Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Women and Bibles and Jews! Oh my!

This is a continuation of ESV, Luther Bible, and Jewish Women, a post started earlier in conversation with Suzanne's. I suppose there's not much more to give except (a) reminders and (b) illustrations.

(a) The reminders are these:

Jewish-German-bible-translating rhetorical-poetry writing women, such as Gertrud Kolmar, can sound like Martin Luther if they wish. (Listen again - "This towel is dirty beyond all measure.") And they can sound otherwise too. ("You hear me speak. But do you hear me feel?")

In contrast, men who put women down only sound one way. There's a motivator for this: fear masked as logic. For example, the gynophobic Aristotle is afraid to sound like a woman. And Luther (as Aristotle-loathing as he becomes) is nonetheless still fearful of letting a women speak; so he says, even around his own family's dinner table, things like "There is no gown or garment that worse becomes a woman than when she will be wise" and "Never any good came out of female domination. God created Adam master and lord of living creatures, but Eve spoilt all, when she persuaded him to set himself above God's will. 'Tis you women, with your tricks and artifices, that lead men into error." And Wayne Grudem, one of the dozen male-only members of the ESV Translation Oversight Committee, also seems afraid to listen to a women teaching: first, he strangely uses a cobbled excerpt from a secondary source to warrant (incorrectly) that "Aristotle 'believed that men and women should have the same education and training'" in order to conclude that feminists are just wrong about the Greek inequality of education for females; and, second, Grudem oddly uses the Bible itself to claim that women cannot teach men because "It is the order of creation" (pages 173, 176 of his chapter, "Feminist Views Based on Untruthful Claims," in his book, Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism?).

Luther, his 1984 revisers, and the ESV team members sometimes ironically downplay the sexism of the text. Their masculinist translations that would have a woman naturally silent are translations that curiously downplay the misogyny by masking over the prominence and dominance of the man. It's as if the translators want to say, "Yes, God's image includes boy image and girl image. But let's just not make a big feminist deal right now out of what natural order of creation is, namely male over fe-male, man over wo-man. Let's just let fe-males and wo-men fit into this default, unmarked world (of us males and men)."

Perhaps these male translators want to hear a woman speak. But if so they want to hear her speaking to other women, and to children.

Perhaps these male translators want to hear a woman speak. But can they hear her feel?

(b) Some illustrations are these:

The only bit I need to show in this post is Exodus 35:20-22. The only bit of textual commentary I'm going to make is this little note of advice:

"Pay attention to the (masked over) male nouns (i.e., / בן ben / איש 'iysh / אנוש 'enowsh / איש 'iysh /) and to their relation to the explicit feminine nouns (i.e., both the grammatically feminine /עדה `edah / and the semantically fe-male /אשה 'ishshah /) and to how the pronouns are constructed in relation to these nouns."

Now, here we go:

ESV Exodus 35:
20 Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses.
21 And they came,
whose heart stirred him,
and everyone whose spirit moved him,
and brought the LORD’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting,
and for all its service,
and for the holy garments.
22 So they came,
both men and women.
who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and armlets, all sorts of gold objects,
every man dedicating an offering of gold to the LORD.

Luther Bible (revised 1984) Exodus 35:
20 Da ging die ganze Gemeinde der Israeliten von Mose weg.
21 Und alle, die es gern und freiwillig gaben, kamen
und brachten dem HERRN die Opfergabe zur Errichtung der Stiftshütte
und für allen Dienst darin
und für die heiligen Kleider.
22 Es brachten
aber Männer und Frauen
freiwillig Spangen, Ohrringe, Ringe und Geschmeide und allerlei goldenes Gerät, ein jeder das Gold,
das er zur Gabe für den HERRN bestimmt hatte.

Luther (original)
20 Da ging die ganze Gemeinde der Kinder Israel aus von Mose.
22 ... Dazu brachte jedermann Gold zum Webeopfer dem HERRN.

In contrast, here is Julia E. Smith, letting the inherent sexism of the text show in her transparent literal translation of Exodus 35:
20 And all the assembly of the sons of Israel will go forth from before Moses.
21 And they will come,
every man whose heart lifted him up
and every one whose spirit impelled him,
and they brought the offering of Jehovah to the work of the tent of appointment,
and for all its work, and for the garments of the holy place.
22 And they will come,
the men with the women,
all of a willing heart,
they brought rings, and ear-rings, and seals, and globules of gold, all vessels of gold:
and every man who lifted up a waving of gold to Jehovah.

And here's some Jews' translation of their own scriptures into Greek (again letting the male dominance show in the text of) Exodus 35:
20 καὶ ἐξῆλθεν πᾶσα συναγωγὴ υἱῶν Ισραηλ ἀπὸ Μωυσῆ
21 καὶ ἤνεγκαν
ἕκαστος ὧν ἔφερεν αὐτῶν ἡ καρδία,
καὶ ὅσοις ἔδοξεν τῇ ψυχῇ αὐτῶν,
ἤνεγκαν ἀφαίρεμα κυρίῳ εἰς πάντα τὰ ἔργα τῆς σκηνῆς τοῦ μαρτυρίου
καὶ εἰς πάντα τὰ κάτεργα αὐτῆς
καὶ εἰς πάσας τὰς στολὰς τοῦ ἁγίου.
22 καὶ ἤνεγκαν
οἱ ἄνδρες παρὰ τῶν γυναικῶν·
πᾶς, ᾧ ἔδοξεν τῇ διανοίᾳ,
ἤνεγκαν σφραγῖδας καὶ ἐνώτια καὶ δακτυλίους καὶ ἐμπλόκια καὶ περιδέξια, πᾶν σκεῦος χρυσοῦν,
καὶ πάντες, ὅσοι ἤνεγκαν ἀφαιρέματα χρυσίου κυρίῳ.

Now the Hebrew:
וַיֵּצְאוּ כָּל־עֲדַת בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל מִלִּפְנֵי מֹשֶֽׁה׃
וַיָּבֹאוּ כָּל־אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר־נְשָׂאֹו לִבֹּו וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר נָדְבָה רוּחֹו אֹתֹו הֵבִיאוּ אֶת־תְּרוּמַת יְהוָה לִמְלֶאכֶת אֹהֶל מֹועֵד וּלְכָל־עֲבֹדָתֹו וּלְבִגְדֵי הַקֹּֽדֶשׁ׃
וַיָּבֹאוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים עַל־הַנָּשִׁים כֹּל נְדִיב לֵב הֵבִיאוּ חָח וָנֶזֶם וְטַבַּעַת וְכוּמָז כָּל־כְּלִי זָהָב וְכָל־אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר הֵנִיף תְּנוּפַת זָהָב לַיהוָֽה׃

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