Monday, May 12, 2008

Man Stuff: After Mother's Day 2008 AD

Throughout church history the traditional interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:14 has been that women are more easily deceived than men. . . The only problem with the traditional interpretation is that most Western Christians today, patriarchalists included, recognize that this perspective is factually incorrect. Women are not inherently (by virtue of their gender alone) more easily deceived than men. It is not only politically incorrect to say so today, it simply does not square with the hard data.
--William J. Webb
Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals:
Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis
2001 AD

Could Paul have looked down to the nineteenth century with clairvoyant vision and beheld the good works of a Lucretia Mott, a Florence Nightingale, a Dorothea Dix and Clara Barton, not to mention a host of faithful mothers, he might, perhaps, have been less anxious about the apparel and the manners of his converts. Could he have foreseen a Margaret Fuller, a Maria Mitchell, or an Emma Willard, possibly he might have suspected that sex does not determine the capacity of the individual. Or, could he have had a vision of the public school system of this Republic [i.e., the U.S.A.], and witnessed the fact that a large proportion of the teachers are women, it is possible that he might have hesitated to utter so tyrannical an edict:
“But I permit not a woman to teach.”
--Lucinda B. Chandler
The Woman’s Bible:
A Classic Feminist Perspective
1895 AD


“It sounds like Aristotle,” says Suzanne McCarthy to John Hobbins in a conversation, she with him and with others, in 2008 AD. The “It” is the “argument,” or the logic, “that men have the courage of command and women the virtue of subordination.” It is the logical argument in order “to put women in the role of ‘responder’ to men as ‘leaders’.”

Now, I’m suggesting we all respond. You respond, and I respond, regardless of our sex. But let me warn the men among us who cannot be taught by a woman: Do not read Suzanne’s blog. She has something to say, something to teach, to men and to women as well. Aristotle absolutely could not listen. Maybe Paul and Timothy would not either. If you, a man, believe Aristotle and Paul (perhaps), then you should not be womanly by responding, and by responding to a woman or her blog.

The point I want to make is that men who are honest will listen, and will learn from a woman.

And don’t we all believe that Aristotle and Paul and Timothy all listened, at least, to their mothers, once upon a time? Their mothers taught them very many important things. So why must these men stop listening to a woman when they as boys pass through puberty or something else towards manhood? Does the progymnasmata or the Bar Mitzvah or one latter day circumcision for Christ help them make the argument that they really do have the courage of command while women really do have the virtue of subordination? Why must these authoritative men silence women? Are women really that naïve, that much more sin-prone, that much lesser than men spiritually or psychologically or biologically?

What, really, is the evidence if Suzanne presents it? What are the facts? In 2008, are we repeating the cycles of history? Do you have manly courage enough to ask yourself whether you are perpetuating the cycles of history? Do you really think you are not responding?

Here are men who did not think they needed to respond to what a woman taught:

In 66 AD or so, Paul writes and Timothy reads this:
διδάσκειν δὲ γυναικὶ οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω οὐδὲ αὐθεντεῖν ἀνδρός
ἀλλ' εἶναι ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ
Ἀδὰμ γὰρ πρῶτος ἐπλάσθη εἶτα Εὕα
καὶ Ἀδὰμ οὐκ ἠπατήθη
ἡ δὲ γυνὴ ἐξαπατηθεῖσα ἐν παραβάσει γέγονεν
Now do you think that young “Timothy” [“Honorer of Gods”] took the letter to his father and his mother? What did Mama “Eunice” [“Blessed Victor”] married to the Greek Pappa say to what Paul had written to their son?

So fast forward to the 1870s AD. Three teams of 101 men, and no women, began work in England and America on the “Revised Version” of the English Bible. In 1881, the men insisted on translating Paul’s Greek, and published it, as follows:
12 But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man,
but to be in quietness.
13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve;
14 and Adam was not beguiled,
but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression:
These men, authorized by the Church of England, practiced what they translated. The men notably viewed Julia Evelina Smith Parker as beguiled. And as infamously, they refused to include her in their translation project. She was absolutely excluded from involvement or consideration. Equally ignored was her complete translation of the Bible into English from the Hebrew, the Greek (including the Septuagint), and the Latin (particularly the Vulgate). They especially did not want to consult Smith or her work as to how she translated Paul’s letter to Timothy.

Women and men who were reading Smith’s translation did notice the silencing. Thus, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucinda B. Chandler, and twenty three other women from around the world, decided to publish a commentary, which they entitled, The Woman’s Bible. Francis Ellen Burr wrote the Appendix in which she gives a biography of Smith and praises her work: “Julia Smith’s translation of the Bible stands out unique among all translations.” Burr notes:
Frequently her wording is an improvement, or brings one closer to the original than the common translation. Thus in I. Corinthians viii, I, of the King James translation, we have: “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.” Julia Smith version: “Knowledge puffs up and love builds the house.” She uses “love” in place of “charity” every time. And her translation was made nearly forty years before the revised version of our day, which also does the same. . . This word “charity” was one of the words that Sir Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of English, charged Tyndale with mistranslating. The other two words were “priest” and “church,” Tyndale calling priests “seniors,” and church “congregation.” Both Julia Smith and the revised version call them priest and church. And she gives the word “Life” for “Eve:” “And Adam will call his wife’s name Life, for she was the mother of all living.” . . . Her work has had the endorsement of various learned men. A Hebrew professor of Harvard College (Prof. Young) . . . examined it. He was much astonished that she had translated so correctly without consulting some learned man. . . She received many letters from scholars, all speaking of the exact, or literal translation. Some people have criticised this feature, which is the great merit of the book.
That was 1895 AD.

So again we fast forward, to seven years ago. Then, in 2001, there was another “publishing team [that] includes more than 100 people.” But again, not even one of those “people” is a woman. Their statement is this: “The team is 100-member team, which is international and represents many denominations, shares a commitment to historic evangelical orthodoxy, and to the authority and sufficiency of the inerrant Scriptures.” You may recognize the team as the “ESV [English Standard Version] publishing team.”

Here’s how they translate Paul’s letter to Timothy:
12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man;
rather, she is to remain quiet.
13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve;
14and Adam was not deceived,
But the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.
Wouldn’t we all like to read how Julia Evelina Smith Parker translates Paul’s Greek? No? The Revised Version teams of the 1870s want her to remain silent. Likewise, the ESV team seems not interested in the facts of Smith’s translation either. Alas, neither I nor my university’s library nor any bookstore I can find has a copy of Smith’s work. It’s not online. History silences her and it. If we listen to Suzanne McCarthy, who brings herself to listen both to men and women, then we know, “It sounds like Aristotle.”

9 comments:

Nathan Stitt said...

I generally have no idea how to reply to your posts, hah!

I did look for Smith's translation. Unlike you I did find a few copies... For $5000, $6000, and $6600.

Hendrickson should do a reprint for $20 eh?

J. K. Gayle said...

That's a great reply, Nathan!

How to get google.com or gutenberg.org to digitize Smith's translation?

Who's, what's Hendrickson? $20 is better than the museum-relic prices.

Nathan Stitt said...

Hendrickson has been reprinting lots of old Bible-related resources for the last decade or two. I've got several books by them that would be very expensive to buy an original version of.

I'd be happy for a digital copy, whether from Google, Microsoft, or anyone really.

Bill said...

Aristotle I don't really know, but Paul I know (a little) and I don't think we'll ever know why _HE_ didn't permit...

But I recently realized that's all he said. He shared an opinion. Just like when he told the Corinthians he chose not to take money for preaching the gospel - and established voices on Corinthians manage to avoid following that little Pauline opinion! :)

It's amazed me, since that realization, that I've never noticed anyone else making the point.

Has anyone?

If not, and if you get much mileage with it, feel free to mention my name! :)

--------------------------
Now, that said, I should disclose I'm fairly conservative, but consider myself to be logical. I have no problem in principle learning from a woman. And I certainly can't say that I've generally heard any less error in teaching coming from women than from men.

But I do wonder about Paul's day, and - not to overgeneralize at all, don't get me wrong - I wonder if a similar *opinion* these days might actually be: "I don't permit an uneducated person to teach."

Anciently, that's not a one-to-one correlation, I know. But it may be worth considering how much education may have affected Paul's reasoning.
----------------------------

But back to my question:

Has anyone ever pointed out Paul DIDN'T try to make this sound as if it was GOD'S opinion?

You could even do a study of other things Paul said that were "opinion-ish" kind of statements. Like waiting until after Pentecost to sail. And you could still debate whether Paul was wrong to hold this opinion, even back then.

By the way, do Universities "permit" non-educated males OR females to "teach"? Just a thought. ;)

Seriously, coming from one who was raised in a fairly conservative household, I think Paul was a great man. And I generally hate to see a great man trashed on all accounts just because of his flaws.

Or his *opinions*! :)

Nathan Stitt said...

I'm going to have to disagree. Paul was not sharing his opinion, he was writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. When he was writing his opinion, he clearly stated the fact.

I do agree that it would be a ludicrous position to state that I would or could never learn from a woman. I've certainly had many women whom I've gain much from in an educational setting. My take on it is that some of the passages being kicked around have more to do with authority roles than whether or not a woman can or should educate.

I'm not sure I know my own position well enough however, and why I've refrained from posting it to date. I am curious why you hold to the 'Pauline opinion.'

Bill said...

Always glad to discuss a disagreement, brother! :)

I don't think you have to see the word "opinion" to tell Paul's making a personal statement. "I do not permit..." That's vastly different from saying "Women should not..."

(I'm not going to rush towards my concordance to see if he says that elsewhere. I don't recall anything else by Paul on this same exact point, though.)

So Nathan, if Paul said, "Women should not..." then I might find it arguable whether that merely his opinion, but I'd have quite a stretch to prove it!

However, as it stands the statement seems pretty clear. In communication classes, it's called an "I statement". ;)

As far as the inspiration of the holy spirit goes - and I don't want to misspeak, b/c I certainly believe that but I'm hardly a theologian - I don't see why my view of Paul's statement would rule out holy spirit inspiration.

But then, I don't see how "holy spirit inspiration" changes the wording or meaning of Paul's statement, either.

Bill said...

Oh yeah,

When Paul said, "I'm going to wait until after Pentecost to come to you." It did NOT have the word "opinion" alongside it. But we both believe it was absolutely inspired by the Holy Spirit?

Does that mean we should always do the same? ;)

Nathan Stitt said...

After re-reading your first post I'd have to say I agree with your comment, I wonder if a similar *opinion* these days might actually be: "I don't permit an uneducated person to teach."

As far as opinion goes, it seems like we just have our own opinions of what this means. To me it is clearly a teaching or rule he is handing down, not just an opinion. I don't think the issue is necessarily the teaching (see your comment which I just quoted) by a woman, but the authority issue. Basically not making a man accountable to a woman, or the various situations in which you can apply that.

Also I was uneasy about using under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I'm sure I could probably have posted that more clearly, but nothing comes to mind at the moment.

J. K. Gayle said...

Thanks again for Hendrickson, Nathan, although I'm not sure how to request books there.

Bill and Nathan,
Thanks for your various thoughts. I'm tracking with your dialog here (and Bill I followed your other comments over at Suzanne's blog). I've only left myself a bit of time this afternoon to reply here. You're making me think lots about intentionality. What an author thinks he or she aims to do, and how or whether a reader or translator should play the game with.

Elsewhere I've blogged a bit on Paul's sexist intentions and sexist cultures. What gives him authority to Timothy is "the scriptures" as opposed to what gives Aristotle authority (namely "logic" and observed "nature"). And yet, its an entire patriarchal misogynistic culture that can enforce their authorities.