mother-in-law, who grew up in Florida when he did)

Not long ago on a road trip with my mother-in-law we listened to historian Charles Dew.

We then began sharing in the car with one another our own experiences as children, growing up.

Hers and those of Charles Dew overlapped substantially, she also being born in the 1930s and of having her first memories and her first interactions as supposedly superior white people with supposedly inferior black people. Her account, she confessed, is also a recollection of the making of a racist.

Here is my own confession, a recollection of the making of a racist, a sexist, and a colonialist.

My very first memories are during the Jim Crow era in a little city where my white father was the pastor of the large Southern Baptist church. It was 1964. While my white mother was in the hospital giving birth to my younger sibling and then not long after for an operation, elsewhere, at home my elder sibling and I were being raised by “the help,” our own “Calpurnia,” our “maid,” whom we called by her first name, Nancy. When my maternal grandparents visited, my grandfather called her by the n-word. They also brought me and my elder sibling presents, “Indian headdresses.” When my father’s adopted parents visited, they also brought presents, “Indian headdresses,” and my memories of these are very specific because the feathers and size and colors of these gifts born to me were different.

There are three things I’d like to add about these my earliest memories. First I do not recall ever hearing Nancy’s family name until half a century later, when my father was dying of cancer. In the final stages his brain was riddled with tumors which for some strange reason helped him recollect memories he’d never spoken to us about before. Apparently there was something going on in his diseased brain that allowed him to remember more clearly than ever with great specificity far back in his life. And at the same time there was a hospice nurse in his home, whom he was referring to both by first and last name and calling her his “first African American friend.” So I thought it would be a good time to see if he recalled Nancy’s last name. My mother didn’t remember Nancy’s family or family name, and I confirmed that by asking her first. Without hesitation, my father knew exactly what Nancy’s full name is. For all of those fifty years of my life our family had never spoken this name, and until that day I had never heard the family name of my other mother, Nancy. Second I do have a really good memory and can recall difference, such as my grandfather’s use of the N-word and the various different colors and types of “Indian headdresses” (if I have no clue as to why “Indian” tokens made good gifts for grandchildren). Third these earliest memories of mine on this planet were in Corsicana, a place in Texas USA, named after the colony Corsica, the birthplace of the father of the privileged colonist who gave the town its name. The legacy of my first memories, then, is a heritage of a superior race, by superior fathers, white men from superior places.

One year after these earliest memories of mine, my Southern Baptist father took his wife and three children with him to South Vietnam. My earliest memories there are of living in a French colonial home on a hill where my new surrogate mother was nicknamed Chị Năm. I never met her family nor did I learn her family name or her given name until my father was dying of cancer, tumors there ostensibly helping him to recall her name. My Vietnamese mother would take me with her to the open air market in Đà Lạt (a former resort city for the French colonists). There in the market she was subject to ridicule for her privilege of working for the American missionary. And I was called her little Amer-Asian, her bastard, half-breed son, which implied an adulterous relationship or worse some sort of sexual subjugation of hers to my father. The term was Mỹ lai. It literally means Beautiful mongrel. The first part, Mỹ, happens to be the Vietnamese word for America. The two parts together also happen to be the Vietnamese name for the place where the American massacre of innocents in the war took place, Mỹ Lai, the village of the “Mỹ Lai Massacre.” Well, that atrocity was not to occur for another three years. When I heard this term for the first time, and when it referred to me, my white face was being pinched pink by the women in the market mocking Chị Năm. My skin was a different color from theirs. My body sex was a different sex from theirs. My father’s country was a different place from theirs, closer in class and in religion to the French fathers who had been there before us.

What I absorbed in my earliest memories were separations of race, of sex, of place all of which placed me and mine as superior to them and theirs. These experiences were the makings of a racist, sexist, colonialist.

About that Desire: Eve and the ESV Bible Controversy

September 25, 2016

“In any case, the triumph of traditionalist gender politics in the new ESV Permanent Text is devastating for egalitarian evangelicals—it is complementarianism’s most dramatic power play yet.”


Crossway publishers recently sparked controversy with their announcement that they have released a Permanent Text (PT) version of their English Standard Bible. There are two main reasons why this is a controversial decision. First, there is the issue of whether the attempt to safeguard the biblical text against any future change is a reasonable translation philosophy. Second, some of the specific changes made have drawn criticism from the evangelical community for being politically rather than academically motivated. This is especially true for the modification made to Genesis 3:16, where the Hebrew preposition el is translated as “contrary to” rather than “to, towards, for,” as all other translations have it. Here is what the ESV-PT has done to this verse:

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;

    in pain you shall bring forth children.

Your desire shall be contrary to [Hebrew=el] your husband,

    but he shall rule over you.” (ESV-PT)


View original post 1,869 more words

Co-Winners of the 2015 Willis Barnstone Translation Prize

September 20, 2016

For the 14th annual Willis Barnstone Translation Prize, there are co-winners. Congratulations go to Khrystyna Mykhailiuk and to Spring Ulmer.

The announcement came relatively late this year (compared with announcements of previous years arriving in March or April). Just yesterday (September 19, 2016) the following letter showed up in my mailbox (dated two weeks earlier):


Lest anyone is interested I submitted an English translation of the poetry known as the first two chapters of Genesis, itself a translation.


Two ESVs after “the Permanent Text of the ESV Bible, unchanged forever, in perpetuity”

September 14, 2016

Like the stone tablets Moses brought down from Sinai long ago, this web page recently went up on the English Standard Version Bible site:

There is declared this:

ESV Permanent Text Edition (2016)

Word Changes (52 Total)

Beginning in the summer of 2016, the text of the ESV Bible will remain unchanged in all future editions printed and published by Crossway—in much the same way that the King James Version (KJV) has remained unchanged ever since the final KJV text was established almost 250 years ago (in 1769)….

It is within the framework of this commitment, then, that we are pleased to provide the following list of the final changes to the ESV Bible text, thereby establishing the Permanent Text of the ESV Bible, unchanged forever, in perpetuity:

Permanent Text Verses Previous Text Verses
Genesis 3:16
Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.
Genesis 4:7
Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.

Then Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra posted on 9/11/2016 an article in the Theology section of Christianity Today entitled, “After Tweaking 29 Verses, Bible Translation Becomes Unchanging Word of God: The new permanent ESV echoes the example of the KJV.”

And Anugrah Kumar reported this for readers of the online Christian Post an article entitled, “ESV Bible Is Now ‘Permanent,’ to Remain Unchanged in Future Editions Like KJV.”

Then Scot McKnight wrote the very next day for his blog Jesus Creed a blog post entitled, “The New Stealth Translation: ESV.”

And Kyle Roberts wrote for Patheos a blog post entitled, “Why There’s No Such Thing as a ‘Permanent Text’ of the Bible.”

And Claude Mariottini wrote for his blog a blog post entitled, “The Permanent Text of the ESV. ”

And Gene Vieth wrote the very next day after that for Patheos a blog post entitled, “ESV makes its final changes.”

Here we post the very next day after that only just for a couple of reasons, to point us readers to the two variants of ESV in 2016 that will continue “in perpetuity” perhaps. One of these variants is in current post-summer 2016 editions and may be also in “future editions printed and published by Crossway.”

The other is one that Theophrastus at this blog in a blog post some time ago already pointed us to, “The odd Gideons Textus-Receptus ESV.” That Gideons ESV is published in print and also is available in perpetuity digitally. The digital versions are online, here:


and in your favorite app (store), like so:


The astute reader can see the old ESV, not the 2016 permanent ESV, in the (highlighted) words there. This is that second perpetual variant ESV, published by Gideon Bibles with the consent of Crossway.

The first ESV variant I mentioned earlier is published by Crossway. If we go to all the ESV Bibles being sold (here, then we can find these 2016 versions, for example:

ESV Reader’s Bible

Top Grain Leather, Black

Availability: In Stock

Retail Price: $109.99

About the ESV Reader’s Bible

The ESV Reader’s Bible was created for those who want to read the books of Scripture precisely as they were originally written. Verse numbers, section headings, and translation footnotes are helpful navigational and interpretive tools, but they are also relatively recent conventions. In the Reader’s Bible they have been removed from the Bible text, and the result is a new kind of Bible-reading experience in a volume that presents Scripture as one extended storyline.

On the top of each page a verse range is included for orientation. Other features include a single-column text setting, readable type, and a book-like format. The Reader’s Bible is a simple but elegant edition, and is perfect for devotional reading, for extended Bible reading, or for focusing on the overarching narrative of the Bible.

  • Black letter text, with no verse numbers or footnotes
  • Single-column, paragraph format
  • Two ribbon markers


Format: Top Grain Leather
Page Count: 1,840
ISBN-10: 1-4335-5336-8
ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-5336-3
Trim Size: 5.25 in x 7.75 in
Weight: 35.07 ounces
Published: September 30, 2016
Type Size: 9.5
Page Layout: Single Column
Additional Features: Sewn Binding
Lifetime Guarantee
Gilded edges
Words of Christ Black


This September 30, 2016 ESV has this:


And there’s also another September 30, 2016 ESV for sale that’s not the Permanent ESV:

ESV Large Print Thinline Reference Bible

Hardcover, Berries and Blooms

Availability: In Stock

Retail Price: $54.99

About the ESV Large Print Thinline Reference Bible

The ESV Large Print Thinline Reference Bible combines the popular Thinline Bible features with larger type and cross-references in a highly readable Bible for all uses. Though the Bible text is presented in generous 10.5-point type, the Large Print Thinline Reference Bible is close to one inch thin. In addition, cross-references are located in the bottom corner of each page, making this Crossway’s most affordable large print reference edition.

  • Double-column, paragraph format
  • Concordance
  • More than 80,000 cross-references


Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 1,248
ISBN-10: 1-4335-5331-7
ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-5331-8
Trim Size: 6.125 in x 9.125 in
Weight: 36.17 ounces
Published: September 30, 2016
Type Size: 10.5
Page Layout: Double Column
Additional Features: Sewn Binding
Words of Christ Black

Crossway provides potential purchasers a free downloadable excerpt of that one as well. It reads like this:


It is quite possible that the website folks at have not yet quite caught up with the permanent change. In other words, it may be that these digital excerpts to help buyers are actually in need of updating to the new Permanent ESV, presuming that the paperbound editions (The September 30, 2016 ESV Reader’s Bible and the September 30, 2016 ESV Large Print Thinline Reference Bible) that the purchasers buy are actually correctly now the changed English Standard Version Permanent Text Edition (2016) text version.

At any rate, this news has given us all another look at the ESV and what the men on the team who translated it and those who publish and sell it seem to want from it.

godly distanced/ stonesounds: Beautiful Afrikaans, Beautiful un-English

September 9, 2016

One of my children is an adult learner of Sepedi in South Africa where for a year she’s been teaching English to school children. Before living in the rhythms of the people of her new language she started reading Antjie Krog in the USA in English.

This blogpost of mine is my catching up. Pardon me if many of you here already have read Krog and her now much-reviewed and highly-praised work Skinned. I just read this now two-year-old interview in which she talks of translation. If you also missed it enjoy this excerpt (below) and go to her fuller conversation with Rauan Klassnik (linked after the excerpt, his interview of her which he posts on his blog, that is going away next month):

RK: In addition to making the original versions of these poems in Afrikaans, your native tongue, you also translated most of them into English yourself. In the “Acknowledgements” section of “Body Bereft” (which released in 2006 ), you wrote that in some cases the “translation process required creative solutions, which in their turn opened up other possibilities in the poems.” Can you give us a sense of what’s it like to wear the two caps of original author and translator? And could you give us details of a particularly memorable example (or two!) of a “creative solution” and the possibilities this led to?

AK: I recently attended a very interesting conference on writers who translated themselves (Brodsky, Beckett, Arendt, etc) and the problems were multi-full but also obvious. The writer’s effort goes into the heart/essence of the poem, the translator’s into trying to capture that heart in the new language. As a writer one often doesn’t have the patience or skill for the capturing process and sometimes prefers to write a new heart in the new language.

Another factor is that when somebody else translates me I often find the work feels too English. When I translate, I try to stay within the Afrikaans rhythm. The work must maintain its from-elsewhere-ness. Then there is also the truth that I know what a cliche is in Afrikaans; I don’t necessarily in English, so the poet as translator can often translate his work in a way which sounds old-fashioned in the new language.

Lastly, some things that are beautiful in one’s language do not work in another, unless distorted. In the jpeg below you will see an example of an Afrikaans poem, then the translation by a good translator and then my own literal translation trying to capture the full nuance of the Afrikaans, but the end result is un-English.


Skinned: An Interview With Antjie Krog

Invisible Wordplay in Hebrews 12

August 23, 2016

The last verse of the second reading in the Roman Catholic lectionary this weekend caught my attention, because the wording (from the NABre, Heb 12:5-7, 11-13) seemed so odd:

So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees.
Make straight paths for your feet,
that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.

Disjointed? What an odd word to use there. Do people’s lame wrists and knees become dis-jointed if they are not strengthened by exercise? I’m imagining dislocated shoulders here; can wrists and knees become dislocated? What an odd image to use in a reading that is mostly about discipline, trials, and training.

So of course I went off to compare translations. The NKJV does say dislocated; NIV disabled; several translations say “put out of joint”, and several say “turned aside” or “out of the way”.

What does the Greek say, though? Ektrepo, ἐκτρέπω, which looks like it means out-something, or out-of-something. It’s G1624 in Strong’s lexicon, with a root word of G5157, trope, τροπή, which means “turning”.

It seems this is a word with both a literal medical meaning of dislocated, and a figurative meaning of being turned out or turned aside. What a perfectly apt word choice in a passage that is using the metaphor of physical training for spiritual discipline. It resonates with and sheds new light on the gospel passage that follows, Luke 13:22-30, in which those who have not practiced spiritual discipline are, indeed, turned aside by the master of the house, turned out from the kingdom of God.


Why Silence? Anita Hill, Lani Guinier, Joycelyn Elders, Hillary Clinton, Ghazala Khan

August 1, 2016

This post starts with the epigraphs from Cheryl Glenn’s essay on the rhetoric of silence in the American political realm. She examines primarily the silences and the silencing of Anita Hill, Lani Guinier, Joycelyn Elders, and Hillary Clinton. The post ends with two recent statements of Ghazala Khan on her silence. A male who seems not to have read either Glenn’s essay or her Qu’ran had demanded the following of her, saying, “If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably — maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.”

The silences, the empty spaces, the language itself, with its excision of the female, the methods of discourse tell us as much as the content, once we learn to watch for what is left out, to listen for the unspoken, to study the patterns of established science and scholarship with an outsider’s eye. -Adrienne Rich

Because everything would be unsayable. Speech consists above all in silences. -Jose Ortega y Gassett

I was going to die, if not sooner then later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your . silence will not protect you. -Audre Lorde

I speak, but I cannot be heard. Worst, I am heard but I am not believed. Worse yet, I speak but I am not deemed believable. -Jacqueline Jones Royster

I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. -Audre Lorde

The Hill-Thomas hearing … was about finding our voices and breaking the silence forever. -Anita Hill

The liberatory voice … is characterized by opposition, by resistance. It demands that paradigms shift-that we learn to talk-to listen-to hear in a new way. -bell hooks

Everything we write will be used against us or against those we love. These are the terms, take them or leave them. -Adrienne Rich

It doesn’t matter what you think. Words are found responsible all you can do is choose them or choose to remain silent. -Adrienne Rich

I have been compelled on too many occasions to count to sit as a well-mannered Other, silently, … while colleagues who occupy a place of entitlement … have comfortably claimed the authority to engage in the construction of knowledge and meaning about me…. -Jacqueline Jones Royster

It is not the case that a man who is silent says nothing. -Anonymous

Silence is a game of dodgeball at dusk A matter of time ’til someone knocks you out Of the circle of bodies. -Robin Becker

Silence and obedience to authority were not rewarded. -bell hooks

When you are silent, it speaks; When you speak, it is silent. -Tseu

Moving from silence into speech is for the oppressed, the colonized, the exploited, and those who stand and struggle side by side, a gesture of defiance that heals, that makes new life and new growth possible. -bell hooks

Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent. – [neither the Qur’an nor the Hadith but rather the Christian New Testament’s] I Tim. 2:11-12

The last time I spoke to my son was on Mother’s Day 2004. –  Ghazala Khan

Because without [my] saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain. I am a Gold Star mother. Whoever saw me felt me in their heart.  –  Ghazala Khan

Here’s Glenn’s essay, “Silence: A Rhetorical Art
for Resisting Discipline(s)”:

Here’s Khan’s essay, “Trump criticized my silence. He knows nothing about true sacrifice.”:

Here’s Khan speaking on her silence:

Here’s Khan’s country’s Constitution:

Here’s Khan’s Qu’ran:

The American Heritage of a Few deciding for the Others

July 31, 2016

Not long after [white man] Thomas Jefferson wrote the “Declaration of Independence,” a free black [man] wrote Jefferson asking if the “all men are created equal”phrase applied to blacks [that is, to black men, to black women, and to black children]. Jefferson replied that slavery [of black children, of black women, and of black men] embarrassed him but … The [white men] Quakers spoke out against slavery during the colonial period but … [The white men] Anglicans worked among the [black men and women and children] slaves and attempted to Christianize them [as if they were white men]. [The white men of] Mainline Protestantism tried early on, but… In 1784, the [white men] Methodists voted to expel [white men] members who bought and sold [black men, women, and children] slaves but… [White men] Methodists found such statements unenforceable and they withdrew them. [White men of] Kentucky’s Elkhorn Baptist Association tried to draft a resolution against [African person] slavery in 1791 but… In 1818, [white man] George Bourne, a fiery anti-slavery preacher, insisted on [African person] slavery’s cessation. Bourne’s Presbytery [of whites] felt his attitudes degraded the minister’s office and they [the white men] removed him. Bourne appealed to the General Assembly [of white men]. Pro-slavery men [white men] loaded the [all white, all male] Assembly and saw Bourne expelled…. In 1844, the Georgia Baptist Convention appointed [white man] James Reeves, a [black man, black woman, black children] slave owner, as missionary to the [non-white, non-Christian] Cherokee Indians. When his petition for approval came to the General Convention [of white men] it was rejected. In 1845, southern [white men] Baptists withdrew to form the [white man] Southern Baptist Convention in Augusta, Georgia…. When [white man] John C. Calhoun gave an address in [the white man] Congress in support of the Compromise of 1850, he said American religious [white men] bonds were broken and he pleaded that the [white man] nation’s political bonds remain united. The fact that [white man] churches could not get along indicated no one else [of the white men] could either. Church division [among white men] over slavery [of black children, black women, and black men] predicted the Civil War.

In 1776, Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John Adams, who was one of the men writing the Constitution, to ask him “in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

But even though John Adams loved his wife very much and asked her for advice all the time,….

Like the women, Jews also saw in the idea of the rights of man the possibility of getting equal rights for themselves. Haym (Chaim) Solomon, in 1784, asserted that, “I am a Jew; it is my own nation; I do not despair that we shall obtain every other privilege that we aspire to enjoy along with our fellow-citizens.” Some of the Constitution writers, like Thomas Jefferson, agreed with Solomon that “”neither Pagan nor Mohammedan nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the Commonwealth because of his religion.” (This is Jefferson quoting John Locke). Washington also assured the Jews in 1790 that, “All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship… for happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protecture, should demean themselves as good citizens.” The Jews did get some protections: the Bill of Rights says that the government can not make any law about religion, and from the beginning non-Christians could vote in the United States. But…

Peacemakers (before the sermon on the mount)

July 30, 2016

Men, Spartans:

In your foreign post, I am not alone. Father to father to father it’s been held, given to generations.

I wish to make this clear to you all also. The City State holds all of us to this final goal. Yes, when there is war, she has had to raise us up as generals. Still, when longing for calm, she sends us out as peacemakers.

I myself have twice already traveled for her to destroy war. In each of these two ancient assignments I have acted effectively. And this is for you all, also for you all, for peace.

Still, now this third time I’m travelling, leading out for full social justice now should dialogue be achieved.

ὦ ἄνδρες Λακεδαιμόνιοι,

τὴν μὲν προξενίαν ὑμῶν οὐκ ἐγὼ μόνος, ἀλλὰ καὶ πατρὸς πατὴρ πατρῴαν ἔχων παρεδίδου τῷ γένει.

βούλομαι δὲ καὶ τοῦτο ὑμῖν δηλῶσαι, ὡς ἔχουσα ἡ πόλις διατελεῖ πρὸς ἡμᾶς. ἐκείνη γάρ, ὅταν μὲν πόλεμος ᾖ, στρατηγοὺς ἡμᾶς αἱρεῖται, ὅταν δὲ ἡσυχίας ἐπιθυμήσῃ, εἰρηνοποιοὺς ἡμᾶς ἐκπέμπει.

κἀγὼ πρόσθεν δὶς ἤδη ἦλθον περὶ πολέμου καταλύσεως, καὶ ἐν ἀμφοτέραις ταῖς πρεσβείαις διεπραξάμην καὶ ὑμῖν καὶ ἡμῖν εἰρήνην:

νῦν δὲ τρίτον ἥκω, καὶ ἡγοῦμαι πολὺ δικαιότατα νῦν ἂν διαλλαγῆς τυχεῖν.

Xenophon, Hellenica (6.3.4) with English translation by J. K. Gayle