Oops, she did it again

Head DeskIntroduction

Valerie M. Hudson [1] has co-authored a new article in the April 2013 Ensign arguing for her usual egalitarian take on Mormon patriarchy. I have mixed feelings on Hudson. I think her heart is in the right place in that she seems to genuinely want what she regards as egalitarian relationships within Mormonism. What she says in her article about social science supporting the efficacy and satisfaction of egalitarian relationships over hierarchical ones is spot on; I might have written it myself. However, I also regard her as an impediment to true feminist reform of Mormonism, because she apologizes for patriarchal structures within the church that disenfranchise women, and does so by wrapping those structures in a pretty faux-feminist doily, thus maintaining that said structures are empowering to women and in no need of serious change. For example, her 2010 FAIR presentation essentially came down to arguing that women do not need the priesthood because they can give birth. It was the most poetic and well-written rendition of “women don’t need priesthood because they can have babies” that I have ever heard, but in the end, it was still “women don’t need power/authority XYZ because they can be mothers”—which is one of the oldest and most trite anti-feminist arguments on the books.

The Hafens’ Translation

This blog post is not primarily a critique of Hudson’s “feminist” (if you can even call it that) religious philosophy. Rather, it is about her serial abuse of the Hebrew language. Namely, this:

God also provided that Adam and Eve would rule together, as Elder Bruce C. Hafen, formerly of the Seventy, and his wife, Marie, explained:

“Genesis 3:16 states that Adam is to ‘rule over’ Eve, but this doesn’t make Adam a dictator. … Over in ‘rule over’ uses the Hebrew bet, which means ruling ‘with,’ not ruling ‘over.’ …” [2]

Except that it doesn’t. When the Hafens published their original Ensign article in 2007, Nitsav of Faith-Promoting Rumor blogged this critical analysis of their claims regarding Hebrew:

The claim is that the preposition bet (the letter b) should be translated as “with” not “over.” This is problematic for several reasons.

First, bet has many translational values in English- “in” “into” “at” “on” “by means of” “when” “among” and also “with.” However, “with” is fairly rare and somewhat indirect. Most often when the Hebrew writers wanted to say “with” or “in the company of” they use ‘et or ‘im (the consonantal inverse of Arabic ma’a, the typical Arabic word for “with”).

Second, as in many other languages, some verbs have a fixed preposition for governing objects. In English, for example, one listens, but one listens to something. When the verb “to listen” has an object, the preposition used between the object and the verb must be to. Similarly, the Hebrew verb “to rule” in the Genesis passage is mashal. When mashal governs an object, the mediating preposition is always bet. It is clear from all other occurrences of this verb that the meaning is one of ruling, governance, authority etc.. A king mashals b- his people. Joseph mashaled b-Egypt in Gen. 45:8. There are lots of other examples establishing this.

Nitsav calls the Hafens’ translation (which Hudson relies on) “indefensible from a scholarly perspective.” He goes on for several more paragraphs about why mashal b- in Genesis 3:16 cannot be translated “rule with” (it’s really worth it to click and read his article in full). And note that the Hafens do not teach that “rule with” is one possible alternate translation; they teach that “rule over” is completely wrong and that “rule with” is the only correct translation (!).

I have but a paltry undergraduate minor in Hebrew myself, but I have done a little bit of legwork on this. I would add to what Nitsav writes that “rule with” makes little sense thematically. In Gen. 3:14-19, YHWH lays out a series of negative consequences for the serpent, the woman, and the man (respectively) on account of what the three of them have done. The consequences are as follows:

  • The serpent is cursed above all other livestock, will crawl on its belly and eat dust, and will experience conflict with the woman, its offspring in turn experiencing conflict with her offspring.
  • The woman will experience severe toil in labor and childbirth, her desire will be for her husband, and he will rule over her.
  • The man will only be able to draw food from the ground via severe toil and will experience a return to the dust from which he was formed, i. e. death.

Most of those things are overwhelmingly and obviously negative. There may be a ray of light for the serpent in that it will “strike the heel” of the woman’s offspring (v. 15), and some would argue that for the woman to desire her husband isn’t a bad thing (v. 16). (I’ll come back to that in a second.) Still, why would YHWH stop in the midst of all that foreboding news to declare glorious egalitarian partnership between husband and wife? And if egalitarianism is the result of the Fall, what was the pre-Fall order between husband and wife? Patriarchy? If so, shouldn’t that be what Christian men and women should seek to emulate? It should be clear by now that superimposing a positive prescription for egalitarian marriage in the middle of all that does violence to the narrative.

Let’s go back to “desire” in v. 16 though, because I think Nitsav fails to mention a very important occurrence of mashal b-. The Hebrew word for “desire” in v. 16, tĕshuwqah, is uncommon, appearing only 3 times in the entire Hebrew Bible (Gen. 3:16, Gen. 4:7, and SoS 7:10). Its proximity to Gen. 4:7 is not accidental. Let’s compare the two:

Gen. 3:16 To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire (tĕshuwqah) shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you (mashal b-).” (NRSV)

Gen. 4:7 “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire (tĕshuwqah) is for you, but you must master it (mashal b-).” (NRSV)

The two verses are intentionally parallel, similar in meaning. So if Gen. 3:16 means that Adam and Eve are supposed to rule jointly in egalitarian partnership, what does Gen. 4:7 mean? That Cain is supposed to have egalitarian partnership with his sin? The only thing that makes any sense for either of these verses is “rule over,” not “rule with.” The verses predict a struggle for power between the two parties in question (woman and man, sin and Cain).

As a final note, I consulted 26 English translations of the Bible prior to publishing this article (ASV, BBE, CEB, CJB, Darby, DR, ESV, GNT, GWT, HCS, HNV, KJV, NASB, NCV, NIV, NIrV, NKJV, NLT, NRSV, RSV, TNIV, TMB, WEB, Webster, Wycliffe, YLT). I also consulted the Joseph Smith Translation, which had this verse at 3:22. Number of Bibles that translated Gen. 3:16 with a hierarchical clause (rule over, be lord of, have dominion over, master, be subject to, etc.):

27

Number of translations that translated Gen. 3:16 with an egalitarian clause (rule with, etc.):

0

Number of translations that listed an egalitarian clause in the footnotes as an alternative translation:

0

There is only one correct way to translate Gen. 3:16, and that is with a hierarchical clause. It does not mean “rule with” in any way, shape or form. It is not even a minority variant translation of the text.

Hudson’s Abuse

The Hafens are not Hebrew scholars. As far as I’m aware, they are not scholars or academics of any sort (UPDATE 3-25-2013: this is not accurate. See footnote #3). [3] Bruce has a BA in political science from BYU and a law degree from the University of Utah, and I can’t find any biographical information or academic publications for Marie. Their 2007 article claims that “Donald W. Parry, Brigham Young University professor, helped with the Hebrew translations.” Dr. Parry was one of my Hebrew professors at BYU, and I do not know the specifics of what his “help” consisted of in this case. I only know that the Hafens’ Hebrew is very wrong. I also know that I can forgive a few well-meaning ecclesiastical leaders for fudging their Hebrew in one publication.

Valerie Hudson is another story, because Hudson is a respected scholar and academic—albeit in political science and not Hebrew. Regardless, she should know better than to cite ecclesiastical leaders with no training in Hebrew to contest a point of Hebrew grammar. I would not let a freshman undergraduate get away with that sort of authority fallacy in his or her term paper, let alone a woman with a doctorate and accolades for her work in another scholarly field.

On top of this, Hudson has been made aware of the severe problems with the Hafens’ claims, and yet she continues to cite the Hafens as authoritative on the subject completely absent of qualification. On April 15, 2009, she left the following comment on Nitsav’s FPR post:

Hi, Nitsav, Elder Bruce C. Hafen obtained his translation from Professor Don Parry of BYU, renowned Hebrew scholar who is working on the Dead Sea Scroll translation. His email is donald_parry@byu.edu . I have a feeling he has very good reasons for his translation.

Does Hudson truly not understand that the private and unpublished theory of single scholar at a single university does not undo the entire corpus of Hebrew grammar that applies to this verse? Or the extensive translation work that has been done on it? Until her favored translation is published in a peer-reviewed journal and gains widespread acceptance among Hebrew scholars, Hudson has no business telling unsuspecting Mormons that “rule over” translations of Gen. 3:16 are incorrect. These people are putting their trust in her academic expertise, and she is disingenuously misleading them.

Hudson has not merely done this once or twice though; she seems to do it in every article that she writes or presentation that she does arguing for her egalitarian take on Mormon doctrine. For example:

The list goes on. Always the same citation of Hafen or the Hafens, always without any kind of qualification. And now, Hudson has perpetuated this mistranslation of Gen. 3:16 into the Ensign for the entire LDS church to consume (again).

Conclusion

I need to be clear that I am a member of and have published some articles with Christians for Biblical Equality. I believe in the ordination of women and advocate for them to be able to exercise their full range of spiritual gifts in the Body of Christ. Since we see the Bible as our ultimate authority on matters of faith, we often write essays arguing for egalitarian understandings of passages that seem to limit women’s roles in the church or subject them to men. We’re the people who argue things like “‘head’ in 1 Cor. 11 can carry the sense of ‘source'” and “1 Tim 2:12 can mean ‘to usurp authority’ or ‘to assume authority,’ not just ‘to hold authority.'” If there were any legs at all to this theory—if it were at all a valid minority translation of this verse—you would have found avid supporters in our ranks decades ago.

But we are also in a constant sparring match with other evangelical scholars, i. e. the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. If we published such an irresponsible argument concerning the translation of Gen. 3:16, it would be Christmas come early for CBMW. We would hear no end of how we’re manipulating the biblical text to support our own agenda, and they would have a slam-dunk case against us. I’ve discussed this Hafen/Hudson/Parry translation with several scholars affiliated with CBE, and they agree. There is just no merit to it whatsoever.

The 8th Article of Faith states that Mormons believe the Bible to be the word of God “as far as it is translated correctly.” Does Valerie Hudson believe in the 8th Article of Faith?

—–

[1] Some articles and blog posts refer to Valerie Hudson as “Valerie M. Hudson,” “Valerie Hudson,” or “Valerie Hudson Cassler.” I do not know which she prefers. I’ve chosen to refer to her here as “Valerie Hudson” since it’s easiest and “Cassler” is absent from the byline of her most recent Ensign article. Though the Ensign article is co-authored by Richard B. Miller along with Hudson, and he certainly bears some of the blame in this case for not checking his co-author’s sources or questioning her authority fallacy, I am treating this argument as exclusively Hudson’s because I know it to be one of her staples.

[2] Hudson is citing Bruce C. and Marie K. Hafen, “Crossing Thresholds and Becoming Equal Partners,” Ensign, Aug. 2007, 27.

[3] It’s come to my attention that this is not accurate. A commentator at another message board pointed out, “Bruce Hafen was a legal academic earlier in his life, having taught at BYU Law School and having served as dean of the same school. He published several law review articles in the areas of family law and education law. Marie Hafen earned a master’s degree in English and was an English instructor at Ricks and BYU.” (Source) My apologies to the Hafens for failing to locate this information before running this post. I certainly hope that if they are aware of Nitsav’s critique of their Hebrew, that they are no longer spreading this mistranslation of Gen. 3:16. H/T: Tom

Comments

Oops, she did it again — 93 Comments

  1. The “motherhood vs. priesthood” explanation has struck me as odd for a long time. My reaction is similar to Chandler’s when Joey walked in with multiple layers of Chandler’s clothes on: “Oh my God! That is so not the opposite of taking someone’s underwear!” I guess I just thought that fatherhood was the male equivalent of motherhood, not priesthood.

  2. If you are correct, then Mormon women are acting contrary to the scriptures when they argue a man should not rule over them.

  3. #3 Unknown ~ I don’t agree. I see Gen. 3:16 as descriptive rather than prescriptive. It predicts the future fallen state of the world where men will dominate women and women struggle against them. That’s no reason to emulate the description.

    That has been the standard Christian egalitarian take on the passage for decades, if not centuries.

  4. #1 WalkerW ~ Thanks. My image serves as a visual demonstration of how I have felt the past few years every time I have come across an article by Hudson parroting the Hafens’ bad Hebrew. And #2, LOL. Really, the problems with the priesthood-motherhood coupling are endless. I won’t even start here.

  5. Wow, I had completely forgotten that preposterous translation. As an Israeli, I say shtuyot bemitz agvaniyot. That is nonsense in tomato juice, not nonsense in egalitarian partnership with tomato juice.

  6. For my comment on this, see #28 here:

    http://zelophehadsdaughters.com/2008/12/29/the-problem-of-eves-submission/

    I look at this pretty much in accord with Lynette’s last paragraph in the OP. To me, Gen. 3:16 is an aetiology, not commanding that the man dominate the woman but explaining in a mythic way why that is the reality.

    For literalist Mormons, that idea was then scriptural and taken as normative for marriage relationships. It continued to be culturally-based, but now that culture was enshrined in scripture, which makes it harder to see it for what it is.

    In practical terms, we are ever so slowly evolving to a model of egalitarian marriage, but we are unwilling to give up our scriptural literalism on this point, which leads to harmonist attempts to have our cake and eat it too–what k. calls “chicken patriarchy.” To me, it’s easier to just give up on patriarchy than try to harmonize it with egalitarian relations in marriage.

    And k. of course is right about the translation of Gen. 3:16. Elder Hafen’s suggestion is well-intended, but it doesn’t work. The concept of ruling “over” is inherent in the verb itself; the preposition b- is simply denoting the object of the verb. The NET renders “dominate,” which makes harmonistic explanations very difficult!

  7. I respectfully and with great enthusiasm for your continued study in Hebrew disagree with you (I can’t rightfully express how very exciting it is to see a former student tackling topics such as this). You have forgotten a few giant pieces to this puzzle. Your comments regarding Tanakit Hebrew and the 27 translations that you reviewed serve me to illustrate translations of scripture have very little to do with exact renderings of the language, and much more to do with dominant knowledge power structures and the ways that translations could possibly challenge that power structure. You are speaking of this as a translation/linguistic conundrum when in reality it is a anthropological and sociological phenomenon, much less mathematical (this combination of letters=this definition) than it is being presented. We are speaking of the creation narrative, the most standardized portion of all of the Tanak. When we go to the wisdom literature there is much more variation in the text within the 27 translations, but here in this highly memorized, highly performed, highly quoted section of text variations in translation is rare, we don’t see dynamism offered in the text. The feeling is that it is etched in God-Moses-stone.

    Imagine those thousands of translators for the 27 different versions. Are they aware that there is wiggle room with this verb followed by a bet. absolutely. And are they aware that changing the meaning to “rule with” would promote a sea change in religious practice and therefore cause their productions to be exempt from publication. absolutely. Whenever we see a lack of variation where variation is possible, this should be a clue of power structures governing choices of the translators. Another example: Bnei-yisrael is translated “children of Israel” rather than “sons of Israel” usually. But whenever an act of priesthood authority is the context such as Bnei-Levi it is translated the “sons of Levi” rather than the “children of Levi.” Now there are a lot of reasons this decision is made, but it leaves the English reader convinced that there was no temple work in the temple by women when in reality we have evidence of the contrary with Hannah in the 4QSamuel and we see it was actually the “children of Levi” taking part. Translators can’t just choose to pen “children” even if they believe that is the better rendering, there are too many theological and cultural land-mines.

    I have seen this discussion of mashal+b many times and it usually involves native speakers using examples in modern Hebrew. Those are utterly inapplicable, of course. This is not a language with a natural ebb and flow and continuous usage. This was a dead language that was then re-created, not just re-born, but fastidiously man-made thank you dear ben Yehudah. If we limit ourselves to only biblical examples we have 74 that you can link to here: (http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/hebrew/kjv/mashal.html) and the first 2 uses of the word are where the sun “rules over” the day and then where Adam “rules over” Eve. I prefer “governs” or “oversee” for obvious enough reasons. The sun demanding obeisance and prestige from the earth seems pretty petty, as does a husband requiring the same from a God-given beloved wife. After or maybe there in the garden (this is post fall remember, perhaps we can read part of the seperation from God is loss of equality?) this verb becomes a rather negative term. Almost all of the 72 remaining usages have a person dominating unjustly or oppressing or ruling with a false power or overtaking a city. This is life. This is suffering and unrighteous dominion. Adam ruling over Eve being the first example of such un-Godly-out0of-the-presence-of-God dominion (We do have Joseph in Egypt with this verb, but the oppression that follows with the needed Exodus speaks of how his dominance was a scourge in the end).

    The exception is the final in Zechariah where it is God ruling from the throne, a return to the garden in presence of God. In the end I want to reiterate that the act of translation is rarely about revealing the true nature of a text when we are playing with scriptural texts. It is a dance within cultural requirements and dominant narratives. I have found thousands of readings that have offered me greater peace regarding female roles within the Tanak, but I never expect to see the dead words put into leather-bound form until living women are at the helms of faiths around the world. This is not because there aren’t translation options, this is because there are not leadership options.

  8. Thank you, Bridget. This was really my first exposure to this issue. Well, that’s not exactly true. Without knowing where the reading was coming from (I assumed the student had come up with it on his/her own), one of my students asked about this very issue last semester in my first semester Biblical Hebrew class at the University of Utah. I took a few minutes to explain why the passage cannot possibly be interpreted as “ruling with.”

    For what it’s worth, I completely agree with everything you’ve written and would add even one more point. In Hebrew, the clause translated in the KJV as “and thy desire shall be” begins with the Hebrew letter waw. This conjunction can be either conjunctive “and” or disjunctive “but.” Conceptually, the waw in this phrase seems to function disjunctively.

    As you so clearly explain, literally the passage pronounces a curse. It’s trying to explain why women have such painful pregnancies compared to animals. Since the woman ate the fruit that granted “knowledge” like the gods, she will no longer be like the other animals in the garden (remember, the animals were originally created as companions for the man, and the woman before eating the fruit can talk to a snake). Now, unlike animals, she will experience incredible pain through pregnancy.

    So why doesn’t she just avoid Yahweh’s curse and choose not to have sexual relations with her husband? Problem solved!

    “Well, you are going to have incredibly painful pregnancies and your husband is going to rule over you, BUT you’re going to sexually desire him, so you can’t escape it, my dear!” Or, if one wanted to retain the “and” nuance, “You are going to have incredibly painful pregnancies and your husband is going to dominate you, AND STILL you’re not going to be able to escape it because of your sexual desire.”

  9. Erin,
    The translation of Genesis 3:16 is obvious to all objective observers unburdened by theologcal necessity to twist it in one way or another. Your argument is contradictory. First you state that one should be wary when there is unform translation of a word among serious scholars when one “could have” translated it otherwise. This of course, according to you, just proves their bias. Let’s assume that you make your point—the consensus translations are wrong. Then you turn around and confirm the gist of the 27 transaltions —Adam is to “govern” or “oversee” Eve. Hence, the Hafen “translation” is grossly inadequate. QED. What was your point? Throwing irreleant sand in your former student’s eyes? Some teacher.

  10. Dear “Erin,”

    “You are speaking of this as a translation/linguistic conundrum when in reality it is a anthropological and sociological phenomenon, much less mathematical (this combination of letters=this definition) than it is being presented.”

    It’s true, rather than a “real” language, Biblical Hebrew is in fact a scholarly construct based upon the collection of books that appear in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. And as your post seems to suggest, these books only provide us with a partial representation of the various forms of Hebrew originally spoken in ancient Israel over about a thousand year time period.

    Thus, what we today call Biblical Hebrew is in reality a compilation of separate languages or dialects spoken by Israelites over an extended period of time. This means that in the Old Testament, we actually encounter several unique dialects of “dead languages” that have been merged together into a single compilation.

    But this does not mean that there are not “rules” for this construct and that a person is therefore simply free to make up whatever nuance he or she wishes to sustain a personal theology. Not only does the grammar simply not allow for reading the phrase as “to rule with,” but a contextual reading illustrates why this assertion cannot possibly be sustained!

    One cannot simply say the Hebrew means X because I like X!

  11. Erin ~ How wonderful it is to see my first Hebrew instructor here! :) I have been meaning to catch up with you.

    I’m going to respond to you in full later today. Right now I have to run. Just wanted to say hello!

  12. I have to agree with Mark. It seems to me that Erin is trying to suggest that there are mystical theological reasons why we should retain his view that what the Hebrew REALLY means is that the man will rule “with” the woman. Yet then, in the same exact post, Erin completely contradicts this assertion with this statement…

    “the first 2 uses of the word are where the sun “rules over” the day and then where Adam “rules over” Eve. I prefer “governs” or “oversee” for obvious enough reasons.”

    I’m not trying to offend, but it seems that Erin has not recognized the fact that it doesn’t matter if he substitutes the English word “govern” or “oversee” for “rule.” The grammar still means that the man will govern/oversee/rule his wife, no matter which English word he chooses for the 3rd person masculine singular form of mshl! It’s an etiology that explains unfortunately how human society has functioned for thousands of years! Men have ruled/governed/overseen women!

    The fact that this misrepresentation of the Hebrew has now appeared in the Ensign is very, very unfortunate and will need to be corrected.

  13. So, let me try this again, I’m not a blogger, I tend to write in longer swaths and so trying to distill my thoughts into a couple paragraphs is not a strength. Let me start with

    “The fact that this misrepresentation of the Hebrew has now appeared in the Ensign is very, very unfortunate and will need to be corrected.” from David.

    This is at the heart of my discomfort with this entire post. You’re suggesting that there is some kind of deep accuracy that would exist within the Ensign, and this would be a violation of that anticipated quality. So I have to guess that you would also anticipate the same kind of non-error to exist in a perfect translation, and certainly in the original text. This perspective is one that find myopic, not because I am undergoing a mystical transformation in my kabbalistic school (although that would be more enjoyable than this) or because I think I can translate any Hebrew word at my whim and ignore the rules governing the language.

    Nietzsche spoke of academics becoming like bees who were living in an abundant garden filled with beauty beyond compare, but they were so busy flying from pollen to hive, they never realized what their craft and community were building (or destroying I would add). As academics who work with holy writ I find this metaphor of the academy to be spot on. We pretend that if we memorize forms, variations, and vowel patterns then we will be able to fix any break in the machine, help the honey to flow. Yet it is not a machine, it’s a vast living organism of faith. It is a text that has existed for eons. It is a text that went through numerous transformations before we ever touched it. It is a text that has thousands of years of commentary and debate by one gender while the other was banned from such debates and even reading.

    I remember when I first opened BDB (the main dictionary of biblical Hebrew) and thought that I had the tools to know what every word in the Tanak meant. Thrilling. Then I learned of the Masorites and how the pointing (voweling) of the text came much later and I read through again and again trying to come up with alternative meanings when I lacked guiding vowels that the Masorites had superimposed to suggest root letters of verbs and found entirely new readings. Some of them were hilarious and kept us up so we could finish our assignments, some of them were life-altering.

    Academic Hebrew scholars are doing something needed, and valuable, but what they are not doing is what centuries of Rabbinical schools do and that is wrestle. The academic learns the rules and applies them, the rabbi seeks out a text that he has memorized and tries to allow new knowledge to flow, and then spends a lifetime arguing with other rabbis, family, and God about how that should or could be translated in the time it was written and alternatively today. This form of study of the scriptures involves an Akedah, a wrestling, with every reading. It is not a recipe for a translation, but a belief that a huge dose of human effort and surrendering can yield new knowledge and new translations for new times.

    That is what I was attempting to say with my earlier post. We can’t pretend that there is only one way to read a verse. I am a believer of enlightenment with scriptural text. I think that you and I can read it in different ways and both be “right” for the moment that we are living within. How many different religious traditions and cultures use this text? Do all of them need to have the exact same translation? And is the Hebrew scholar the one to choose which translation is accurate for each community?

    My guess is that your answer is “yes” because you see your tool chest of concordance and grammarian indexes as the authoritative nail in the sure place, but realize that the academic readings of our holy writ is relatively new in the structures of accepted knowledge.

    How about Elohim? I’ve heard 50 different reasons for why God is in the plural. Why the hell should a grammarian get to decide why Elohim is in the plural when religious traditions have all developed their own understanding and enlightenment for that element of the Tanak? For some it is the God of Gods or to denote the great power of God, for others is an obscure form of the hophal for one who makes Gods, for another it is because there is a Heavenly Mother and Father. This is something to wrestle with, not to make a final mark as a leader in the field.

    I am a semitic linguist and I am also a sociologist who is very interested in the sources of power and with the archeology of suppressed power particularly in narratives that are dominant (a Foucauldian topic). And I feel disenchanted to see people who know that the purpose of Hudson’s work was to try and restore some sanity to the masses of patriarchal order-ists. She did this with a varient reading, I’m not so interested in the reading itself, I’m simply interested in keeping the door open for variant readings. I hope that I will always be able to read the holy word of God in different ways. Not to disregard the dictionary and grammatical applications (but let us not pretend that those are not forms of power as well, not simply absolute truths, but interpretations that have been accepted for many years.)

    I’ve done translation work for many years in many languages and I’m never prepared for the radically different meanings that are approved by professionals when they are working in translation. I was once translating the Book of Mormon and New Testament with a team in Micronesia. In the target language there was no term for “Atonement” and so the translators decided to call it “The big sacrifice.” OK, but the same word is used for a giant imported pig roasted on a spit after a baby is born or for a wedding feast. Not exactly the mental image that I would choose for the very Jewish Jesus. It turns out that things are lost in translation, even with the best of intentions and human skill we make significant errors. I’ll bore you with one last example. For my hieroglyphics final I was working on a translation from the Book of the Dead. In all of the dictionaries I was using there was an agreement that this set of glyphs meant “signed land deed.” I asked my professor about this as I was a hopeless romantic and thought what was actually going on was a marriage, not a “signed land deed.” He explained that he agreed that it was a marriage, but for over a hundred years the academy had agreed to translate it as “signed land deed” to perpetuate a narrative of the role of marriage in Egyptian society as one of agrarian transaction rather than emotionality. He wrote a paper that year arguing that the translation was falling short of accuracy although it had been in favor and fashion with egyptologists for time memorial, and received a lot of flack for it. But changes have been made since to dictionaries.

    My message is not to wage a polemic between highly skilled and accurate translations verses the “mystical” or theological needs of the community, but rather to realize that these different versions are ALWAYS in dialogue. To fail to recognize that our academic conventions are not themselves influenced by cultural hermeneutics is lacking. Be flexible and not a steel scholar of authority. Your version of your profession will die with you while peoples’ faith (nuanced by your work) will hopefully live on.

    And Jack. If I were to throw anything in your eyes it would be my smile and admiration, not sand. Although I have plenty of that to spare here in Qatar:)

  14. “This blog post is not primarily a critique of Hudson’s “feminist” (if you can even call it that) religious philosophy.”

    Yes it is, you have recently shown disdain towards Hudson on another post in which you dismissed her as the Gertrude Bell of the movement. Further, you diminish her theology as a faux-feminist doily. I almost daily defend Mormon feminists of all stripes, they are not one minded fembots. We must make room for female theologians of differing opinion and yes, allow for mistakes. You overlook the most important part of her theology from the very talk you mock, “The ordinance—and they are ordinances—of body and of agency—pregnancy, childbirth, lactation—the spiritual ordinances of the First Tree are not less powerful or spiritual than the ordinances of the Second Tree. Women have their own godly power. And a truism that holds fairly across the board is that those religions that despise the body tend to be those religions that devalue women.” She has come full circle to one of the most radical femininist positions in the early movement (yes, I was there). Hudson, whose credentials you strangely reduce to nothing more than political science, has a more global vision. In denigrating her, you risk trivializing a very narrowly focused (but necessary) Mormon feminism. Most are aware of the inherent risk in elevating pants while girls are being sold as sex slaves. You exacerbate this by disrespecting an internationally known women’s rights advocate over *one* word.

    And David, was there a demand that Hafen be corrected in a future Ensign? Isn’t that where this originated? Why is this outrage not being heaped on the man in power rather than the woman who quotes him? And when has Mormonism *ever* relied on fine tuned translation? We substitute words all the time, the JST being a prime example. I would think the more important matter here is the recognition of the pericope as a curse rather than the unfortunate window dressing of changing the meaning of “rule over.” But seriously, feminists sniping at one another needs to end.

  15. I haven’t been to WWE for a while. I am glad I visited today. Erin’s insights are marvelous.

  16. Authoritative voices (Ensign articles, General Authorities, etc….) should be held to an academic standard when they themselves appeal to scholarly authority to bolster an idea.

    I’m enjoying the discussion of Hafen/Hudson’s interpretation of the Genesis verse, and its use to support a traditional LDS patriarchal point of view.

    Thanks to those who are contributing to the interesting conversation.

  17. #19 Juliann ~ Welcome to Worlds Without End, and to posting in a forum that won’t ban you just for having disagreements with the wrong people.

    I wrote: “This blog post is not primarily a critique of Hudson’s “feminist” (if you can even call it that) religious philosophy.”

    You responded, Yes it is

    No, it is not. This post is 2138 words long, only 130 of which were directed to any kind of a critique of her “feminist” philosophy. If it were “primarily” a critique of her “feminism,” then more than 6.1% of it would be dedicated to discussing it. If you’re alleging that I took her to task on her Hebrew because I disagree with her apologetics for patriarchy, you could not be more wrong. I would have taken a fellow evangelical Christian feminist Republican Girl Scout to task for this kind of academic irresponsibility and abuse of the Hebrew language.

    you have recently shown disdain towards Hudson on another post in which you dismissed her as the Gertrude Bell of the movement. Further, you diminish her theology as a faux-feminist doily.

    Guilty on both counts, and I stand by what I wrote. I’m all for allowing for different brands of feminism, but those things have to actually be feminism. They have to challenge patriarchal structures and advocate for structures that empower women. Re-packaging classical anti-feminist arguments and calling it feminism I won’t grant.

    You overlook the most important part of her theology from the very talk you mock, “The ordinance—and they are ordinances—of body and of agency—pregnancy, childbirth, lactation—the spiritual ordinances of the First Tree are not less powerful or spiritual than the ordinances of the Second Tree. Women have their own godly power. And a truism that holds fairly across the board is that those religions that despise the body tend to be those religions that devalue women.”

    I overlooked nothing. She calls a woman’s bodily functions “ordinances” and a “godly power” and insists that women do not need ordination because they have those instead. What do you think the anti-suffragists argued, Juliann? Break down for me the difference between what Hudson argues here and what someone like Gertrude Bell would have argued on why women do not need the vote, since you’re so offended by the comparison.

    Hudson, whose credentials you strangely reduce to nothing more than political science, has a more global vision.

    Yes, just like the Ensign strangely “reduced” her credentials to nothing more than “professor of government and public service at Texas A&M University.” Me and the Ensign, reducing Valerie Hudson’s credentials. It’s what we do.

    As for Hudson’s Mormon “feminism,” I’m not the only person who has called it into question. Hudson may be very feminist in other areas of her life, but everything she writes on Mormonism seems to be a faux-feminist apologetic for the status quo. See the excellent Melyngoch at Zelophehad’s Daughters, for example:

    Wow. Just, I mean, wow. I don’t disagree that the Catholic response to this is sickeningly antifeminist. And I don’t normally go around telling people whether they’re “real” feminists or not, but Hudson is testing me on that. Let’s see if I’ve got this right: her evidence for the feminist-friendliness of Morminism is that the all-male LDS governing hierarchy is so much more sensitive to women’s dignity, and so much more nuanced when legislating the uses and abuses of women’s bodies, because THEY KNOW A LOT OF WOMEN???

    Hand over your feminist card, Dr. Hudson. I’m about to stick it in a censer and watch it burn.

    So you go right ahead defending Hudson as a legitimate Mormon feminist, and I will remain confident about questioning that.

    BTW, as a pro-life feminist and a Republican, I know all about having my feminism questioned. Most modern-day feminists don’t regard someone like me as a feminist. It doesn’t hurt and it doesn’t upset me. I just calmly listen to the charges and explain my point of view, and if they still think at the end of the day that I’m not a feminist, that’s just fine by me. Their opinion of me won’t change the advocacy that I’m actually doing on behalf of women.

    You exacerbate this by disrespecting an internationally known women’s rights advocate over *one* word.

    Hudson exacerbated this herself by ignoring multiple polite attempts to correct her error without embarrassing her. You know perfectly well that I got in touch with FAIR about this very thing in the wake of her 2010 Conference presentation, and that FAIR refused to post any kind of correction on the written version of her article. So I suppose you and FAIR deserve credit for perpetuating this mistranslation as well. No need for Hudson to take all of the blame!

    As for Hafen, he was called out in the FPR post by Nitsav that I linked to above. If he is aware of Nitsav’s response, and is continuing to spread this mistranslation in spite of it, then by all means, he needs to be called out again. But I’ve heard nothing of him repeating this since publishing his 2007 Ensign article.

    Erin, I’ve not forgotten you and love that you’re here, will get back to you tonight.

  18. Bridget quoted Juliann and wrote in response:
    Hudson, whose credentials you strangely reduce to nothing more than political science, has a more global vision.

    Yes, just like the Ensign strangely “reduced” her credentials to nothing more than “professor of government and public service at Texas A&M University.” Me and the Ensign, reducing Valerie Hudson’s credentials. It’s what we do.

    Of course, the difference is that the Ensign wasn’t criticizing Hudson and therefore had little reason to diminish her or her credentials. You are and you did.

  19. “Most are aware of the inherent risk in elevating pants while girls are being sold as sex slaves.”

    This is an important point in my opinion. I embrace a lot of what Hudson has said over the years, such as gender equality being the telos of eternal marriage. I even embrace her designation of birth and lactation as ordinances (though I think they should probably be formalized as ordinances with accompanying ordinations). I do not, however, accept her use of Hafen’s Hebrew or what seems to be a implicit satisfaction with the status quo (though I could very well be misinterpreting her on the latter). Much of what she says I think could actually be used as justification for female ordination and/or a redefining of what priesthood actually is. Nonetheless, while I’m supportive of some of the feminist movements in the Church (e.g. I encouraged my wife to wear pants—which she didn’t—and I wore my purple tie), I do see much of the Mormon feminist rhetoric and assumptions coming (ironically) from a place of privilege. The Church does offer dignity to women that many do not find in their own countries or cultures. Many Western members argue against the “oppression” of the Church, but have never come close to experiencing the oppression faced by women in other countries. They are too busy arguing for what Steven Pinker calls “gender feminism” or what Michael Shermer calls “cognitive creationism.”

    But as she pointed out, Jack is used to having her feminism questioned as a pro-life Republican (you know, the party of sexism and misogyny…). Hudson should be critiqued, especially if one thinks her approach will not have the feminist outcomes it is attempting to bring about. I believe Hudson has much too offer, particularly in teaching men how to think about gender relations. I’m hoping thoughtful criticism can refine her arguments for the better.

  20. Dear Erin,

    You and I are talking about two entirely different ways of reading a text. What you’re advocating for stems from a postmodernist perception that when it comes to a scriptural source there is no absolute truth or objective reality. Whatever truth or religious insight that a community or individual draws from scripture via an exegetical analysis is in some sense “correct.”

    I’m actually quite comfortable with this assertion and approach to language in terms of personal or community application. However, once a person steps outside of this realm and claims that a word or phrase can be translated a specific way, they’ve abandoned the interpretive realm you’re discussing and entered into the arena of historical literary analysis.

    In this realm, a person cannot make assertions that the Hebrew in Genesis 3:16 (or any other passage) can be translated in a way that completely violates the contextual and grammatical rules of the source, no matter how good their reading makes them feel.

    I’m sure we would all be highly interested in reading a contextual and grammatical justification from you that Genesis 3:16 can be translated as “he shall rule/oversee/dominate with you.” It’s been clearly explained why this assertion in wrong. If you still wish to defend it publicly you should leave the realm of postmodernism and join us in historical linguistics.

    Best,

    –DB

  21. #25 Gregory Taggart ~ Of course, the difference is that the Ensign wasn’t criticizing Hudson and therefore had little reason to diminish her or her credentials. You are and you did.

    There is no requirement for listing an academic’s entire CV before critiquing him or her, particularly not when the critique involves comments that the academic is making outside of his/her field. I don’t have to note that a respected scholar has a PhD in Scandinavian studies before critiquing his or her comments on the historical Jesus.

    I pointed out that Hudson has no training in Hebrew, that she has a doctorate in political science, and that she has received accolades for her work elsewhere. If she has other credentials that would in any way be relevant to what she’s written on Hebrew, please let me know and I’ll be happy to add them to the post.

  22. Bridget, go ahead and move the goal posts. I trained my foot on where you had planted them in your response to Juliann.

  23. #29 Gregory Taggart ~ I’m sorry to hear that you and Juliann are apparently not aware that the standard for listing credentials when critiquing another scholar is about the same as it is for authorship bylines: one briefly lists the most relevant credential(s) in question.

    But go ahead and continue with your disrespectful accusations. It speaks well of you, really.

  24. Bridget, really? Where have I dissed you? Juliann called you on a number of things. You defended one of them by saying you only did what the Ensign had done. I noted a reason the Ensign did one thing and you did another. You changed your reason. I pointed that out. And that is dissing you?

    Funny that, coming from someone who puts in scare quotes another women’s “feminist” religious philosophy–“if you can even call it that”–and who compares her unfavorably to an “undergraduate”–a freshman no less. Oh, and then there’s the looped video at the beginning of your post. If the video is your imitation of the FRB’s infamous “butt head” acrostic, you succeeded admirably.

  25. #31 Gregory Taggert ~ Yes, I find it disrespectful that you made accusations to the effect that I intentionally diminished Valerie Hudson’s accomplishments to serve my agenda, then blew me off with further “moving the goal post” accusations when I politely explained myself. It sounds to me like you are more interested in scoring points against me than in understanding where I was coming from when I wrote my post.

    I don’t apologize for injecting a small amount of snark into my post (the GIF at the beginning), not when several others have attempted to politely and discreetly discuss this matter with her only to be blown off by her. I also don’t apologize for disrespecting what she regards as her brand of “Mormon feminism.” I don’t believe it is feminism, so I’m not going to call it that. You’re welcome to suggest an alternative label that won’t involve scare quotes.

    I compared her authority fallacy to something a freshman would do because it is. If you disagree, then by all means, defend her on that point.

  26. Greg,

    Besides your feeling that Jack purposely downplayed Hudson’s credentials (which I personally think is a stretch given the context of the post), do you have any specific critiques (or praises) of Jack’s analysis of the Hebrew or understanding of Hudson’s feminism? The back-and-forth over such a minute thing as Hudson’s CV display seems to distract from the meat of the post.

  27. #8 Erin ~ At long last, here is my response.

    First let me say how happy I was when I woke up this morning and saw that your comment was in queue. It doesn’t matter if you disagree with me; I am happy to hear what you have to say and read what you think regardless.

    I think that you may not be giving Bible translators enough credit. Certainly they have their biases, and certainly they can be afraid of deviating from the “normal” pattern of reading these verses because they don’t want controversy or they want people to buy their translations. But my experience has been that, when a verse can be taken another way, there are translators out there somewhere who are willing to stick their necks out and take some flack for their work if needed. Or, alternatively, there will be a translation somewhere in the history of translation where someone showed an alternative understanding of the verse. Translations that predate modern concerns and controversies.

    A recent example of this can be found in 1 Tim. 2:12. Both the TNIV and the NIV-2011 translators decided to render this verse, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man.” This varied from the norm of translating the passage with, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man,” and it upset some evangelicals who didn’t want female pastors to be able to say, “I’m not assuming authority; my authority was given to me through proper channels.” One hierarchicalist critic called this a “highly suspect and novel translation that gives the egalitarian side everything they have wanted for years in Bible translation.” We responded to this by pointing out that John Calvin rendered this verse into Latin as “sumere auctoritatem“—cognate with our “assume authority”—and that the Calvin Bible of 1855 rendered his Latin translation into English as “assume authority.” There was nothing novel or suspect about our translation. It was an old understanding of the passage revived. (See my review of the NIV-2011 here.)

    Recent translations have seen all kinds of wonderful updates where women are concerned. Junia is a woman and an apostle now (Romans 16:7), Phoebe is a deacon and a benefactor (Romans 16:1-2) instead of a servant and a helper, the female “prophetesses” of the Old Testament are prophets, the Lord gives the word and the women (not the gender-neutral company) who proclaim it are a great army (Ps. 68:11). Most of the translators who first began sticking their necks out on these things caught significant flack. But they were willing to do it, and the result is that I can now give my 6 year-old daughter a Bible that has those things in it without having to scribble them into the margins like I had to do when I was a teenager. Almost brings tears to my eyes.

    Changing “sons of Levi” to “children of Levi” hasn’t happened in the TNIV or NIV or any of the recent translations that have shown more concern for gender issues. It’s not something that the evangelical community would care about. But it could change, if someone were to raise the issue and begin making the case. There was a similar controversy with 2 Timothy 2:2, “And the things you heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach.” The Greek for “people” there is anthropois, and some hierarchicalists (not all) want to translate that “men” because they don’t like the suggestion that women are qualified to teach the gospel to others (or at least, not to adult men).

    What I’m trying to get at in all of this is, if there were any merit in reading this passage to say “rule with you,” someone somewhere would probably have translated it that way. Or there would be a translation somewhere in human history that would already have rendered it in that fashion. I haven’t searched other and earlier translations to see if anyone has. That’s something for proponents of this theory to do.

    I guess the last thing I want to point out is that, as an evangelical, I’m kind of used to people grabbing a Greek or Hebrew lexicon and thinking they can substitute an alternative meaning for a word without really understanding the grammar, often to suit an agenda. They don’t understand that some definitions only apply in certain cases or constructs. And that’s what I worry has happened in the case of Hudson/Hafen. Someone looked in a Hebrew grammar, saw that b- could sometimes mean “with” under certain circumstances, and said, “Why not here?” And well… that’s just bad Hebrew, and bad exegesis. I’m not trying to be mean for calling that bad Hebrew. It just is.

    In the end though, it sounds like we have a pretty similar take on the creation narratives. I think that Adam and Eve lived in an egalitarian relationship prior to the Fall (this is easy to argue from the 1st creation account, more difficult with the 2nd) and that the Fall turned relationships between the sexes into a contest of domination, which is what Gen. 3:16 signals. It’s that pre-fall harmony that we need to get back to.

  28. David ~ I just wanted to thank you again for commenting on this post. I was nervous about writing it because I don’t believe a crusty minor in Hebrew that I haven’t used in 8 years makes me an expert on the subject. It is good to have a little validation from a genuine expert on the subject. Thank you.

  29. Valentinus ~ Thank you for an awesome post, Jack. I shared it on the MDD board.

    Excellent. I look forward to reading more comments from the regulars there about what a man-hating, anti-Mormon, female supremacist, feminazi I am! ;)

  30. Bridget said:

    “I think that you may not be giving Bible translators enough credit. Certainly they have their biases, and certainly they can be afraid of deviating from the “normal” pattern of reading these verses because they don’t want controversy or they want people to buy their translations. But my experience has been that, when a verse can be taken another way, there are translators out there somewhere who are willing to stick their necks out and take some flack for their work if needed.”

    And this is precisely correct. Despite my own sincere passion for this topic (on multiple layers), I’m really not trying to be at all offensive when I suggest that Erin’s well-meaning assertion that biblical scholars are much more willing to argue for alternative non-traditional translations of Bible verses outside of the Pentateuch than they are the “words of Moses” suggests a lack of basic familiarity with biblical scholarship.

    At the risk of coming across as self-promoting, might I offer my own recent article from Vetus Testamentum as an example supporting Bridget’s assertion? In this piece, I willing “put my neck out on the line” and attempt to demonstrate through a historical linguistic and contextual analysis that Eve’s statement in Genesis 4:1 should be translated as “I have procreated a man with Yahweh.”

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/w9vrccpjoqyv50c/VT%20Bokovoy.pdf

    This is the type of study I would like to see from Erin, Don Parry, and Valerie Hudson as a justification for their reading. I can promise that any such article would change the face of biblical scholarship as we know it and would be immediately sought after by every serious academic publisher in the field.

  31. WalkerW, no I don’t have much to add to the Gen. 3:16 discussion. And maybe I owe Bridget an apology for misunderstanding her.

  32. “This was a dead language that was then re-created, not just re-born, but fastidiously man-made thank you dear ben Yehudah.”

    As one of those native speakers to which you alluded, I must say that you are assigning far too large a role to Eliezer Ben Yehudah than he really filled. In fact, I strongly reject the claim that our language is fastidiously man-made. It is fittingly ironic that in Yaron London’s lyrics extolling Ben Yehudah a significant proportion of words predate Ben Yehudah. I can look at any number of works predating Ben Yehudah, or from circles on the margin of his influence, and I won’t find the radical differences which would indicate different languages.
    I am thinking of works like Shivhei Ha-Besht and Sippurei Maasiyot on the one hand, and those by Machlouf Amsalem, Yehudah Fetayah, and the Ben Ish Hai on the other. Heck, even Vital’s Sefer Ha-Hezyonot isn’t that different. One ought to speak of regional, and somewhat unorderly inflections of the same language, rather than a non-existant language! None of these would require exceptional effort by a Modern Hebrew speaker were he to read them. Even the inevitable comparison to Latin is unsatisfying.
    Hebrew had never completely died out, it had an extensive literature with different stages of development, it was still a spoken language (though the scope varied in time and place), and it formed a lingua franca when Jews of different lands lived together. Ben Yehudah wasn’t some sort of Dr. Frankenstein stitching together the cadavers that were different stages of Hebrew. What Ben Yehudah did was to emphasis the national need for a single language, preferably one with deep historical roots. He then set about applying modern French philological concepts and sensibilities in order established an acceptable framework for a modern language. This explains his massive labour in writing a dictionary, creating neologisms, and founding an academy for the Hebrew language. Most importantly, however, he was unflagging in his insistence that Hebrew be used as an every-day language by all. The actual impact of Ben Yehudah’s philological work is actually quite small compared to other factors, trends, and individuals. He was most potent as a symbol.
    I’ve noticed a tendency by non-natives to be somewhat disparaging of Modern Hebrew, which is a great pity.

  33. “I guess the last thing I want to point out is that, as an evangelical, I’m kind of used to people grabbing a Greek or Hebrew lexicon and thinking they can substitute an alternative meaning for a word without really understanding the grammar, often to suit an agenda. They don’t understand that some definitions only apply in certain cases or constructs. And that’s what I worry has happened in the case of Hudson/Hafen. Someone looked in a Hebrew grammar, saw that b- could sometimes mean “with” under certain circumstances, and said, “Why not here?” And well… that’s just bad Hebrew, and bad exegesis. I’m not trying to be mean for calling that bad Hebrew. It just is.”

    Precisely. Actually, I can’t think of a single instance whwere “b” by itself means “with.” “Be-yahad,” sure (which most emphatically predates Modern Hebrew), but not “b” alone. If I’m wrong, I’m sure David could think of some examples.

  34. ““Well, you are going to have incredibly painful pregnancies and your husband is going to rule over you, BUT you’re going to sexually desire him, so you can’t escape it, my dear!” Or, if one wanted to retain the “and” nuance, “You are going to have incredibly painful pregnancies and your husband is going to dominate you, AND STILL you’re not going to be able to escape it because of your sexual desire.””

    On a side note, those three facts of women’ life- painful pregnancy, a husband’s dominion, and the vicious circle of sexual desire- gon a long way to explain the appeal of the kind of early Christian way of life exemplified by the traditions about Thecla. That way of life offered a means to breaking the cycle.

  35. Jack, you say “You know perfectly well that I got in touch with FAIR about this very thing in the wake of her 2010 Conference presentation, and that FAIR refused to post any kind of correction on the written version of her article. So I suppose you and FAIR deserve credit for perpetuating this mistranslation as well. No need for Hudson to take all of the blame!” First you state with angry assurance what Hudson knows, now me. I do not doubt you, I just have no particular memory of it. Kevin probably has a better memory than I about what occurred if you wish to question him. We did have someone demanding to correct last year’s speaker but she was refused. I do remember that. But I am curious, is any conference that hosts a variety of speakers in the habit of arbitrarily correcting speakers’ papers? I find such an expectation rather extraordinary.

    Sorry for the derail, but I no longer sit back when Mormon women are demonized for not being “enough” or “too much” on someone’s interpretation of the feminist spectrum. Jack, you also say ” I also regard her as an impediment to true feminist reform of Mormonism,” How far do you think any “true” feminist reform can go without what those like Hudson do? Do you think that you can extricate “Mormon” feminism from global feminism without making it so petty and elite that it becomes contemptible? http://www.womanstats.org/
    —-
    The WomanStats Project is the most comprehensive compilation of information on the status of women in the world. The Project facilitates understanding the linkage between the situation of women and the security of nation-states. We comb the extant literature and conduct expert interviews to find qualitative and quantitative information on over 310 indicators of women’s status in 174 countries. Our Database expands daily, and access to it is free of charge.
    —–
    Here is Hudson’s 23 page Vita http://bush.tamu.edu/faculty/vhudson/vitaHudsonOct12.pdf

    And I ask AGAIN, why is it only the woman quoting the men who is being pelted with ad hominem? I do not find the argument that a woman quoting a GA is more problematic than the primary quote attributed to a high ranking man compelling in the least. Yet there is no outrage against the men, only the woman. Coming from those who, in Jack’s words, “should know better,” I think we are in for a bumpy ride in expecting greater respect for women in our church if we cannot find basic civility towards them on the Bloggernacle…especially when it involves quoting GAs who happen to be wrong.

  36. “Academic Hebrew scholars are doing something needed, and valuable, but what they are not doing is what centuries of Rabbinical schools do and that is wrestle. The academic learns the rules and applies them, the rabbi seeks out a text that he has memorized and tries to allow new knowledge to flow, and then spends a lifetime arguing with other rabbis, family, and God about how that should or could be translated in the time it was written and alternatively today. This form of study of the scriptures involves an Akedah, a wrestling, with every reading. It is not a recipe for a translation, but a belief that a huge dose of human effort and surrendering can yield new knowledge and new translations for new times.”

    The sages were often brilliant intuitive philologists, but there is a significant difference when compared to the works of Saadia Gaon, Dunash, ibn Janah, and the Karaites. However, even among the sages some interpretations were considered far-fetched, such as R. Akiva’s understanding of “hatzfardea” as meaning a giant frog.

  37. “Women, do we hearken to our husbands? Well, of course we do. If my husband said to me before we were married, “Honey, I want to be married in the temple, and I don’t want to be married anywhere else.” I would say, “You betcha!” If after we were married and had children, he said, “Honey, I want to hold family home evening, and I want to hold family prayer, and I want to make sure they get baptized when they are eight.” I would say, “You bet! I’m going to accept and receive that fruit of the Second Tree from you.” If my husband said, “Honey, would you go get me the remote, it’s in the other room,” or “Tomorrow we’re moving to Iowa, did I tell you?” It is not my spiritual obligation to hearken outside of loving my husband and receiving from him the gift of the fruit of the Second Tree.”

    I finally got round to reading Hudson’s “Two Trees.” I found the reasoning particularly unconvincing. Right or wrong, what she describes is not hearkening in any meaningful sense of the word, but a very conditional approbation on the part of the wife. I don’t see why hearkening would not include something like “tommorow we’re moving to Iowa,” after all, if we are looking to divine examples, someone has no problem with saying things like “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee.”

  38. “The fact that this misrepresentation of the Hebrew has now appeared in the Ensign is very, very unfortunate and will need to be corrected.”

    I cringe even to think of the madness to ensue in Sunday School tangents.

  39. Fun, so David you suggested that I needed to ascend unto the holy mount of Hebrew publications. After 15 years teaching Hebrew and Arabic, writing curriculum and texts, and assaying programs around the globe for best practices I made the fateful leap to a new field. I am currently a sociologist having tired of tedious conversations over Hebraic prepositions (so why did I even come here???), and wanting to be a part of real vices and solutions in the world (sorry for the little jab, but after your 5 or 6 upper cuts I thought I could at least get into the ring.) And I think the most important line in this entire thread has been the one mocking our elevation of pants when little girls are being sold as sex slaves.

    But it is interesting how the topics that I write on now are still in this same dance of authoritative sources and credentialism. I was just reading this text as this conversation emerged: http://amzn.com/0520207858

    It’s topic is on the competing figures of authoritative knowledge regarding childbirth in different cultures. Each chapter reveals a different culture with a revered knowledge base regarding the way to deliver while simultaneously illustrating the gargantuan errors and practices (with subsequent high infant mortality rates) that are perpetuated by this authoritative group. the US’s robo-mom conveyor belt drug delivery gets a chapter of course, as do the midwives of Mexico using a toxic herb.

    My own research deals with competing narratives of environmental stewardship in the Gulf where I live (the countries that have the highest carbon footprint in the world) compared with those Micronesian islands I mentioned earlier (Kiribati to be exact, which has the lowest carbon footprint in the world yet is experiencing the first tragic wave [pun warning] of climactic change with their entire islands being submerged). What I find is that in both Qatar and on Kiribati there are authoritative figures who say “don’t worry, we’ve got it covered. We are the sources of expertise in this field, go about your daily life and await our solution.”

    Meanwhile Kiribati sinks and they become emergency environmental refugees, families separated as countries only take 3-5 refugees per annum. Qatar is burning their 60 years of methane faster than they can sell it as lung cancer soars as high as their GDP. There are no limits on consumption and government subsidies pay off debt to apease the locals in hopes that Arab Spring riots will not emerge here, exacerbating the use of fossil fuels. They will be back in tents and riding camels before I have grandchildren.

    I just don’t want us to sink or get stuck in the desert when it comes to scripture study because we rely on these same authoritative voices. We all have an obligation to listen to our own intuition when we approach scriptural texts (and yes, I know I have transgressed that uber-trope-of-feminine-power-called-intuition). Were that not the case, why read the scriptures at all? We should just read Hebrew and Greek journals. (Side note: thanks for all of those examples in the Greek Jack:) David, you want me to offer up alternative readings. I want an alternative pericope. And alternative book. One that does not inform me that childbirth is painful (something that is culturally determined, not biologically) and working hard or having a thriving libido is a curse. I want an entire new set of writings entombed in leather with wispy pages. One that I can read unedited to my daughters.

    I want every single one of those 74 occurances of mshl+b to be “to govern *with*.” Then maybe we would have a godly chosen people instead of a barbaric text of recurrent genocide in fused with poetry to God. I think I might write a novel solely on the ramifications of leaders ruling *with* their people anciently. But who would publish that? No blood and guts.

    And maybe Jack, we are all guilty of what you are accusing Hudson. We are claiming a form of feminism while agreeing to remain in the bounds of patriarchy. The best instantiation of patriarchy is continuing to abide by this frightfully patriarchal text, particularly if we do not open ourselves up to new translations. Impure menstrual blood, females only valuable for childbearing, prophets and kings having their way with their owned women, fathers selling daughters to protect house guests. This is the text that has been referenced to discourage women in political leadership and saying prayers at church. How can we be feminists and still spend thousands of hours reading and studying it unless we demand godsends to change the words before our eyes?

    My daughter asked several years ago “who is the beloved daughter? We only talk of the son?” We found the narrative of Demeter and Kore (Persephone) to share with our family. It was a purely scriptural find. I’ve long thought that Brigham Young’s suggestion of us needing carts to pull all of our scriptures to church as the knowledge of God was filling the earth was not more gold plates being unearthed, but us developing the kind of atunement to read already existing texts and find truth, renaming them scripture when once they were called fable/history/myth.

    I’ve been teaching me kids the creation narratives of Kiribati lately (I try to avoid the one we have been arguing about). God Naureu comes and sees all of humanity on the shell of a turtle and breaths in one simple thing to activate flora fauna and Neanderthals. He breathes in flexibility. Amen.

  40. #39 Gregory ~ And maybe I owe Bridget an apology for misunderstanding her.

    Thanks. Classy of you to admit this. No hard feelings.

    #43 Juliann ~ I documented plainly in my post that Hudson was aware of the problems with the Hafens’ translation, yet has refused to cease using it. Regarding FAIR, here is the e-mail that I sent to a FAIR volunteer on September 8, 2010:

    Did you see Hudson’s “The Two Trees“?

    I’m a little disappointed that FAIR is allowing her to use Bruce Hafen’s mistranslation of Gen. 3:16. I know that you’re aware of this issue [RL info about volunteer removed]. I expect this sort of linguistic blundering from ecclesiastical leaders like Hafen (Protestant pastors botch their Greek and Hebrew all the time), but I rather expect better from a scholar like Hudson and a scholarly organization like FAIR.

    I intend to respond to Hudson’s article in full, but in the meantime I’m tempted to write to FAIR and urge them to post a corrective note to try and stop this misinformation from spreading further among Latter-day Saints. Do you think it would be worth it?

    Cheers,
    -Jack

    Clearly, my concern was that this was unscholarly and that the mistranslation would continue to spread to other Latter-day Saints via FAIR. It had nothing to do with feminist disagreements with Hudson, and I had no desire to publicly embarrass Hudson.

    The volunteer told me that s/he would pass my concerns along to the “Powers That Be” at FAIR. Five days later, the volunteer reported back that while all of the Hebraists at FAIR agreed that Hudson’s translation was wrong, no correction would be posted on her presentation. S/he said there would be a FAIR Wiki article on it, but I can find nothing on the Wiki as of right now.

    Personally, as a member of CBE, I think that if one of our conference presenters made a huge and obvious error in translation like this, and we wanted to post a written version of his/her presentation to the Web site, we would contact him/her about the error and ask for a revision. And why wouldn’t the presenter go for it? Scholars are supposed to care about accuracy and mistakes in their work.

    Do you think that you can extricate “Mormon” feminism from global feminism without making it so petty and elite that it becomes contemptible?

    Yes. Quite easily. It’s actually very common for feminists to be very good at critiquing the patriarchal and misogynist faults of others, but blind to the problems in their own backyard. Just observe all of the Democrat feminists who hollered and howled about Mitt Romney’s off-handed “binders full of women” comment, but had nothing to say about Obama’s “Life of Julia” or “Your First Time Should Be With Obama” campaigns (the Obama campaign did not create the latter, but promoted it). Creepy paternalism and women as sex objects FTL.

    Whatever feminist qualities Hudson may have in other areas of her life, whenever she writes something on Mormonism, those qualities seem to break down and she reverts to defending patriarchal structures. Her article trying to argue that Mormonism is more feminist-friendly than Roman Catholicism is a classic example of this.

    And I ask AGAIN, why is it only the woman quoting the men who is being pelted with ad hominem?

    As you’re fond of saying, Juliann, “asked and answered.” Trying to make this about Hudson’s sex instead of about her wanton disregard for quoting sources who actually know anything about the subject at hand or gracefully assimilating and responding to critical feedback on her work is more than a little ridiculous.

    I’m also not sure what “ad hominem” you’re referring to. I called her “disingenuous” based on how she has misled people on this, but if that’s “ad hominem,” then I guess the search for ad hominem in classic-FARMS is over.

    #45 Allen ~ This is all off-topic from my post, but what the heck.

    Right or wrong, what she describes is not hearkening in any meaningful sense of the word, but a very conditional approbation on the part of the wife.

    I felt the same way about this part of her presentation. All “hearkening” means is that women have to follow very basic conditions that the church says they should be following anyways that no devout Mormon woman would refuse in the first place? Really?

    And what if the husband feels that the family needs to move to Iowa because there is important work for the Gospel to be done there? Wouldn’t she have to “hearken” to the Second Tree then?

    And why is there no covenant in the temple for men to “hearken” to their wives’ desires when it comes to those “female ordinances” of pregnancy, birth and lactation? Because women have to be reminded of who’s in charge of the Second Tree, but men are smart enough to know who controls the First Tree without being told?

    And what does “hearkening” to the wife on the fruit of the Second Tree mean anyways? If the wife wants a homebirth, and the husband thinks that would be too dangerous, does the husband have to submit? If the wife wants to learn the sex of the baby in advance, and the husband want it to be a surprise, does the husband have to submit? Does the wife get final say on forms of birth control and how many children to have? Etc.

    Through obstetrics, seems to me like men have exercised a great deal of control over the “Second Tree” since the mid-1800s, in America at least.

    Anyways, going to church with my family and have a sermon to prepare for tomorrow. Won’t get back to comments on this post until later tonight (WWE co-admins, feel free to approve any comments that you see get q’ed).

  41. “David, you want me to offer up alternative readings. I want an alternative pericope. And alternative book. One that does not inform me that childbirth is painful (something that is culturally determined, not biologically) and working hard or having a thriving libido is a curse.”

    I cannot give you a different book, Erin. My academic field is what is known as “mainline” biblical scholarship, which means I approach the text from an Historical Critical perspective, identifying how the Bible would have been read in its original historical context, and critically, meaning independent from any contemporary theological lens.

    “I am currently a sociologist having tired of tedious conversations over Hebraic prepositions (so why did I even come here???), and wanting to be a part of real vices and solutions in the world ”

    I sincerely wish you well in all your efforts, Erin. I agree that your work is more important and am grateful for what you’re doing.

    –DB

  42. P.S.

    Though I cannot offer a different book, I can offer an alternative pericope via historical analysis. These are ancient texts that present us with a host of views on topics ranging from slavery, sexuality, women, war, etc. These views are presented by ancient authors trying to make sense of such issues in light of their own unique cultural and religious assumptions. Recognizing what they truly are can shift our pericope as interpreters from a need to violate the rules of textual and linguistic analysis to force the Bible to accord with our own perspectives, to a more sophisticated awareness that when ancient authors discuss morality, sometimes they simply got it wrong.

    Best,

    –DB

  43. This has been an interesting discussion. I have absolutely no training in Hebrew so I cannot comment (informedly) on the nuances of translation. However, the Adam and Eve story from the Book of Moses does seem to support a patriarchal interpretation (thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. Moses 4:24).

    Yet, there are images projected forth from the Old Testament that seem to indicate a more egalitarian system than is commonly supposed. Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah is such an example. She reigned as queen for about six years before she was dethroned, evidently not because she was a woman, but because she had usurped the throne.

    But perhaps a much more prominant story is that of Deborah, the Prophetess. There have been several prophetesses mentioned in the Bible, but in addition to being a prophetess, Deborah was also a judge in Israel. (Judges 4:4 And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.
    5 And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Beth-el in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.)

    Now, would one or more of the Hebrew scholars care to comment on the Bet in Beth-el. I have heard the full term commonly is translated as house of the Lord.

    Thanks,
    Glenn

  44. “Now, would one or more of the Hebrew scholars care to comment on the Bet in Beth-el. I have heard the full term commonly is translated as house of the Lord.”

    Yeah, “beth” (or “beith”) is a full word meaning house or place. What we are discussing is the preposition consisting solely of the letter “beth.”

  45. Erin wrote: “And maybe Jack, we are all guilty of what you are accusing Hudson. We are claiming a form of feminism while agreeing to remain in the bounds of patriarchy. The best instantiation of patriarchy is continuing to abide by this frightfully patriarchal text, particularly if we do not open ourselves up to new translations…How can we be feminists and still spend thousands of hours reading and studying it unless we demand godsends to change the words before our eyes?”

    Exactly. Which is why I can’t understand the harm in allowing Hafens translation to influence LDS women (and men) while they grapple with the patriarchy vs. egalitarian debates that come up in their faith.

  46. “Feminists sniping at each other”?

    or

    Readers “wrestling with the text”?

  47. #54 Chris:

    I can’t understand the harm in allowing Hafens translation to influence LDS women (and men) while they grapple with the patriarchy vs. egalitarian debates that come up in their faith.

    Oh REally? And what happens when they find out they’ve been misled?

  48. Cheryl,

    No one is being misled. As Erin has pointed out, there are valid reasons for accepting Hafen’s translation, and those men and women who want to keep their faith will use those reasons to accept Hafen’s translation.

    Besides, realistically, this is an academic debate. Most LDS won’t look at this issue beyond what they read in The Ensign. If they come here, they will see (no offense to Jack) an Evangelical Christian with a minor in Hebrew who has published little to nothing in the field taking on two BYU professors. Hardly an eye will be batted.

  49. Chris said:

    “No one is being misled. As Erin has pointed out, there are valid reasons for accepting Hafen’s translation.”

    To clarify, they didn’t translate the verse. They rewrote it. Erin provided valid reasons to rewrite the verse.

    Carry on.

  50. Chris,

    I see 2 important questions here, both quite expertly highlighted by the comments.

    1. Is there a point beyond which a text cannot be stretched in translation without breaking it? Jack says there is and that it has happened here. And not only has it happened here but the breakage has previously been pointed out to the author under discussion to no effect and with no direct response.

    Much beyond “amen” and “hosanna” I know no Hebrew but it appears Jack has the better argument and I will say “hosanna” and “amen.”

    2. It will do no one any good to over come patriarchies by erasing the evidence of their sources.

    Personally, I hope one day LDS women will be ordained in the same fashion men are. I have no crystal ball, but if such a day arrives while I am alive, I will cringe if the statement is ever made, “we never completely understood why women were not ordained before now.” I will cringe because yes we did understand, and one of the reasons will have been the scripture in question, the long standing, most widely accepted and most likely correct interpretation of it.

    I’ll decline to introduce Elder Paul Dunn here but I will introduce George Santayana who, in bad translation, said something like “oops, we’ve done it again.”

  51. #47 Erin ~ And maybe Jack, we are all guilty of what you are accusing Hudson. We are claiming a form of feminism while agreeing to remain in the bounds of patriarchy. The best instantiation of patriarchy is continuing to abide by this frightfully patriarchal text, particularly if we do not open ourselves up to new translations…How can we be feminists and still spend thousands of hours reading and studying it unless we demand godsends to change the words before our eyes?

    I don’t think that I do the same thing as Hudson, for three reasons:

    (1) Because I make an effort to acknowledge where the texts are irredeemably patriarchal. For example, if someone asks me whether or not I believe in submitting to my husband as the head of my home (Ephesians 5), my response is, “My husband can have an Ephesians 5 wife just as soon as I get an Ephesians 6 slave.” Most of the Christian world already accepts a significant part of this passage as cultural and no longer applicable to our time, i. e. the slavery part. Why should the part about male headship be timeless and still apply? Our culture doesn’t believe in the paterfamilias model that Paul was working with.

    (2) Because there aren’t any translations I advocate for that haven’t been argued for in numerous peer-reviewed scholarly articles and aren’t present in at least some translations of the Bible, whether modern or earlier.

    (3) Because I am advocating for change for women within my religious movement. Hudson is happy with the patriarchal status quo in the LDS church; she’s just found ways of calling it “feminist.”

    Example for #3: my daughter asks why only boys can pass Sacrament on Sunday.

    Non-feminist Mormon’s likely answer: Because girls get to have babies.

    Valerie Hudson’s likely answer (based on “The Two Trees”): Because girls get to have babies.

    My answer: Because most Christians used to believe that girls were inferior and impure, so they wouldn’t let girls be priests or perform ordinances. Even though we know now that girls aren’t inferior or impure, some churches are having had a hard time giving up this tradition. This is one of them.

    (I wouldn’t really tell my daughter all that; I’d let her father choose an explanation because it’s his church. But that’s what I’d tell her if it were up to me.)

    I want every single one of those 74 occurances of mshl+b to be “to govern *with*.

    You sure you want to rule with your sin? (Gen. 4:7) ;)

    Anyways, hope that makes sense.

    #57 chris ~ What David and Cheryl and Richard said.

    Most LDS won’t look at this issue beyond what they read in The Ensign. If they come here, they will see (no offense to Jack) an Evangelical Christian with a minor in Hebrew who has published little to nothing in the field taking on two BYU professors. Hardly an eye will be batted.

    Why do you think I have such disdain for what Hudson has done? I know perfectly well that most Mormons won’t listen to me because of who I am. Maybe I should have asked David Bokovoy to write this post.

    Just for the record though: my one review of the NIV-2011 constitutes the publication of more genuine scholarship on Bible translation issues than Hudson has ever published.

  52. This was fascinating, your post, Bridget, and the following discussion. Thanks, all.

  53. “Here is Hudson’s 23 page Vita http://bush.tamu.edu/faculty/vhudson/vitaHudsonOct12.pdf

    I demand that Hudson’s 23 pages of credentials be placed at the beginning of this BLOG POST. I can think of no reasonable justification for omitting them. That you would only list the same credentials as the Ensign article in question is extremely poor form.

  54. “Actually, I can’t think of a single instance whwere “b” by itself means “with.” ”

    I believe it’s usually the instrumental “with” (e.g. “I built the house with a hammer”) instead of the “in the presence of” meaning (e.g. ” I built the house with my friend.”) BDB and HALOT list some usages of “with.”

  55. One last unconnected laugh.

    I’ve been making my home pesachdik this past week. This means I rewash all of our clothing, burn the oven with an open flame, immerse all of the dishes and glasses in boiling water (ouch), and clean and scrub every cranny of home and vehicle to be sure there is no chametz (wheat, other grains, rice) anywhere in our home in order to celebrate Passover (I’ve got a few hours left!). So, I was just going over my list, to be sure I had cleaned out everything, and found this quote, “the Jewish housewife [is] the only one who [doesn't] go out of bondage on Pesach (Passover).”

    And I couldn’t help but think how related this is to our present wrestlings with the text. the greatest holiday of the year where we celebrate our bread of affliction becoming the bread of freedom is the time that is the most oppressive to the women who have to prepare for it when they are following the ritual cleanliness prescribed (by men).

    And then I was thinking how similarly stuck Christians are as well. Christ could open the doors of the temple to all (not just the sons of Levi), overhaul the laws in ways that he both fulfilled and broke them simultaneously, destroy the power of sin, and break the chords of death itself. But even he (although he was an example of enacting his beliefs of equality) could not destroy woman being ruled over by man (whether we are speaking within religious organizations or without).

    Happy Passover all! In bondage we go a merrily.

  56. “And I couldn’t help but think how related this is to our present wrestlings with the text. the greatest holiday of the year where we celebrate our bread of affliction becoming the bread of freedom is the time that is the most oppressive to the women who have to prepare for it when they are following the ritual cleanliness prescribed (by men).”

    I dunno, it is all a matter of perception. Can’t say that I ever heard our friends or neighbours complain about it being the most oppressive time. Ok, I take that back, I have heard them complain, but they were the men, not the women! This is about the only time where the men cannot get out of helping around the house at all in a holiday of such magnitude. The success of the holiday and the purity of the home depends on the woman, and her word at that moment is law. Everyone has to help her out and follow her instructions. She gets to decide everything aroyund the home, and more than just divesting the house of hametz, this is a time to set the house in order and repair it exactly as she would like.

  57. I am a Mormon woman who read the article in the ensign and then came here to read this post. I appreciate Bridget’s original post and then the responses from Erin and Bridget. This has given me much to think about.
    Thank you.

  58. The Narrator said: “I demand that Hudson’s 23 pages of credentials be placed at the beginning of this BLOG POST. I can think of no reasonable justification for omitting them. That you would only list the same credentials as the Ensign article in question is extremely poor form.”

    It is interesting that you demand anything considering you have not contributed anything to article discussion.

  59. Valentinus: I have a feeling The Narrator was simply performing an Inspired Midrash on Juliann’s complaint and observation of the plain and precious things left off of this blog post.

  60. Erin, I’ve had similar thoughts sometimes on how the three classes that are traditionally subjected to men are slaves, children, and women. Slaves can become free and children grow up, but women are women forever, and people seem to expect us to just be subordinate forever. Thank you again for all of your comments on this post.

    Karen, thanks for stopping by. I am happy to hear that the post and the ensuing discussion were helpful to you. (I’m also happy to read that you did not flee screaming from the post when you read that I was a non-member. ;))

    CF, you’re not welcome to comment on my blog posts here any more than you’re welcome to comment at ClobberBlog given your established history of breaking the rules and accusing me of ill-intentions. However, I encourage you to comment on the WWE posts of others if you wish. Other authors are welcome to allow you to comment on their posts as they see fit. As ever I wish you the best in whatever you choose to do with your time.

    Everyone, my post has been updated to correct some misinformation about the Hafens’ academics. See footnote #3. Thank you Tom @ MDB for the correction. Also, I can’t thank everyone enough for a robust discussion.

    For the record, I believe I will be posting an in-depth critique on why I don’t regard Hudson’s take on Mormonism as feminist, which seems to be what some people here would much rather be discussing. Stay tuned.

  61. Jack, for what it’s worth, legal academics is not really the same as most other academic disciplines. “Legal scholars” are really just “smart lawyers who write articles.”

  62. On this Hebrew business:

    The Septuagint at least tells us that Greek-speaking Jews in the second century BCE (or even earlier if you believe the traditional story) who also knew Hebrew and Aramaic (the former possibly and the latter definitely as spoken language) thought that “mashal b-” meant “to lord over.” The passage in question is translated: καὶ αὐτός σου κυριεύσει (literally, “and he shall lord over you”).

    The “b-” in “mashal b-” is most likely an extension of its instrumental or locative functions, and the morphological merger of these semantic categories is very common cross-linguistically.

    And if any of you have instances in any West Semitic language where “b-” expresses accompaniment (“with” a person), which is being asserted by some commenters here and by Elder Hafen, rather than instrumentality (“with” a thing) or location (“in” a place), I would really, really love to see them. On second thought, I’ll even take Akkadian examples if you have them.

    On philological grounds, there is absolutely no reason for granting any validity to Elder Hafen’s interpretation.

  63. Kullervo ~ Yeah, someone else at MDB made similar comments about how a legal academic is not really the same thing as a traditional academic. I figure it’s still fine to have made the correction, lest I be accused of intentionally diminishing the Hafens’ credentials.

    Symmachus ~ Thanks so much for re-posting that comment here. That’s exactly what I mean about checking out the history of translation to help understand what a text or verse means.

  64. David T: Perhaps you are right. BTW, I love it when you post at MDD. You, Seth, Chris and Blair are very refreshing with your insights.

  65. I finally read through the thread at MDDB. Allow me to offer a few responses here (since, after ~8 months of not posting there, I was quietly banned from MDDB and IP-blocked last year after putting in a ticket politely asking the moderators to please not allow a regular poster to display my private correspondence in his/her signature without my permission):

    Juliann said, “Obviously, there is some sadly serious hatred towards Hudson.”

    Juliann, just when I think you couldn’t possibly be any more ridiculous, you just keep on posting things on the Internet. You may hate the people you vehemently disagree with—I have no way of reading your mind—but I certainly don’t. I hope you won’t be quitting your day job to take up mind-reading any time soon.

    Your “but why aren’t people directing this ire at Bruce Hafen?” argument was addressed at length in the original post and further in the comments. BTW, Marie Hafen was also responsible for this mistranslation, but you keep on diminishing her accomplishments by leaving her out. I realize that isn’t convenient to the “poor academic woman vs. powerful man” narrative you’re trying to push, but facts are inconvenient things sometimes. And you never did back up your charge of “ad hominem.”

    You also show your ignorance of feminism in your suggestion (citing Claudia Bushman) that feminists shouldn’t criticize women. Why shouldn’t we? Since when are men (pro-patriarchy or otherwise) ever taken to task for criticizing other men? But women speak out against other women and people tease that it’s a “cat fight” or try and shame them for daring to be individuals. It speaks to the stereotype that women are supposed to be gentle and cooperative and play nice with those around them at all times. I’d much rather see a culture where women are free to critique other women without being branded as traitors to either feminism or their sex.

    It’s a relief that only 1-2 people reached for the “anti-Mormon” slur, and I appreciate those who stood up to that untruth.

    stemelbow, I said that I didn’t want to embarrass Hudson in the comments, and that I tried to resolve the matter discreetly via FAIR years ago.

    Bikeemikey, your comments in the thread were very level-headed and rational. I do not know you, but major respect here.

  66. David has done an analysis of the mistranslation here sans insults http://www.withoutend.org/parry-translation-genesis-316-interpreting-bible-privileged-text/#comment-6698 but I do have to object to a misrepresentation of an important point.
    .
    #75 You also show your ignorance of feminism in your suggestion (citing Claudia Bushman) that feminists shouldn’t criticize women. Why shouldn’t we?

    I show my ignorance all the time, Jack. But I never said that. Critique and attack not even in the same ballpark. Statements like these are not a critique, they are unnecessary mocking attacks: ” pretty faux-feminist doily”, “serial abuse of the Hebrew language” “she should know better” “I would not let a freshman undergraduate get away with that”, “she is disingenuously misleading,” ” faux-feminist apologetic for the status quo.” Attacking is not critiquing. There is no place in Mormon feminism for denigrating, demeaning, mocking…also known as attacking…other Mormon women. Relabeling it as a “critique” does not make such attacks acceptable.

  67. #76 Juliann ~ The blog post you link to by David Bokovoy also calls this post “well-written,” “fascinating,” “well-articulated,” and describes my treatment of Hudson with the verb “critique” rather than “attack.” If David took issue with the tone of this post, he has yet to share that with me.

    Have you consulted a thesaurus lately? It does not support your contention that criticism (which is what I said) and attack are “not even in the same ballpark.” And I very much disagree with you that there is no place in Mormon feminism for denigrating or mockery (see here for a brilliant recent example). (EDIT: I see that I did say “critique” later in the paragraph in addition to “criticism.”)

    The quotes from this essay which you regard as unnecessary mocking attacks, I see as colorful but accurate descriptions of Hudson’s treatment of this passage. For all of your complaining about my affront to her self-proclaimed feminism and the tone of this essay, you’ve posted little of substance to defend her on those points, so I assume that you (for the most part) agree that my criticism was accurate, even if you dislike that I pointed those things out.

  68. Symmachus- Here are a few of the references from HALOT. Some can be argued. None provides any real support for the claim in 3:16, but it notes that “therefore: B. means in company with” listing Num 20:20, Gen 32:11, 1Ki 10:2.

    2Chr 22:1 (came with the Arabians)

    BDB says, “III. 1. With—a. of accompaniment: Nu 20:20 dbeK’ ~[;B. with much people, Jos 22:8, Ju 11:34, 1 K 10:2, 2 K 5:9, Je 41:15; Ex 21:22 and he shall give ~ylilip.Bi with arbitrators (arbitrators being employed), Is 8:16 :yd†”MuliB. with my disciples, i.e. having them present; Ex 8:1, 8:13, Je 11:19 Amx.l;B. #[e a tree with its sap; 1 K 19:19 rf'[‘h, ~ynEv.Bi aWhw> and he with the 12th.”

  69. I like the idea of wrestling with the texts. “A time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many gods, they shall be manifest.” Wrestle with that.

  70. For what it’s worth, the official LDS Spanish translation of Genesis 3:16 uses the verb enseñorearse here, which literally means “to make oneself lord (of)” and is usually translated as “to dominate.”

    In any case, despite my egalitarian leanings, I have no problem with the harsher (correct) translation. As Jack and Kevin (and maybe others) said, the verse is meant to explain what is, not what should be. If anything, the verse in context supports an egalitarian interpretation by suggesting that Adam’s domination is an undesirable thing. To see the passage as prescriptive is taking it beyond the author’s intent.

  71. #80 Eric ~ I agree. If one wants a passage that suggests that God intended for men and women to rule together, one need look no further than Gen. 1:27-28, where the man and the woman are jointly commanded to “have dominion” over the earth. I actually think Gen. 3:16 is intentionally subverting Gen. 1:28.

    In any case, Valerie Hudson could make the exact same argument by quoting Gen. 1:27-28 instead. There’s no need for the misuse of Hebrew.

  72. Thanks for the references Nitsav. Just to clarify my comment slightly, what I am looking for are examples of transitive verbs (should’ve said that above) which could be complemented by a phrase of animate accompaniment introduced by b-. It may seem like nitpicking, but this is what the Hafen-Parry argument is suggesting about mashal, and I don’t think that construction is paralleled in any West Semitic language. Mashal is an intransitive verb, it seems to me from looking at some examples, and that is why it takes b- as its accusative complement rather et. The Parry-Hafen translation depends on making mashal transitive for the b- accompaniment argument to work.

    A couple of comments:

    1. Gen 32:11 doesn’t have the beth anywhere. Maybe it’s a typo? Same with Ex. 8:1 and 8:13. I don’t have HALOT anywhere near me so I can’t check myself.

    2. Exodus 21:22 doesn’t seem to have any idea of accompaniment at all. “Through arbitrators” (or “arbitrators being employed” as HALOT has it) seems instrumental to me. The arbitrators are, after all, the ones who will arbitrate: it’s not a collaboration. And 1 Kings 19:19 seems pretty clearly to be an instrumental use, too, and is also referring to animals not people (hence not applicable to my original comment).

    3. Isaiah 8:16 seems definitely locatival or circumstantial (variations of the same thing, really). Most translations that I can find reflect that; I suppose it could be disputed, but the imperative is addressed to Isaiah telling him to seal up the law while the disciples are present (that’s circumstantial b-), not that that Isaiah and the disciples should seal up the law and teaching collaboratively (that would be accompaniment along the lines of the Hafen-Parry suggestion for marshal). English “with” would be ambiguous on that point and that seems to be why it is best translated as “among.”

    4. Jos. 22:8 is instructive: all examples of b- here are used in reference to inanimate things, not animate people. There is one mention of animate people, though, at the end of the verse, and it uses the preposition (ayin)im, which is the standard way to express accompaniment with people, not b-.

    5. 1 K. 10:2, 2 Chron. 22:1, 2 Kings 5:9, Num. 2:20 all use intranstive verbs of motion, so again, not what I was originally referring to. It is arguable that these are really accompaniment anyway (“he came with an army” really means “he brought an army”; cf. Arabic ja’a b-, or any number of other constructions). Again, just as in these cases, it is the intransitivity of mashal that calls for the use of b-.

    6. Judges 11:34, not accompaniment with a person, which is what I was referring to. But again, it is with an intransitive verb of motion, and the beth is periphrastically making it a direct object (cf. Arabic nazala bi-). This is how, incidentally, mashal b- works, which is why the b- can’t be expressing accompaniment. Jer. 11:19 also is not with a person.

    7. The closest seems to me to be Jer. 41:15, except that the verb is niphal, and therefore intransitive again. Also interesting that the b- occurs here before a number+construct, just as in the case of 1 Kings 19:19.

    A closer analysis of the references of HALOT you’ve given shows that none of these examples parallel the accompaniment construction argued for by Parry-Hafen: two or more animate agents collaboratively involved in the action of a transitive verb.

  73. “Gen 32:11 doesn’t have the beth anywhere. Maybe it’s a typo? Same with Ex. 8:1 and 8:13. I don’t have HALOT anywhere near me so I can’t check myself.”

    Hebrew verse numbering differs from English there. Agreed with your analysis.

    inta ta’arif al’arabiyya aydan? Mumtaz.

  74. It is impossible to know from just Genesis 3:16 whether it is suggesting that God ordered women to obey men or just that he was explaining that that was what would happen, but given that it was written by a patriarchal society, I would guess the former. And in regard to 1 Tim 2:12, it seems a bit much to attempt to use “exercise” verses “assume” to try to wiggle out of the fact that the verse is clearly suggesting that women can not be religious leaders according to this verse. Yes we should build a society based on gender equality, but the books of the Bible were written by a patriarchal society and we aren’t being historically accurate if we don’t admit that even if it causes people theological struggle.

  75. #84 Hibernia86 ~ Good to see you here!

    It is impossible to know from just Genesis 3:16 whether it is suggesting that God ordered women to obey men or just that he was explaining that that was what would happen, but given that it was written by a patriarchal society, I would guess the former.

    We’re just not going to agree there. Nobody denies that these passages were written in a patriarchal society, but they do sometimes show progressive sparks, and there are several of them in the creation accounts: men and women jointly having dominion over the earth, Eve being called Adam’s ezer, “helper” (God being the only other party in the Bible to be labeled ezer). I think that assumptions about male superiority have sometimes led to poor interpretations of the text (I could give a lot of examples of this if people really want to hear them, but I’m worried it could spawn a lot of tangential discussions).

    I’m not an apologist who tries to read every patriarchal text in the Bible as egalitarian. There are all kinds of texts where my answer is, “Yup, this reflects patriarchy.” (The period of uncleanness being double for the birth of a girl vs. the birth of a boy is one of many examples.) But there are places where I just don’t think the passages are as damaging to women as they’ve traditionally been made out to be.

    1 Tim. 2:11-15 is really a subject for another post.

  76. Ms. Jack, thanks for the response. I still get e-mails for the posts for this blog and your blog, but I get them a day after they are posted so most people have already made their comments and I don’t know if they are going to look at them again so I don’t know if there is a point to me commenting. For this post at least you set it up to get e-mail responses when people comment so it was good to get a chance to participate.

    It is always interesting to hear people debate about the original Hebrew because that gives us a better understanding of what verse means to the people who wrote it before it went through translations. We should talk about 1 Tim 2:11-15 some time, but for now regardless of your opinion, you should watch these two short clips from the movie Agora on this verse just to see how it is presented.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H38ifOZSuAI
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wICjlivbkr4

  77. So, in other words, your article should be titled “Research, yet again, validates and illustrates the historical use of inspired and righteous Patriarchy, the historical bedrock of over 90% of all civilizations.”

  78. Awesome discussion. I enjoyed reading through it.

    Bridget: Honestly–and no disrespect meant–I do not understand the need for the snarkiness toward Dr. Hudson. I realize this is a blog post and not an academic paper, but I am confused as to what purpose such an attitude serves in a “round-table” setting?

  79. Wedge ~ Good to see you again.

    I think there are occasions even in academic settings where we just have to roll our eyes and tell it like it is. A scholar who repeatedly ignores counter-evidence and continues to push a badly discredited theory to unsuspecting lay people just because she finds if fashionable is one such occasion.

    Hudson herself recently critiqued the Ordain Women Web site, calling it “anti-feminist” and claiming that the Web site caused her to have “a strong reaction, which has no label in our language, but feels like the urge to laugh and to cry at the same time.” Somehow, I’m guessing the same people who came onto this thread to take me to task for questioning Hudson’s feminism and calling me out on my “tone” will not be doing the same to Hudson.

  80. Bridget: Admittedly, I haven’t read the Hudson article to which you refer. Also, admittedly, I did not realize how old this post was before commenting. Thanks for taking the time to reply.

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