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Suzanne McCarthy’s book

August 27, 2019


Dear Blog Readers,

In July 2013, Suzanne wrote to Theophrastus and me of her terminal breast cancer diagnosis and of the book she wanted you to read:

Besides settling one’s affairs, spending time with my kids, and so on, I have begun to write and hope to form into a book, some of the best of the blogging over the years. I do have an outline, chapter headings, and a couple of chapters close to completion. When I have enough done to feel more confident that I will get through it – perhaps a couple of months – I will let you know.

In February 2014, Suzanne sent me chapters with a note on her family, on the cancer, and on how she was intending you to appreciate the book:

Sorry I didn’t keep up the conversation in the fall. I had a busy Christmas – Jay and I now have 7 children[…]. So it was pretty wild getting the house ready to hold everyone, and setting up a tree with homemade and not too Christmassy ornaments in a Jewish household. Actually everyone blended together beautifully and it was great….

I just don’t think about it [the cancer]. I am too busy writing. Here is a sampling. I have written 9 chapters but I will just send you 5 so it isn’t overwhelming. The first 4 chapters are a chiasmus,

chapter 1 beauty,
2 strength – chayil
3  wisdom
4 desire.

The other chapter, L’Éternel, is unrelated, and will go later in the book. These chapters are more or less original, not from the blogs, but further chapters will related more to posts on the BBB, somewhat anyway. The footnotes are not complete. I just write as fast as I can when the thoughts hit me.

Suzanne would have wanted you to appreciate her play with language, her arrangement of her book for you to read, with some of it, the first chapters in fact, forming a chiasmus! Don’t you love that?

When Suzanne died, Jay knew she’d written it for you to read. So he’s worked since on getting it published. Jay worked with Suzanne’s sister Ruth, and her niece Christy, on securing a publisher, and finally earlier this year an acquisition editor of Wipf & Stock welcomed a manuscript.

I’m sharing this timeline and especially sharing with you these personal notes from Suzanne, because I want you to know that Suzanne wrote what she wrote for you to read. The publisher, Ruth tells me, isn’t promoting the book much now, just days and weeks after its publication. The publisher reached out to me for my endorsement, but I haven’t myself heard a word since. These are busy people no doubt. And I’m not trying in any way to disparage them. But I do hope you get to read things Suzanne intended not to hide from you ever.

Jay, Ruth, and Christy added this touching note on one page of Suzanne’s now-published book:

[Editor’s Note: Suzanne’s text ends here, although the chapter is incomplete. Rather than finishing the chapter using another person’s words, we have chosen to leave Suzanne’s words to stand on their own.]

I love that note because Suzanne’s words do stand. I’m so happy that Jay, Ruth, and Christy agreed to press the publisher, in the very late stages of the page proofs, to add the link to Suzanne’s blogger bio. I’m so glad that, when they asked me to write a back cover blurb, that they and the publisher’s editor agreed not to used my “professional” identifiers but simply “J. K. Gayle, blogger.”

You, dear readers of Suzanne’s blogging, know how she cherished interacting with you. You know how important language was to her. When you read the book she hurriedly wrote for you, please know that its first edition doesn’t always give language the sort of attention Suzanne would often give it. For example, all the biblical language in the book now published is in transliterated Roman/English lettering. All the Hebrew is. All the Greek too. Suzanne would usually give us Hebrew and would give us Greek when writing about these languages; she’d confess, “I don’t really know how to transliterate this smoothly into Roman letters.” We remember how Suzanne would trouble over this sort of thing:


He translated ‘ayel as cervus with a masculine ending. But Pagninus translated it cerva, with a feminine ending:

Quemadmodum cerva desiderat ad torrentes aquarum,

Ita anima mea desiderat ad te deus.

As the doe desires torrents of water,

So my soul desires you, O God.

And here is the ambiguous Hebrew:

כְּאַיָּל, תַּעֲרֹג עַל-אֲפִיקֵי-מָיִם–

כֵּן נַפְשִׁי תַעֲרֹג אֵלֶיךָ אֱלֹהִים

I have to confess that I don’t really know how to transliterate this smoothly into Roman letters, but here are the first two and most relevant words – Ke eyal ta’arog. The word eyal is considered masculine but the verb agrees with the feminine. And so the Septuagint translates it into Greek with a feminine noun and the New English Translation of the Septuagint translates it into English with a feminine:

ον τροπον επιποθει η ελαφος επι τας πηγας των υδατων

ουτως επιποθει η ψυχη μου προς σε ο θεος


So when you finally read this book she wrote for you to read in its first edition, do know that the Hebrew there, and the Greek, are transliterated.

Finally, before providing you with the book cover, to judge it, and the link to where you might find a copy of the book for yourself, I thought it best to re-read what Suzanne posted in her first blogpost ever. It seems that Valiant or Virtuous?: Gender Bias in Bible Translation, her book she wrote for you to read, has the themes of Suzanne’s very first blog post:

This blog exists to collect blogs and articles by or about women and the Bible, more specifically Bible translation. Somehow I have not so far been able to find a blog or site that collects Biblioblogs authored by woman. When I do this blog may become inactive.

While I am dedicated to knitting, sewing costumes, church hymns and the education of children among other so-called womanly pursuits (and, oh yes, pets and recipes!) I will not be filling my sidebar with these blogs for the foreseeable future. It doesn’t mean that I don’t read knitting blogs, but this is my place for the female authored Biblioblog.

Now, the cover, linked here:

Now, where you can find Suzanne’s book she wrote for you to read:

Please do read it and write and post your review. Suzanne would have loved for us to discuss together.

J. K. Gayle


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