Monday, September 29, 2008

mother of Matthew

So how do you read Matthew's gospel, if you're a woman? How, if you respect your mother?

Can we enumerate some of the problems, especially with the "Lord's Prayer"? Did you see Bob MacDonald's wonderful mention of maridly in a comment on an earlier post here? What translational problem is Bob getting at? What can it mean?

But what are other translational issues, if you're a woman? What, if you respect your mother?

Who is πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς? Who is our father, that one in the skies? Who's Matthew's father, and why don't any of the gospels say for sure that it's Alphaeus? Who is the father of this Joshua (aka Jesus, who is the "Lord" saying this prayer that Matthew translates)? Why does Matthew begin his gospel of Jesus listing men (i.e., fathers), when the ultimate father (i.e., Joseph) is not the father at all? And how come Matthew makes David "king" in that list of men? How is the prayer requesting a "father" to ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία, to "bring the kingdom?" Why does Matthew mention the father of the king Herod, and why does he have John the Baptist questioning his Jewish brothers about whether Abraham is their father? And why Greek, if Matthew doesn't know Aristotle or Homer and their fathers? And how different from his own mother tongue, and Jesus's mother tongue, if the latter is punning "the words 'father' (אבא, abba), 'Abraham' (אברהם, abraham) and the verb 'to do' (עבד, `abad)"?

But why these other translational issues, if you're a woman? Why, if you respect your mother?

Where is Matthew's mother tongue? Where is she, Matthew's mother? Is she Alphaeus's woman, the woman (i.e., the "wife") of father Clopas? Why is she not named, this other Mary, another Miriam?

How come Mary the mother of Jesus, Miriam the mother of Joshua, is not in the list of named men at the beginning of Matthew's gospel? Why do English translators mention "father" overtly if Matthew does not translate his mother tongue אבא (abba), πάτερ here in this list? Why does Matthew name women in this list of men as the ones ἐκ τῆς "out of whom the" males come? Why the father-seducing Tamar, whose namesake later was the victim of rape by her father's son, whose brother murdered him and then fathered his own daughter of the same name? Why the foreign whore Rahab? Why the foreign woman Ruth? Why the unnamed woman of the man named Uriah, whom the king father stole from and murdered dead?

Where is Joshua's (i.e., Jesus's) mother tongue? Doesn't it slip out and into Matthew's Greek translation? Doesn't it speak out "eli eli lama sabachthani" when he cries out on the cross, within earshot of his mother, Miriam? Why is she present there at the end, but not the father, not the one in the list at the beginning, and not the father at the beginning of the prayer, why, and why not, and where?

So how do you read Matthew's gospel, if you're a woman or a man? How can you translate across cultures and languages and millennia as if you are equal to all your very own answers about respecting mothers, your very own mother? How is she so unimportant, so silent and so silenced, so unequal?

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