Thursday, April 9, 2009

biblical schmiblical

I'm stealing the title of Suzanne's post Biblical schmiblical and urging you to read it.

Now my Jewish neighbor tells me last night at sundown that he and his wife have had to go to three different stores in Fort Worth, Texas USA (the buckle or a major loop of the Bible belt) to look for kosher. The Walmart and Target managers both apologized, and the latter explained, "The demographics just don't allow us profitably to stock these items on our shelves anymore." And my friend just laughs that he's going to have to open his own store, "because that little section of passover preparations at Albertsons is just, well, it's just little." (I joked that we really should have voted Kinky Friedman as Governor of this Lone Star State. And I started thinking about whose book this Bible of our post-Christian nation really is).

Every Bible translator who is not a Jew would do well to read Jacqueline Jones Royster's little essay, "When the First Voice You Hear is Not Your Own." Of course, Royster is not a Jew. She's a different minority - with a majority of experts about her and about her kind all around her: she's African American. She's also a woman. A double minority. And she's also a scholar, an expert on African American women and their literacy practices. She doesn't say that you can't be an expert on African Americans if you're not African American. She doesn't say that you can't be an expert on women if you're not a woman. (She doesn't even say that you can't be an expert on literacy if you're not literate!) But she does tire of hearing others who are not her and are not her "kind" speak as if they are her and are her kind.

This is exactly the kind of tiresome affront bible bloggers and bible translators and bible experts who are not Jews can be to the Jews. I don't care if you know something about the New Testament because you're Christian (and one of the goyim). Now, I'm ranting. Read Suzanne's post, and read Jacqueline Jones Royster's essay. And, if you like, read my feminist rhetorical translating of the Jewish sexist text we call Numbers 5:1-4. I'm reading as a complete outsider, listening in, overhearing, eavesdropping, listening not just to the author's intent (not just to the authors' intents and not just to the other translators' intents) but also listening (as Krista Ratcliffe says Aristotle wouldn't) - listening with intent. Suzanne and Jacqueline and my friend having to visit three stores to prepare his family's passover are all suggesting subjectivity trumps Aristotle's aim for stand-offish and stand-above and stand-abstractly objectivity. The subjective personal counts more and counts for more than anything an objective expert on the bible can explain to you. "But but but it's Biblical!!" biblical schmiblical

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