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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Women doing research

Teknomon writes,
    One nice thing about the anonymity of the internet is that women can now be heard in Christian theological discussions. There have been many times when, after a long debate, my opponent would express great shock and horror at learning he had been debating a woman all that time. Which, of course, only proves that there is no exclusively "male" or "female" way of thinking.
I agree, Teknomon. I do think that men and women are basically the same in their mental activity, but there are vast biological, circumstantial and cultural differences which we should work at bridging. We should always be thinking, how would we feel if we were the ones in the other person's position.

With respect to translation, Teknomon writes,
    This word cha-yil, like "baptize" and who knows how many others, shatters our trust in the motives of the translators. Unlike views on the divinity of Christ, his virgin birth and resurrection, there are no denominational checks and balances to keep bias against women out of Bible translation. It has been the universal sin of Christianity.

    Perhaps Bushnell was right; it may be that only by women doing the research will the complete and untainted Word of God be brought to light.
I have to agree again. In the research I have been reviewing on Junia, Bernadette Brooten and Linda Belleville are the two who have produced the most original data. Eldon Jay Epp's and Richard Bauckham's critiques of the Wallace-Burer hypothesis are derivative. I do think, sad though this may be, that women are more driven to protect the honour of the female sex than men are. There is a certain amount of self representation that seems to be necessary. I wish it weren't so but maybe this is only natural and normal.

Having said that, I recognize that many men have been exemplary in mentoring and promoting women in leadership. Some have taken harsh criticism for it. Surely working together is the best way. I wonder what others think about this. Should it be essential to have women involved in Bible translation?


At Sun Jul 01, 07:42:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Suzanne. I agree, there have been and still are men who have come to women's defense. But I think it's time to put all our resources together somehow. People don't seem to notice a fire if it's spread out in little embers here and there.

I should mention though that many women are part of the problem too. They have been conditioned to believe that we are inferior for all practical purposes. And I truly believe that there is also an element of shirking one's responsibility. That is, they are all too willing to take second place, thinking that this will absolve them of personal responsibility for anything but obedience to men. So knowing this, we need to be concerned as much about the views of any women doing the research as for the men. I'm sure they can point to a few "tokens" to say "See, we have women scholars. What's the problem?"

And this is all part of a larger (or deeper) problem: the very idea of hierarchy among believers. Jesus' talk about "not so among you" seems to have been forgotten as soon as the apostles died. It didn't take long for a clergy class to form and for people to start putting another priesthood between the "laity" and the God, usurping the place of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in our lives.

It is this contrived "office" that women have been barred from in the church. The words "pastor" and "pulpit" (a word I can't find in the NT) have been twisted to mean some mystical fraternity and its "holy of holies", wherein lowly women and people without university degrees dare not venture. Ah, I could go on...

At Sun Jul 01, 08:32:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

That is, they are all too willing to take second place, thinking that this will absolve them of personal responsibility for anything but obedience to men. So knowing this, we need to be concerned as much about the views of any women doing the research as for the men. I'm sure they can point to a few "tokens" to say "See, we have women scholars. What's the problem?"

You are right about this. I have read some very chilling work written by women. I read an article written by a single woman on how "Women shall be saved by childbearing," all about staying within the domestic. The yearning for the domestic is raw in some women, but we won't all have it and it won't be good for some who do have it. I wish.

Any ideas?

I differ with you on hierarchy. In the Brethren there was no clergy so women were silent in the assembly, utterly silent. However, there was another side to this. Some women, the well educated ones, were the mistress in the home and as hostess moderated discussion. But other women did not fare so well. It is very hard to generalize.

At Sun Jul 01, 08:57:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I knew what to do about some of these problems. I came across a message board once that nearly made me ill: they (men and women) were talking about how sex is bad and women should learn not to enjoy it, and that a husband and wife should never see each other naked. It got much worse but I can't post it here. It was so disgusting and degrading it could easily pass for a horror movie plot.

About hierarchy: I know that even in many of the house churches today, they have no clergy yet the women are to be silent. I can't fathom how people can see one problem but not another, to understand that all are equal yet that it somehow only applies to men. I'll never understand that.

But what I was referring to was that the debate over women's issues usually centers around whether they can be "ordained" and "stand in the pulpit"; basically, to do the "pastor" thing as defined by tradition and not scripture. I like to believe that there would be a lot less patriarchal bias if people could see past these things.

People see the "pastorate" as a position of authority, one which alone qualifies a person to preach from the Bible to others. Without this authority they would have much fewer qualms about women preaching. The only authority I can see for elders is in the fact that they are mature in the faith and have proven this in word in deed. They are to be viewed as respected teachers or parents. But the "students" or "children" are supposed to graduate or grow up someday and become teachers and parents themselves. Instead, the people sit in Sunday School for their entire lives, thinking they must stay under a pastor's "covering". (Silly me, I always thought we were covered by the Spirit.)

Which brings me back to the thing about hierarchy: whether it's about pastors or husbands, they seem to think a woman or layman cannot be trusted to hear the Spirit's voice or comprehend the scriptures. Somehow, they think, most believers are incapable of functioning without human oversight. That's my beef with the Establishment.

At Sun Jul 01, 11:21:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I just read something that made me ill too. A wife was explaining how her husband set the priorities for her day with reference to shopping, cooking and cleaning out the refrigerator. I really have nothing against women staying home and looking after kids but they should at least be in charge of their own kitchen. A woman should be proud to do that.

But how about this - "What do you think I should do first, dear, clean out the fridge or go shopping?" This question from a university graduate to her husband.

I see what you mean about hierarchy. It is a problem and I think translation feeds into it by translating up to 10 different Greek words as "authority" in English - not good.


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