SEARCHING THE BIBLE FOR WISDOM

The garden of Eden with the fall of man
(from here)

What Got This Post Started?

Your Biblical Belief is 42 years old … by Jamie Carter illustrates why I consider debating the Bible worthwhile. This is actually a form of Christian fellowship. The subject is God, and we share our understanding of Him.

In her post, comments on Susan Foh‘s 1975 article, WHAT IS THE WOMAN’S DESIRE? What is that about? Well, consider how  ends her (guessing since I am not certain of ‘s gender) post.

Before Foh pioneered this meaning for the word desire in 1975; the main school of thought was that ‘desire’ referred to a woman’s sexual desire for her husband; though Calvin thought that it meant that a woman will desire what her husband desires and will have no desires for herself. Some thought that women will be plagued with desire itself bordering on a disease. What wasn’t up for debate was that whatever it meant, men had to rule over women as a result of desire.

So if you believe that a man is the head of his family, that the curse on women was to be in rebellion against her husband’s headship because her desire was to be contrary to his headship and the man would rule over his wife, your Biblical belief is somewhat older than I am. Ain’t that something? (from here)

Apparently, thinks that what complementarians believe about the Biblical basis for the relationship between men and women is of relatively recent origin, and that the recent origin Biblical basis for Complementarianism undermines the argument.

What is Complementarianism? It is the counterpart to Egalitarianism.

Summarized by “The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood,” complementarianism is the viewpoint that God restricts women from serving in church leadership roles and instead calls women to serve in equally important, but complementary roles. Summarized by “Christians for Biblical Equality,” egalitarianism is the viewpoint that there are no biblical gender-based restrictions on ministry in the church. With both positions claiming to be biblically based, it is crucially important to fully examine what exactly the Bible does say on the issue of complementarianism vs. egalitarianism. (continued here)

What Is This Post About?

After I first read ‘s post, I found myself digging into what Susan Foh had written and the debates she had engendered, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that while gender issues are quite important to  they were not the subject of her post.  Her issue is how complementarians arrived at their version of Biblical truth. Hence, I am not going to try to resolve the debate between complementarians and egalitarians. The subject here is how we search for Biblical wisdom.

Consider something Isaac Newton said.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. — Isaac Newton (from here)

We build understanding by building upon the wisdom of the people who went before us. That is, what we know depends upon what the generations before us taught us, especially our parents and grandparents. That includes our understanding of the Bible.

People have studied and debated (sometimes quite unpleasantly) the meaning of the Bible since God started inspiring men to write it. If we look up the history of universities, we soon find that medieval monks started them in Christian cathedrals. Of course, theology was the big focus. In fact, if we go back further and look up the Church Fathers, most of what they did was study, debate, and preach scripture.

Most of us think for ourselves. Even when we are trying to obey God, most of us think for ourselves. That independent spirit both causes problems and helps us in seeking God.  When Eve bit into the apple and Adam followed her example (Genesis 3), instead of obeying God, both sought to be like God. That did not please God. When we study the Bible diligently and try to understand it so we can understand, love, obey, and seek God; we please Him.

What Is The Debate Over Genesis 3:16 About?

So what about the difficulty of interpreting Genesis 3:16? Consider some different translations.

Here the word “desire” is used. That is more common.

Genesis 3:16 New King James Version (NKJV)

16 To the woman He said:

“I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children;
Your desire shall be for your husband,
And he shall rule over you.”

Here the word “control” is used. Some adopted that translation after 1975.

Genesis 3:16 New English Translation (NET Bible)

16 To the woman he said,
“I will greatly increase your labor pains;
with pain you will give birth to children.
You will want to control your husband,
but he will dominate you.”

Another version of the Bible, one developed by Catholics, provides a relatively unique translation.

Genesis 3:16 Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

16 To the woman also he said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee.

Here, from Bible Hub, is a listing of various translations of Genesis 3:16. If you are particularly interested in this verse, I also suggest reading the commentaries on Genesis 3:16 at Bible Hub. Of course, those commentaries predate Susan Foh‘s 1975 article, WHAT IS THE WOMAN’S DESIRE?

What Causes Our Disagreements About The Bible?

So why do the various translations differ, sometimes significantly.  Well, the Bible is only the Word of God in the original language. Once we start putting the Bible in our language we have to put up with translation errors and the biases of the translators. This is no secret. It is one of the reasons why the Catholic Church was reluctant to have the Bible translated and to let the people read it for themselves. The Bible Translation That Rocked the World, for example, discusses the challenges that Martin Luther encountered when he translated the Bible into German.

What does a word represent?  When we think of a word, we generate a concept in our mind.  When we speak a word to someone else we compel whoever is listening to generate the concept they associate with that word in their mind. Therefore, when we translate words from one language to another, finding the best match between the words in the source language and the target language involves finding the word or phrase that correctly portrays the desired concept in the mind of the reader.

Unfortunately, even if the translator well understands both the source and target languages, sometimes there isn’t a good word match. Sometimes, in the case of a language that has not been spoken for a long time, scholars have to work quite diligently to understand what concepts the words in the source language were meant to generate in the minds of the people who spoke that language.  So it is we get translations that are mostly the same, but some differ significantly.

What Is The Word In Question?

What is the word in question? It is the Hebrew word teshuqah. Google produces about 3200 hits (click on teshuqah). So that word has generated much commentary.

Most of the translations of teshuqah use the noun form of the word “desire”.  Let’s look at the origin of the word, “desire”.

desire

v. early 13c., from Old French desirrer (12c.) “wish, desire, long for,” from Latin desiderare “long for, wish for; demand, expect,” original sense perhaps “await what the stars will bring,” from the phrase de sidere “from the stars,” from sidus (genitive sideris) “heavenly body, star, constellation” (but see consider ). Related: Desired ; desiring.

n. c.1300, from Old French desir, from desirer (see desire (v.)); sense of “lust” is first recorded mid-14c.

Curiously, the word “desire” was first associated with the stars. Sexual lust is an element of desire, but “having” is the primary emphasis of the word, and that something is from the stars.  What we desire we want. What we desire is something we long to have in our possession and under our control.

Is desire the wrong word? Maybe not. “Covet” is a synonym for “desire”, and covetousness is a sin. What we desire — what we put at the forefront of our life — rules us.

What Is The End Of This Discussion?

I tend to enjoy John Wesley’s concise commentary. What did he have to say about Genesis 3:16?

Verse 16
[16] Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

We have here the sentence past upon the woman; she is condemned to a state of sorrow and a state of subjection: proper punishments of a sin in which she had gratified her pleasure and her pride. (1.) She is here put into a state of sorrow; one particular of which only is instanced in, that in bringing forth children, but it includes all those impressions of grief and fear which the mind of that tender sex is most apt to receive, and all the common calamities which they are liable to. It is God that multiplies our sorrows, I will do it: God, as a righteous Judge, doth it, which ought to silence us under all our sorrows; as many as they are we have deserved them all, and more: nay, God as a tender Father doth it for our necessary correction, that we may be humbled for sin, and weaned from it. (2.) She is here put into a state of subjection: the whole sex, which by creation was equal with man, is for sin made inferior. (from here)

Wesley saw Genesis 3:16 as being about punishment, and for thousands of years the social standing of women has been lower than that of men. Among the Jews, women were generally treated better, and with the advent of Christianity, the social standing of women began to slowly rise. However, that verse was about sin and punishment. Because they had sinned — because they would continue to sin — Adam, Eve, and their progeny would suffer from sin.

Other verses in the Bible call upon men to love their wives as they love themselves. Other verses call upon women to love their husbands and submit to the love of their husbands. What all those verses mean, not just one, Christians and non-Christians study and debate.

Can I resolve this debate? Of course not, but I can suggest that each of us needs to ask God what He wants us to do and do it. Whether God made us a man or a woman, He did not do so to curse us. Our own sins do that, and that is what most people get out of Genesis 3. What Genesis 3 tells us to do is to love and obey our Creator. That Adam, Eve, and we have too often failed to do.

What about punishment God inflicted upon Adam, Eve, and all of humanity? Just as God punishes us, don’t we punish our children to teach them to behave? In spite of the fact we punish our children, is not most of the punishment they receive — we receive — self-inflicted? When we sin, don’t we suffer from our sins? If a 120 pound woman totally desires 180 lb man, who is going to be controlled? Oddly, because the man wants to rule over the woman, it doesn’t always work out the way one might expect.

And so it is that for the sake of a tempting piece of fruit, Adam and Eve gave up paradise and their selfless love for each other.

Additional References

23 thoughts on “SEARCHING THE BIBLE FOR WISDOM

  1. Well said, Tom. I can’t think of a single thing to add. When I have questions about something in the bible, I just ask Him about it, usually in prayer. It’s amazing how the answers soon come along in ways I can easily understand.

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  2. Interesting post. To me it presents two conditions.

    I experienced the translation issues of word interpretations of proverbs. Frankly, when I compared various commentaries of the proverb meanings, I was confounded at the numerous beliefs that originate from language translations of various word meanings from various Bible scholars.

    As for women, I believe they know their roles in a family probably better than men. However, I think many a wise man, be he married or not, is better off not debating this issue with a woman. That is because a strange dilemma occurs if a woman succeeds to convince a man that she controls him. If she does succeed, for some strange reason, she then loses respect of him as a man.

    No scientific evidence, just my opinion.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

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    1. @scatterwisdom

      A great deal of scholarship is required to understand the Bible. That is one of the reasons I did not take sides on the debate between the Complementarians and the Egalitarians. I have and opinion, but I have not studied the issues enough to add anything.

      Since a woman’s role is better defined by biology, I expect they do understand their family better than men. Still, both sexes have much to learn, and the examples of both the mother and the father are important to children.

      When you spoke of wisdom of debating with a woman, I thought of 2 Samuel 13, Amnon and Tamar. After Amnon lay with Tamar, forcing himself upon her, Amnon hated Tamar. One moment he loves her? The next he hates her?

      As far as I can tell, Amnon’s reaction here was all about him, but I cannot say I understand it. One of these days I will have to dig through some commentaries and see if any have a good explanation that rings true. However, my guess is that in their own way women sometimes do the same thing to men.

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  3. The ancient peoples developed tradition as a means of passing wisdom, basic doctrines and beliefs down through the generations.

    The Catholics continued this method.

    The Catholic Mass of today has the same structure and content as from 150 Anno Domini when the first written record of Sabbath Christian worship appeared.

    The Protestant Reformation created a new doctrine which rejected tradition as a Christian fundamental.

    One simply need “pray” and listen to “God” (one’s own mind) and somehow, magically the disciple would develop a crystal clear understanding of the Bible.

    From that time onward Christian unity was shattered, as any Tom, Dick or Harry could claim divine knowledge of the Bible and create a religion in his own image.

    The problem with tradition as demonstrated by Jesus and Martin Luther is that spiritual sclerosis sets in and people become dedicated to mindless tradition instead of the God’s wisdom.

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    1. @silenceofmind

      Good observations.

      Of course, the Protestant Reformation resulted in a wide variety of denominations that splintered off of Catholicism. So I don’t think there was just one doctrine, but some did follow the rule that one simply need “pray” and listen to “God”.

      Tradition remained important to many Protestants. Many Protestants sought to restore the traditions of 1st Century Christianity. Others simply rejected the authority of the Pope. What I think all Protestants had in common was the belief that each of us has the right to read the Bible in our own language. However, given how tyrannical some people are, I suspect that is a cult out there that restricts access to the Bible to a select and knowing few. People will sin.

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      1. Citizen,

        The Catholic Church is dedicated and scrupulous in its efforts to provide Bibles to every culture and language possible.

        I once had dinner with a group of people one of which was the priest in charge of providing the Bible translated into the dialect of a tribe of people who lived in the Himalayas.

        And you, yourself, recommended a compendium written by a Bible scholar on a particularly difficult portion of the Bible.

        The Catholic Church does that too. So much in fact that it would fill one library at least.

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  4. My friends at the head covering movement (devoted followers of 1 Corinthians 11’s first half of verses) seem to think that male headship was the original relationship that God built into the perfection of the Garden of Eden as the blue-print for the relationship of men and women as well as Christ and the Church; that just like God, we were meant to exist in a hierarchy where some would always have authority over others just as Jesus always has authority over the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit never has authority over God. Because God is a being of hierarchy and authority, everything that exists has been stamped with the same structure.
    Do you remember the disaster that was the Permanent ESV? One of the earliest changes was this same verse: “Genesis 3:16 was changed from “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” to “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.””
    Ultimately, I see my example as that of the Second Adam; though God, he laid down all that authority to become a suffering servant. He was extremely respectful of women in his time and set the standard as being better than society itself. Society has made a lot of great strides forward; but sadly, Christianity has anchored itself to Jesus’ time. There are many things women cannot do in some of Jesus’ churches. Some churches are so literal about the word of God, that not only has wearing head coverings returned, but some forbid women from speaking, from teaching boys who are older than twelve who have been baptized (because they’re men), from leading prayers aloud, and also forbid them from reading God’s word as well as preaching from it. Christianity wants all of it’s women to be Marthas, but I want to let all it’s Mary’s follow their hearts completely unhindered.
    There are two ways to interpret any given verse of Scripture, one looks at the literal letter of the law, the other discerns the spirit of the text. All too often, Christians chose a literal reading that limits or withholds the freedoms that the spirit of the text would give.

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    1. @Jamie Carter

      Admittedly, when I was scanning Genesis 3:16, I did not check the ESV Permanent Text Edition. Otherwise, I probably would have had a good chuckle. Thanks for pointing that out.

      When men and women translate the Bible, the translators are subject to their own prejudices. Moreover, their readers are subject to their own prejudices. Those readers will often not accept a translation that does not conform to their prejudices.

      The ESV is as as far as I can tell is a relatively good translation. It certainly has a good list of endorsements (https://www.esv.org/translation/endorsements/). Since those are all conservative scholars, that tells us something about the prejudices of the translators. Can you find a list of endorsements that doesn’t?

      I have two daughters. They are both capable young women, and I have often wondered how they would adjust to the changing role of women in the modern world. Yet, I have noticed that it is the boys who have the most trouble. So what I worried about most is whether they would find suitable husbands. Fortunately, God blessed them. Each married a fine young man who loves her dearly.

      What we call the family is an organization. In an organization we assign roles and responsibilities. When our secular society denies that a father is even necessary, what is the role of a father or a son? Women, on the other hand, still have a role, but after they have had sex with him, what do they do with the guy?

      Seeing the conflict, the denial of sound traditions, Conservatives have pushed back, sometimes a bit too strongly and even comically. On the other hand, when the secularists insists there are no differences between the roles and responsibilities of men and women, we should consider the possibility that they have serious mental health issues.

      So what about Bible translations? What good is an interpretation of the bible it does not comport with either the original text or physical reality? Men and women are different, correct? God made us that way for our own good, right? Is it not true that when we are good to each other our Lord is pleased? Then perhaps the answer is that we should worry less about who is in charge (God is the real boss, anyway.) and more about those we love.

      Vive la différence!

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      1. If I’m not mistaken, the ESV had a notable lack of women participating in it’s translation process; rather, those who were already complementarian in their theology had a pronounced role in it’s translation. So it should really come as no surprise that complementarians in charge of translation created one of the most complementarian versions of the Bible. This was in response to the gender neutral version of the NIV Bible that would alter “brothers” to “brothers and sisters” when the latter was implied and the former was the literal translation. It would also use “humanity” or “mankind” in place of “man” so as not to confuse “man (meaning males)” with “man (meaning humanity)”. How people interpret the Bible determines how people will teach it, and with it’s ancient male-focused reading, as a result of having been written in a patriarchal culture, it cannot help but disadvantage women or view them as lesser because they’re not men. If men and women are to take their place at the level ground at the foot of the cross, it’ll have to be done by demolishing the “men only” hill that’s closer to the cross of Jesus.

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        1. @Jamie Carter

          We tend to think everyone should think like us, but I don’t think God made us all the same. So we have the NIV, the ESV and bunches of other Bibles. Each of these Bibles reflects the notions a particular group about how the Bible should be translated. You like the NIV? That’s fine, but I would prefer an accurate translation rather than a gender neutral or a complementarian translation. Unfortunately, every translation is biased some how or some way. If it is not one thing, it’s another. So if people actually read the NIV, I am not about to complain.

          You perceive flaws in the ESV, but consider the NIV. When we translate the Bible, shouldn’t our word choices be driven by what the source language says? English is not gender neutral. So there is a problem when we try to make a Bible gender neutral. To satisfy the demands of gender neutrality, we end up using words we would not otherwise use (Isn’t that the point?), and those words don’t necessarily mean the same thing. Hence, to be politically correct instead of accurate, gender neutrality requires a less accurate translation. And if we neuter the source language, that just makes it worst. How far would you go with this? Would you call Jesus a male, female, or gender neutral?

          I am sure you have googled: is the Bible gender neutral. There is certainly no shortage of articles on the subject. Frankly, I wish people would spend more time worrying about just plain, ordinary, accuracy; but we would have to be something other than human for that to happen.

          As you say, how people interpret the Bible determines how they teach it. Well, we will never all agree, but is agreement with one point of view the objective? What God has called upon us to do is to love Him and each other. Through the Holy Spirit, He changes hearts, not us. What I hope complementarians and egalitarians will do is accept their differences and just love each other. Each group, I think, is trying to do what they think is right.

          Consider. Complementarians do not think women less than men. Complementarians believe men and women have differing roles and that both roles are important. You don’t believe that? That doesn’t make complementarians wrong. In fact, if they believe in complementarianism, and they don’t act upon that belief then they commit a sin (1 Corinthians 8). Effectively, you are in the same predicament, but you believe in egalitarianism.

          We live in a free country. What a husband and a wife choose to believe about the proper relationship between a husband and a wife is up to them. Which church they choose and which Bible they read is up to them. We can debate these issues, but people will never get it perfectly right, at least not in this lifetime.

          Which is true, complementarianism or egalitarianism? I think the truth is somewhere in the middle, but I also think it is in the person of Jesus, not me.

          Whenever I debate, I have to remember the objective is to share Jesus, not to demolish the other person’s hill. Demolishing the other person’s hill is a strong temptation, but the Bible condemns it.

          Philippians 2:3-4 New King James Version (NKJV)

          3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

          We don’t want to destroy the hill from which our fellows see the cross. We want to climb it with them, urging each other onward. So long as we keep our eyes on Jesus, that hill is big enough for all of us.

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        2. But so long as the scriptures are written in a patriarchal culture, so long as women are forbidden from teaching, from preaching, from speaking and from having authority, so long as male headship puts men closer to the cross than women – there will always be a go-between women and God; a single woman’s father or a married woman’s husband. That’s not so of single men; who on their own are as close to God as all the other men are. We have to decide if these ideas are God’s desire for the relationship between men and women for all time the world over; or like idol feasts; necessary for a time but not meant to be applied beyond that time. As it is; there isn’t level ground at the cross of Jesus; and women; like the women of old; can only look upon the cross from a distance.

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        3. @Jamie Carter

          People will always be producing disputable translations. Otherwise we would produce none.

          You don’t like scriptures written in a patriarchal culture, but that is the culture they were originally written in. Christianity has over time changed the culture, putting emphasis on neighborly love rather than might makes right. It is that emphasis on love, not bending others to our will, that has strengthen the hand of the gentler sex. Nevertheless, not even the wisest among us can change what has been done.

          The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
          Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
          Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
          Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
          — Edward Fitzgerald’s translation of the poem The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam, 1859

          What we are debating is disputable doctrine. To believe in the divinity of Jesus and the salvation He offers does not require us to be either a complementarian or a egalitarian.

          Complementarianism does not affect a woman’s relationship with Jesus. While complementarianism clearly offends the egos of egalitarians (and vice versa), the doctrine does not call for a go-between women and God.

          Catholicism, on the other hand, arguably defines the role of the priest so that the priest serves as a go-between the laity and God, but that’s a different issue.

          We have to decide if these ideas are God’s desire for the relationship between men and women for all time the world over; or like idol feasts; necessary for a time but not meant to be applied beyond that time.

          We each have to decide such things, but we each have decide for ourselves.

          When Jesus died on the cross, He made The Father, The Son, the Holy Spirit — the Kingdom of Heaven — accessible to us. All we have to do is believe the salvation He offers us is real and accept it.

          John 21:20-25 New King James Version (NKJV)
          The Beloved Disciple and His Book

          20 Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” 21 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?”

          22 Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”

          23 Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?”

          24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.

          25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

          We must not get so worked up about what others believe that we sin against them. As Jesus said, “What is that to you? You follow Me.”

          You don’t have ample opportunity to advocate what you believe? Of course, you do. You just have to go to a Christian church that is compatible with your own beliefs. Are not complementarians entitled to the same opportunity? If not, then why not? Are complementarians trying to stop you? Or do they just prefer their own beliefs, but what is that to you or me?

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        4. I’ve done the whole song and dance – I’ve attended complementarian churches; as a single person, I was always the odd one out. Half of the sermons never applied to me and they were irrelevant. The egalitarian churches in this area – well, they just aren’t a good fit for reasons other than theology. So when there’s nowhere to belong, there’s nowhere to go.

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        5. @Jamie Carter

          What can I say? Nothing new. Churches are made up of sinners.

          Matthew 16:13-20 defines what the church is about; it exists to build the kingdom of heaven on the earth. Revelation 1-3 describes seven churches. Revelation 1-3 provides a good indication of what kind of church we should strive to make out of our church.

          The mission of the church is to spread the Gospel. I know it is difficult because I don’t find it easy, but that is why we attend a church. We go to prepare to spread the Gospel.

          The military has two basic parts. One part organizes, trains, and equips. A second part goes to battle.

          That structure we call a church exists to organize, train, and equip believers. When believers leave the church, they enter their mission fields. Sometimes churches go farther than that. They actually sponsor missionaries to spread the Gospel, but formally sending missionaries out into the world should be incidental to preparing the people who attend the church to spread the Gospel among their neighbors.

          Look at the United States. Christianity is in a serious decline. I think the reason is that we have forgotten our primary calling as Christians. The pastor does not spread the Gospel; we do.

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        6. “How people interpret the Bible determines how people will teach it, and with it’s ancient male-focused reading, as a result of having been written in a patriarchal culture, it cannot help but disadvantage women or view them as lesser because they’re not men.”

          I really believe the opposite. At the time the bible was written, the Christian ideas around male and female relationships were downright revolutionary. They still are actually. Rather than disadvantaging women, the bible and Christ Himself actually elevated us. For example,establishing the Divinity of Christ is always related to a woman. Had the women in the bible ever been edited out in some way, the evidence of who Christ is would have also been removed. That’s not an accident.

          Take something like a “weaker vessel” for example. In the modern world that causes offense, people think weaker means lesser. But actually in biblical times your weaker vessel was the fine china, the stuff having such worth and value you only used it when company came over. Women as “weaker vessels” actually means priceless,special. Those kinds of things would have been better understood in biblical times then they are in the modern world.

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        7. What made them weaker vessels was not that they were women; but because in the context of the verse, they were unbelieving wives of believing husbands. Were they both believers; then the vessel would have been of equal strength.

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        8. Well, I’m not so sure Peter 3 is addressing non believers in the second part of that chapter, but regardless he is calling husbands to love their wives, to treat them with respect and honor or their very prayers will be hindered. Once again, a weaker vessel was not about lacking strength or being lesser than, it was about being precious, the good stuff, the fine china. Once in a blue moon you still hear that term used in pottery when an artist has created something amazing. The “weaker vessels” are protected from everyday wear, they are set apart. It isn’t about whether or not they are strong enough, it is about their perceived value.

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        9. There’s a big difference in a modern person referring to China as a “weaker vessel” and how ancient Jewish people would have understood the concept. Did ancient Israel even have China?

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        10. “Did ancient Israel even have China?”

          Likely not. But that is exactly my point, we try to understand things in a modern context and that can give us the wrong perception. For us in the modern world, “weaker” means lesser,inferior,defective in some way. That doesn’t make the bible wrong, it makes us wrong. Our understanding is flawed.

          So if one were to go into a marriage for example, with someone who thought you were a defective unit, falsely believing the bible says so, one would be prone to completely reject all ideas around complementary marriages. Heck, maybe even reject marriage entirely.

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  5. this is a marvelous observation / lesson Tom—firstly I love how you liken the biblical debates with “fellowship” of believers—robust fellowship it often is 🙂 ….and like the ancient Jews before us, just at they still do today, there has been robust debate concerning the Law and the Word of God—even a young Jesus got in on that when he visited the temple to “debate” the ancient scripture with the various rabbis….
    Age old these debates seem to be….

    Throw in then, as you so astutely point out, translations—
    So we see that translations are as good as man is at deciphering and associating words and meaning…and when there is no direct translation…well, we see what happens…

    Sometimes we, as in man or as some prefer the more equal word humankind, get lost in the semantics of it all—losing total sight to the intent because of bickering over words…
    Yet we can see the importance words and their meaning have on our own modern day understanding….
    And somehow I think God often gets a bit tickled over our fussing over the minutia of it all as we strain the gnats and miss the camels 🙂
    Wonderful as always Tom!!

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  6. Thank you.

    And somehow I think God often gets a bit tickled over our fussing over the minutia of it all as we strain the gnats and miss the camels 🙂

    I do hope we amuse God, at least the way our children sometimes amuse us.

    It is certain that when Jesus walked the Holy Land people oooohhed and ahhhhed, weeped and shivered in fear, but can you imagine the laughter Jesus’ preaching must of generated? Even in the middle of Matthew 23….. No wonder the scribes and Pharisees wanted to kill him…… In spite of all their pretensions, he had made them a laughingstock. Only the wise among them learned to laugh with God and at themselves.

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