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Archive for the ‘Gender’ Category

ESV Endorsed By Lesbians

Posted by NT Wrong on December 3, 2008

The translators of the ESV are planning a special 'Lesbian Edition' of the ESV, following an endorsement from Lesbians for the Increase of Christian Knowledge (LICK).

Proposed New ESV cover: The translators of the ESV are planning a special 'Lesbian Edition' of the ESV, following an endorsement from Lesbians for the Increase of Christian Knowledge (LICK).

The new ESV translation of the Bible (alternatively, ‘English Standard Version’ or ‘Evangelical Standard Version’) has now been endorsed by Lesbians for the Increase of Christian Knowledge (LICK).

Although this may come as a surprise to those who are acquainted with the mainly conservative, androcentric ESV translation, it appears that the ESV has also slipped in the odd pro-Lesbian passage. For example, check out the ESV’s translation of Luke 17.35:

There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.”

As Mark Strauss prudishly explained at the 2008 Evangelical Theological Society Meeting:

“In contemporary English, “grinding together” suggests seductive dancing or something worse. (Perhaps both should have been taken for judgment!)”

“Something worse,” huh? I bet Mark Strauss can only imagine how these two women were grinding together. I bet he spent some time imagining it, too.

On the other hand, in an official press release, LICK has approved the ESV translation as endorsing the salvation of (at least some) lesbians, which is a considerable improvement from earlier conservative evangelical positions.

“I think this shows that God likes a good scissor,” commented LICK spokesperson Sapphie Powerscourt.

Posted in Biblical interpretation, Fundamentalism, Gender, Humour | 7 Comments »

The Radical Feminism of Deuteronomy?

Posted by NT Wrong on October 23, 2008

Have a look at the two versions of the “Do Not Covet” Commandment, which Exodus and Deuteronomy claim Yahweh gave to Moses and all Israel, at Mt. Sinai:

Exodus 20.17:

לֹא-תַחְמֹד אֵשֶׁת רֵעֶךָ וְעַבְדּוֹ וַאֲמָתוֹ וְשׁוֹרוֹ וַחֲמֹרוֹ וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר לְרֵעֶךָלֹא-תַחְמֹד אֵשֶׁת רֵעֶךָ וְעַבְדּוֹ וַאֲמָתוֹ וְשׁוֹרוֹ וַחֲמֹרוֹ וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר לְרֵעֶךָ
You shall not covet your friend’s house. You shall not covet your friend’s wife, or his slave, or his maidservant, his cattle, or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your friend.”

Deuteronomy 5.21:

וְלֹא תַחְמֹד אֵשֶׁת רֵעֶךָ  {ס}  וְלֹא תִתְאַוֶּה בֵּית רֵעֶךָ שָׂדֵהוּ וְעַבְדּוֹ וַאֲמָתוֹ שׁוֹרוֹ וַחֲמֹרוֹ וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר לְרֵעֶךָ
“And you shall not covet your friend’s wife. And you shall not desire your friend’s house, his field, or his slave, or his maidservant, his cattle, or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your friend.”

In a recent blog post, Claude Mariottini makes much of the change in order of the first two coveted items. The result of the change is that women are separated out from the property of their husbands. He rightly notes that Deuteronomy uses a different verb to describe the proscribed desire of a woman (hāmad חמד; cf. for the following property: ’āwāh אוה). This, claims Mariottini, constitutes “an important change of attitude toward the status of women in Israelite society.” He explains:

“The book of Deuteronomy’s revision of the Tenth Commandment separates the woman from a man’s property in order to give proper attention to the rights of the woman.
… I believe that the Deuteronomic sequence of “wife” and “house” is a radical shift in the view of the status of women in Israelite society. The Deuteronomic change reflects the increased concern for the status of women in Israelite society in the seventh century BCE and the recognition that women had legal rights as members of the covenant community.”

I have a couple of concerns with these conclusions:

1. Even if we accept that the change in order in Deut 5.21 is a conscious separation of women from a man’s property, and that it reflects some historical reality from some point in the history of Judea, is this really evidence of a “radical” shift in women’s status? We still have to ask: who are these coveting commandments being addressed to? They are addressed to males. Men are the the assumed addressees of at least this part of the covenant, even if women, aliens, and slaves are also included in the covenant elsewhere. That is, the assumed audience still comprises males, who are also addressed in the following sentence (in their normal capacity as property-holders). Although the word can have emotive connotations, it pays to remember that ‘Property’ is no more than ‘a bundle of rights’ that one person has over an object. But the word “property” does not appear in the Tenth Commandment. Instead, the verses talk generally about that which is “to your friend”. Given that the possessive “your” also appears with “friend’s wife”, couldn’t this also still include everything just listed in the verse, including “your friend’s wife”? Sure, there are different governing verbs for the wife and the other things, but the verbs are close similes. Moveover, and as a matter of realpolitik rather than the questionable use of imposed terms like “property”, is there any real evidence in Deut 5.21 that the bundle of rights that a Judean man had over his wife has been altered at all?

2. If the Deuteronomist’s changes result in some moral improvement, doesn’t this mean that the law delivered to Moses by Yahweh on Mt. Sinai (as recorded in Exodus) was morally inferior? Isn’t it a bit odd that “the recognition that women had legal rights as members of the covenant community” involves changing those very legal rights in order to recognise them? What does this mean for making laws today, if you accept that Yahweh made laws that “were not good” in the Bible? Isn’t there a continuing obligation to morally improve on Yahweh’s morally inferior laws? One obvious example, reflected in the Tenth Commandment, is the biblical law concerning slavery. The Bible never seriously challenges the morality of enslavement, only providing some minimal protection, and differentiating on the basis of race as between ‘Israelite’ and ‘non-Israelite’ slaves. Obviously, many modern nations have seen grounds for moral improvement to Yahweh’s laws here. How about, as a random example, the laws against same-sex relations? Are these morally inferior laws which should also be changed?

Update: Charles Halton, of Awilum, makes some further objections to Claude Mariottini’s approach. See his fine comment, in which he draws attenton to the need to separate out the views of the narrator from those of the characters, questions whether any cessation of marriage gifts would have effected a change in status for women, and questions the assumption that women were seen as equivalent ‘property’ with donkeys.

Posted in Gender, Justice, Pentateuch | 2 Comments »

Q Was a Woman

Posted by NT Wrong on October 18, 2008

There are many factors in Q, a source for both Matthew and Luke, which point in the same direction:

    Why such an interest in the female God, the divine Sophia?

    Why is woman’s domestic work accorded equality with a man’s work (Luke 13.20-21; 12.26-27; 17.25)?

    Why is there such an interest in the salvation of women (Luke 17.35)?

    Why is Q so interested in protecting women from remarriage and divorce (Luke 16.16-18; 17.27)?

    Why the interest in flowers and in heralding all that blooms (Luke 12.27-28; 6.43-45)?

    Why is Q interested in itinerant prophets, given the prominent role of women as prophetesses in the earliest church (Luke 10.2ff; Luise Schottroff, ‘Itinerant Prophetesses’)?

    Why does Q remember so many words of Jesus containing domestic elements — salt that has lost its savour (Luke 14.34-35); children (10.21-24); lamps (11.33-35); washing cups (11.39-44); mixing flour until leavened (13.21)?

    Why does Q have such an interest in purses? eg “Make purses for yourselves” (Luke 12.33; cf. 10.4)?

Surely the answer must be: Q was a woman.

And if so, given the early date of Q (ca. AD 50), would we not expect a woman at the centre of Jesus’ circle of followers? Yes, Q was — in all probability — Mary Magdalene.

The earliest known Gospel was written by a woman. To those who protest that this is just a hypothesis, I ask: Why should we add to the centuries of suppression by male Evangelists of this Woman’s Gospel, penned by the foremost of the apostles who tradition records arrived first at the tomb? No, the Gospel of Mary, Q, must be given its rightful attribution — to the first of the Evangelists, a woman.

Posted in Gender, Gospels, Source & Redaction | 71 Comments »

SBL International Auckland – Day 4

Posted by NT Wrong on July 10, 2008

Philip Culbertson received the prize for the best title to a paper at the International Congress:

“Bobbitizing God: On the Importance of the Divine Genitals Remaining Un-Manageable”

Philip Culbertson examined the third gender fa’afafine from Samoa (a male who takes on feminine gender roles and dress). After some discussion of fa’afafines, and the cultural construction of gender in general, he suggested that God’s gender be thought of as something that he performs on certain occasions rather than as something essential to God. That is, sometimes God acts in a masculine way, sometimes in a feminine way.

George Aichele discussed the different Jesuses in the four Gospels and the manner by which the canon serves to control diversity by subsuming them under a single voice. He provided a great set of examples of how each of the Gospels portrays a different Jesus. Apparently the paper will be published in the The Bible and Critical Theory. It’s an absolute blast – look out for it.

And then we went to the pub. We spotted this blackboard on the wall, advertising a beer called “Petrus”:

Posted in Biblical interpretation, Gender, Jesus & Christ, The Bible | Comments Off on SBL International Auckland – Day 4

For the Bible Tells Me So – Homosexuals and Biblical-Literalist Cultures

Posted by NT Wrong on May 24, 2008

The movie For the Bible Tells Me So (2007) deals with the experiences of “five very normal, very Christian, very American families” including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson in order to “discover how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child.”

“I had good kids. We had one of each sex. When my kids were growing up, I said, ‘God, please, don’t let my son grow up to be a faggot and my daughter to be a slut.’ And he, and he did not do that.”
– David Poteat

It seems to be available on YouTube at the moment, in 11 parts.

Posted in Fundamentalism, Gender, Justice, The Bible | Comments Off on For the Bible Tells Me So – Homosexuals and Biblical-Literalist Cultures