Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sexual harassment

When I first started blogging, it became increasingly clear to me that Aristotle's sexism and misogyny and gynephobia had penetrated the domain of Bible translation. So I wrote a post entitled, "Icky-ness: (womanly) Word Play in Bible Translation." Suzanne commented, first, following my post to say, "That is very striking. I had not ever read this passage in Greek, that I remember." And then she said, "Here is a truly gyn-icky-logical article."

The article she directed us to was by Daniel Wallace.  That was my introduction to Wallace and to his sexism.

And now Wallace's sexual harassment, it seems, has extended to others who would endorse his views or would practice his practices.   Not even a week ago, Suzanne noticed how he or his blog editors had silenced her:  "I can't interact with Dr. Wallace's post because I have been blocked for not backing down on points of accuracy in Latin and Greek, or something like that."  And then today, Suzanne has been warned by one of the men at the all-male BBB about being one who would "pursue the gender discussion on this posting."  Never mind that the BBB posting is all about Wallace's part-1 of his "review" of the NIV 2011, a "review" in which Wallace mentions gender many many times.  Never mind that the BBB posting refers to Wallace's review where Wallace himself even uses the word gender there exactly 13 times.  Go figure.  (Notice, I'd just been sitting by, listening into the conversation up to that point.  No longer.  Peter Kirk says you can discuss gender not at BBB but at his other blog.  Why?  I'd say you should also feel free to discuss Wallace and the NIV 2011 and gender here at this blog.)

There's much to say about Wallace's review per se.  Kirk has started in on one little point.  I'd like to pick that up just a little more here.  Kirk gets into the history but not necessarily the Greek.  And Wallace is not careful with his own Greek revisionism when he accuses the NRSV translation team of historical revisionism.  He says, at one point:
In 1 Tim 3.2, “married only once” [by the NRSV] translates the Greek phrase, “husband of one wife” (though some evidence has been suggested that this phrase might mean simply “married only once”). The text now sounds like Paul would allow women to be elders/bishops, but that seems to be a case of historical revisionism.
In fact, the Greek phrase is μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα, mias gunaikos andra.  Please notice how "the Greek phrase" for Wallace is, rather, exactly the instead-English phrasing of the male-only ESV Bible translators, which they also allow in a footnote to be alternatively, literally, read as "a man of one woman."  Now, Wallace (in his parenthetical note) suggests "some evidence" for an expanded meaning.  But he doesn't tell us what he means by his italicized "some"; nor does he bother to direct us to where we might find this additional evidence for the additional meanings.  So may I please suggest we find the note that Ann Nyland gives for this Greek phrase?  Here is what Nyland says, pointing out how Paul to Timothy recognizes faithfulness to one's partner, whether one is a man or a woman, faithfulness whether one is a monogamous husband or a monogamous wife:
μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα, mias gunaikos andra. "faithful to one's partner".  See also 1 Tim. 5:9, ἑνὸς ἀνδρὸς γυνή, henos andros gune.  For references to where this term, or its Latin equivalent, was used on epitaphs to describe a woman faithful to her husband, see C. Keever, And Marries Another, Hendrickson, 1991, pp. 91-2.  Dr. Instone Brewer states, "In New Testament times those phrases meant 'a one-woman man' or a 'one-man-woman', i.e., someone who was faithful.  Timothy was being told to make sure his deacons were not sexually immoral, which was very difficult in a society where you were allowed to sleep with your [female] slaves and where a host was expected to provide [female] prostitutes after a banquet."  Divorce and Remarriage in the Church:  Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities, Great Britain, 2003, p. 177.
Well, enough of Wallace's review for now.  What his blogging is doing and what the BBB now is doing is silencing a woman, preventing her from talking about gender while men only talk about women in the Bible and in Bible translation.  Yes, at least the BBB is restricting all of us from talking about women in the Bible and its translation or about aadvarks, as if the two were really the same.

Here, Suzanne rightly calls this "Sexual harassment," what Wallace is doing with his "biblical gynecology."  And see how she much more fairly deals with him, even on his terms, not silencing him or using sexual metaphors for the other, but through conversation and a comparison/contrast of views:

McCarthy vs Wallace

McCarthy vs Wallace 2

McCarthy vs Wallace 3

McCarthy vs Wallace 4

McCarthy vs Wallace 5

McCarthy vs Wallace 6

And related:

Faithful in little ...

Mike Heiser and Junia

Are complementarians biblical?

Junia resurrected

Junia, may she live forever

Gobsmacked at Dan Wallace

Dan Wallace compares the NRSV and the ESV 











Suzanne said...

Hi Kurk,

Thanks very much for this. I know that this article was written quite some time ago, and since then Dr. Wallace has changed the title. But the context is that somebody emailed me recently to say that he thought I was strident with Dr. Wallace in an exchange a couple of years ago, before the title was changed. So that is why I brought it up again.

Actually I am not sure about this exegesis by Nyland. I still think it means a "one woman man" and not the reverse. But that does not change the doctrinal implications, which are simply that if the deacon is a married man, he should be married to, or sleeping with, only one woman.

J. K. Gayle said...

Thanks for bringing up Wallace in his various iterations and revisions and contexts, Suzanne.

And you got me thinking more about Ann Nyland's exegesis.

Peter Kirk said...

Kurk, isn't it the pot calling the kettle black when on this all-male blog you complain about BBB being all-male? The only reason BBB is all-male is that, despite looking, we can't find a woman who wants to join it. But surely what matters in this case is not what body parts we possess but what we have to say.

I have written quite a lot about the phrase sometimes translated "husband of one wife". Last year I busted the myth that it was used of women. Five years ago I wrote a whole series about this phrase.

But there are other interesting topics in Bible translation, so at BBB we don't want every thread diverted into a discussion of gender.

tim bulkeley said...

Peter, currently in terms of Bible translation into English gender seems to be one of the few really hot questions. The ESV seems to have been inspired to combat translations that try to be less gendered. The NIV revisions were pulled from publication in the USA because of debate over gender in translation... If you want "Better Bibles" surely questions of the faithful and accurate rendering of gendered (or possibly gendered) Bible texts needs to be freely discussed.

If you all want BBB to be a gentlemen's club where other concerns are excluded why not just limit comments to members of the club!

NB: by "you" I do not mean you as an individual but the collective you of the BBB.

Peter Kirk said...

Tim, on the contrary, we want to broaden the range of commenters on BBB. But many people who might otherwise comment on the important matters we raise, ones which are not about gender, are being scared away by the way in which a small number of our contributors search for an excuse to turn every comment thread into a series of rants or a slanging match about gender. Frankly we are fed up with this discussion and want to talk about other important matters.

So we want to restrict comments about gender to posts which are about gender. There might be some of those if we were allowed time to write instead of moderating comments to decide if the same three or four people are just keeping within our rules.

tim bulkeley said...

If such an issue arose in the face to face world we would sit the people concerned down round a pot of coffee and get them talking... is some virtual coffee pot solution no longer possible?

Because if not then the solution that seems currently favoured involves the use of blatant power to silence some voices...

Peter Kirk said...

Tim, there have been private discussions with some of the people involved. Perhaps these discussions need to be broadened.

Suzanne said...


I think you know that I was moderated on the BBB for trying to explain in all honestly to CD Host that he would have to discuss gender on my blog. I had already mentioned that, but he did not come to my blog until I mentioned it the second time, then he did. But by that time, I was already moderated.

I wrote that I was the one who was not to discuss gender because there is a consistent pattern that when other commenters mention gender, nobody tells them that they cannot. But when I mention it - there is a reaction.

Naturally my comment will stand out as marked, because I am one woman among a large group of male bloggers. A comment by a male does not stand out among men, but my comment as a female stands out.

I really don't get it. You say not to fight this, just to go off peacefully, I presume. And where would I be if women before me had not fought for women's rights. I know where I would be and I don't like the implications at all.

Even Paul stood up for his rights. There is no magic word from God that tells women not to stand up for the rights of women.

You have always been a good friend, Peter, but I am not sure what you are thinking about this situation.

Peter Kirk said...

Suzanne, as you know there has been a lot of private discussion about these matters. So I will discuss it with you privately.

Paula said...

"Private discussions" are half the problem in these blogs. The back-channel is where the real discussions are, and then they wonder why those of us not privy to them don't understand the whole story. This needs to get out of the shadows and faced publicly.

Right now, based on this conversation alone, all I can see is that Sue has a legitimate grievance of clear bias against only her discussing gender. If the BBB wants us to believe this isn't so, they can't hide their argument from public view.