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Friday, August 31, 2007

Psalm 68 Part l

I have put off for over a year a series which has been requested more than once. It is only with the utmost hesitation and reluctance that I embark on this series. It is about the names of God. Because I really am an old fashioned person, and reared in a very strict way, I feel a certain taboo in talking directly about God. It is like looking directly into the sun.

So, I have named this series Psalm 68 and I will blog through this peculiarly interesting psalm. It does contain five of the most important names of God. This is an exercise in approaching something from an angle, obliquely. It will be an exploration for me, and is far outside of any small expertise I might have in languages.

A few weeks ago, Bryan L., a BBB lurker and email friend, asked,
    I was doing a search on the word sovereign and all it's inflections (I think that is the word I'm looking for) because I wanted to study how it's used in the Bible. So using Bibleworks I did a search in the NIV and noticed almost 300 verses came up (an interesting side note only 5 were in the NT). So I decided to copy all those verse as well as the same verses from the NRSV and NASB to compare with how the NIV translates certain passages. I then noticed something. Those NRSV and NASB verses were not saying sovereign where the NIV did. So I decided to search for all the occurrences of sovereign and it's different (inflections) in the NRSV and the NASB. Here's what I found:

    The NASB only shows 8 occurrences (only 1 for the actual word sovereign) and the NRSV only has 22 verses. The ESV actually does the same to from a quick search in it using E-Sword. Why the big difference between translations? I mean that is huge and obviously shows a translation philosophy difference or a difference in how a word or phrase should be translated. Hopefully you can help me out or guide me to where to look.

    Thanks and keep up the great topics on BBB.
Yes, it is a huge difference, and, of course, there is a short answer, but this topic deserves proper treatment. It is better to build up our awareness of the different names of God and how they have been translated, or not, over the millenia.

On his own blog, Bryan has recently written,
    Sometimes I attempt to read complicated theological books and I think to myself, wow, this person has really thought long and hard about this and has taken the best of philosophy and theology and melded them together to form these extremely detailed and complicated beliefs about God and his attributes and actions, and I'm really impressed. And then I think, it's probably no closer to the truth than a simple statement like God is good, or God is love, or God is our father or God is sovereign, or whatever. In fact, again, I wonder if the more we try to focus in on God the more wrong we get. Like taking a microscope to a picture and seeing a few of the cyan, magenta, yellow and black dots that help make the picture, and then confusing those dots for the picture.
So I think Bryan is interested in the attributes of God, revealed in his name.

Here are the first four verse of Ps; 68, in the KJV.
    1Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him.

    2As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.

    3But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice.

    4Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him.

The word for God in verse 1, 2, 3, and 4a is אֱלֹהִים - ’ĕlōhîm. Of course, there is no such thing as upper case, and so one would not see the name of God with a capital in Hebrew, or Greek either. However, the name of God was held in reverence.

In verse 4b, God is mentioned by his name יְהוָה but in the abbreviated form יָהּ. What is particularly interesting is that
יְהוָה, is not to be pronounced but יָהּ may be. So, if I put יְהוָה into the Hebrew transliteration tool, it comes out as hashem - "the name", but if I put יָהּ into the transliteration tool then the result is yah. This reflects the practise of the Jews in reading the name of God.

Verse 4 then in Hebrew reads,

שִׁירוּ, לֵאלֹהִים-- זַמְּרוּ שְׁמוֹ:

סֹלּוּ, לָרֹכֵב בָּעֲרָבוֹת--בְּיָהּ שְׁמוֹ; וְעִלְזוּ לְפָנָיו.

This is the only time that Jah occurs in the King James Bible. Elsewhere the name yah is translated as LORD. יָהּ occurs 49 times in the scriptures but only once has it been translated as Jah in the KJV - in Ps. 68:4. Most modern translations use LORD,

Jah - Pagnini
, KJV, Darby, Eberfelder,
Yah - Emph. Bible
Iah - Geneva Bible
Yahweh - HCSB
HERR - Luther
Dominus - Vulgate

I will not discuss the translation of
יְהוָה in this post. However, my understanding is that a variation of Jah is acceptable and Yahweh is not. Jah occurs in many Hebrew words and names, most commonly, Allelujah. But as you can see most translations have opted for LORD.

Pagnini's version is the first that I know of that does not translate
יָהּ as Dominus - LORD, but uses Jah instead.

It is worth noting this point from Judaism 101,
    Although the prohibition on pronunciation applies only to the four-letter Name, Jews customarily do not pronounce any of God's many Names except in prayer or study. The usual practice is to substitute letters or syllables, so that Adonai becomes Adoshem or Ha-Shem, Elohaynu and Elohim become Elokaynu and Elokim, etc.

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If imitation is the highest form of flattery

Imitation is said to be the highest form of flattery. If that is so, what is copying?

Yesterday I discovered that each recent post from this blog is being copied to another blog, titled Bible Translation. Improve your Bible. An occasional word is changed. For instance, the title of my recent post, Who will be joyful? was changed to Who will be merry? But, otherwise, our BBB posts are copied verbatim.

There is no email address on the other blog to contact the blogger, so I left a comment for him, asking him to stop copying BBB posts. I have also contacted the Blogger authorities about this.

Now, it will be interesting to find out if this post gets copied to the other blog.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hen Scratches 30-08-07

Important Update: I have been posting a lot of wrong links recently due to "link bleed". I'll try to fix this. My apologies to those whose posts or articles have missed out. Thanks, Iyov, for pointing this out.

Urgent Update: The owner of the pit bull came home earlier than unexpected and Daisy has returned home. The cat has settled down again. The owners of the fish had to go away again, so I still have the fish. Sadly, that was due to the death of a beloved family member.

And, it turns out that because of our construction boom, you have to take a number and wait in line for a new bathtub, so I expect to see the plumber again just before Christmas. Sigh. However, those of God's created kingdom, who were at my house, survived the summer.

Keeping to my intent to publish what I find that is the best, what I appreciate in others, let me mention,

1. The dialogue between Thabiti Anyabwile and Jeremy on Race and Ethnicity.

First, Anyabwile writes and Jeremy critiques, then Anyabwile responds and Jeremy replies. I have been following this with interest although I have minor quibble, I am somewhat reluctant to agree with what Jeremy writes about "image" in the Bible,
    One worry I have is that I see no biblical warrant for taking the image of God to be anything more than being given a mission to represent God (which is what an image does for a god in the ancient near east). It is thus the same as being given the mandate to steward creation as God's representative on earth.
Given that Seth is in the image of his father, and Christ is the express image of God, I see image as being more than just being given a mission to represent someone. On this topic, I used the story of Samuel Ajayi Crowther as one of the main texts for my MA thesis. It is well worth reading.

2. An interesting article in the Vancouver Sun yesterday announced that in Canada the majority accepts mixed marriages,
    When Fran and Norio Ota married 36 years ago, they were a rarity. She was a Caucasian woman working as a missionary in Japan and he was her Japanese language teacher, but they didn't think there was anything unusual about crossing those lines for love.
The article reports that 92% of Canadians approve of mixed black-white marriages, while only 77% of Americans approve. The outcome is that in Canada, 43% of black Canadians have non-black partners, while in the States only 10%.

I admit that there is a huge historical and demographic difference between the two countries. However, Bibby, then goes on to say that this reticence in Canada to have an opinion about other peoples marriages extends to same-sex marriage. So we are more liberal, but this is a good thing!

(This article has different content online and in paper. Odd.)

3. There are so many commentaries reviewed that I feel a bit like Alice,

a) Commentary on Micah

b) Study Bibles

c) New Interpreter's Study Bible

d) Nicholas of Lyra

e) A Good Plug for the KJV here. Thanks John, I haven't put one in for a while.

4. Thanks to Henry here and here, and Wayne for sending me this post. Fabulous. I always love pics of those 19th century female pastors.

Paradigms and translation

On John's blog recently, Tom commented,
    There is a lot more to being a good biblical scholar than knowing a few (or even all) biblical languages. No one knew Hebrew, Aramaic, and the Bible better than the Pharisees and yet Jesus roundly condemned them for not being able to understand the Bible. I would therefore say that one's paradigm for understanding the Bible is more important than one's knowledge of Greek, Hebrew, Latin, etc.
It seems that this is a common opinion and one that certain authors hold to. This is why we are having some trouble with Gen. 5:2. For example, since Adam can be translated as either "Adam", or "human", or "humankind" etc. or "a man" one must have some reason to choose one over the other. Most scholars would say that they would use the context found within the text. However, others suggest that a certain interpretive paradigm controls this decision.

For example, in this address, Grudem explicitly says that God did not name the human race after the Hebrew word for "human" but God named the human race after "man". Grudem says,
    God names them Man - the Hebrew word there is Adam. God did not name the human race the Hebrew equivalent of "person" or "humankind" - God bestowed on the human race the name "Man".
Now, as far as I know adam is the Hebrew word for "the human race". Correct me if I am wrong. The only other word I can think of, enosh, could be translated by θανατος in Greek, or "mortal' in English. It is also a name for the human race, but it is not the one that we normally translate as "human" - I suppose one could. But adam means human.

Second, in Gen.5:2 adam was often transliterated and stayed Adam, but in several versions it was translated as "human". These are the Berkeley Version, 1945, the Good News Bible, 1966, and Moffat's Bible, 1926. The discussion of Gen. 5:2 should be corrected in Grudem's book where he says that it is translated as "Man" in every Bible known to him. In all fairness, I do think that the least Dr. Grudem could do is make a short list of those Bible versions which are known to him. That would save me a lot of time.

The question is really, why have these errors been made. I suggest it is because a paradigm is brought to the Bible, rather than a paradigm being taken from the Bible. The tail is wagging the dog.

The following are 7 reasons Grudem believes male leadership is found in the creation order. There were three more, which I don't mention but they come from the NT and I don't want to use NT material to influence a translation paradigm for the Hebrew scriptures. (my comments added)

1. Adam is created first, so he is our leader. (He is?)

2. "In Adam we all die" means that Adam is our leader. (It does?)

3. Adam names woman and naming always expresses authority. (And Hagar names God.)

4. God names the human race "Man". (Or God calls Adam the "human". Either way.)

5. Adam has primary accountability for the sin. (And Saphira is accountable for her own sin.)

6. Woman is helper. She has a "helping role". (God also has a "helping role".)

7. The curse is a distortion of roles which are already established and known to be good and proper. The curse on the woman is that she has a "hostile desire to resist the fair and right leadership role of her husband."
(As far as I know, the curse introduced an altogether new dynamic. Eve labours to bear children and Adam labours the grow food. No children and no farming in the garden)

In every case above, the idea of male leadership is read back into the narrative. I have not yet understood how Adam has authority over the human race, or why the human race is called "Man", rather than the first man being called the "Human". And how does helping someone make them the leader? More likely if you help, you would say, "Here let me show you, now it's your turn, and I'll help." You lead and then you graciously stand back.

Leadership is a blessing but believing that you have authority over someone else because of your biology is not too brilliant, no matter how you cut it. Dr. Grudem even goes so far as to say that there should be "faint echoes" of this male/female difference with respect to leadership in all our male/female relations. That is, male leadership should enter into all male/female encounters.

It appears that the paradigm of male leadership is established outside the creation narrative and then the translator has brought the paradigm to the Hebrew and declared that adam means "Man" in Gen. 5:2. But a translator benefits greatly from learning the language first. A translator also benefits greatly from knowing how previous translators have translated a verse, apparently not done, in this case.

With reference to the male leadership paradigm, David writes,
    The only connection between naming and "dominion" in Genesis 2 is that Adam's naming of the creatures is one of a number of ways that God grooms Adam for a position of authority and responsibility over creation. If complementarians and egalitarians are to debate the significance of this connection for questions of gender, they must focus on whether it is significant that Adam is given the opportunity to name the creatures before Eve is created. Does this fact imply that God has passed authority over creation to Adam as male or to Adam as human (and therefore also to Eve)? If Adam is given such authority before Eve is "taken out of" him, does that mean that she is excluded from that authority or that she participates in it?
I don't agree with David's suggestion that women might be excluded from stewardship over creation, if that is what he is suggesting. However, I am very glad that we can share a common Bible translation.

To my understanding, male leadership is the paradigm which certain people use to interpret the creation narrative, thus obscuring the fact that Adam named the creatures to establish that they were not "of his flesh', and he ruled over them; but when he met Eve he recognized her as "of his flesh" and she was an ally or companion.

However, in our fallen humanity women want to control men, and men are harsh to women. We all know this, it is sorrow configured in so many different ways that every narrative in the Bible has a different plot, it is not one simple story, there is no one way that this is acted out. It is also brother against brother, and son against father, and the female parallels to these stories. Fortunately there are gentler stories too that recount heroism and fidelity. In God's great goodness, we do experience hesed from others in our life. Those who experience hesed in marriage are doubly blessed.

Let us reject the paradigms and listen to the narratives of the Bible, and let them bless us wherever we are in our journey. Thank you, David, for ending your post with this,
    Whatever our answers to those questions, we need to understand that all such questions are peripheral to the main points of the creation narrative, which are that God is the author of creation, that humanity has been called to reflect God's image by reigning over and caring for creation, and that we can only accomplish that creation mandate as male and female. The genius of the naming episode in Genesis 2 is that it serves to establish and reinforce all three of those points.
Unbuild the paradigm of biological authority and immerse yourself in the Biblical languages. It is an unmixed pleasure.

I do want to say that I feel honoured to participate in a blog where we do not all hold identical positions. It is stimulating and challenging. I have learned a lot about the creation narrative and yet I know it is only a little piece of what there is.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Who will be joyful?

A few days ago I was checking an English translation of 2 Cor. 2:3. It ended with these words:
that my gladness would be for all of you
I had difficulty understanding that wording and so I flagged it for its translation team. Then I looked at other English versions to find out how they had translated the underlying Greek, which is itself not very clear. I was surprised to find that English versions split along an exegetical divide:
  1. Paul wanted the Corinthians to have the same joy that he did
  2. Paul wanted the joy of the Corinthians to make him joyful
Versions following option (1) include:
  • that my joy is [the joy] of you all (KJV)
  • that my joy would be the joy of you all (RSV, NRSV, ESV, NASB)
  • for me to be happy is for all of you to be happy (REB)
  • that you would all share my joy (NIV/TNIV)
  • that my joy would be yours (NET)
  • when I am happy, then all of you are happy too (TEV)
  • whatever makes me happy also makes you happy (GW)
  • that you would share my joy (NCV)
  • that my joy is yours (HCSB)
  • if I am happy, it means that all of you will be happy (The Source)
Versions following option (2) include:
  • when you should make me feel happy (CEV)
  • my joy comes from your being joyful (NLT)
If we simply counted versions, option 1 would win by majority rule. But exegesis can't be determined just by voting. Some kinds of evidence may be more important than others. Sometimes a minority position eventually becomes a majority position.

We must also take into account internal evidence (such as logical flow) for understanding a passage: What makes most sense in the context? For me, it makes most sense for Paul to be saying that he wanted to be made happy by how the Corinthians responded to his previous instructions to them. But the Greek doesn't tilt me one way or the other. In such a case, many say that we should leave an English translation "ambiguous" since the Greek is "ambiguous." But I cannot think of a way to leave the English ambiguous in this case. (I'd like to hear from you if you can.) Sometimes, when translating, there is no way to leave a translation ambiguous when we are unsure what the source text meant. At a minimum, in such cases, I believe we should include a footnote explaining that the Greek could have two different meanings.

Do you think that the linguistic evidence in the Greek text tilts us more strongly toward option 1 or 2? And what leads you to think that if you do? And if you are not sure which option should be chosen in translation of 2 Cor. 2:3, what do you suggest an English translation have in its text and in its footnote?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Knowing God, in Proverbs and Hosea

A reader asked about the word "knowledge" in Proverbs 9:10. This is the same word da`at whose use in Hosea I mentioned in my previous post here, and which Claude Mariottini looked at in more detail.

This word da`at is in Hebrew simply the infinitive of the verb yada` "know". Claude explains well the meaning of the Hebrew phrase da`at 'elohim, traditionally translated "knowledge of God":
an expression used to describe the special relationship between God and Israel that comes out of the covenant relationship.
As such he is right to reject the rendering "acknowledgement of God", found at Hosea 4:1, 6:6 in NIV and TNIV. Similarly wrong is the NET Bible rendering at Proverbs 9:10 "acknowledging the Holy One" (and similarly in Hosea). This phrasing means to me no more than affirming the existence of God or perhaps his activity in some situation.

The problem is that "knowledge of God", or "knowledge of the Holy One", is just as misleading, and as so has been rightly discarded by the NET Bible translators, and in part by the NIV and TNIV translators. For to me this phrase implies knowing facts about God, i.e. theology. But this is not the meaning of the Hebrew phrase either.

Even worse is "the knowledge of God", as in Hosea 6:6 KJV and RSV, which implies to me the knowledge which God has.

What is needed is a phrase which clearly expresses relational knowledge, not that we know about God but that we know him and have a relationship with him. To find a better phrase, I take a tip from NET Bible's use of a verbal gerund rather than a noun, and suggest "knowing God".

This is of course the title of JI Packer's classic book. Sadly the book concentrates on knowing about God rather than having a relationship with him. But its title is an excellent one, and deserves to find its way into the Bible.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Shorthand and the Bible

The more I research shorthand the more I notice the close connection between shorthand and the Christian community. There are Bibles in shorthand, marginal notes in shorthand and, of course, many sermons were recorded in shorthand. That is how a vast quantity of books czme to be passed down to us.

In Rome all school children, the boys at least, learned shorthand along with the alphabet, in order to be able to record class lectures. Senate proceedings were recorded in shorthand. And for many centuries sermons were recorded in shorthand.

In his own textbook, Aulay Macauly presents his own stenographic system. It is the first shorthand system in English to include written vowels. The system has a new denotation: ‘Polygraphy’. Macauly provides proof in his book where he presents a psalm in 8 different languages. He was the first who wanted to use his shorthand style deliberately for other languages.

The textbook is exceptionally well designed and equipped with a copperplated introduction . It shows men and women stenographers in front of a pulpit recording the sermon of a preacher. The book contains a dedication to King George, Prince of Wales, and the signature of the author himself.

The history of shorthand is firmly established in use in the Roman Senate, and was used up until the 12th century. Many of Augustine's works were shorthand records of his sermons. However, shorthand was discouraged from the 12th to the 15th centuries, as a possibly secret or occult script. During the reformation two innovations caused shorthand to become increasingly popular, the importance of sermons, and the printing press. Material could now be duplicated and spread abroad. Calvin and Luther are among those whose sermons were recorded in shorthand.

This fact confounds the assumed line between the book as recorded words and the sermon as spoken words. Books are sermons. It is something to think about when discussing the differential authority of the spoken vs the written word. It is something to remember when thinking about how the Bible came into being.

Hebrew, having one symbol for one syllable, could possibly function somewhat like shorthand, and a person could record speech in Hebrew more quickly than in Greek. While Roman shorthand is well attested to since 63 BC, there is only fragmentary record of Greek shorthand at this time.

Some wonder if Jesus' sermons could have been recorded in shorthand. However, I wonder if it is possible through using a cursive script and some abbreviations to record a sermon in Hebrew/Aramaic? Does anyone know?

Some people believe that shorthand as a separate system dates as far back as the development of the Greek alphabet when a dual system became necessary. Some are more cautious. Personally I suspect that shorthand was very early. Most literate societies have had a form of shorthand which could be used to record speech at a fairly natural speed. Chinese had an abbreviated script which functioned this way as well.

I have no additional evidence to add but I can say that certain books have been published on this topic that are only available in German. Ancient shorthand is not an idea which has captured the English-speaking world. And so we maintain a false dichotomy between the written and the spoken word.

Regular programming will resume shortly. As usual my cobloggers are welcome to post on top of this. Something to think about though.

Image: Macauly, Aulay ; Polygraphy or short-hand made easy to the meanest ca-pacity: being an universal character fitted to all languages: which may be learned by this book, without the help of a master / invented by Aulay Macauly.– 2. ed. – London: privat publisher, 1747.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

David E. S. Stein on Angels and Gender

David E.S. Stein has written this comment in response to my Aug.5 post on Angels and Gender. David is the editor of the Contemporary Torah, which I read about first on Higgaion . I was also directed recently to his paper on ish through Iyov's blog. Thank you, David, for this thoughtful response.

David E. S. Stein here: Of course I am pleased to find that you are showing an interest in my work! Although I am not competent to comment on literature written in Greek, perhaps it will also be of interest if I spell out my thinking specifically on the question of angels’ gender in the Hebrew Bible, which I pondered at length while preparing The Contemporary Torah: A Gender-Sensitive Adaptation of the JPS Translation (which some of you, I think, discussed on the “Better Bibles” blog a year ago at the time of its publication). In that project, my goal was first to reconstruct the way that the Torah’s composer(s) expected the text’s original audience of that work (the Torah as a whole) to read its gender-related cues, and then to translate the Torah so as to reflect that way of reading. The perceived social gender of divine beings was one area that I had to consider. (The following treatment draws upon, and goes beyond, the entry on “messenger” in the “Dictionary of Gender in the Torah,” which is located in the back of that book.)

As the Hebrew Bible tells it, some of its subjects occasionally ascertain the divine will suddenly and intensely, as if receiving a burst of information; to express that spiritual experience of clarity, the Bible usually employs the metaphor of a particular human social institution: the delivery of a message via a messenger. In the ANE, messengers were commonplace and frequently engaged for all types of communication (personal, commercial, military, diplomatic, etc.) and to perform errands. The biblical terminology would have evoked the image of an emissary who happens to be from God but is expected to follow the protocols that human emissaries observe.

In ANE society, both men and women functioned as messengers. The best discussion of this topic seems to be Samuel A. Meier’s cautious yet informative article, “Women and Communication in the Ancient Near East,” JAOS 111/3 (1991): 540–547. Here I will quote from its latter portion, focusing on messengers: “The Akkadian marat shipri [a clearly female term for messenger] is attested from the Old Babylonian period down to the Persian empire. . . . One [also] finds women sent on missions implying messenger activity, even though the description marat shipri does not appear. . . . In Mesopotamia, female . . . messengers were continually confronting men, and it is consequently inappropriate to perceive the female world as an isolated entity. . . . Women [as messengers] were not simply an (admittedly rare) alternative but a preferred choice in certain contexts.” As evidence of female messenger activity in ancient Israel, Meier cites three biblical passages: 2 Sam. 17:17; Prov. 9:2–3; and Isa. 40:9. Direct evidence for Israelite women as messengers is scanty, but at the very least the prospect cannot be ruled out and the circumstantial evidence is strong.

Now let’s look at Hebrew language and grammar. One term that the Bible often uses for a messenger is ’ish. The text often uses ’ish conspicuously in the context of agency, as if the term was expected to reliably evoke in the original audience’s minds the widely attested sense of ’ish as “representative functionary.” In Zechariah 5:9, I would suggest that the word nashim functions to identify those specifically female messengers as being agents (implicitly performing an errand on God’s behalf) in the same way that ’anashim often does elsewhere for male agents. That is, both ’ish and ’ishshah are basically terms of affiliation rather than of gender; and in such cases the nature of the affiliation is one of agency.

When the Hebrew Bible refers nonspecifically to a messenger either with grammatically masculine language or with the male form of relational terms such as ’ish, such language is non-committal as to that messenger’s social gender; in such cases, the language functions as gender neutral (in the Hebrew original!), and social gender is not a direct concern of the text at that point. However, in such cases the ancient reader still might have inferred social gender from other contextual clues. For example, if a text refers to messengers wielding drawn swords, that would have reliably been construed as a sign of maleness, because in the ANE a sword was an archetypical male implement.

Now, if the reference is grammatically specific, then the masculine language or the male form of relational terms such as ’ish (as is applied to the angel Gabriel in the book of Daniel) would indeed have conveyed maleness, in addition to the primary lexical content (such as ’ish as a term of affiliation).

In saying that, I am assuming that readers are interpreting the text’s references to divine messengers in the same way as for ordinary language about human messengers. For I do not see on what basis messengers would qualify for an exemption from the rules of grammar. (By contrast, grammatically masculine language about God may have been construed as not conveying social gender, given that the Torah’s God is a singular being for whom the normal rules of grammar arguably would not apply.) The case of the specifically female messengers in Zechariah 5:9 seems to confirm that for the Torah’s original audience, it was indeed conceivable that divine beings had social gender even from within a monotheistic worldview. Also, the fact that some of the prophets were women shows that God was perceived as dispatching human females as messengers (see esp. the messenger formula that Huldah uses, 2 Kings 22:15 ff.), so why not divine females as well? The language of divine messengership was already metaphoric, expressing communication-at-a-distance with the Deity. Social gender could easily be a part of such metaphors without necessarily reflecting on God’s nature.

Or maybe the gender of angels did reflect on God’s nature, given that in the ancient Near East, the apparent tendency was for men to appoint male agents, while women appointed female agents. (So wrote Sam Meier.) To the extent that the Torah presented its God as beyond gender—which is disputed—it would have had reason to portray that Deity as an “equal opportunity employer” of messengers of both genders.

That being said, nearly all of the Hebrew Bible’s specific references to angels do seem to be to male beings. I am inclined to think that this high incidence of male messengers is a reflection of what was for many centuries the root metaphor of ANE social organization, namely, the patrimonial household, from which the Deity’s role as ultimate authority is quite naturally expressed by depicting the Deity as the male head of a household that consists of the entire polity. (See David Schloen, The House of the Father as Fact and Symbol: Patrimonialism in Ugarit and the Ancient Near East, 2001.)

Again, recourse to such an extended metaphor does not necessarily mean that the Bible was depicting its Deity as exclusively male. (The Bible misses many opportunities to make God’s maleness explicit, and I suspect that such silence is conspicuous and significant. But that’s for another time.)

Finally, as for Reinier de Blois and the Semantic Dictionary of Biblical Hebrew that he is editing, he says publicly that my approach to ’ish is “worthy of serious consideration,” and he tells me that he is treating me as a co-author for the dictionary article on ’ish when it eventually appears. We are both waiting to learn from how my approach is received at the upcoming national SBL conference. Even then it will take a long time to categorize the lexical and contextual domains of a word that appears in the Bible more than 2100 times!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Hen Scratches 26-08-07

Update: I apologize for the wrong link for Martin Shields paper. Martin has also written The End of Wisdom.


Now I know how to get my cobloggers to pitch in. Post something completely arcane. Medieval textual apparatus in shorthand.

Jason Hood at Deinde has a good post, Social Location and Interpretation: Wealth in 1 Kings 10-11 on how the translation of waw seriously affects the way a passage is interpreted. If the waw is translated in a disjunctive way, as in "but" or even "now", the thought is completely different than if it is translated "and". Another solution is not to translate it at all. His post ends with a plug for Iain Provan's notes in the New Oxford Annotated Study Bible, described here.

Martin Shields has joined us as a commenter. I recently read his thesis Man and Woman in Genesis 1–3. HT Unrelated Ramblings. Download it here. It's a good read.

His paper mentions another translation point that came up in Waltke's class. Dr. Waltke mentioned that תשוקח in Gen. 3:16b,
    and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee
should be understood as "try to control". So the wife wants to control the husband and the husband rules the wife. This is the curse, bad on both sides. I am not sure that this contributes anything to the gender debate. I think the point is that it doesn't, but it makes more sense realistically than the previous interpretations of that verse. On page 96 Martin writes,
    Etymology, then, would suggest that the (unused) Hebrew verbal root שוק III should be connected to the Arabic sāqa, which leaves us to determine the possible semantic field for the feminine noun תשוקח . Waltke and O’Connor tell us that “a t-prefix noun usually designates the action of the verb it is derived from,”32 in light of which the most likely meaning for the noun would be something like ‘control, direction, regulation’33–so the text would indicate here that the woman will direct her control over her husband.
Martin's paper is very level headed and contributes to the notion that the scriptures do not unequivocally support either complementarianism or egalitarianism. Thank you, Martin.

Here are two important posts from the Bayly Blog. First, according to the Bayly Blog, Karen Jobes, one of the few women to serve on the translation team of an evangelical Bible, the TNIV, attends a church where women are ordained.

And this post, my friends, is for all of us, an expression of affection that transcends our differing beliefs and agendas. Throw our disagreements to the wind and learn about the Man Hug. I hope you feel hugged at the end of watching this video! (Note: There is not a hint of sarcasm. I mean it. Its lovely.)

Bryan L has numerous good posts on Gordon Fee's Books at Things on Bryan L's Mind. Bryan L is a frequent reader of this blog and an encouraging commenter elsewhere.

Sam of Unrelated Ramblings, mentioned above, has some good posts on translation and a question about Zech. 9:1.

One last note, before signing off. I was looking at BIBLES THROUGH THE AGES as I often do, when I noticed this metrical psalm book, 1635 (shown at right), where some tunes are printed upside down on facing pages, so that one book could be used by singers on either side of the choir.

I noticed something funny the other day. I was meeting with someone to discuss their book on the Psalms. I had taken a printout of various verses in different versions of Latin and Greek. I only had one copy, so at lunch as we discussed this across the table, I was reading the Latin text upside down. I would guess that between playing scrabble and teaching children how to read, I have acquired the skill of reading upside down. However, when we got to the Greek text, I was completely stumped, I could not read it upside down. I wondered at first if I had forgotten how to read Greek, and then I realized that it must be because I was reading upside down. Whew.

Additions: Lots of additions to this post. I am reading John's series on Psalm 19.

Hosea 6:6: harmonising with NT destroys OT

Claude Mariottini has posted twice, here and here, about the inadequacies of the NIV translation of Hosea - inadequacies sadly not corrected in TNIV. He has also sung the praises of NIV concerning Isaiah 40:9. But here I want to look more closely at one of the issues in Hosea, which shows clearly the inadequacy of the NIV policy of harmonising the Old Testament with New Testament quotations of it.

Now I claim no expertise on Hosea and am looking at it only very superficially. But it seems clear that a new main section begins at chapter 4, with the Lord's charge against the Israelites that "there is no 'emet, no hesed, and no da`at of God in the land" (4:1). NIV translates these Hebrew words "faithfulness", "love" and "acknowledgement" respectively, and TNIV is unchanged. As Claude points out, it would be much more accurate and consistent to render the third word "knowledge" rather than "acknowledgement", especially as this is the key theme taken up in 4:6 where NIV and TNIV have "knowledge".

As the discourse continues, in 6:4 the Lord comes back to hesed: "Your hesed is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears". Here NIV and TNIV have "love", as in 4:1. In most cases that would be a weak translation of hesed, which implies loyalty and faithfulness as well as love, but the point here is of course that the loyalty and faithfulness aspects are absent.

So at 6:6 the Lord starts to sum up the section with a clear reference back to the charge in 4:1, perhaps an inclusio to mark the end of the section: "For I desire hesed, not sacrifice, and da`at of God rather than burnt offerings". But it is here that NIV and TNIV commit what I can only call a gross translation error. Rendering da`at as "acknowledgement" is at least consistent with 4:1. But here the translation of hesed is suddenly not "love" but "mercy".

Why? Is this a simple slip of the pen? I doubt it, for if so surely the TNIV translators would have been told of it and corrected it. Of course "mercy" is the KJV rendering here, but also in 4:1, although not in 6:4. RSV has "steadfast love" here, although oddly "kindness" in 4:1.

I suspect that the real reason is because 6:6 is quoted in the New Testament, in Matthew 9:13 and 12:7. But the quotation is taken from the LXX rendering of this verse which is itself apparently a mistranslation. That is, the Greek word eleos used to render Hebrew hesed, here and in most other places in LXX and by Matthew, does not normally have the same meaning as hesed. Rather, it means "mercy", and so in Matthew is correctly translated "mercy". The problem apparently came when the translators decided that the text in Hosea must be adjusted to fit Matthew's use of the verse, as they understood it. Unfortunately by doing so they managed to completely mess up their translation of Hosea, removing the clear markers of cohesion in this prophecy and destroying its sense.

This is one of a number of cases where an Old Testament passage is quoted in the New Testament in a rather different sense from what was intended by the OT author. If a translation of the OT is to be valid, it must be based on the intention of its own author, not on how it was understood by a NT author.

The NIV Old Testament is sadly marred in a number of places by misplaced attempts to harmonise with the New Testament. TNIV is a definite improvement in that a number of these poor renderings have been corrected. Unfortunately these corrections have not been made consistently in Hosea.

Is There a Connection Between Naming and Dominion?

Yesterday, Suzanne asked the question, "If, as some argue, naming the animals indicates dominion over them, and Adam names Eve, then does he have dominion over her?" In the comments on that post, several people mentioned examples of naming which seem to undermine the notion that the act of naming always implies dominion.

What then is the significance of the act of naming in the Bible? Is there any? Is there some sense of "right" or "authority" implicit in the act of naming? Or is the focus in such descriptions on the character of the person or thing named?

If we look carefully at the creation narrative, we see in Genesis 1 that God names each aspect of his creation. God's dominion over his creation is never in question in this passage, and in no sense can it be said to be "established" through the act of naming. Rather, we see God looking at his creation, evaluating its worth, and identifying the unique character of each individual aspect. If there is any "right" or "authority" which can be attached to these acts of naming, it is the right of a creator to name his creation. Just as an artist has the prerogative to give his masterpiece a title, so it is God's prerogative to name the various aspects of his creation.

At the end of Genesis chapter 1, God creates humanity and gives "them" (male and female) the "creation mandate" to fill the earth, subdue it, and rule over it. Thus, dominion is certainly a theme of the creation narrative, but it is one which is established through an explicit command rather than being merely implicit in some human act.

In Genesis chapter 2, the narrative backs up and focuses on the creation of humanity in more detail. Adam is created first and placed in the garden to "work/serve" (‏עבד) it and to "keep/guard" (‏שׁמר) it. In this way, God places Adam in a position of authority over creation, yet that authority comes with the responsibility to care for and protect the creation he has been given dominion over.

Next God provides for Adam's need for sustenance by giving him every tree for food, except for the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil." In this way, God showers Adam with abundant provision while nevertheless making it clear that he does not have unlimited authority over creation.

After identifying Adam's need for companionship, God brings the animals to the man to "see what he would call them." Like an artist putting his works on display, God encourages Adam to evaluate and identify the unique character of each of his fellow "living beings." That's quite an honor in itself, but amazingly, the Bible also says, "whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name." Imagine an artist setting up an exhibit of all his works, then inviting an art critic to evaluate his work and come up with the title for each painting. Whatever titles the critic comes up with, the artist is content to let stand. That is what God does for Adam when he allows Adam to name all the creatures.

In this way, Adam's act of naming the creatures is an example of the extent to which God has "passed the mantle" of authority over creation to Adam. The picture is one of a master craftsman training an apprentice to carry on and complete his work. God gets Adam involved in creation, not as a spectator, but as a junior craftsman, a caretaker-in-training, a steward, and a vice-regent.

Should we conclude from this that anything Adam names he has authority over? Not at all. Adam's act of naming in Genesis 2 is not an exercise of dominion, but a recognition of the individual character of each creature named. When Hagar names God in Genesis 16:13, she displays this same ability to recognize the unique character of the person named, but it is clear that she has no authority over the God she has named. Likewise, the patriarchs named all kinds of places in Canaan which they did not yet possess or have any authority over. Our propensity to name things shows that we are "like God" in our ability to evaluate, identify, and recognize similarity and difference. It does not, in itself, imply authority.

The only connection between naming and "dominion" in Genesis 2 is that Adam's naming of the creatures is one of a number of ways that God grooms Adam for a position of authority and responsibility over creation. If complementarians and egalitarians are to debate the significance of this connection for questions of gender, they must focus on whether it is significant that Adam is given the opportunity to name the creatures before Eve is created. Does this fact imply that God has passed authority over creation to Adam as male or to Adam as human (and therefore also to Eve)? If Adam is given such authority before Eve is "taken out of" him, does that mean that she is excluded from that authority or that she participates in it?

Whatever our answers to those questions, we need to understand that all such questions are peripheral to the main points of the creation narrative, which are that God is the author of creation, that humanity has been called to reflect God's image by reigning over and caring for creation, and that we can only accomplish that creation mandate as male and female. The genius of the naming episode in Genesis 2 is that it serves to establish and reinforce all three of those points.

Notes on Jerome's Hebraica

I know this is incredibly self-indulgent and I always welcome someone else on the blog just posting over top of me when I do this - but-

I'm working on a brief history of shorthand in images for a presentation this fall and I had a space around the late middle ages. I needed an image of Tironian Notes circa 800.

Click on the image to enlarge.

This is a notebook of Karl Eberhart Henke from the 1960's. On this page he has recorded the text critical notes found in the margin of a 9th century manuscript of Jerome's Hebraica. These are some of the notes for Psalm 9. The third note down is a discussion of whether כַּפָּיו should read "the work of his hands" or "the work of his palms".

I don't know if knowledge of how to read these notes is being kept alive or not. Fortunately Henke's notes are very detailed. I apologize to those who have asked for other topics. I am indulging myself.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Is Adam our ruler?

In thinking about and reading the first few chapters of Genesis, in conjunction with 1 Cor. 15, I found myself surprised that we are "living beings" just like the animals. And yet we are to rule the animals. If, as some argue, naming the animals indicates dominion over them, and Adam names Eve, then does he have dominion over her? Is the relationship somehow comparable? Same but different? Does a man have dominion over his wife in the same way that people have dominion over animals?

I have to leave that for a bit and think again about Adam - this time as "head" of the human race. Does this make him ruler of mankind? Does Adam, the head of mankind, function as ruler of all his descendants?

Or are all Adam's descendants of the same flesh as him? Eve is certainly of the same flesh as Adam. She is from him, of the same species, and this is the basis for marriage, that the man and woman are of the same flesh, and become one flesh. They are not one single body, but they are in kinship, together they are of the same species.

So Adam and Eve have a kinship that they do not share with the animals. Adam recognizes Eve as being in kinship with him, having likeness with him. Together they have dominion over the animals whom they do not have kinship with. Nonetheless, animals are "living souls" and part of God's creation, but Adam is not the head of the animals, they do not share his flesh. They are not of him.

Adam, with Eve, is the ruler of the animals but not their head. He is the head of Eve but not her ruler. Until the curse, that is, then kinship is broken. If people do all the things that people do, and we know that the possible transgressions of one spouse against another are many, then one person may to try to rule the other, to create a false kinship, a domination.

Here is a passage from Cyril of Alexandria (died AD 444), De Recte Fide ad Pulch. 2.3, 268. He is struggling with describing how Christ is the head of man. He concludes that it means that Christ became human and took on kinship with man.

In this passage the Greek word ἀρχή is translated two different ways. In this first version it is translated as "source" and in the second, it is translated as "ruler". Which of these two versions makes sense? Then I will tell you who translated them. You are welcome to put your guesses in the comment section. Maybe it is obvious.
    Therefore of our race he become first head, which is source, and was of the earth and earthy. Since Christ was named the second Adam, he has been placed as head, which is source, of those who through him have been formed anew unto him unto immortality through sanctification in the spirit. Therefore he himself our source, which is head, has appeared as a human being: indeed, he, being by nature God, has a head, the Father in heaven. For, being by nature God the Word, he has been begotten from Him. Because head means source, He established the truth for those who are wavering in their mind that man is the head of woman, for she was taken out of him. Therefore one Christ and Son and Lord, the one having as head the Father in heaven, being God by nature, became for us a “head” accordingly because of his kinship according to the flesh.

    The one of the earth and dust has become to us the first head of the race, that is ruler: but since the second Adam has been named Christ, he was placed as head, that is ruler of those who through him are being transformed unto him into incorruption through sanctification by the Spirit. Therefore he on the one hand is our ruler, that is head, in so far as he has appeared as a man; indeed, he, being by nature God, has a head, the Father in heaven. For, being by nature God the Word, he has been begotten from Him. But that the head signifies the ruler, the fact that the husband is said to be the head of the wife confirms the sense for the truth of doubters: for she has been taken from him. Therefore one Christ and Son and Lord, the one having as head the Father in heaven, being God by nature, became for us a “head” accordingly because of his kinship according to the flesh.
My sense is that God is always our ruler. But only through Christ becoming human, did God, in Christ become our head, or the head of the human race. That is, "head" means to have kinship with, rather than to rule. We rule animals, but are not their head, God rules us but is not our head. God is the head of Christ because Christ is of the same substance as God. And woman is of the same substance as man. But only by Christ becoming human, could humans be of the same substance as Christ. To bridge the gulf between God and humans, Christ became human and thus our "head". This is how we can take on immortality ourselves, through Christ becoming our head.

This interpretation requires two things. First, I understand that "flesh" means "species" or "kind in Gen. and in 1 Cor. 15. Next, it is possible that there is little difference much of the time in the scriptures between ἀνηρ and ἀνθρωπος. Adam was the former head of mankind, the human race, and now Christ is the new head of the human race. It finally dawned on me how infrequently man, the male, and man, the human, are really distinguished in the Bible by a strict lexicography. Not so much. Christ is the new head of humanity, the true second Adam. He humbles himself and takes on a human form and human mortality. This is how he becomes our head. This is "headship."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hen Scratches 23-08-07

I know some people don't like my rants, even though they may be seeded with little pockets of erudition. So I try to keep my scratches as a place to honour the best in Bible translation posts elsewhere.

Mike has a good post on the meaning of literal as it is used in translation.

Dr. Marriotini has some good posts on the NIV. Much to agree with there, I thought.

Ben Witherinton has a great post on Hermeneutics.

There is a fascinating discussion going on about imprecations in the Psalms. This one is a real doozie. (How do you spell that, anyway?) Here is what Ben Witherington is reported to have said,
    I don’t know what seminary this pastor went to, but boy has he misunderstood those psalms. They don’t reveal the will of God in such matters, rather they shed God’s light of truth on what is in the wicked heart of human beings, including in David’s heart, that old murderer and adulterer.
Have some fun reading this discussion.

John is looking at the ISV and Bob is encouraging me to continue with Hebrew. I have been quite intimidated to blog about Hebrew, but I am slowly warming up to the idea that I can if I do my homework carefully.

Duane has a dog post of a different kind.

Finally, this is a great find for me, an article on Herbert of Bosham's commentary on the Hebraica, Jerome's translation of the Psalter from the Hebrew. Eva de Visscher writes,
    The examination of the Commentary on the Psalms has shed light on Herbert.s attitude towards Jews, on his knowledge of the Hebrew language, and on his awareness of exegetical and liturgical developments within Judaism throughout the ages: while he clearly admires the works and biblical interpretation of earlier Jewish scholars, his assessment of Rashi and his perception of the Jewry of his own time are much more ambivalent, and need further investigation. Another question which still remains unanswered is what audience he intended for such a specialised piece of work. This detailed survey of Herbert of Bosham’s Psalm Commentary, while undoubtedly useful for my own research, will also be of wider importance for the study of the knowledge of Hebrew among Christians, the incorporation of Jewish thought in Christian exegesis and the nature of Jewish-Christian relations in medieval Western Europe.

A long story

A long story: part I

The notes on my conversation with Dr. Waltke are still under a lot of other stuff and will stay there for a few more weeks. I never really thought of how much mess a bathroom reno could make - a lot! They are down to the joists and still assessing the feasibility of rebuilding the bathroom vs tearing the whole house down.

However, I can share another minor point. I had been reading Al Wolters' book, The Song of the Valiant Women, which I enjoyed tremendously. Now there was absolutely nothing in that book that was the least bit pro-feminist but it was an excellent read if you like 25 pages on the "distaff" and that sort of thing. I adore that stuff so I really loved the book.

I mentioned Wolter's book to Dr. Waltke, because he quotes it in his commentary on Proverbs and I wanted to show off that I had read his commentary. Since it is two volumes of about 800 pages each, I hadn't actually read it, but, well, I wanted to look smart - of course. And, I had read Wolters', 154 pages, the entire thing, that is more my speed.

Anyway ... to make a short story long .... one of the things I really liked about Wolters' book is where he discusses "wisdom" in Proverbs 31:27,
    She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.

    צוֹפִיָּה, הילכות (הֲלִיכוֹת) בֵּיתָה;
    וְלֶחֶם עַצְלוּת, לֹא תֹאכֵל.

    ṣwōfîyâ hălîḵwōṯ bêṯāh
    wəleḥem ‘aṣəlûṯ lō’ ṯō’ḵēl:

    tzofiyah, hylchvt (halichot) beitah;
    velechem atzlut, lo tochel.
Wolters comments that the first word in this verse, צוֹפִיָּה, has an unusual form - it is a participle. It is also an unusual spelling for the participle since both vowels are written in full. Wolters believes, and I can see no difficulty with this suggestion, that the word is intended to be a play on words and is a transliteration of σοφία - wisdom - in Greek.

He also mentions that the participle fits into the acrostic better, since this form begins with the consonant צ. It gives the passage a hymnic style. And it follows on the previous verse,
    "She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue."
very nicely.

I like this kind of thing and I mentioned it to Dr. Waltke, who responded that yes, wasn't it interesting and Al is now proposing to demonstrate that Junia is a transliteration of Jechoniah, and therefore, male. All Al needs to do to support this theory is prove that Junia was not that popular a name and that Jechoniah was. Something like that. I don't have this recorded. We were still at the fetching coffee stage.

So I really should email Michael Burer and let him know that he doesn't have to defend his "Junia hypothesis", he can just wait for Wolters' research. Obviously Wolters feels there is a need for a backup for the previous hypothesis.

However, in a sneak preview, I googled and found that there were approximately 250 ancient mentions of Junia, about 12 for Junius, one for Junios, and none for Junias. As for Hebrew names, Johanna was one of the five most common women's names and Jechoniah, although I have no reason to think it unpopular, is not among the top ten for men. Also, Jechoniah is already transliterated in Matt. 112 as Ἰεχονίας. It seems highly unlikely to me that this could come out as Ιουνιας as it comes from a Hebrew original יְכָנְיָה which transliterates as either yechaneyah or yəḵānəyâ. I just can't see it losing the 'k'. However, I suppose it is possible - anything is possible.

So, that was one interesting part of the conversation between Dr. Waltke and myself. I wasn't too upset about it because he seemed a little unsure of the details.

A long story: part II

After this discussion I got to thinking that I recognized Al Wolters' name and that I had been influenced by his writing elsewhere. The truth is that I like the way he writes, and share his interest in language, even if he might not accord me functional equality, female that I am.

Where I first ran into Wolters' writing was in Evangelicalism and Biblical Truth. Dr. Grudem has included in this book Wolters' full review of a book by the Kroeger's. The inclusion of this kind of material makes EF&BT look scholarly.

However, on Adrian's blog I claimed that "In fact, Dr. Grudem's entire section on Junia is riddled with factual errors". (I still think it is but won't go into the reasons here. I have defended my position and it is in Michael Burer's court now. There were other reasons as well.)

At the time Dr. Grudem responded,
    Nor does my section on Junia in Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth have any "factual errors" known to me (it has been out now for two years). I try to be extremely careful in all my citations of fact in what I publish and it seems to me inappropriate for McCarthy to make an unsupported blanket accusation that my work is "riddled with factual errors." This is intemperate, polemical language rather than argument, and I consider it a false accusation.
I felt a little embarrassed about this actually so let me show you where I got this kind of language from and why I think Dr. Grudem should edit his book Ev. Fem and Bib. Truth - while he is in the mood for such things. In his book, Grudem first quotes Tom Schreiner on the Kroeger's book I Suffer Not a Woman. Schreiner writes,
    Unfortunately, the Kroeger's reconstruction is riddled with methodological errors. ... The lack of historical rigor, if I can say this kindly, is nothing less than astonishing." Ev. Fem & Bib. Truth, page 284.
It is possible that there are errors in the Kroeger's book. I have not read it but Schreiner does not quote any unequivocal error.

However, Wolters' review is reproduced in toto and he does pinpoint some errors in the Kroegers' book. He writes
    In fact, it is not too much to say that their book is precisely the sort of thing that has too often given evangelical scholarship a bad name. There is little in the main thesis that can withstand serious scrutiny, and there is a host of subordinate detail that is misleading or downright false. ... Their scholarly documentation is riddled with elementary linguistic blunders. page 286

    Their argument is a travesty of sound scholarship. page 313
Wolters then goes on to tear apart the Kroegers' discussion of the word αυθεντειν,
    Ignoring the fact that authentein is attested in New Testament times in the meaning "have authority over", they take their point of departure in the meaning "originate,"a rare sense of the verb which is not attested before the fourth century AD.
Here Wolters shows himself to be completely unaware of the fact that authentein is not attested as having the meaning "have authority over" in New Testament times, in spite of the fact that Baldwin's notes are included in an appendix of Grudem's book. However, the notes are uncorrected and continue to report the false information that authentein had one occurence before the fourth century in which it meant "have authority over". That was a mistranslation cleared up later by Linda Belleville*.

But what are some of the other elementary linguistic blunders - surely not this. In fact, here is an example of some of the errors Wolters finds in the Kroegers' book. He complains that they misspell Hygeiea as Hygeia and Aretalogy as Aretology. If Wolters had had google when he wrote this review he would know that these words have two legitimate spellings. What a nitpick! It is possible that some of his other examples are actual errors. I haven't read the book and I have no idea.

But, here is my point. Grudem's book does have errors. He quotes studies that are not done rigourously and he doesn't deal with that. He says things in the main text that counter his footnotes. I point this out. I point out that in his other book he has not checked the lexicon on aner and he misspells Koehler-Baumgartner as Bahmgarter. He should be grateful to me and use this as an opportunity to edit his books.

But no, he says that when I use language like "riddled with factual error" this is "intemperate, polemical language." When Wolters uses this kind of language Grudem quotes this phrase of Wolters not once, but three times. He quoted the phrase of Wolters "riddled with elementary linguistic blunders" and I was exposed to this kind of language and it lodged itself in my brain to emerge the next time I ran into Dr. Grudem on the internet on Adrian's blog. There it is - I was influenced by this kind of writing and I gave in to temptation. (Anyway, I am relieved to find that I have imitated a phrase from Wolters and not Grudem.)

What I am wondering is whether there is official sanction for this kind of double standard - that language like this is eminently honourable if you are a guy, and "intemperate" if you are a gal like me. Is this in one of Dr. Grudem's charts on biblical manhood and womanhood? It is not as if I can't back up my accusations with facts.

Well, I shall still read Wolters' books anyway. They tend to have the odd fascinating tidbit in them. I just wish that people would realize that Grudem's books are somewhat in the category of the accusations which Grudem quotes against the Kroegers. I won't say anything more myself, I don't want to be thought of as "unladylike" - oh no.

I just think it is pretty sad that there can't be a level playing field. It could be a lot of fun if there was.

*Linda Belleville, In Discovering Biblical Equality:
Complementarity Without Hierarchy 2005.

Kroeger, Richard Clark and Catherine Clark Kroeger, I Suffer not a woman: Rethinking 1 Tim. 2:11-15 in light of ancient evidence. 1992.

PS Day 8 Dog, cat, fish and plumber are all still alive and intact.

Naylor responds to claims about the ESV

Bible translator Mark Naylor has responsed to recent claims made about the ESV by its general editor, Dr. J. I. Packer. Naylor begins:
A Call for a Complementary view of Bible Versions

As a missionary involved in Bible translation for the past 18 years, I was disappointed with the tone of the article “‘Packer’s Bible’ now bestseller” appearing in the BC Christian News, August 2007 Vol 27 #8. During the course of celebrating the growth in sales of the English Standard Verson (ESV) – a welcome addition to a number of excellent formal translations such as the NRSV and the NASB – disparaging and unhelpful remarks were made against other translations and translation philosophies (such as the “meaning based” philosophy that lies behind those invaluable translations that provide the spiritually hungry reader with “what was meant”).
Later in his article Naylor adds:
A few misleading statements warrant comment. Dr Packer is quoted as asserting that “other modern translations … deviate from what was said in several thousand places.” This implies that the other translations have erred or deliberately misled the Bible reader to the extent that their translation is a distortion of God’s word. Not only is such a claim disrespectful to equally dedicated and educated scholars, but it is harmful to those who depend on those translations in their daily walk with God. Rather than assuming a “deviation,” Dr Packer should recognize that a variety of expressions of the original text do not distort, but rather provide a greater expression of the richness and depth of the message.

Dr Packer is also quoted as saying that other translations present “what was meant but not what was said.” This statement is misleading for a couple of reasons. First, it implies that the ESV provides “what was said.” However, this is not possible since what was originally “said” was given in another language. In order to provide “what was said,” one must refuse to translate and read the original text as it was written in Greek or Hebrew. Second, if a translation does not communicate the meaning of the original within the forms and concepts of the receptor language, then the translation has failed in its task. All English translations, including the ESV, must take “what was said” in the original language and rephrase it with English forms and words that provide an equivalent meaning. It is precisely this interpretive task that describes the work of translation. One difference between formal (such as the ESV) and meaning based (such as the CEV and TEV) translations is that the former takes great pains to mimic the idiom, concepts and structure of the original language with less concern for clarity, while the latter sacrifices the form of the original language in order to provide the meaning of the text in ways that communicate clearly to the modern reader. Both translation philosophies are to be valued and are complementary, rather than in opposition to each other.

According to the article the ESV website claims that “thought-for-thought translations” are “of necessity more inclined to reflect the interpretive opinions of the translator and the influences of contemporary culture.” This apparent attempt to disparage meaning based translations is a sword that cuts both ways. Translation is impossible without interpretation. Why use “60 scholars who were expert in individual books,” if their interpretive expertise was not required in a “word for word” translation?
Oh, that there might be care and humility exercised in all claims made about English Bible versions! There is value in different kinds of Bible translations. Some are better for one purpose; some for another.

ISV updated

The ISV translation team has just released their latest update, version 1.4.4. Click here to view the ISV download page.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Prosody of Ps. 22:1

As follow up to John's posts about the ISV, I would like to ask him, or anyone else, to comment on the first verse of Psalm 22.

    אֵלִי אֵלִי, לָמָה עֲזַבְתָּנִי
    רָחוֹק מִישׁוּעָתִי, דִּבְרֵי שַׁאֲגָתִי

Here are three Latin translations.
    Deus, Deus meus, respice in me : quare me dereliquisti ?
    longe a salute mea verba delictorum meorum.

    Deus Deus meus quare dereliquisti me
    longe a salute mea verba rugitus mei

    Deus mi deus mi utquid dereliquisti me,
    elongates es a salute me,
    et a verbis rugitus mei
The D-R translates the Vulgate as,
    O God my God, look upon me: why hast thou forsaken me?
    Far from my salvation are the words of my sins.
Coverdales is closer to Jerome's translation from the Hebrew,

    My God, my God: why hast thou forsaken me?
    the words of my complaint are far from my health.
The King James Bible reflects the way Pagnini divides up the second line into two phrases,
    My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
    why art thou so far from helping me,
    and from the words of my roaring?
Finally, the JPS 1917 is here,
    My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me,
    and art far from my help at the words of my cry.
While the Vulgate resulted from a mistranslation in the LXX, the other two variations depend on breaking up the prosody of the Hebrew in line two in different ways. Is there now an agreed upon translation for this verse?

Living Creatures

Others have been talking about how the reading of the scriptures does not end in understanding but rather transformation - the word at work in your life.

As I wrote about Genesis - and John continues here - I realized that I was seeing much that I wasn't aware of before. I was able to see that in Hebrew, in Gen. 2:19, the "living creatures" - that is, the animals, is the same expression as the "living soul," Adam, in Gen. 2:7. נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה. We, who are Adam, are fellow creatures with all of God's creatures.

If I write about a fellow feeling for animals, at least, I am in good company with C. S. Lewis. Dogs are creatures of great emotion and individuality. Daisy, my visitor, loves treats, and sits and begs with her eyes like no dog I have ever had before. But she snaps them from my hands with such power that she almost rips my fingers off - my precious fingers. So I have to drop the treat on the floor for her. I am a little intimidated by her strength.

However, Daisy gets lonely, she longs to be rubbed and petted and just simply be close. She is getting older and life's pleasures are a slow stroll in the woods and a snooze in the company of her loved ones. I am so used to my own dog, all velvet nose and droopy jowls, at 110 pounds he nibbles tenderly on a treat sniffing it and daintily easing it from my hand as if he were a surgeon extracting a fleck of glass from your eye.

Don't forget that creation is not about who is on top. It is about an appreciation for all God made, and how he made it, every creature with its own personality. Its pretty amazing actually.

For a friend, whose dog passed away today, a better Bible would let us know that we are fellow creatures with all God's creatures and the death of an animal is an occasion for grief.

Acts 10:34 poll

Webb Mealy is a biblical scholar who is making his own translation of the New Testament, with the acronym of SENT. He has created a poll to see what others consider the best translation of Acts 10:34. Consider helping Webb by voting in his poll.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Live of the Gospel

My first Bible was a King James, and underlined in red in that Bible are the following words from 1 Corinthians 9:14:

they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel

I underlined those words in red because I took them to mean that we should practice what we preach. Those who preach the gospel should live of the gospel; that is, live in conformity to and consistency with the gospel.

Imagine my surprise when some time later I read the same verse in the NIV:

those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel

That's still an important biblical principle, but unless you're a professional minister stumping for a raise, it's not something you're likely to underline in red in your Bibles!

This is an excellent example of how a concordant translation (one which tries to translate each Greek or Hebrew word with an equivalent English word) can lead to misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Had I paid a little more attention to the context of this verse, I would have realized that "live of the gospel" referred to earning or receiving one's "living." But as a teenager reading the Bible as a series of individual verses, I completely misunderstood the meaning of the phrase.

The way the NIV (and just about every other modern translation) renders this phrase is much more clearly understandable to modern readers. And while less concordant than the KJV, it is actually surprisingly "transparent" to the original Greek. In English, we use the gerund "living" (a verbal noun) to refer to our monetary income. The Greek of 1 Corinthians 9:14 uses the infinitive (a verbal noun) to express the idea that preachers are "to live" out of the proceeds they receive from those who benefit from their message. So English translations are able to use a noun form of the verb "live" to translate the noun form of the Greek verb meaning "to live." However, preserving the "living" idea also requires the insertion of additional words such as "get" or "receive" and "their." Still, "get their living from the gospel" is pretty darn close to a "literal" or "concordant" translation.

But what if English didn't happen to use the word "living" to express the idea of income? Then we would need to step further away from a concordant translation to use a word like "support" or "income." Both the NLT and the Message use the idea of "being supported" to render the Greek verb meaning "to live." They even go so far as to identify who is doing the supporting—an identification which is not made explicit in the original Greek. Such translations are certainly more "dynamic," but they have nevertheless accurately expressed the idea being communicated in the original Greek. What's more, it could certainly be argued that they communicate the idea more clearly than those translations which use the idea of "receiving one's living"—especially if that expression is less well known to younger generations.

My misreading of 1 Corinthians 9:14 as a teenager is an excellent example of the dangers of being too "literal" in translation, as well as a warning to readers not to read verses without a proper understanding of the surrounding context. But there's a silver lining here as well: and that's that the Holy Spirit can overcome our misreading of Scripture and even use it. At the time, the idea that we should "practice what we preach" was more applicable to me than the notion that the "worker deserves his wages," and though I got that idea from the wrong verse, the Holy Spirit nevertheless used it in my life. What's more, he later showed me my mistake. To this day, I have no idea why I realized that the verse I was reading in the NIV was the same verse I had previously read as "practice what you preach" in the King James. I could easily have assumed that they were two distinct passages. I'm convinced that I made the connection and realized the mistake not because I'm particularly smart, but because at that time, God was teaching me how to read Scripture more responsibly.

Thus, God condescends to communicate with us through his Word wherever we happen to be in life and whatever our level of interpretive skill. That should be a comfort to all of us as we strive to "live of the gospel."

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hen Scratches 20-08-07

I have been reading a lot of the posts and dialogues that are going around but haven't had much time to contribute so I am just enjoying them.

John and Lingamish write about loving language so here is my favourite language post and a poem I wrote last summer.

I bought the Canoscan 70 Lide, which has replaced the 25, and it works as advertised. I am puzzled though at why the wireless router and the scanner both had extra steps in installing that are not mentioned in the manual. Somehow I never manage the regular install, there is always that extra little step. I feel like a "slow learner".

Here is a little mystery for you. What does one make of this entry in the Georgii Pasoris Manuale Novi Testamenti, Ed. Christianus Schotanus. Amsterdam: Ex officina Elzeviriana, 1664?

Click on image to enlarge.

For those who asked I am thinking of a series on the names of G*d this fall. It won't be a 'gender' series but something to tie in with the Lindisfarne stuff. I am a bit busy right now though, so I don't know when I'll start. But it is on my mind. And Waltke, I haven't forgotten.

PS. Day 6 and the cat is still alive. I have to keep the cat from dog, the fish from the cat and all of them safely hidden away from the plumber or he won't come in. Sigh.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Bible of Lausanne

I had a long chat this afternoon with my sister who is just back from Geneva. In between paragliding and hiking she slipped in a visit to the Museum of the Reformation in Geneva which opened in April 2005. One of the exhibits was about Louis Gaussen, the Swiss pastor, who, in 1840, so clearly articulated the Doctrine of Théopneustie, the doctrine that scripture is God-breathed.

Reading up on Gaussen I came upon an exemplary site on all the French translations of the Bible - with an article on the history of Bible translation in French. Finally I am able to catch up a bit on the translations of the reformation in Suisse-Romande.

So here is Gaussen's core teaching on the inspiration,
    Gaussen’s defense of the full and detailed inspiration of Scripture by God is one of the principal works on this subject by any Christian theologian. He advocates what has come to be called the “organic” view of inspiration, a word that unfortunately conveys little information to the reader’s mind. His view, based firmly and completely on Scripture itself, is that God not only controlled which words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs were to be set down as Scripture, but also controlled all human history so that at the exact time chosen, the author of those words would be properly prepared and available to write the words that God dictated to him. The result is an exact statement of God’s thoughts in human language, language perfectly adequate to express divine thoughts.
Reading up on Gaussen I came upon an exemplary site on all the French translations of the Bible - with an article on the history of Bible translation in French. Finally I am able to catch up a bit on the translations of the reformation in Suisse-Romande. Here is a description of Gaussen's Bible,

La Bible de Lausanne
    Motivated by the conviction that the Scriptures communicate the very mind of God, a group of Piétistes Protestants set to work under the direction of Louis Gaussen then Louis Burnier. The translation principle is that of a concordance (cohérence) pushed to the extreme: each time that it can, the same Greek word is rendered by the same French word. Certain not very comprehensible passages, are not artificially illumined by a translation which would aim at glossing over the difficulties of the original text. Certain words, come into the language from through Latin, are avoided: one does not speak any more a "Evangel" but of "good news", of "Church" but of "assembly", of "apostle" but of "envoy". The vocabulary grows rich thus by several hundreds of new words. The team itself corrects certain passages where literalism had been pushed too far. The New Testament appears initially in 1839, then the Psalms in 1854 and the remainder of the Old Testment between 1861 and 1872. This Bible of Lausanne knew a very broad audience among the specialists. It deeply influenced the work of Louis Ségond.
What is fascinating is that while this work did not have a wide readership itself, it provided a foundation for a later Bible, the Louis Ségond Bible, which became a classic version. This Bible of Lausanne was not a revision, but a scholarly concordant Bible, not really fit for wide use but nevertheless a effort which contributed to later representation of the scriptures in French.

Let's not forget that while translations have connections over time, there is also tremendous crossover between languages. Think of the connections between Luther and Tyndale, or Gaussen, Darby and Eberfelder, Bible translation stew. The Good News Bible that had so many international connections and many more.

Friday, August 17, 2007

My Bible Translation Resources

To continue on from the audio resources I mentioned in the last post, I thought I would post those resources which I use on the BBB regularly. I only use free web-based resources. This is not a conscious decision but has simply evolved. I am not familiar with Bible software and started using Greek on the internet in the classical Greek context originally.

Bible Translations

BibleGateway is usually my first stop where I look at a phrase, chapter of verse in the KJV and a few other translations. I used to have a link to a KJ facsimile version with original notes but that has recently disappeared. If anyone else knows of one I would like to have that again. BibleGateway has translations in many other languages as well.

Studylight has many more English translations that BibleGateway, but doesn't show paragraph formatting. Most historic versions are available through Studylight.

Online Translations of the Bible has links to some other lesser known Bibles.

The Unbound Bible where you can display multiple historic versions at once.

The Bible Tool is also an excellent resource with the German Schlacter Bible.

The Bible Bureau maintained by Sylvanus is a delight with 110 translations!

Other Bibles which I consult from time to time are the Gothic, Olivétan, Source, NETS (Septuagint) etc. and the Geneva Bible with Footnotes .

Greek and Hebrew Text

Zhubert has the Septuagint and New Testament critical Greek text, as well as a lot of parsing and lexical support. I haven't used these features but they seem incredibly convenient and comprehensive. Please read the last entry at Zhubert. I would hate to lose his valuable site as a resource.

A Hebrew-English Bible has a parallel Hebrew text with JPS 1917 translation with mp3 files. These are the ones recommended by Iyov.

Audio Files



Lexicons and lexical support

Perseus Digital Library has the full Liddell Scott Lexicon has the Neχt Bible which I have used occasionally. The NET Bible also has good textual critical notes.


I usually cut and paste but that isn't always possible if changing a form or quoting from an extra-Biblical source. I typically would use the Greek and Hebrew keyboards bundled with Windows, but in a pinch there are online keyboards available for use at an internet café, for example.




Hebrew Auto-transliterate is a nifty little tool which turns Hebrew into highly readable Roman script. Here is an example.
b'reshit, bara elohim, et hashamayim, v''et ha'aretz. What say you? I have not yet found the Hebrew scriptures already transliterated but there are many times when I feel I would like the transliteration to discuss certain features in the Hebrew text.


P46 Index

Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts

Well, that's it folks. Other than this I use Google like everyone else and if that fails Iyov has been known to put the full text of a translation, like the Durham Gospels, into the comment zone. It is much appreciated. He is in touch with a lot of electronic resources.

Of course, I use books a great deal and tend to invest money that way rather than in software at this point. Please suggest other favourite resources which you use. I am always open to learning something new. I know there are many other sites out there with resource lists like Chris's and Mark's but these things can be very custom-fit as we all have our own quirks. So this is my list. What do you consider indispensable.