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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Silencing the Daughters of God - 1 Cor 14:34 & 35

I just discovered that Kevin Knox, who comments periodically on the BBB under his blog name of codepoke, recently blogged the same points on the same verses that I did in my post on Translating biblical quotes. Here is Codepoke's post: The Familyhood Church: Presubuteras: Silencing the Daughters of God - 1 Cor 14:34 & 35.

Codepoke, sorry for reinventing the wheel! But I am glad for any added exposure that reference to an oral law gets for understanding 1 Cor. 14:34-35.

Also check out Codepoke's other related posts in his series.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Advantages of natural language Bible translation

There are many advantages for English Bible translators to translate using natural English. Typically, a high percentage of users of an English Bible version will be native speakers of some dialect of English. As speakers of that dialect, they usually speak and write using natural English syntax and lexical combinations.

If a Bible for such people is worded in natural English, it will communicate its meanings most effectively to such people. Cognitive scientists have recognized for years from scientific studies that various kinds of "noise" in a communication channel add to the complexity of understanding a message. Communicative "noise" can be anything which detracts from a natural linguistic exchange. It can be actual noise, perhaps dissonant music in the background which makes some people's minds, anyway, unable to focus well on a message. The more prevalent kind of noise experienced by English Bible users is dissonance that occurs because what they read is not written in their dialect of English. It takes greater mental effort and greater time to try to decode messages which are not in one's own dialect.

Notice how easily the following natural English wordings are processed by you, if you are a native speaker of some standard dialect of English:
  1. John is sick today.
  2. Should we shop for groceries after supper?
  3. Mary sprained her ankle this morning.
  4. I've been praying for you every day.
  5. Adam made love to his wife Eve.
  6. Finally, the devil took Jesus to Jerusalem and had him stand on top of the temple.
  7. On the day of Pentecost all the Lord's followers were together in one place.
Now notice how much more time and energy is required to process unnatural English:
  1. John is experiencing illness today.
  2. Should we obtain that which can sustain us after we partake of our evening meal?
  3. I make petitions to God for you upon every remembrance of you.
  4. Adam knew his wife.
  5. In the end, the devil took Jesus into Jerusalem and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple.
  6. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.
  7. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
Natural language translations not only take less time and energy to process, but they actually communicate messages more accurately. There is less artificial ambiguity which you may have to wade through to try to figure out what message was intended.

If we use the older traditional and unnatural wording of "Adam knew his wife and she conceived," a high percentage of speakers of standard dialects of English will experience a mental blip on the word "know". That is not a natural, normal way of referring to the union of a man and woman that results in conception. If, on the other hand, we read either of the following:
  1. Adam made love to his wife Eve. She became pregnant
  2. Then Adam had intercourse with his wife, and she became pregnant.
there is no mental blip. I think every native speaker of a standard dialect of English understands immediately what they have read. The message comes through without "noise". They can concentrate on the message and not on any communicative "bumps" due to use of obsolete or other unnatural wordings for current, natural good quality English.

If we translate using natural language forms, we more clearly represent the kind of language which was used in most of the original biblical language texts. Those texts do not, on the whole, consist of language forms which came from a classical form of Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek. Rather, on the whole, they were written using language forms which most people would have recognized as being within the range of common usage by most speakers of the language.

Translations which do not use natural language forms distort people's perception of the Bible. They can give people the idea that the Bible is about a distant God, a God who is out of touch with most of humanity, who does not speak their language. They give the idea that to be "spiritual" one needs to use some language or dialect other than their own. They communicate the impression that the Bible was written in a sacred language and that we probably should communicate that way also. But neither is true.

The wonder of the incarnation is that the sacred became fully clothed in ordinary humanity.

Others can experience that wonder most accurately and clearly if they hear about it with natural wordings of their own language. This doesn't mean resorting to slang or other colloquialisms. It doesn't mean dumbing down language. It simply means using language which is natural and good sounding to the most number of speakers of that language.

I like to read that kind of language. How about you?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Translating biblical quotes

Many quotations in the biblical texts are easy to spot. Typically they will have some kind of quote margin indicating where they begin. For instance, in the New Testament it is common to find such pre-quote margins in the more literal translations as:
And Jesus began to speak, saying,
And Jesus answered them saying,
English Bible translators do not usually have much difficulty indicating where such ordinary quotations begin and end. There are a few passages where the boundaries of quotations are debated, such as in John 3, where it is not clear where Jesus' words to Nicodemus end and John's comments following them begin. But even there, we do clearly know, at least, where Jesus' comments begin.

But there are a few passages where many translators have not been aware that they are translating a quote. And in such passages it can make a great deal of difference whether or not a translation makes clear that part of the original message was a quotation.

I am thinking of two such passages in 1 Corinthians. First, let us remind ourselves that the book of 1 Corinthians is a response to a letter which the Corinthians had sent to Paul, asking him a number of questions. We do not have any copies of their original letter, but we do have several indications throughout the book that Paul is responding to their letter (e.g. 1 Cor. 7:1). Paul typically begins a section where he is responding to the letter from the Corinthians with the words "Now concerning ..." (1 Cor. 7:1, 25; 8:1; 12:1; 16:1, 12, 9)

1 Cor. 7:1 is the first passage where there is an important difference in meaning whether Paul is quoting the Corinthians or speaking for himself. Traditionally, English versions have not clearly indicated that Paul is doing anything in 7:1 other than speaking for himself. It might be possible to understand from the traditional wordings and punctuation that Paul was quoting the Corinthians, but many people would not get that understanding from these translations:
Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. (KJV)

Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. (ASV)

Now concerning the matters about which you wrote. It is well for a man not to touch a woman. (RSV)

Now, to deal with the matters you wrote about.
A man does well not to marry. (TEV/GNT)

Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. (NIV; with a footnote indicating that the second sentence may be a quote)
A number of more recent translations, however, clearly indicate that Paul is quoting the Corinthians, which is, in my opinion, correct:
Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is well for a man not to touch a woman.” (NRSV)

Now I will answer the questions that you asked in your letter. You asked, “Is it best for people not to marry?” (CEV)
Now with regard to the issues you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” (NET)

Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: "It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman." (ESV)

About the things you wrote: "It is good for a man not to have relations with a woman." (HCSB)

Now for the matters you wrote about: "It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman." (TNIV)
This is a case where English Bible translation is catching up with biblical scholarship, and this makes for more accurate translation. Paul was not telling the Corinthians that a man should be celibate. Instead, Paul was addressing that question from the Corinthians.

The second passage in Corinthians where most Bible translators have yet to catch up with biblical scholarship about a quotation is 1 Cor. 14:33-35. Most English versions assume that these two verses are instructions from Paul, quoting from "the law", for example:
For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. (NIV)
Readers who have no background knowledge other than the translation they are using will assume that Paul is referring to something from "the law" in the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible), or, more specifically, the Mosaic Law. But it is impossible to find any statement in the Hebrew Bible that "women are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission."

Exegetes have suggested several options to deal with this problem. Another problem, often discussed by exegetes, is that of an apparent contradiction since earlier in the book (e.g. 1 Cor. 12:7) Paul tells how women should prophecy:
but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head—it is one and the same thing as having her head shaved.
It sounds like a contradiction to give instructions for women to prophecy (presumably in a congregation) and then, later in the same book, tell women to be silent in a congregation.

What "law", then, is Paul referring to? No such law is found in the Hebrew Bible (or its Greek translation, the Septuagint). But, there was an oral law which contains some restrictions upon women speaking. Rabbis had developed this oral law as a commentary upon the written laws which are found in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). Jesus referred often to these oral laws when he taught. Later they were written down as the Talmud. Paul surely learned the oral law when he studied under Rabbi Gamaliel (Acts 22:3).

UPDATE: Earlier versions of this post contained a number of quotes from the Talmud which I took from secondary sources. This section of my post generated many comments which debated the accuracy of the quotes themselves and the accuracy of references to their locations in the Talmud. I don't want disagreements about details of quotations from the Talmud to detract from the main point here, which is that there were statements in the oral law restricting the speech of women and Paul may have been referring to such restrictions in 1 Cor. 14:34. I have therefore deleted the questioned section from my post and have substituted the following paragraph which I think more of us can agree upon:
The oral law asks men to avoid unnecessary talk with women (Mishnah Avot 1:5). It forbids women from singing in the presence of men, or making a blessing over the Torah in the presence of men.
Obviously, Jesus did not agree with any oral laws that he felt improperly restricted women. He spoke to women in public as well as in private. He spoke to Mary and her sister Martha. He spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well. He never gave credence to any of the discriminatory laws against women in the oral law.

I suggest that it is the oral law from which Paul is quoting or paraphrasing in 1 Cor. 14:34. Paul does not agree with that part of the oral law he cited, nor should we.

I know of only two English translations which reflect biblical scholarship which has connected 1 Cor. 14 to the oral law. It is the New Testament in Modern English (Centenary Translation), by Helen Montgomery, first published in 1924, and most recently re-published by Broadman & Holman in 1988, and even more recently cited by Cheryl Schatz in her well presented DVD series. (Montgomery's translation is available from Montgomery reflected good biblical scholarship when she makes it clear that 1 Cor. 14:34-35 is a quote:
"In your congregation" [you write], "as in all the churches of the saints, let the women keep silence in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak. On the contrary let them be subordinate, as also says the law.* And if they want to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home, for it is shameful for a woman to speak in church."
Montgomery included this footnote to the word "law" in the preceding translation wording:
*This can only refer to the oral law of the Jews, as no such prohibition is found in the Law. Paul is probably quoting a sentence from the Judaizers.
The second translation which reflects the connection to the oral law is The Source, by Ann Nyland, a Greek classicist. She translates 1 Cor. 14:34-35 as:
Paul now quotes from the letter which the Corinthian assembly sent to him.
"The women must be silent in the assemblies: for they are not allowed to speak, but to be supportive, just as indeed the law states. And if they want to learn something, they are to ask their own husbands at home; for it is a disgrace for women to speak in assembly."
Paul next chastises the Corinthians, apparently for following the oral law silencing women:
36. Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only ones it has reached?)
37. Anyone who claims to be a prophet, or to have spiritual powers, must acknowledge that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord.
38. Anyone who does not recognize this is not to be recognized. (NRSV)
Dr. Nyland translates Paul's disagreement even more forcefully:
Utter rubbish! Did the Word of God come originally from you? Utter rubbish! Were you the only ones that it reached! If anyone thinks they are a prophet or spiritual, they are to realize tht what I'm writing to you is the Lord's commandment! But if anyone is mistaken about this, then they are certainly mistaken!
As did Montgomery, Dr. Nyland footnotes information about the quotation in verses 34-35:

These words are a quotation from the letter sent to Paul by the church in

Corinth. He quotes from this letter in 7:1, refers to it in 7:25, 36, 39; 8:1;

9:3. The language in the quotation resembles known Jewish oral law, cf. S. Aalen, “A Rabbinic Formula in 1 Cor. 14,34”, in F. Cross (ed.) Studia Evangelica, II-III. Papers, Berlin, 1964, pp. 513-25; Holmes, op.cit., p. 235.

Sometimes it requires careful research to discover background information needed for making more accurate Bible translations. But better Bibles reflect such accuracy, as we have seen from translations of two quoted passages, above, in 1 Corinthians. And you can quote me on that!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Literal translation and literal interpretation

On this blog we sometimes post evidence that literal translation can obscure the original meanings of the biblical texts. This is especially true of translation of figurative language of the Bible.

Today Aaron O'Kelley blogged his disapproval of the term "literal interpretation." I understand Aaron's concern and may even share it, to some extent. But our preferences for terms sometimes are of little consequence where it really counts, which is how a majority of people understand and use a term.

I personally do not like calling translations such as the TEV, CEV, and NLT paraphrases. I have tried to explain over the years that, technically, a paraphrase is simply a restatement of something in the same language. But I have been fighting a losing battle when it comes to use of the term paraphrase by ordinary people interested in Bible translation issues.

Aaron explains a usage of "literal interpretation" which he approves of:
In our day, the word "literal" has undergone something of a shift in meaning. Today, "literal" is often opposed to "figurative." "Jesus died on a cross" is considered a literal statement, but "God's mighty right hand brought Israel out of Egypt" is considered a figurative statement, because God does not have a material body, which means necessarily that he does not have a right hand, at least in the way we normally conceive of right hands. I believe these distinctions must be recognized when one approaches Scripture, and if one prefers to use the term "literal" in opposition to "figurative," then I have no quarrel with that use of the term. In this sense, then, many parts of the Bible should be interpreted literally and many parts should not.
I agree with Aaron and have often posted on this blog about translation of figurative language in the Bible.

Aaron goes on to explain a usage of "literal interpretation" which he disapproves of:
Sometimes, however, I hear the word "literal" used in another sense, and it is this sense that I think is wrong. Some people say, "Do you take that literally?" to mean, "Do you think that text should be applied to our lives as it stands?" An example of this usage of the term would be to say, "I do not interpret 1 Timothy 2:11-15 literally because I think women should not be forbidden from serving as pastors today," or, conversely, "I interpret 1 Timothy 2:11-15 literally because I think women should be forbidden from serving as pastors today." In actuality, the word "literally" does not belong in this kind of conversation.
While I understand Aaron's point, I think there are so many people who use the term "literal interpretation" for precisely this approach to any Bible passage, namely, that of taking it at its face value, with the normal meaning that most people would get from it, without reference to any historical, cultural, or theological context which might lead us not to understand the passage as it initially sounds. For many people, find some meaning to a passage other than the most direct one that seems to present itself is akin to not taking the Bible seriously, not believing it as we should, and even, sometimes, beginning the "slippery slope" towards liberalism, postmodernism, or any other approach to the Bible which is disapproved of by those who approach the Bible as, well, "literally" as possible.

There is a big boulder to push for Aaron or any of the rest of us to try to get people not to use the term "literal interpretation" in the way that Aaron doesn't like.

For me, even though I may not like the labels some people use, I am beginning to accept them. After all, I should, I guess, since I so often say that I am a descriptive linguist, a linguist who simply observes how people actually use language, rather than a prescriptive linguist, who tells people how they ought to speak.

At this point in my life, my greater concern is not with labels, but with the methodology behind them. The longer I work in Bible translation and the more I study the Bible seriously, the more I have come to realize that any overall literal approach to the Bible has problems that we must be aware of. I do not believe in overall allegorical or symbolic interpretations of the Bible, except for those parts of the Bible which seem to have been written symbolically, such as parts of the book of Revelation. And I do not believe that we should translate the Bible literally *unless* doing so is the most accurate way to convey the original meaning of a passage to those who will use the translation.

So, literalness has a place, but its place is determined by original meaning and the purpose for a translation and the nature of a translation audience. And original authorial meaning is something that I will continue to believe in, no matter what label is given to it. It is that original meaning which needs to be translated accurately, clearly, and naturally into any language.

How does this relate to translation of passages which some take at face value and others do not? I think this question is one which cannot be easily answered here, nor in any single post, but which needs to be addressed by everyone concerned about adequate Bible translation. Jesus taught, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even life itself—such a person cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26 TNIV) But there is no indication that anyone who heard him understand that statement literally. It is more likely that they understood his speaking about "hating" relatives to be hyperbolic exaggeration, a typical technique used by Jewish rabbis. If people use a literal translation of this passage and do understand that Jesus is not teaching that we should actually hate our relatives, then we have not accurately translated for those people.

And I am beginning to think that if Paul did not intend 1 Timothy 2:11-15 to be understood to teach that women should be prohibited from being teaching pastors, we should think twice before translating that passage in a way that that meaning is communicated. And now I realize that I have opened a huge can of worms. Many will say that I have now gone from advocating just translation of the Bible to interpretive translation. But I don't see that there is a qualitative difference between translating a passage with an interpretation that has much evidence that it was the original intending meaning and translating biblical idioms and figures of speech in a way that their figurative meaning is understood accurately in translation. In each case accuracy involves translating original meaning in a way that translation users can get the same understanding that the original authors intended their audiences to get from what they wrote.

I do not believe that we should simply inject our personal interpretations of the Bible anywhere we wish. Instead, as translators we need to work within the community of faith and scholarship, attempting to translate each passage in a way that the best scholarship seems to indicate is the most likely original meaning. If that means going against traditional interpretations, then we may need to do that for the sake of the most accurate Bible translation. Unfortunately, "best scholarship" is an ideal. There is currently no consensus scholarship for the interpretation of some Bible passages including 1 Timothy 2:11-15. But I think that there is a growing openness on the part of biblically devout people to use something other than a "literal interpretation" (sorry about that, Aaron!) of that passage.

Head and body in Ephesians 5:23

(Revised version of this post, 24th November; the changes are only in the final paragraphs, after the quotation of verses 25-27, where I have added material about "household codes".)

In the light of our recent discussions on the meaning of kefalē, the Greek word for "head", I came across an interesting little point in Ephesians 5:23 today. Here is the Greek text of the second half of the verse:
ὡς καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς κεφαλὴ τῆς ἐκκλησίας, αὐτὸς σωτὴρ τοῦ σώματος
literally translated:
as also the Christ [is] Head of the church, he [is] Saviour of the body.
I'm not sure why TNIV rearranges this to:
as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour.
(nor why "Saviour" merits a capital letter but "head" does not). For the identification of the body with the church is left implicit here, and in verse 30, although it is of course explicit in 1:22-23. Indeed, and here I partially correct what I noted in a comment on a previous post, Colossians 1:18 is the only place where Paul explicitly describes Christ as "the Head of the body". Also, despite the NASB mistranslation of Colossians 2:10, the only place where Christ is called "Head over" anything at all is in Ephesians 1:22-23, where he is described as:
head over everything for the church, which is his body (TNIV).
Thus there is no justification for the claim that Christ is "head over the church", or for assuming that "head of the body" implies a hierarchy.

The interesting point in 5:23 is that here we have two parallel descriptions of Christ, "Head of the church" and "Saviour of the body". I note that the second elements of the parallel, "church" and "body", are known to be identified with one another; also that there is some kind of cross-over or chiasmus here in that "Head" and "body" go together as part of the same metaphor, whereas "church" and "Saviour" go together as less metaphorical and more theological language. This strongly suggests to me that Paul has deliberately constructed a synonymous parallel pair here, with "Head of the church" and "Saviour of the body" effectively having the same meaning. Indeed we could probably unpack the chiasmus and understand Paul as saying "Head of the body, i.e. Saviour of the church".

This is significant in that it shows us what Paul means by "Head", when referring to Christ. Apparently he means not so much "Ruler" as "Saviour".

If so, what are the implications for the first half of the verse, where Paul states that
the husband is the head of the wife (TNIV)?
The connection with "as" makes it certain that "head" is being used in the same way in both halves of the verse. We must therefore conclude that the husband is to be understood as the saviour of the wife. How so? For an explanation we need to move on to verses 25-27:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless (TNIV).
Christ by his sacrificial love as expressed on the cross was able to save the church. And in the same way husbands are expected to "save" their wives by loving them in a self-sacrificial way.

Thus here in Ephesians 5:22-6:9 (and similarly in Colossians 3:18-4:1) Paul takes the traditional form of a "household code", with instructions for various groups, and turns it on its head. In the traditional form, wives were told to submit to their husbands and husbands to rule over their wives, but Paul's version is very different.

Paul does not omit the instruction for wives to submit to their husbands, but transforms it by putting it immediately after the instruction to all in Ephesians 5:21:
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (TNIV).
Thus the submission of a wife to her husband is only an example of the submission of any believer to any other, including by implication the husband to his wife.

Paul does omit the instruction for men to rule over their wives; indeed this is nowhere taught in the Bible. Paul replaces it with "Husbands, love your wives" (5:25), further explained as quoted above. This omission of "rule" must be significant; the point is surely that for a husband there is no place here for ruling over his wife, but only for love and self-sacrifice.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Biblical thanksgiving

The Bible is full of expressions of thanks to God for his blessings. Here are some of them, translated to English (for which I am very thankful):
Thank the LORD God of Israel through all eternity!
Amen and amen! (Ps. 41:13 GW)

I will always thank you, God, for what you have done;
in the presence of your people
I will proclaim that you are good. (Ps. 52:9 TEV)

Enter the Temple gates with thanksgiving;
go into its courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise him. (Ps. 100:4 TEV)

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (1 Cor. 15:57 RSV, NRSV, ESV, NET, TEV, HCSB)

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Cor. 9:15 NIV, TNIV, NRSV, NET)

Don't worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. (Phil. 4:6 CEV)
Happy Thanksgiving to each of our American blog visitors. And may all of us, regardless of our citizenship, thank God daily for how good he is to us.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Mother tongue translation

Translation professionals teach that translation into a language should only be done by a mother tongue speaker of that language. There are schools which teach translators for the United Nations, commercial translation services, and Bible translation how to translate well. The largest Bible translation organization, SIL, currently commits large amounts of time and resources training mother tongue speakers to translate the Bible accurately and naturally into their own languages.

Many of us have read appliance manuals or other materials which have not been translated (or composed) by mother tongue speakers of English. We quickly recognize various language oddities in what we are reading. Often we can understand what is meant by what is written, but we know, as mother tongue speakers of English, that we would not say or write it that way. It's just not the way that English expresses that idea.

Some English Bibles sound like they were translated by mother tongue speakers of English. I personally find that refreshing. My head and my heart respond better to English which follows the rules of grammar and lexicon for English. I understand more accurately and respond, spiritually and emotively, better to English which follows its standard patterns, as English is spoken and written by millions of its mother tongue speakers.

Sadly, many English Bibles sound like they were translated by individuals who are not native speakers of English. I find those Bibles more difficult to understand. They introduce ambiguities, lack of clarity, and other difficulties which were not part of the original biblical language texts.

Here are some Bible translation wordings which sound to me like they were written by mother tongue translators. In an attempt to help us evaluate the wordings objectively, I will not give the names of the versions or the Bible references.
What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!

Is that a joyous choir I hear? No, it is the Lord himself exulting over you in happy song.

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

Deacons must also be of good character. They must not be two-faced or addicted to alcohol.

When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don't resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence.
In contrast, here are some wordings which sound like they were not written by mother tongue translators:
Because of the ground that is dismayed, since there is no rain on the land, the farmers are ashamed; they cover their heads.

The stirring of your inner parts and your compassion are held back from me.

There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.

The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way,
Before His works of old.

If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength, but wisdom helps one to succeed.

And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy

If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.

For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.
Can you spot wordings in the second group of verses which do not sound quite like any kind of standard English? Can you mention other wordings in English Bibles which you have spotted which do not sound like they were translated by mother tongue speakers of English? Feel free to list them in the comments to this post.

Perhaps everyone who works on an English Bible translation team should be required to pass a test demonstrating that they are able to write as a mother tongue speaker of English. Or maybe they should be required to attend a course which trains mother tongue translators how to translate the Bible into their own language.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Good News Translation reviewed

Don't miss another of Rick Mansfield's interesting reviews of his top 10 favorite English Bible versions. This last week he posted his review of the Good News Translation. As usual, Rick puts himself into his review in a way that draws me in, wanting me to read more. I admit I'm a bit prejudiced: The GNT was one of the first English versions I read that really made sense to me. It spoke my dialect of English. It is the pulpit Bible of the church my wife and I attended for the past 30 years. Our children grew up on the GNT and memorized Scripture from it.

Today I happen to prefer the CEV, American Bible Society's successor to the Good News Bible (but not a revision of it), because as a Bible translator myself, the CEV attempts to word even more of the Hebrew and Greek language forms in their natural English translation equivalents than did the Good News Bible. And when I can hear Scripture worded naturally as I normally speak and write, it communicates more accurately and clearly to me. But there are still some passages where careful Bible students can prefer GNT wordings over CEV wordings. As always, each Bible version needs to be evaluated on a verse-by-verse basis, for the most thorough examination of translation quality.

Thanks, Rick, for another helpful review.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Does kefale mean "leader"?

Metacrock's Blog: November 2005. In this post J.L. Hinman discusses the meaning of the Greek word kefale which literally referred to the head of a body, but was also used as a metaphor. Hinman interacts with debates over the meaning of kephale, including claims by complementarian Wayne Grudem and egalitarians Catherine Clark Kroeger and Berkeley and Alvera Mickelson.

The discussion is relevant to Bible translation since how we understand the word "head" as a metaphor in English may or may not be the same as the meaning of Greek kephale when it is used as a metaphor.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Women Leaders: Prostatis

In the Greek New Testament women are leaders, deacons, and apostles, and rulers, tyrants and providers, and heads of their household. Most of this is clear in English, but not all.

Think of Phoebe, the patron. She is the προστάτις πολλῶν, the patron of many. 'Patron' is one acceptable way to translate this word. But what does the lexicon say, and what would a reader of Greek notice in this word?

Prostatis is listed in the Liddell Scott Lexicon only as the feminine form of the masculine prostates. So one can really only go by that meaning. What does it say?
    1. one who stands before
    a) front-rank man
    b) leader, chief, administrator
    2. president or presiding officer
    3. one who stands before and protects, guardian, champion, patron
    4. one who stands before a god, suppliant
    5. prostate gland
So how did the NIV come to translate this as 'help'?

    I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me. Romans 16:1-2 NIV
When it is a man, let us call him the ruler and leader, but when it is a woman, let us call her a help, a great help to many. In English, some have derived the notion of the male leader and the female helper, but in Greek, they were the same word.

    I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me. Rom. 16:1-2 TNIV

Kenneth Bailey remarks about prostatis,

    Furthermore, Phoebe is called a prostatis over/to many. This word was applied to the leader of worship in a Graeco-Roman temple as well as to a governor, a chieftain, and the leader of a democracy.7 Dunn argues for patron/protector, or leader/ruler.8 A ninth century Arabic version translated this phrase, ‘qa’ ima ‘ala katherin wa ‘alayya’, in authority over many and over myself as well.
How best can a translation convey the association of prostatis with the act of ruling, leading or managing described in 1 Tim 5:14.

    One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; KJV.
    This word 'rule' is from the same root as prostates.

    This, in fact, is the only reference I can find in the Bible about a man ruling or leading the household. Of course, it meant his children and not his wife. I can't find the verse that says a man is to lead his wife. What I can find is the verse that says that a woman must rule the house.

      I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. 2 Tim. 5:14 KJV.
    In each case, the man, and then the woman, is to rule, lead, manage, guide the house. Nothing is said about one spouse leading the other. In fact, both men and women feature as leaders in the New Testament.

    Here is another reference to leaders.

      τοὺς πρώτους Acts 13:50 leading men
      γυναικῶν τε τῶν πρώτων Acts 17:4 leading women
    Once again there has been a tradition of translating these as 'leading men' and 'prominent women', demonstrated in the NIV. There might have been a reticence to reveal to readers of English that women were leaders, and that Greek vocabulary placed women on par with men in terms of the words used to describe them.

    The household codes, the headship passages, derived from customs and beliefs established and recorded in Greek, are the exception in the scriptures. These codes already existed in Greek, we know this, and Paul and Peter had to come to terms with them. They do not establish how women were generally refered to in the gospels or the rest of the New Testament.

    For those sticklers who will search the NT for an exclusively male reference to leaders, I will mention that there is one reference to 'leading brothers' in Acts which has no parallel for women. In Acts 15, two leading men from among the brothers were sent with a letter to the Gentile believers, with a ruling on whether Gentile believers had to be circumcised and obey the law of Moses.

    That is just the kind of issue that men can deal with among themselves. I don't think there are any women compaining that this letter was written and sent by men, leading men, as the Greek says.

    In the meantime, I am still looking. In the gospels, in Acts and the epistles, outside of the household codes, when the Greek refers to real women, I have not found any distinct male and female roles. The supposed 'distinctions' between men and women do not appear in the story of the early church, at least not in the Greek.

    On the contrary, women provide for the disciples financially, they lead their own households to Christ, they have churches in their house, they are apostles, (not among the 12, who represent the 12 tribes of Israel) they are prophets, teachers and deacons. They are real women.

    Thanks to Michael Kruse for posting about Kenneth Bailey.

    Some verses I am glad are not in my Bible...

    ...although they are in some people's:
    Sin began with a woman, and we must all die because of her. Don't let a bad wife have her way, any more than you would allow water to leak from your cistern. If she won't do as you tell her, divorce her.
    Where does that come from? Believe it or not, these words are in the Good News Translation of the Bible, recently reviewed by Rick Mansfield. But they are in a book which I do not accept as authoritative. I don't think I could accept a Christian faith which required me to accept the above as authoritative teaching.

    Now before you hold up your hands in horror, let me explain! These verses are from the book of Sirach, or Ecclesiasticus, 25:24-26. This is one of the "deuterocanonical" books in the so-called Apocrypha, which are not accepted as authoritative by most Protestant Christians. The following extract from Article VI of the Thirty-Nine Articles of my Anglican church explains the matter well:
    And the other Books (as Hierome [= Jerome] saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine; such are these following:

    The Third Book of Esdras, The rest of the Book of Esther,
    The Fourth Book of Esdras, The Book of Wisdom,
    The Book of Tobias, Jesus the Son of Sirach,
    The Book of Judith, Baruch the Prophet,
    The Song of the Three Children, The Prayer of Manasses,
    The Story of Susanna, The First Book of Maccabees,
    Of Bel and the Dragon, The Second Book of Maccabees.
    (The list is of course of the books of the so-called Apocrypha.)

    Actually the Greek of verse 26 is even worse than the Good News Translation version: εἰ μὴ πορεύεται κατὰ χεῖράς σου ἀπὸ τῶν σαρκῶν σου ἀπότεμε αὐτήν, literally "if she does not go according to your hands [probably referring to when you hit her], cut her off your flesh". The Hebrew text of Sirach seems to be missing at this point.

    In the light of this passage, I am glad that my church does not apply Sirach/Ecclesiasticus "to establish any doctrine". (In fact I don't think even the Roman Catholic church does this; they certainly don't accept "If she won't do as you tell her, divorce her.") I am glad that what is written in my authoritative Bible has a very different flavour:
    12 Sin came into the world through one man, and his sin brought death with it.
    (Romans 5:12, GNT)
    3 A man should fulfil his duty as a husband, and a woman should fulfil her duty as a wife, and each should satisfy the other's needs. ... 10 For married people I have a command which is not my own but the Lord's: a wife must not leave her husband; 11 but if she does, she must remain single or else be reconciled to her husband; and a husband must not divorce his wife.
    (1 Corinthians 7:4,10-11, GNT)
    Thanks to Ethel Saltz on the b-hebrew list for bringing the Sirach passage to my attention.

    TNIV Robified

    Rob Horton is "robifying" the TNIV. That is, he is using the TNIV as a base and paraphrasing it so that it is even more meaningful to him. So far, he has completing paraphrasing TNIV Galatians and 1 Thess. 1.

    Thursday, November 16, 2006

    Paul, Sex and Marriage: series completed

    I have now completed posting to my blog my series What did Paul really say about sex and marriage? 1 Corinthians 7:1-16, except that I do intend at some time to make the references in the text into links to the bibliography. This student essay from 1988 seems to me remarkably relevant to current discussions here and elsewhere.

    Wednesday, November 15, 2006

    Anglicans on Bible versions

    In a forum Anglicans have been discussing which English versions they use most often. A new post was added to the discussion thread yesterday. Some of you might enjoy seeing which versions the Anglicans who have posted prefer. Those of you who are Anglicans might even want to register on that forum and join the discussion.

    Tuesday, November 14, 2006

    Junia: a parallel? 1 Corinthians 6:4

    I have found in 1 Corinthians 6:4 a possible parallel to the wording in Romans 16:7 about Junia the probable apostle. And here also the meaning is debated. Here is the second half of the verse in Greek and with my literal translation:

    τοὺς ἐξουθενημένους ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ, τούτους καθίζετε;

    (as for) the ones who are despised in/among the church, do you seat (as judges) these?

    Note that the question mark has been added by the editors of the Greek text (UBS 4th edition). There is nothing in the Greek to indicate clearly whether this is a question, a statement, or a command. So this is one of the two main issues in this verse. The other is, are the despised people here members of the church, or are they people whom the church despises? It is on this second point that we see the parallel with Romans 16:7, for in both places we have an evaluative comment about people followed with ἐν (en) plus the dative.

    Gordon Fee, in his New International commentary on 1 Corinthians, discusses and rejects the NIV rendering of this half verse,

    appoint as judges even men of little account in the church!

    (The NIV marginal reading has the same wording rephrased as a question.) Fee notes (my emphasis) that:

    In making the clause and ironic imperative, the NIV follows a long interpretive tradition. In this case the verb must take the meaning of "appoint judges" and the object must refer to insiders, "those of little account" within the church itself. However, this interpretation faces the nearly insuperable difficulties of having an imperative appear as the final word in a sentence, especially in an instance where irony is the intent, and Paul's use of such pejorative language - even in irony - to speak of fellow believers (see below).

    It is interesting that TNIV has changed this verse significantly, and not just to remove the unjustified gender bias of "men":

    do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church?

    Thus TNIV (not surprisingly, since Fee is a member of the Committee on Bible Translation) seems to follow Fee's second and favoured option (my emphasis):

    The alternative, also adopted by a long line of scholars and translations, is to see the sentence as a question and the object as outsiders, "those who have no standing at all in the church."

    Fee quotes with approval the NEB rendering:

    how can you entrust jurisdiction to outsiders, men who count for nothing in our community?

    A little later he continues:

    The more difficult item is the object, "those held in disdain"; but this is true for either interpretation. In fact, as noted before, it is difficult to imagine Paul, even in irony, so referring to fellow believers - especially in light of 12:21-25, where he attempts to disabuse the Corinthians of viewing the body of Christ in such a way. Furthermore, the softening to "even men of little account" simply has no lexical basis.34 In the view adopted here, Paul would not mean that Christians despise the pagan judges - that, too, is a totally un-Pauline view - but that they are those people whose values and judgments the church has rejected by its adoption of totally different standards.

    The problem with Fee's preference as expressed in TNIV is that it requires that ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ is read effectively as "by the church", specifying the subject of "despise". But if this verse is a true parallel (an antithetical parallel, in fact) with Romans 16:7 this interpretation is rule out. For we are forced to understand τοὺς ἐξουθενημένους, the ones who are despised, as ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ in the sense "in or among the church", and so members of it. For, if the arguments we have looked at concerning Junia are valid, the grammar, as well as consistency within Paul's theology, demands that "despised" cannot be the attitude held by or among church members, but rather the attitude held towards these members.

    Given the situation in Corinth, I would be reluctant to rule out completely the NIV interpretation that this refers to church members who are despised by other church members. After all, Paul does continue "I say this to shame you" (6:5, NIV and TNIV), so he is not necessarily agreeing with their assessment. But I do see the force of Fee's objection to this understanding.

    So I find myself obliged to accept, more or less, the explanation suggested in Fee's footnote 34:

    One solution for this point of view is to see the word as designating believers from the pagan point of view, as in 1:28. But in such a case it would still divide the house, as it were, and the irony would be completely lost.

    Well, it seems to me that ἐν (en) "divides the house" only to the extent that there is a necessary division between those chosen as judges and others. But Paul does not specify the subject of "despise"; it certainly includes outsiders but may also include the church members whom Paul so roundly condemns, even in this very chapter.

    As for "the irony would be completely lost", there is no good reason to assume that there is irony in this verse, although there is condemnation. It could be a non-ironic statement or command. But it makes sense as a statement only if the despised ones are outsiders, the judges of verse 1. And Fee claims that "having an imperative appear as the final word in a sentence" is a nearly insuperable difficulty; can anyone confirm that? But if this is a rhetorical question, there must be some irony here.

    So I find myself, despite Fee's comments, drawn back to something rather like the original NIV version, but without its gender bias and also without the irony signalled by the exclamation mark, so something like:

    appoint as judges the "despised people" in the church.
    Or maybe the rather odd Greek grammatical structure can be interpreted in some kind of conditional sense, so:
    if any in the church are despised people, appoint them as judges.
    I would be very interested in any comments on this verse, as I need guidance on how to translate it.

    Monday, November 13, 2006

    A woman missionary

    This comment about the Junia series was posted recently by Kenny. I answered and felt that it was worth a post in itself.
      This doesn't challenge the complementarian interpretations of other verses (at least, it doesn't challenge any versions of complementarianism that I regard as reasonable or defensible - I suppose there are some extremists who might object), since it doesn't specify what they were commissioned for or sent to do. If she was one of the 70, she was sent to preach the Gospel, and certainly any reasonable complementarianism recognizes that women are permitted (even commanded) to preach the Gospel to the unsaved just as men are.
    I want to tell a story that was told to me. An elderly neighbour of mine lived in the far north of British Columbia in a pioneer community. There were some single women missionaries at that time who traveled around northern Canada as teachers and evangelists, starting Sunday schools, and morning prayer services and small congregations. One woman started a congregation in his town. When the time came that enough people wanted communion, the church authorities sent an ordained man, and the woman had to move on.

    In the case of my elderly neighbour, he felt so concerned about the way that this particular woman was treated that he left the church and has never attended church again. He was a farmer; he respected this woman as an educated Bible teacher and evangelist. He was never interested in church again. There must be many stories like this. Such is the witness of the church to pioneers.

    Verses not found in the Bible

    I've been thinking about teachings which may or may not be true but are not found in any specific verses from the Bible. Here are some of them. Can you think of others?
    1. God helps those who help themselves.
    2. Tongues ceased when the canon of scripture was completed.
    3. The unpardonable sin is rejecting Christ.
    4. Husbands are to lead their wives.
    5. Wives and husbands should share domestic chores equally.
    6. A woman's place is in the home.
    7. Slavery is sinful.
    8. A woman must wear some kind of cloth over her head during worship.
    9. Because Adam was created first, Eve was to submit to him.
    10. A husband serves as God's priest to his wife.
    11. Anger is a sin.
    12. Women may not preach.
    13. Women are more easily tempted than men.
    14. God desires everyone to live in a democracy.
    15. Christ eternally submits to his Father God.
    16. Children are to be seen and not heard.
    17. God chooses some to eternal life and others to eternal suffering.
    18. Followers of Christ must not join the military.
    19. Followers of Christ already in the military should stay in the military.
    20. Do unto others as they do unto you.
    21. Anything worth doing at all is worth doing well.
    22. A man is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep for that which he cannot lose.
    Better Bibles, of course, do not include these teachings in their translations. Bible teachers should distinguish between what is actually taught in the Bible and what are their conclusions drawn from the explicit teachings of the Bible.

    Sunday, November 12, 2006

    Junia, the apostle: Part 16

    This is to sum up the difficulties that I found in Wallace and Burer's article about Romans 16:7 Andronicus and Junia, ... episemoi en tois apostolois.

    1. They chose 'well-known' which is a non-literal and poorly supported meaning for episemos.

    2. They claimed that the meanings for episemos could be broken into two lexical streams, although no lexicon suggested this.

    3. They suggested that episemos be treated as an implied comparative.

    4. They state that with a comparative one might expect a genitive construction. But that is true only in certain cases. Many examples from the NT demonstrate otherwise.

    5. They include in their data both episemos, the adjective, and episemon, the substantive, seemingly accidentally. However, they exclude data where episemos qualifies an impersonal noun on the basis that it does not provide a parallel.

    6. They offer their own non-literal and non-standard translations for many of the examples.

    7. They write about a single example which supports their case by saying "in every instance", implying broad-ranging support for their hypothesis.

    8. The only example which supports their case is from classical Greek, a play by Euripides. About 10 clear examples from Hellenistic Greek support the other interpretation.

    9. They discount evidence from church fathers, who actually spoke Greek.

    10. The conclusions from this article find their way into three recent Bible translations, the ESV, CEV and NET.

    For those who would like a more complete treatment of Wallace and Burer's article, I recommend this article by Linda Belleville. Given the data in her article, 2005, I am surprised that the ESV, CEV and NET have not been revised in Romans 16:7 to read "outstanding among the apostles."

    Belleville, Linda. Ἰουνιᾶν ... ἐπίσημοι ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις A Reexamination of Romans 16:7 in Light of Primary Source Materials. New Testament Studies. 51 pp. 231-249. UK. 2005. Cambridge UP


    Junia, the apostle: Part 15

    I was asked in a comment last week if there was further data regarding how Junia was regarded throughout church history. Here is some information from an article by Linda Belleville. I will not claim to have done any primary research on this.

      The consensus of patristic scholars is that Junias is a corruption of Junia, for Origen acknowledges early on in this section that Andronicus and Junia are 'notable among Christ's apostles' (et in his apostolis qui ante nobiles eos in apostolis dicat) and 'apostles before him' (et in his apostolis qui amte eum fuerunt). And he speculates that they were among the group of 72 that Jesus commissioned (quod fortassis ex illis septuaginta duobas qui et ipsi apostoli hominati sunt [PG 14.1280]; cf. Luke 10:1-20). ...

      Not catalogued in TLG (Thesaurus Linguae Graecae) but found in J. P. Migne's Patrologiae Graeca (PG) are sixth-century Oecumenius (Junia: PG 118, cols. 629-32 and eleventh century Theophylact (Junia: PG 124, cols. 5551-2). Both pay tribute to the fact that a woman is not only named 'an apostle' (μέγα μὲν καὶ τὸ εἴναι ἀποστόλους) but also 'notable among them'(τὸ δὲ καὶ ἐπίσημους ἐν αὐτοῖς, μέγιστον [maximum vero inter how esse insignes]. Also to be observed is the unbroken tradition among the Latin fathers from Ambrose in the fourth century through to Lombard in the twelfth century of a female Julia (Ambrose, Jerome, Rabanus Maurus, Hatto of Vercelli, Bruno of Querfurt, Peter Abelard) or Junia (Jerome, Primasius, Sedulius-Scotus, Claudius of Turin, Rabanus Maurus, Haymo, Lanfranc, Bruno of Querfurt, Peter Lombard, Guillelmus Abbas, Herveus Burgidolensis) who was 'notable among the apotsles' (insignes or nobiles in apostolis). There is also the common speculation among the Latin fathers that 'notable among the apostles' refers to the group of 72 that Jesus commissioned and sent out (quod fortassis ex illis septuaginta duobus apostolis fuerint et ipsi nobiles; Haymo, Rabanus Maurus, Hatto of Vercelli, Bruno of Querfurt, Herveus Burgidolensis).

    Belleville includes the following information in her footnotes.

      Origen (Junia PG 13.1279-80, 1289-90) Chrysostom (Junia: PG 60.669-70) Theodoret (Junia: PG 82.219-20) John of Damascus (Junia PG 95.5565) Oecumenius (Junia PG 118.629-32) Theophylact (Junia PG 123.551-2) Ambrose (Julia: PL 17.179B) Jerome (Julia: PL 26.617-18; Junia: PL 23.895; 29.744A 30.715B) Primasius (Julia: PL 68.505) Sedulius-Scotus (Junia PL 103) Claudius of Turin (Junia: PL 104) Rabanus Maurus (Junia: PL 111.1607D; Julia PL 112) Haymo (Junia: PL 117.505) Hatto of Vercelli (Julia PL 134.282A-B) A Lanfranc (Junia: PL 150.153-4) Bruno of Querfurt (Julia: PL 153.119; Junia PL 153. 120) Peter Abelard (Julia PL 178.973B-C) Guillelmus Abbas (Junia PL 180) Herveus Burgidolensis (junia: PL 181) and Peter Lombard (Julia: PL 191.1527; Junia PL 191.1528). The variation between Junia and Julia reflects the textual variation among the Vulgate manuscripts.
    Even more convincing is the fact that Wallace and Burer offer no evidence that throughout church history that en tois apostolois was understood as 'to the apostles'. In fact, this is how W & B present the issue in footnote 13,

      We have already noted that the patristic authors are preoccupied with whether Iounian is male or female, giving little substantive attention to what Paul has to say about this individual’s relation to the apostolic band. That they seem to assume a particular view, without interacting over the force of the Greek, is hardly a sufficient reason to adopt their view, as Lightfoot, Fitzmyer, et al. have done.
    So Wallace and Burer seem to be saying that the church fathers, native speakers of Greek, did not interact over the force of the Greek. Neither did any of the great exegetes of the past. And this is hardly sufficient reason to adopt their view!

    This expression, en tois apostolois has always been understood as 'among the apostles'. Only now that text critics have agreed that Junia is a woman, has this new grammatical quibble achieved prominence.

    I have to admit that I began this study with curiosity and hoped to prove that the expression 'among the apostles' was ambiguous. However, I now have seen so little evidence on the side of an exclusive reading, implying that Junia was not one of the apostles, that I have given it up. Junia, a woman, was almost certainly an apostle, whatever that title meant.

    Just as Piper and Grudem in their book, Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, many years ago opened the door for me to egalitarianism, so have Wallace and Burer demonstrated to me that Junia was indeed an apostle.


    Paul, Sex and Marriage

    On my own Speaker of Truth blog I have started to post a series What did Paul really say about sex and marriage? 1 Corinthians 7:1-16. So far only the contents and introduction have been posted. This series is in fact a student essay which I wrote nearly 20 years ago, but it is remarkably relevant to recent discussions here and elsewhere about the role of women, and about how to approach such issues.

    Update, 14th November: I have now posted the first four parts of this essay, which includes most of what is likely to be of interest now in 2006. Parts 1: Introduction; 2: The Presupposition Pool, 3: The Letter from the Corinthians and Paul’s Response, 4: Discourse Structure of 1 Corinthians.

    Saturday, November 11, 2006

    Junia, the apostle: Part 14

    Wallace and Burer continue throughout their article to quote lines containing episemos with en + dative and then give their own alternative translations in order to present data to support their hypothesis.

      καὶ ὑμεῖς οὗν ἐν ταῖς ἐπωνύμοις ὑμῶν ἑορταῖς ἐπίσημον ἡμέραν μετὰ πάσης εὐωχίας ἄγετε Additions to Esther 16:22

      So then you shall observe this with all good cheer as a notable day among your commemorative festivals.
    This quote was recognized by W & B but discounted because it was an impersonal reference. Next,

      προγόνω[ν Λυκιαρχη]σάντων καὶ στρ[ατηγη]σάντων καὶ να[αρχησαν] των τοῦ ἔθν[ους καὶ] ἐν ταῖς ὑπερ Ῥωμ[αὶων] συμμαχίαις ἑπί[σημον?] γενόμενον, γ[ραμματεύ]σαντα τοῦ Λυκί[ων εθνους] λαμπρῶς καὶ μ[εγαλοψύ]χως Fd Xanthos VII Asia Minor 76.1.12

      president of the Lycians, general and admiral of the nation, prominent among Rome's allies, secretary of the Lycian nation, illustrious and great ...
    Directly following this quote Wallace and Burer write,

      In each instance the group that the individual is well known to, but is not a part of, is mentioned with en plus the dative. Although these data are not plentiful, they are excellent parallels and point in but one direction: episemos followed by en plus personal datives does not connote membership within the group, but simply that one is known by the group. Thus, the inscriptions, like biblical and patristic Greek, supply a uniform picture of episemos with personal nouns: when followed by en, the well-known individual is outside the group.
    But surely, the whole point of line above is that the president of the Lycians was, in fact, an ally of Rome. What use would it be if he were only 'well known' to Rome's allies.

    Wallace and Burer continue to suggest very peculiar explanations in order to prove their hypothesis.

      καὶ πρέσβεις οὔς μὲν πρὸς Φλῶρον ἔπεμπον, ... οὔς δὲ πρὸς Ἀγρίππαν, ἐν οἵς ἤσαν ἐπίσημοι Σαῦλος τε καὶ Ἀντίπας καὶ Κοστόβαρος ... Josephus. Jewish War. 2.418.

      So the men of power sent ambassadors; some to Florus ... and others to Agrippas, eminent among whom were Saul, Antipas, and Costabarus, ...
    About this line Wallace and Burer write,

      But even this text is not a clean parallel: the relative clause is expected to consist of en plus the dative, and the adjective is almost functioning as a technical term, without any notion of comparative force. It is at least quite different from Rom. 16:7 in several important respects.

    This certainly looks like a parallel for Romans 16:7.

        χρὴ οὔν χεπσαίοθ βατράχοθ δίκηω διψῶντα κεκραγέναι, ὡς ἐπίσημος ἔση ἐν τοῖς ἐπαινοῦσι... Lucian. On Salaried Posts in Great Houses. 28.4 2nd century.
          So you must raise your thirsty voice like a stranded frog, taking pains to be conspicuous among those who praise [the mistress page].
        About this line Wallace and Burer write,

          This is the first parallel to Rom. 16:7 we have seen that could offer real comfort to inclusivists. It is unmistakable, it is personal, and it is rare.
        Here is one they don't discuss.

          Καὶ ἄλλοι μὲν πολλοὶ συγκατέβαινον ἡμῖν, ἐν αὺτοῖς δὲ ἐπίσημοι Ἰσμηνόδωπός τε ὁ πλούσιος ὁ ἡμέτερος καὶ Ἀρσάκης ὁ Μηδίας ὕπαρχος καὶ Ὀροίτης ὁ Ἀρμένιος Lucian. Dialogues of the Dead 438

          We had quite a crowd with us on our way down; most distinguished among whom were our rich countryman Ismenodorus ...
        Wallace and Burer misquote this line as coming from a different book, also by Lucian, and then they relegate it to the footnotes.

        There are several further instance of episemos with en + dative in the TAM inscriptions, but I have already given one and will not add more to the list. This completes the data provided for and against reading episemos en tois apostolois Romans 16:7 as 'well know to the apostles'.

        Quite frankly I am surprised that Wallace and Burer didn't bury this data outright. There is only one example that supports their view, Aphrodite, famous among mortals, and this is from several centuries earlier, classical, not Hellenistic Greek.

        Quotes for this post were taken from Linda Belleville's article,

        Belleville, Linda. Ἰουνιᾶν ... ἐπίσημοι ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις A Reexamination of Romans 16:7 in Light of Primary Source Materials. New Testament Studies. 51 pp. 231-249. UK. 2005. Cambridge UP


        Note: This post has been edited.

        Has ESV displaced HCSB in sales?

        Yesterday foreign man commented on one of our posts:
        According to the latest ranking on CBA website, ESV surpassed HCSB and was #5 on the list last month. HCSB was #7. I have no idea how this happened. I personally prefer HCSB over ESV.
        I don't know how that happened either. As foreign man did, I checked the rankings a few days ago and HCSB was in the middle of the sales rankings. The ESV was not in the top 10 rankings.

        In any case, it will be interesting to watch the relative rankings between the ESV and HCSB in the next few months. Both Bibles follow the Colorado Springs Guidelines (CSG) developed by complementarians who believe that traditional grammatically masculine terms should be used in English Bible translation for gender inclusive meanings.

        The ESV is worded in traditional Bible English from the Tyndale-KJV tradition. The HCSB is written in more contemporary English. Both versions are essentially literal. I happen to prefer the more contemporary English of the HCSB. Its English is closer to my own dialect of English than that of the ESV. I have observed that for most people--except for those who prefer traditional sounding Bibles--translations which are worded more closely to the English which they themselves use communicate more accurately and with greater impact to them.

        UPDATE: The ESV Bible blog comments on the ESV sales increase (HT: Rick Manfield):
        Part of the jump from the previous month (when the ESV wasn’t on the bestseller list) stems from the Spread the Word campaign, which offers a fifty-cent New Testament through Christian bookstores.

        Friday, November 10, 2006

        Junia, the apostle: Part 13

        This is the last example which Wallace and Burer offer to support their argument. It is from Lucian. Harmonides. 1.17,

          ἡ δόξα ἡ παρὰ τῶν πολλῶν καὶ τὸ ἐπίσημον εἴναι ἐν πλήθεσι
          glory before the crowds and fame among the masses
          They write,

            Lucianus speaks of Harmonides the pipeplayer craving fame for his musical abilities to the extent that he wants “glory before the crowds, fame among the masses”. He clearly sees himself as set apart from 'oi polloi'!63

              63 The text goes on to indicate his desire for distinction: Harmonides wants “to be pointed at, and on putting in an appearance anywhere having everyone turn towards me and say my name, ‘That is Harmonides the oustanding piper’” (LCL translation).
          I will take this line and retranslate it first literally, and then according to Wallace and Burer.

            ἡ δόξα ἡ παρὰ τῶν πολλῶν καὶ τὸ ἐπίσημον εἴναι ἐν πλήθεσι
            glory which is from the many and to be distinguished (outstanding) among the multitude
          That is about as literal as one can get. However, W & B are sure that Harmonides sees himself as 'apart from' the crowd so for them this line reads,

            ἡ δόξα ἡ παρὰ τῶν πολλῶν καὶ τὸ ἐπίσημον εἴναι ἐν πλήθεσι
            glory before the many and fame from the multitude
          However, the line contrasts para (from) and en (among) , so it only makes sense to read en (among) with an inclusive meaning. This line will not prove anything in itself, that I can see. Once again, Wallace and Burer must depend on reading into the text information which is not there. So this example cannot be considered evidence for their hypothesis.

          There remains to be presented about 10 texts which support the understanding that Andronicus and Junia are outstanding among the apostles. I realize that the minute detail of this study may have lost many, but it must be remembered that the literal understanding of God's word has been altered to suit the article written by Wallace and Burer. Surely this makes it worthwhile.

          The King James Version presents a somewhat ambiguous translation, "of note among the apostles". I am concerned that any Bible would depart at this point from a literal and ambiguous reading. To be so sure as to read into the text information which is not there on the basis of evidence in Wallace and Burer's article is surely a misjudgement.


          Thursday, November 09, 2006

          Junia, the apostle: Part 12

          Before starting this study I assumed that the statement about Andronicus and Junia was ambiguous. Now I am not too sure. I am inclining toward accepting that it really does mean they were apostles. However, I am surprised that Wallace and Burer do not accept an ambiguous meaning.

          This surprises me because they may have put forward this hypothesis without thinking through what is actually found in the Greek scriptures.
            As a working hypothesis, we would suggest the following. Since a noun in the genitive is typically used with comparative adjectives, we might expect
            such with an implied comparison too. Thus, if in Rom. 16:7 Paul meant to say that Andronicus and Junia were outstanding among the apostles, we might have expected him to use the genitive. On the other hand, if an elative force is suggested—i.e., where no comparison is even hinted at—we might expect en + the dative. It should be noted that this is merely a working hypothesis, and one that is falsifiable.
          But here is an example of a comparative with en + dative. I had forgotten this one last week.
            ὑμεῖς δὲ οὐχ οὕτως ἀλλ' ὁ μείζων ἐν ὑμῖν γινέσθω ὡς ὁ νεώτερος καὶ ὁ ἡγούμενος ὡς ὁ διακονῶν

            But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. ESV Luke 22:26
          Does this example falsify the hypothesis?

          Update: When I first wrote this short post, I did not make it clear that this verse uses the comparative in Greek, rather than the superlative. Here it is literally,
            ὑμεῖς δὲ οὐχ οὕτως ἀλλ' ὁ μείζων ἐν ὑμῖν γινέσθω ὡς ὁ νεώτερος καὶ ὁ ἡγούμενος ὡς ὁ διακονῶν

            With you then not so, but let the greater among you become as the younger, and the one who rules as the one who serves. (my trans.)
          So it is quite normal to use a comparative adjective with en + dative, and in that case, term A will be a member of the group in term B. The meaning is inclusive. So Andronicus and Junia would be outstanding among the apostles in the same way, members of the group. That is the intuitive reading.

          Can anyone suggest how Wallace and Burer were viewing this matter in an alternative light, in order to come up with their hypothesis.


          Wednesday, November 08, 2006

          Junia, the apostle: Part 11

          Tonight I am going to present the single example in Wallace and Burer's article in which en + dative implies that the person in term A is not a member of the group in term B.

          It is found in Euripides' Hippolytus, and refers to Aphrodite,

            σεμνή γε μέντοι κἀπίσημος ἐν βροτοῖς.

            Yet she's revered and famous among mortals.
          Clearly Aphrodite is not a mortal, but she is 'famous among mortals'; she even states that she enjoys receiving honour from mortals. This is the one and only example of episemos with en + dative, in which the person is not a member of the group by definition.

          There are a few things to note about this example. First, it is from 428 BCE. Second, it only serves to introduce ambiguity for the construction en + dative. It does not prove the case. Since Homer, we can find that en + dative was also typically used for 'among', as in belonging to the group.

            καὶ νόον ἐν πρώτοισι Μυκηναίων ἐτέτυκτο

            and in mind he was among the first of the men of Mycenae
          So, I would argue that both meanings existed side by side for en + dative over the centuries in Greek. The lexicon does support this.

            en - in the number of, amongst; in the presence of, before LSJ
          However, I would like to stress that of all the examples cited by Wallace and Burer, this is the only one that supports their hypothesis. In the case of Aphrodite we know that she cannot be considered a mortal, and we know that it is important to her to be honoured by mortals. She craves their attention. She says so.

          This is not quite an exact parallel to Andronicus and Junia. First, these two could possibly be apostles. 'Apostles' is a small group to which they could belong. Second, it is not quite clear why being famous to the apostles is a commendation, but being an apostle is significant.

          However, this one example does support Wallace and Burer. In the next post, I will try to present the rest of the examples.

            Tuesday, November 07, 2006

            Junia, the apostle: Part 10

            I was very surprised to see that the quote which I discussed yesterday, "a mark among the nations" had found its way into the NET Bible notes. There is no reason why the editors of the NET could not check the complete reference and context of this quote, since it is from the Septuagint, not from some arcane and hitherto unknown work.

            Tonight I am going to look at another example from Wallace and Burer's article. They write,
              The inscriptions can likewise be examined quickly. An idiom noticed in several inscriptions is even more relevant. In TAM 2.905.1 west wall. coll. 2.5.18 we read the description of a man who is “not only foremost in his own country, but also well known to the outside population” (οὐ μόνον ἐ]ν̣ τ̣ῇ [π]α̣τρίδι πρώτου, ἀλ̣λὰ [καὶ ἐν τῷ ἔθ]νει ἐπισή̣μου ). 54 Here the person who is ἐπισή̣μου is called such only in relation to outsiders (πρώτου is used in relation to his own countrymen). It is not insignificant that en plus the dative personal noun is used: the man is well known to a group of which he is not a member.

                54 ἔθνει here evidently refers to outsiders—that is, a group to which this man does not belong. This is evident from the strong contrast between the two phrases (οὐ μόνον. . . ἀλ̣λὰ καὶ,), with the man’s fame receiving the laudatory note with the ascensive καὶ, hinting that such a commendation is coming.

                            Wallace and Burer have furnished their own translation for this example along with their own definitions for words, and they did so without the benefit of a lexicon. Going to the BAGD, I was able to make a literal translation of this line, using actual entries from the lexicon, and not inventing any additional terms. Here it is,

                              Καλ[λιάδου οὐ μόνον ἐ]ν̣ τ̣ῇ [π]α̣τρίδι πρώτου, ἀλ̣λὰ [καὶ ἐν τῷ ἔθ]νει ἐπισή̣μου καὶ διαπρεποῦς TAM II:905, 2:15
                              Not only first in his own part of the country (in his own native city), but also outstanding and eminent in the nation.
                            This translation accounts for the use of 'not only... but also' very nicely AND depends on a lexicon. Wallace and Burer's translation depends on making ethnos mean 'the outside population.' This new meaning is 'evident' to Wallace and Burer, possible by special revelation. Actually a brief glance at the epigraphy in question allowed me to identify the nation as Lycia only 5 lines lower down - ἐν δὲ τῷ Λυκίων ἔθνει. (Um. I am actaully in the Lycian epigraphy database. The country is Lycia, I guess this fellow was prominent in his own country, not the outside population.)

                            In fact, when I got to the TAM database and started reading, I was overwhelmed at how many expressions were formed by using an adjective and en + dative. Here is another,

                              φ[ιλοτειμίαις ἐν ταῖς πόλεσι κα]ὶ ἐν τ[ῷ ἔθνει]
                            At this point I realize fully that Wallace and Burer did not read this epigraphy themselves. Are they justified in concluding,

                              episemos followed by en plus personal datives does not connote membership within the group, but simply that one is known by the group. Thus, the inscriptions, like biblical and patristic Greek, supply a uniform picture of episemos with personal nouns: when followed by en, the well-known individual is outside the group.
                            I would welcome it if others would just jump in and read this epigraphy with me. What am I missing?

                            The Packard Humanities Institute TAM II 905

                            Index to the Junia Series.

                            Junia, the apostle: Index

                            A discussion of how to translate episemoi en tois apostolois in Romans 16:7.

                            ἀσπάσασθε Ἀνδρόνικον καὶ Ἰουνιᾶν τοὺς συγγενεῖς μου καὶ συναιχμαλώτους μου οἵτινές εἰσιν ἐπίσημοι ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις οἳ καὶ πρὸ ἐμοῦ γέγοναν ἐν Χριστῷ

                            Junia, the apostle: Part 1 - Various translations and patristics
                            Junia, the apostle: Part 2 - Junia's name, Lampe and Brooten
                            Junia, the apostle: Part 3 - Junia's name, Wallace and Burer
                            Junia, the apostle: Part 4 - Vamva version and Lorimer
                            Junia, the apostle: Part 5 - Nino, equal to the apostles
                            Junia, the apostle: Part 6 - Lexicon Entries for episemos
                            Junia, the apostle: Part 7 - Not a verb of perception
                            Junia, the apostle: Part 8 - Wallace's hypothesis
                            Junia, the apostle: Part 9 - the close parallel?
                            Junia, the apostle: Part 10 - TAM II epigraphy
                            Junia, the apostle: Part 11 - Aphrodite famous to mortals
                            Junia, the apostle: Part 12 - falsifying the hypothesis
                            Junia, the apostle: Part 13 - examples from W & B
                            Junia, the apostle: Part 14 - more examples
                            Junia, the apostle: Part 15 - church fathers
                            Junia, the apostle: Part 16 - summary

                            Bibliography (to be added to)

                            Bauckham, Richard. Gospel Women. 2002. Erdmann's. Grand Rapids. Mich.

                            Belleville, Linda. Ἰουνιᾶν ... ἐπίσημοι ἐν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις A Reexamination of Romans 16:7 in Light of Primary Source Materials. New Testament Studies. 51 pp. 231-249. UK. 2005. Cambridge UP

                            Brooten, Bernadette. "Junia . . . Outstanding among the Apostles” (Romans 16:7) from Women Priests, Arlene Swidler & Leonard Swidler (eds.), Paulist Press 1977, pp. 141-144.

                            Gundry, Stan, Two Views on Women in Ministry, Beck Zondervan, 2005 rev. ISBN 10:0-310-25437-X especially pages 38-43, 212-16, 286-88.

                            Jones, David. A Female Apostle?: A Lexical-Syntactical Analysis of Romans 16:7. CBMW

                            New English Translation of the Septuagint. 2004. International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies Inc. Oxford University Press.

                            Packard Humaities Institute

                            John Thorley, "Junia, a Woman Apostle", Novum Testamentum, 38/1 (1996), pp. 18-29.

                            Wallace, D.B. Junia Among the Apostles: The Double Identification Problem in Romans 16:7. 1998. Biblical Studies Press.

                            Wallace, Daniel B. and Michael H. Burer. Was Junia Really an Apostle? A Reexamination of Romans 16:7. Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. JBMW 6/2 (Fall 2001) 2

                            Monday, November 06, 2006

                            Junia, the Apostle: Part 9

                            Wallace and Burer comment that the inclusive view, the view that Junia was among the apostles, has not been supported by argument so much as by consensus.

                            I hope that in my previous post I gave reasonable examples as to why those who read Greek would automatically understand that en tois apostolois means 'among the apostles', as in 'one of them'. I am not yet prepared to discuss the meaning of apostle.

                            My focus is on the fact that Wallace, who has written a Greek grammar, supports a translation that is not intuitive to readers of Greek. It wasn't intuitive for the church fathers and it is not intuitive now. That Andronicus and Junia were among the apostles is simply and by far the most obvious translation for Romans 16:7.

                            However, I admit that Wallace and Burer are able to supply at least one example of another option for writing 'prominent among' in Greek. In this post I will provide some of their examples from biblical and patristic Greek along with their preliminary conclusions.

                              Ελεαζαρος δέ τις ἀνὴρ ἐπίσημος τῶν ἀπὸ τῆς χώρας ἱερέων, 3 Macc. 6:1

                              Eleazar, a man prominent among the priests of the country.
                            Here is an example which clearly proves that there is another way to say 'prominent among'. However, this one example only causes Wallace and Burer to tentatively state,

                              When a comparative notion is seen, that to which ἐπίσημος is compared is frequently, if not usually, put in the genitive case.
                            So, the conclusion from this one example is highly qualified. There are, in fact, two ways to say 'prominent among.'

                            I have decided to exclude the next few examples, not considered highly relevant by W & B in any case, the second one, because episemon is a noun and not an adjective; and the third one, because the construction ek + genitive is used. Neither of these examples provide a grammatical parallel. The fourth example supports the reading of 'prominent among' but the parallel has been considered 'inexact' by Wallace and Burer because it is impersonal, that is, it refers to things not to people. So they toss it out.

                            The fifth example is more interesting and is supplied by W & B as a close parallel to Romans 16:7.
                              οἱ υἱοὶ καὶ αἱ θυγατέρες ἐν αἰχμαλωσίᾳ πονηρᾷ, ἐν σφραγῖδι ὁ τράχηλος αὐτῶν, ἐν ἐπισήμῳ ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν

                              The sons and daughters were in harsh activity
                              their neck in a seal, with a mark among the nations
                              Psalm of Solomon 6:2 NETS
                            Wallace and Burer make a great deal out of the fact that they are only comparing "apples with apples", by saying that the 'substantival adjunct' should be personal. What they mean is that the adjective episemos should qualify a noun that refers to a person and not a thing. This is important to W & B.

                            However, in 2 out of 5 of their examples, the adjective episemos is, in fact the noun episemon, so it cannot have a substantival adjunct of any kind. That does not bother Wallace and Burer. In fact, they sum up this example by saying,

                              The parallels include (a) people as the referent of the adjective episemos, (b) followed by en plus the dative plural, (c) the dative plural referring to people as well.
                            Obviously, in this example a) there is no adjective episemos, only the noun episemon, b) en is followed by the dative, and c) the dative plural refers to nations, not people. They have 1 out of 3 right.

                            One of the reasons for this error is that they only quote a part of this verse ἐπισήμῳ ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, leaving out the preposition. It is hard to tell if they ever read the context. I read in the footnotes that they had someone else do the research, and "isolate the relevant constructions" and then they drew conclusions.

                            They were also working from a very inexact English translation of this verse. So, in fact, it turns out that they weren't working from a Greek text at all but from the English translation. Read their article to see what happened.

                            As a conclusion to this section, they write,
                              To sum up the evidence of biblical and patristic Greek: Although the inclusive view is aided in some impersonal constructions that involve en plus the dative, every instance of personal inclusiveness used a genitive rather than en. On the other hand, every instance of en plus personal nouns supported the exclusive view, with Pss. Sol. 2:6 providing a very close parallel to Rom. 16:7.
                            This paragraph is actually based on the evidence which I just presented. Why they have used the word 'every' when they mention one example, is beyond my comprehension. And the close parallel works for only one out of three criteria.

                            Okay, this is going to be hard to believe, but, I just checked and the example from Psalm of Solomon actually made it into the notes for the NET Bible. I wouldn't even make much of an fuss about a woman being an apostle, (not my interest) but I sure feel twitchy about Bible translators who can't differentiate between a noun and an adjective.

                            And above all, the false dichotomy of elative and comparative senses for episemos is in the NET Bible notes as well. So the translators can't use a lexicon properly either. Shades of the Colorado Springs Guidelines. I had honestly expected more of the NET Bible.

                            I would like to acknowledge the Online Critical Pseudepigrapha for quotes used in this post.