Thursday, September 11, 2008

The (NIV) Bible (Men) Upset

The Bible's position on women couldn't be upside down
if there were no male-over-female hierarchy.

Okay, let's unpack this:

What follows below is a little bit from one writer (a man, of course) that shows how he (the writer) places a man (or two) over a woman (or two). The writer is a reader of Greek (a reader of such writings as the medical journals of men: of Hippocrates, who follows Hesiod, and of Aristotle, who follows both of these men and Pythagoras as well). The male knows something as he writes the Bible bit below; he knows how
Aristotle accords to the male in the act of procreation the role of active agent, contributing ‘motion’ and ‘formation’ while the female provides the ‘raw material,’ as when a bed (the child) is made by a carpenter (the father) out of wood (the mother).”
The male writer of a bit of the Bible below, who is a reader of other male writers, is like the other men:

he is a male, a writer with active agency, a physician. He’s interested in physics, in the reality of nature, and stands above nature as the male standing above the female.
(You and I get this reading in Greek and in translation. The above quotation on Aristotle is from Anne Carson writing Men in the Off Hours. The quotation below is from Dr. Luke, as translated from his Greek into English by a team of men only (no women, not 1 of more than 100); the translation of these men is the version--as Kevin Sam notes--that's“the most authoritative translation today.”)
The little bit below from the Greek-male-physician-reading writer is what we call in English Luke 2:25-38 NIV (and we can read a Greek version of that too).

To illustrate the hierarchy (men over women) of the NIV men and of the Greek male Dr. Luke, I’ve just inverted the bit of text. I’ve just put the woman where the man is, and the men in the textual bit where the women were.

Here is that long awaited bit of the Bible. Here’s how that (upset wooden interpretation) reads now:
25Now there was a (wo)man [not a goddess] in Jerusalem called Anna, who was righteous and devout. [We don't need to know who her father is because she's not an Athenian citizen whose father's name must be registered in the text because she's a female.] She was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon the child. 26It had been revealed to her by the Holy Spirit that she would not die before she had seen the Lord's Christ. 27Moved by the Spirit, she went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for the child what the custom of the Law required, 28Anna took the child in her arms and praised God, saying:
29"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss your daughter in peace.
30For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
32a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people [the nation of father] Israel."
33The child's mother and father marveled at what was said about the child. 34Then Anna blessed them and said to Joseph, his father:
"This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in [the nation of father] Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."
36There was also a prophet-man, Simeon, the boy child of father Phanuel, of the tribe of the son Asher. He was very old; he had lived with his spouse seven years after his marriage [to which he gave his virginity to a woman, to his spouse], 37and then was a widow-er until he was eighty-four. He never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38Coming up to them at that very moment, he gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
The Bible's position on women couldn't be upside down
if there were no male-over-female hierarchy.

I think we’ll see something else,
if we keep reading this story,
the story that Dr. Luke is trying to write so “faithfully to nature” as the Greek men then (so “faithful to nature”) and the NIV translator men (so “faithful to Greek male nature”) would have it.

What we see (and this requires multiple witnesses) is that the little boy in the story grows up to be a man who considers the image of the Creator. This re-consideration turns upside down the wooden things crafted by men. This re-consideration upsets their tables in the most sacred of places. To notice how upsetting this is will require multiple witnesses. It requires the merger of nature and the supernatural. It requires parable, and hyperbole, and other rhetorics of women forbidden by the man Aristotle. It requires witnesses who also (we see) are women.


Bob MacDonald said...

I haven't written in my story for a while - nearly 6 weeks. I wonder if you saw the short segment I wrote last year on Luke.

The narrator is Secundus, child of Tertius the scribe who has inherited the estate of Gaius and writes from the last years of Trajan.

J. K. Gayle said...

As I said at your sight, I really appreciate your drawing my attention to what you're writing, and I appreciate what you've written too. Thanks.