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If Complementarian Bible Translators Rendered Aeschylus

June 8, 2015

If the Greek play The Eumenides (or Εὐμενίδες, or The Kindly Ones), written by Aeschylus, were translated by a male-only team of complementarian translators of the Bible, then the lines would likely go as they go for Paul writing to Timothy, when this biblical man team is rendering.

Paul writes (the following in Greek), and they render (using the following ESV English) –

διδάσκειν δὲ γυναικὶ οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω,
οὐδὲ αὐθεντεῖν ἀνδρός,
ἀλλ’ εἶναι ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ.

I do not permit a woman to teach
or to exercise authority over a man;
rather, she is to remain quiet.

Aeschylus writes (the following in Greek), and they would likely render (using the following ESV-like English) –

Ἀπόλλων: τίς ἥδε τιμή; κόμπασον γέρας καλόν.
Χορός: τοὺς μητραλοίας ἐκ δόμων ἐλαύνομεν.
Ἀπόλλων: τί γὰρ γυναικὸς ἥτις ἄνδρα νοσφίσῃ;
Χορός: οὐκ ἂν γένοιθ᾽ ὅμαιμος αὐθέντης φόνος.

Apollo: What is this honorable role of yours? Brag on of your fine privilege.
Chorus: It is to drive from their domiciles those sons who assault, batter, and murder their mothers.
Apollo: Why not when a woman abandons a man?
Chorus: Because that would not be the exercise of authority over a relative who is kinfolk.

The above, respectively, are I Timothy 2:12 and The Eumenides (209 – 212) in English Standard Version.

Below are examples of other English of translations for the same Greek lines of Aeschylus. Respectively, the examples are the renderings of the dialogue of Apollo and the Chorus, lines 211-212,  by various translators:  Lewis Campbell (1890), Arthur S. Way (1908), Herbert Weir Smyth (1926), Richmond Lattimore (1973), Robert Fagles (1984), David Grene and Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty [both a verse translation and also a translation for the stage] (1989), Edward Wright Haile (1994), Peter Burian and Alan Shapiro (2003), and George Theodoridis (2007). And I’m not trying to give the exhaustive set of translations, only the few that I found on a single shelf of the library today:

And what of husband-slaying wives?
That blood bears not the blame of kindred violence.

What of the wife that murdereth her lord
That is no blood of kin by kindred shed.

But what about a wife who kills her husband?
That would not be murder of a relative by blood.

What if it be the woman and she kills her husband?
Such murder would not be the shedding of kindred blood.

And what of the wife who strikes her husband down?
That murderer would not destroy one’s flesh and blood.

What of the woman who has killed her man?
She is no murderer of blood kin with the murdered.

What of the woman who has killed her man?
She is not of blood kin, not of blood kin.

And what about the wife who quells her husband?
That would not be an act of killing kindred.

And what about a wife who kills her husband?
That isn’t killing one’s own flesh and blood.

And what if a woman kills her husband?
That would not be murder of the same blood and kin.


So how might Campbell (1890), Way (1908), Smyth (1926), Lattimore (1973), Fagles (1984), Grene and  O’Flaherty (1989), Haile (1994), Burian and Shapiro (2003), and Theodoridis (2007) consider the Greek of Paul written to Timothy in I Tim 2:12? Or how might we, if we’re not so hung up on “complementarianism,” on the hierarchical authority issues of so-called “biblical manhood,” a manhood that would have a man always and only in church exercising his authority over a woman to keep her kept and shut up and silenced from all teaching?

Perhaps Paul and Timothy went together to see they play The Eumenides (or Εὐμενίδες, or The Kindly Ones) together. Perhaps they read the Septuagint together. Well, in either case, we might render the following Greek of Paul to Timothy in the following way:

διδάσκειν δὲ γυναικὶ οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω,
οὐδὲ αὐθεντεῖν ἀνδρός,
ἀλλ’ εἶναι ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ.

The teaching, however, is not to be just handed over to a wife;
nor is, of course, the murdering of her husband; (Oh, Timothy, remember The Kindly Ones?)
rather, it is to be done in calmness.

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