Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 13 October 2018

Neal Michell The Living Church Outreach in the Smaller Church: Four Lessons

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Bible translations and dogma

Andrew Lightbown Theore0 Talking of The Clash, Bonhoeffer, and the Church of England.

Bishop David Walker Viamedia.News My Struggles with Fear & Distrust

Ian Gomersall St Chrysostom’s Church News and Views Mother N and Father M

Jody Stowell Women and the Church God; She, He and everything in between

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peterpi -- Peter Gross
peterpi -- Peter Gross
2 years ago

The articles by Stephen Parsons, Andrew Lightbrown, and Jody Stowell were well-written and thoughtful. Regarding Biblical translations, I would like to think many people know that translations have often been done from a specific point of view (for example, numerous scholars have argued that the KJV often used translated words that reinforced the British monarchy), and even when translators have done their best to be faithful and neutral to the original text, the Bible’s original languages are bound to have words or phrases that are ambiguous or are idioms that are not easily translatable, so a translalor has to use… Read more »

David Rowett
David Rowett
Reply to  peterpi -- Peter Gross
2 years ago

The classic in terms of ‘interested party’ translation (setting aside the New World translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses) is the ubiquitous NIV – so much so that one of the translators, Stephen W. Paine, maintains that the translators were selected on the precondition that they believed the Bible to be inerrant. Consequently some of the rather forced renderings of the translation in question (Isa 7.14, Gen 2.2…) become immediately explicable. Regrettably, I don’t think the vast majority of ministers, let alone congregations, are aware of NIV axe-grinding even when they are aware of (say) the JB’s RC origins.

Stanley Monkhouse
2 years ago

Mr Gillis, spot on! And yet ordinands are still being made to waste time on this piffle, and “reflect” on the results. Having been to some Training Incumbent “training” there is a fair bit of psychobabble pseudoscience dressed up as fact that we/they are expected to swallow. Fads of 20 years ago presented as up-to-date: typical of the church.

Kate
Kate
2 years ago

Jody Stowell shows she doesn’t understand trans people who transition with all her talk of gender rather than sex, but, leaving that aside, she says “if God is seen as male then people can be forgiven for thinking that men are perhaps more important than women”. I have seen that argument several times over the past few weeks as a basis for talking of God as both male and female. For me it is deeply flawed. Even if one accepts the underlying premise that a shared sex matters, if it does then the impact is the opposite of the argument… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
2 years ago

“Myers-Briggs is pure baloney and the results psychological placebo babel. There is an abundance of literature on the subject”.

But Roderick, many people say the same thing about Christianity.

L Nelder
L Nelder
2 years ago

I have most of the translations of the bible for academic study and I use the Jewish Study Bible for all my Old Testament study because it is the one translation I can trust not to have a Christian interpretation underlying it. It raises eyebrows when I read for it because in some ways it uses very different English words than the KJV, NIV or NRSV that most of the rest of my class use. I’m also happy using it because it is the Jews book and they have been studying and translating and interpreting a lot longer than Christians… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  L Nelder
2 years ago

I’m no Biblical scholar but I would have thought that Jewish translations of scripture have a risk of anti-Christian bias in interpretation. Jewish thought hasn’t developed in a vacuum over the last 2000 years and there is going to be at least some urge among non-Christian Jews to disprove Christian interpretations of scripture particularly passages perceived by Christians as referring to Jesus.

Bernard Silverman
Bernard Silverman
Reply to  Jo B
2 years ago

Would Jo B be so good as to provide a single piece of evidence for their assertion?

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Jo B
2 years ago

One of the Gospels translates Isaiah 7:14 as saying “behold, a virgin shall conceive”, when a more accurate translation is “behold, a young woman shall conceive” Many young women are virgins, but it is not a requirement. There are other examples of Christians reading back into the Jewish Scriptures proof of their particular Christology. It is very easy to find proof of Jesus of Nazareth being the Messiah in the Jewish Scriptures, when Jesus came after they were written. If a (group of) Jewish scholar(s) translates the Jewish Scriptures in a way that displeases some Christians, is that really “disproving”… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
2 years ago

I’m not saying that bias is the only reason for disagreements between Christians and Jews, only that it should be considered a possibility in both directions. Isaiah 7:14, as I understand it, uses a Hebrew word something akin to “maiden” in English; generally meaning a young woman but with connotations of virginity. The Christian interpretation comes not only from the New Testament quotation of the passage but from the Septuagint translation which does use a word closer to our use of virgin. Absolutely a Christian choice to translate almah as virgin is potentially a biased one; but there is that… Read more »

John U.K.
John U.K.
Reply to  Jo B
2 years ago

I seem to recall that the Jewish canon of what we call the O.T. reached final definition after the time of Christ – hence the differences between the contents of the Hebrew Bible and the Septuagint.
(see also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Development_of_the_Hebrew_Bible_canon )

David Rowett
David Rowett
Reply to  Jo B
2 years ago

I think the thing which nails the questionable practice of rendering the Hebrew of Isa 7.14 as ‘virgin’ is that if Isaiah of Jerusalem had wished to indicate a ‘parthenogenic’ sign one would have expected the use of ‘bethulah,’ = ‘virgin’ rather than the generic ‘almah. I’ve come across a rather specious argument that the Syriac supports the traditional rendition, but given that it looks to be a back-translation from the Greek, and presumably the Christianised Greek at that I don’t really credit it. Had it not been for the LXX and the NT use of it I very much… Read more »

David Rowett
David Rowett
Reply to  David Rowett
2 years ago

(apologies for over-laconic usage – The Syriac OT isn’t thought to be back-translated: the NT almost certainly is,and one might logically suppose that this has influenced the translation at Isa 7.14, given that the Aramaic Targums apparently don’t support the ‘Virgin’ reading. Sorry for any confusion in an over-compressed line.)

peterpi -- Peter Gross
peterpi -- Peter Gross
Reply to  David Rowett
2 years ago

“No, she was on her knees, in front of the Blessed Sacrament, saying her rosary….’”

That reminds me of people I have talked to who (for axe-grinding reasons of their own, I presume) insisted Jesus of Nazareth wasn’t Jewish. That he was Christian.
I asked them if they thought Jesus of Nazareth walked around with the apostles worshipping himself!

L Nelder
L Nelder
Reply to  Jo B
2 years ago

It’s not an anti- Christian bias; it’s just that they aren’t translating with a view to supporting New Testament assertion with a more ‘suitable’ word use. Most of the scholars are trying for accuracy above all else, and this translation has gone through a lot of hands to make sure it is as faithful to the original as it can be.

Kate
Kate
2 years ago

A literal appeal to Genesis would suggest that God must be sexually dimorphic and capable of reproduction with a similar partner. It sort of breaks down. So “in His image” must mean something different. How about meaning “an immortal soul capable of incarnatimg as either male or female”? Then neither we nor God has a sex until we incarnate, but do have a gender expressing the sex into which it would be more comfortable to incarnate. For God, this would be male as in Jesus and ‘Our Father’. Genesis is not text which supports God as both male and female… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Kate
2 years ago

There is no Biblical evidence for God being female.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Kate
2 years ago

“As a mother comforts her child so shall I myself comfort you”

And what of Sophia, divine Wisdom? Is she not of God? The Bible credits her with guiding Noah, leading the Exodus and a host of other acts attributed elsewhere to God.

Mother Hubbard
Mother Hubbard
2 years ago

Interesting piece by Ian Gomersall, and in the context of prison chaplaincy a worthwhile exercise – after all, it is our “Christian” name by which we are known as children of God. The Navy works along the same principle with chaplains, and the chaplain adopts the rank of the person they talk to (unlike in the Army or RAF where the chaplain always carries officer’s rank), so there is no question of hierarchy and deference but of trust. However, in a parish context I find the concept of Father/ Mother flawed. It infantilises the congregation and lays the foundation of… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Mother Hubbard
2 years ago

Yes, I agree. The ‘Father/Mother’ title for priests is also very unhelpful for many people who have come from dysfunctional families – although some looking for a parent substitute do like it. The question is, does that help them, or the priest for that matter? Because most of us are not trained to handle transference.

My parishioners have always called me Janet. Ironically enough, now that I’m retired I’m called ‘Rev. Janet’ in my local parish!

David Emmott
David Emmott
Reply to  Mother Hubbard
2 years ago

‘ If you really want to get alongside the people you let them call you by what THEY are comfortable with, and remember that you are their servant.’ That is the key, I agree. However, I don’t think I am alone in feeling somewhat uncomfortable with the instant familiarity which means that every stranger I speak to in a call centre, for example, addresses me as David. A little bit of distance helps to maintain necessary boundaries. In a secular context Mr, Ms, Mrs serves. Within the Christian community we are all of course brothers and sisters so Christian names… Read more »

dr.primrose
dr.primrose
2 years ago

There are scholars who argue that the whole issue of the maleness and femaleness of God, based on the passages from the Genesis creation stories, is misapplied because it is based on a fundamental mistranslation of the Hebrew text. This is because, they say, the words “male” and “female” are nouns, not adjectives.

So, rather than “male and female he created them”, the better translation would be:

“in the image of God he created them;
A male and A female he created them.”

The text thus deals with an act of creation by God, not an attribute of God.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  dr.primrose
2 years ago

That doesn’t surprise me.

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