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Rightly Dividing the Word - A review of arguments used in ‘All One’


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Posted 03 January 2013 - 12:18 AM

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Rightly Dividing the Word

A review of arguments used in ‘All One’

Jonathan Burke (revised edition 2012)

The book can be Downloaded free of charge, but there are several minor errors in some Greek Characters which occurred when the Word Document was "printed" to Portable Document Format (pdf).

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The book is also available for purchase in the following formats:

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Introduction

This book examines arguments raised by brother Ian and sister Averil McHaffie in their book ‘All One In Christ Jesus’ (2010 edition). A number of issues and arguments related to the subject of their work, are also examined.

The purpose of this work is to test a particular case being made, and to assess its credibility. Evidence is placed before readers and they are invited to assess the case for themselves and reach their own conclusions. Readers will not find here:
  • An argument that readers must hold a certain position in order to be consistent with Scriptural teaching: instead readers are left to weigh the evidence Scripturally in prayer, for themselves
  • An attempt to intimidate readers by associating any particular view repeatedly with apostasy, church tradition, feminism, or misogyny: instead readers are encouraged to assess each view on its own merits
  • A promotion of my personal views on the subject: instead readers are invited to assess the evidence, compare it with Ian and Averil’s claims, and decide for themselves1
Readers should also understand that this work is not an unsolicited criticism. It is a response to Ian and Averil’s own appeal for others to read their work and respond:

We continue to welcome constructive criticism of anything we write, and will be happy to correct anything which can be demonstrated to be in error.’2


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1 I choose not to make a promotion of my personal views, because my own personal views are irrelevant; it is the responsibility of each individual to determine their own understanding of the Scriptures, and I have no desire to impose my interpretation on others or claim that it is the only valid interpretation and that all those who disagree are apostate.

2 ‘All One’, p. iv (2010).

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 12:38 AM

Notes to readers

Readers are encouraged to note the following points, which I hope will be helpful when reading this work.

Terms of address

Brother Ian and sister Averil are referred to throughout this work as simply ‘Ian and Averil’; the reference is not intended to be disrespectful (readers are requested to bear in mind that Ian and Averil are our brother and sister in Christ), it simply contributes to the stylistic brevity of the text.3

Added emphasis

All emphasis in bold has been added to the text, except where otherwise noted (text in italics is original to the source quoted).

Quotations and citations

Direct quotations from any source are identified by placing the text within single quotation marks (‘thus’), as well as providing a footnote identifying the source; indentation is not used to identify quotes or attribute text to a source, it is used as a typographical device with the aim of structuring the text for ease of reading.

Any text within single quotation marks which is unaccompanied by a footnote identifying the source is to be understood as my own words rather than being attributed to any other source. No text outside single quotation marks, or unaccompanied by a footnote identifying the source, is to be considered attributed to any source other than myself.

Paragraphing and spacing in quoted texts has sometimes been altered from the original layout for the ease of reading (specifically to avoid presenting readers with very large blocks of unbroken text which are difficult to read), but the text itself has been left unaltered.

The location of articles in journals is cited listing volume, number, and page in parentheses (v.n.p.), volume and page in parentheses (v.p), where there is no journal number, or simply number (n), where the source is an unpaginated electronic article.

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3 Similarly, Ian and Averil refer to me simply as ‘Brother Burke’ in ‘Reply 2’ (April 2009), at which I take no offence.

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 12:40 AM

Absent page numbers indicate places where I have used electronic works which did not include page numbers.

Some quotations are applicable to more than one section of the work, and so will appear several times throughout. This is partly in acknowledgement of the fact that I do not expect this work to be read from cover to cover, but rather used as a reference for information on various subjects. Readers will therefore find some material repeated in several different locations, as appropriate to the topic under discussion.

Many quotations have been provided from a wide range of works by egalitarian, complementarian, and neutral commentators. In order to minimize bias against the egalitarian view, I have ensured that the overwhelming majority of commentaries I have used are from egalitarians themselves.

Readers should not be intimidated by these quotations. In avoiding a presentation of my own personal exposition, I have necessarily provided the views of others, especially the views of scholarly commentary in the relevant fields. No appeal is being made to sheer numbers or authority, rather to the fact that an interpretation which is agreed on by commentators from a range of different backgrounds and with widely varying preconceptions is more likely to be accurate than an interpretation from a group of commentators with a narrow range of backgrounds and views, or sharing the same preconceptions.

Scripture quotations

Scripture quotations are from the New English Translation, unless otherwise noted.

Footnotes and enumeration

Significant footnotes from quoted works have been placed in a footnote of their own in this work. Typically these footnotes follow the enumeration of footnotes in this work, but sometimes the footnotes have been permitted to keep their original enumeration, resulting in a break in the ordinary sequence of footnote enumeration.

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 12:40 AM

Glossary of terms

Please see the glossary at the end of this work, for definitions of terms used.

References to Ian and Averil’s works

  • ‘All One – NT (2007)’ and ‘All One – OT (2007) refer respectively to Ian and Averil’s 2007 booklets entitled ‘All One – NT’ and ‘All One – OT’
  • ‘Reply 1’4 refers to Ian and Averil’s first reply to me, in February 2008
  • ‘All One (March 2009)’ refers to Ian and Averil’s March 2009 edition of ‘All One’
  • ‘Reply 2’ refers to Ian and Averil’s April 2009 reply to my work ‘A Sister’s Role – The Bible’s Large Picture’ (January 2009)
  • ‘All One (February 2010)’, refers to Ian and Averil’s February 2010 edition of ‘All One’, the most recently released edition to date

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4 In ‘Reply 2’ (April 2009), Ian and Averil refer to this reply on page 68 as having been sent in February 2008, and then later on the same page refer to it as having been sent in February 2007; readers may be assured that the correct date is February 2008, the error is Ian and Averil’s (they give the correct date elsewhere, on pages 1, 63, 95, 99, 100, 101, and 138).

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 12:43 AM

 

Transliteration

The Greek transliteration scheme used in this work is the 'general-purpose style' used by the Society of Biblical literature.5

 

Transliteration scheme

Greek

English

a

a

b

b

γ

g (n before γ, κ, ξ, or χ)

δ

d

ε

e

ζ

z

η

ē

θ

th

ι

i

κ

k

λ

l

μ

m

ν

n

ξ

x

ο

o

π

p

ρ

r

rh

σ

s

τ

t

υ

y (u in diphthongs: au, eu, ēu, ou, ui)

φ

ph

 

 



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5 SBL Handbook of Style: for ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, and early Christian studies, 5.1.2 (1999).

 



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Posted 03 January 2013 - 12:55 AM

 

Transliteration scheme

Greek

English

χ

ch

ψ

ps

ω

ō

h (with vowel or diphthong)

 

Is all this academic work necessary?

 

Confronted by the large number of quotations and citations from academic works presented in ‘All One’ (as well as in this work), readers may question the necessity for such detailed use of reference material in addition to the Scriptural text itself. Ian and Averil rightly comment that the use of such material is important to a correct understanding of the subject, as it helps illuminate the broader social, historical, and linguistic context of the text:

 

Ancient authors have also been quoted extensively because it is not always easy to obtain access to these writers, whether in the original text or in translation. This book makes information available which is relevant to the context of the New Testament but is generally unknown. References are given so that the wider contexts of these quotations can be examined.’6

 

‘We all depend on others for translation of the Bible from Hebrew (Old Testament) or Greek (New Testament) into English. Translation is not straightforward; words have different meanings according to context, and translations are influenced by the background and understanding of the translators and commentators. It is important, therefore, never to rely on just one translation or on one commentator.’7

 

‘It is necessary to evaluate each passage in its context, something which is not easy to do.’8

 

In assessing, therefore, the teaching given, the context is once more crucial but as in Corinthians there is the difficulty that while Paul, Timothy and Titus knew precisely the situation in the ecclesias there, we do not.’9

 

‘We who read at a distance of over 1,900 years are unlikely to pick up so accurately what is being said unless we acquaint ourselves with the whole background.’10


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6 ‘All One’, p. 4 (March 2009); note that although references are given by Ian and Averil these references are frequently inaccurate or incomplete, making it difficult and time consuming (sometimes impossible), to locate, verify, and examine these quotations in their wider context.


7 Ibid., p. 4.


8 Ibid., p. 5.


9 Ibid., p. 72.


10 Ibid., p. 72.

 



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Posted 03 January 2013 - 12:57 AM

As with the study of any other passage of Scripture, it is our responsibility to make the best efforts possible to obtain all relevant social, historical, and linguistic information relevant to the context, and this will require not only that we look to sources outside the Bible (such as the ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’), but also that we seek information from appropriate professionals in the relevant fields.

We are familiar with this practice as it is commonly applied to Old Testament study in particular, especially with regard to history and archaeology (scholarly works of both disciplines being frequently appealed to in our publications and presentations), and we are all familiar with the practice of investigating word meanings through the use of professional lexicons and Bible dictionaries.

Even a quick search through The Testimony and The Christadelphian will show a wealth of scholarly works used in the exposition of Scripture. The subject at hand is no different, and our responsibility is the same:

‘“If our love of God demands hard mental effort, let us not forget also to love God with all our strength. It is our responsibility to exercise the most serious scholarly endeavor of which we are capable” (p. 38).'11


Furthermore, when specific social, historical, and linguistic claims are made concerning the context of Biblical passages, it is our responsibility to investigate such claims thoroughly, using all available relevant professional literature.

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11 Kroeger & Kroeger, ‘I Suffer Not a Woman: Rethinking 1 Timothy 2:11–15 in Light of Ancient Evidence’, p. 38 (1992), in Baugh, ‘The Apostle among the Amazons’, Westminster Theological Journal (56.1.168), Spring 1994; the Kroegers are egalitarians.

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 01:03 AM

Claims Examined

Does adelphoi ever refer to brothers in Christ, not brothers & sisters in Christ?

The claim made

‘Show where and why, when Paul uses the term “adelphoi” (“brothers”), he means “Brothers in Christ” not “Brothers and sisters in Christ”.’12


Examination

The primary meaning of adelphos is 'brothers' as a reference to males who are the sons of one mother. A secondary meaning is 'brothers' as males who share a non-literal 'brotherhood' on a legal, tribal, spiritual, or other figurative basis, or a male who is being referred to with affection (perhaps with a suggestion of filial intimacy), as used in the apocryphal work Tobit 10:12. 13

This usage is established by context. The broader use of the term as a referent to 'brothers and sisters' on a legal, tribal, spiritual, or other figurative basis is likewise established by context. When the word adelphoi appears in a text, the natural reading is 'brothers' as a reference to males unless the context indicates otherwise, and is therefore typically translated 'brothers', as in the following verses.14

  • 'Jeconiah and his brothers', Matthew 1:11; 'Judah and his brothers', Matthew 1:21
  • 'Jesus' mother and his brothers' and 'his brothers', Mark 3:31-2
  • 'five brothers', Luke 16:28
  • 'his mother and his brothers', John 2:12 ; 'Jesus' brothers', John 7:3; 'his own brothers', John 7:5; ‘his brothers’, John 7:10
  • 'his brothers', Acts 1:14
  • 'the Lord's brothers', 1 Corinthians 9:5

It should be understood that this usage of adelphoi as a specific reference to ‘brothers in Christ’ and not ‘brothers and sisters in Christ’ is not unusual in the New Testament. It is used many times in Acts with this meaning, including in direct address.15 In Acts 1:16;16 2:29, 37; 7:37;17 ; 6:3;18 9:30; 10:23; 11:1, 12, 29; 12:17; 13:15, 26; 14:2; 15:1, 3, 7, 22, 32, 36; 16:2, 40; 17:6, 10, 14; 18:18, 27; 21:7, 17; 22:1, 5; 22:5; 23:1, 5-6; 28:14-15, 17, 21, it is translated ‘brothers’, or ‘the brothers’.

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12Reply 1’, p. 70 (February 2008).

13 Though an uninspired work, it still shows how the word was used and understood in common speech.

14 The NET Bible First Edition (Biblical Studies Press, 2006).

15 The NET Bible First Edition (Biblical Studies Press, 2006).

16 The footnote reads ‘In light of the compound phrase ἄνδρες ἀδελφοί (andre" adelfoi, “Men brothers”) Peter’s words are best understood as directly addressed to the males present, possibly referring specifically to the twelve (really ten at this point – eleven minus the speaker, Peter) mentioned by name in v. 13.’, The NET Bible First Edition, footnote on Acts 1:16 (Biblical Studies Press, 2006).

17 The footnote on the use in verse 29 reads ‘Since this represents a continuation of the address beginning in v.14 and continued in v. 22, “brothers” has been used here rather than a generic expression like “brothers and sisters.”’, The NET Bible First Edition, footnote on Acts 2:29 (Biblical Studies Press, 2006).

18 The footnote reads ‘It is not clear from a historical standpoint (but it is unlikely) that women would have been involved in the selection process too. For this reason the translation “brothers” has been retained, rather than “brothers and sisters” (used in contexts where both male and female believers are clearly addressed).’, The NET Bible First Edition, footnote on Acts 6:3 (Biblical Studies Press, 2006).

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 01:10 AM

Many times in Paul's letters the reference is to brothers and sisters, as determined from the context (typically a greeting or farewell which is addressed explicitly to a congregation). But Paul also uses the word adelphoi (nominative masculine plural), and its declensions adelphous (accusative masculine plural), or pseudadelphois, 'false brothers' (dative masculine plural), to refer specifically to 'brothers in Christ' as opposed to 'brothers and sisters in Christ' in the following places:

  • 2 Corinthians 8:23: adelphoi, referring to the messengers of the ecclesia, the context indicating that this refers to three men; 'Titus' (verse 16), 'the brother who is praised by all the ecclesias’ (verse 18), also referred to as 'this brother '(verse 19), and 'our brother' whom 'we are sending with them (verse 22)
  • 2 Corinthians 9:3: adelphous, referring to the same messengers of the ecclesia already identified in the previous chapter as three men (see above)
  • 2 Corinthians 9:5: adelphous, referring to the same messengers of the ecclesia as verse 3
  • 2 Corinthians 11:9: adelphoi, referring to the 'brothers’ from Macedonia
  • 2 Corinthians 11:26: pseudadelphois, referring to ‘false brothers’ in Paul's list of dangers he has encountered
  • Galatians 1:2: adelphoi, referring to the brothers who are with Paul at the time of his writing the epistle
  • Galatians 2:4: pseudadelphous, referring to ‘false brothers’ who were brought in secretly to spy on Paul
  • Philippians 4:21: adelphoi, referring to the brothers who are with Paul at the time of his writing the epistle
  • 1 Timothy 5:1: adelphous, referring to 'the younger men'
  • 1 Timothy 6:2: adelphoi, referring to Christian masters
  • Hebrews 2:12: adelphous, quoting Psalm 22:22 which refers to males

The New English Translation (a standard modern translation which is inclusive of non-gendered terms), translates adelphoi as 'brothers' in each of the verses cited above, even though the NET also recognizes adelphoi can mean 'brothers and sisters’ and translates it as such overwhelmingly in Paul's letters.

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 01:13 AM

Ian and Averil point out that out of the 11 passages just examined,19 the TNIV translates ‘brothers and sisters’ in 2 Corinthians 11:9, 26, Galatians 1:2, Philippians 4:21, Hebrews 2:11-12, and translates ‘false believers in Galatians 2:4.20 They acknowledge the TNIV is a gender neutral translation,21 though they point out that ‘it only does so where the translators judge that this correctly conveys the meaning of the original’.22 Nevertheless, they are still relying on a single (gender neutral), translation in order to argue that these passages should be rendered with ‘brothers and sisters’.

Out of these 11 passages the TNIV translates ‘brothers and sisters’ in only five of them, and leaves one ambiguous. A survey of 2 Corinthians 11:9, 26, Galatians 1:2, Philippians 4:21, Hebrews 2:11-12 in 15 Bible translations23 shows that in only one case is the majority of Bible translations against a reading with a male referent (Galatians 1:2, by one translation, 8 translations to 7); in a number of cases the male referent reading is supported even by ‘gender neutral’ translations and paraphrases.

Of all the translations used, only the CEV, NRSV, and TNIV consistently translate these passages without an explicit male referent. Ian and Averil would do well to heed their own advice to others.24

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19 2 Corinthians 8:23; 9:3, 5; 11:9, 26, Galatians 1:2; 2:4, Philippians 4:21, 1 Timothy 5:1; 6:2, Hebrews 2:12.

20 ‘Reply 2’ (April 2009).

21 ‘Reply 2’, p. 71 (April 2009).

22 Ibid., p. 71.

23 CEV, ESV, GNT, HCSB, ISV, NAB, NASB95, NCV, NET, NIV, NIRV, NLT, NRSV, TLB, TNIV.

24 'Translation is not straightforward; words have different meanings according to context, and translations are influenced by the background and understanding of the translators and commentators. It is important, therefore, never to rely on just one translation or on one commentator.', ‘All One’, p. iv (2010), which is the edition available on the ‘sistersspeak’ website at the time of writing (http://www.sisterssp...s/pdf/AOICJ.pdf); this document is dated 2010 on the cover page, but this web version was created from a Word document in February 2011, according to the document’s metadata.

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 01:18 AM

Does adelphoi mean ‘those who are from the same womb’?

The claim made

‘If we want the primary meaning we go back to the origin of the word. The word comes from the prefix a (= “connected together”) and from the word delphus which means “womb”. So it means those who are from the same womb.’25


Examination

If we want the primary meaning of a word we should look up the word in a standard lexicon. The method Ian and Averil are recommending is a lexical fallacy known as the ‘root fallacy’:

'The "root fallacy" involves insisting that a word's true meaning is tied to its root meanings, or the parts of the word. But this is not how language works. If you use the word "butterfly," does it help you understand the meaning by breaking it down into "butter' and "fly;" if you use the word "pineapple," does it help to say this word is a combination of the words pine and apple? No. Some Greek words may actually be made up of parts that are closely related to the word's true meaning, but this is somewhat beside the point. The "root word" fallacy is more likely to lead us down unproductive paths in our word studies.'26


'As lexicographers have long noted, the root meaning of a word is not necessarily an accurate guide to the meaning of the word in later literature.'27


‘2. The Root Fallacy. This common error assumes that the root of a term and its cognates carries a basic meaning that is reflected in every subordinate use of the word(s).’28


Similarly, it is erroneous to take a compound word, break it into its component parts, and read the resultant meanings in that light. Louw states unequivocally, "It is a basic principle of modern semantic theory that we cannot progress from the form of a word to its meaning"(1982:29).’29


'Two well-known examples may help: ekklesia and parakletos. The first is often said to mean "the called out" believers, while in reality nowhere in extant Greek literature does ekklesia have this connotation. The other is the major title for the Holy Spirit in John 14-16 and contains the roots para ("beside") and kaleo ("call"). At one time the term did have a meaning similar to its root, "one called alongside to help," and was used in Hellenistic circles for a "helper" or "advocate". However, this is inadequate for John 14:16, 26; 15:26; and 16:7-8, 13 because that sense is never used in this context.'30


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25 ‘Reply 2’, pp. 68-69 (April 2009).

26 The Holman Student Bible, p. 4 (2007).

27 Wallace, 'Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics', p. 363 (1997).

28 Osborne, 'The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation', pp. 84-85 (rev. ed. 2006).

29 Ibid., p. 85.

30 Ibid., p. 85.

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 01:25 AM

Ian and Averil cite Vine several times,31 but not in this case. In fact, Vine’s entry for adelphos says the opposite of what they claim.32 Thayer’s lexicon contains text which is sufficiently close to Ian and Averil’s to warrant the thought that they may have adapted Thayer’s words without attribution, 33 yet they claim instead to have derived the word’s meaning by themselves. Furthermore, the relevant text from Thayer is not in the definition of the word, but in the etymological description preceding the definition. When it comes to the definition, Thayer gives ‘A brother’ as the primary meaning of the word.34 Standard lexical entries do not support Ian and Averil’s claim.35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44

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31 Cited in ‘All One’, pp. 65, 119, 126 (2010).

32 ‘adelphos (ἀδελφός, 80) denotes “a brother, or near kinsman”; in the plural, “a community based on identity of origin or life.” It is used of:— (1) male children of the same parents, Matt, 1:2; 14:3; (2) male descendants of the same parents, Acts 7:23, 26; Heb. 7:5; (3) male children of the same mother, Matt. 13:55; 1 Cor. 9:5; Gal. 1:19; (4) people of the same nationality, Acts 3:17, 22; Rom. 9:3. With “men” (aner, “male”), prefixed, it is used in addresses only, Acts 2:29, 37, etc.; (5) any man, a neighbor, Luke 10:29; Matt. 5:22; 7:3; (6) persons united by a common interest, Matt. 5:47; (7) persons united by a common calling, Rev. 22:9; (8) mankind, Matt. 25:40; Heb. 2:17; (9) the disciples, and so, by implication, all believers, Matt. 28:10; John 20:17; (10) believers, apart from sex, Matt. 23:8; Acts 1:15; Rom. 1:13; 1 Thess. 1:4; Rev. 19:10 (the word “sisters” is used of believers, only in 1 Tim. 5:2); (11) believers, with aner, “male,” prefixed, and with “or sister” added, 1 Cor. 7:14 (rv), 15; Jas. 2:15, male as distinct from female, Acts 1:16; 15:7, 13, but not6:3.’, Vine, Unger, & White, ‘Vine's complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words’, volume 2, p. 82 (1996 ed.).

33 ‘ἀδελφός, -οῦ, ὁ, (fr. a copulative and δελφύς, from the same womb ; cf. ἀγάστωρ), [fr. Horn, down] ; 1. A brother (whether born of the same two parents, or only of the same father or the same mother) : Mt. i. 2 ; iv. 1 8, and often.’, Thayer, ‘A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Being Grimm’s Wilke’s Clavis Novi Testamenti Translated, Revised, and Enlarged by Joseph Henry Thayer, corrected edition’, p. 10 (1886); the rest of the definition has been omitted as it simply lists examples of the literal and figurative use of the word, without contributing any more to the point at hand.

34 Zodhiates The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament’, G80 (electronic ed., 2000), has ‘from the collative a (1), denoting unity, and delphús (n.f.), a womb’, but again this is in the description of the etymology of the word, not in the definition (the full definition from Zodhiates will be given shortly); furthermore the text from Thayer is closer to Ian and Averil’s definition, and the probability of Ian and Averil using Zodhiates is extremely low.

35 ‘...literally, male sibling with at least one parent in common (JN 1.41)...’, Friberg, Friberg, & Miller ‘Analytical lexicon of the Greek New Testament’, volume 4, p. 34 (2000).

36 a male from the same womb as the reference pers., brother...’, Arndt, Danker, & Bauer, ‘A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature’, p. 18 (3rd ed., 2000).

37The brother in the narrower, literal sense is the physical brother, which can also include half-brothers (→ 3).’, Balz & Schneider, ‘Exegetical dictionary of the New Testament. Translation of: Exegetisches Worterbuch zum Neuen Testamen’, volume 1, pp.28-30 (1990-c1993).

38brother Gn 4,2...’, Lust, Eynikel, & Hauspie, ‘A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint’ (electronic rev. ed. 2003).

39a male having the same father and mother as the reference person—‘brother.’, Louw & Nida, ‘Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains’, volume 1, pp. 117-118 (2nd ed. 1989).

40 ‘A. son of the same mother...’, Liddell, Scott, & Jones, ‘A Greek-English Lexicon’, p.20 (rev. and augm. throughout, electronic ed., 9th ed. with supplement, 1996).

41 ‘ἀδελφός , οῦ m brother; fellow believer; fellow countryman, fellowman’, Newman, ‘Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament’, p. 3 (1993).

42 ‘... brother, male sibling...’, Swanson, ‘Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament)’, DBLG 81, #5 (2nd ed. 2001).

43 ‘1. Physical Brotherhood.’, Kittel, Bromiley, & Friedrich, ‘Theological dictionary of the New Testament’, volume 1, pp. 144-146 (1964-c1976).

44A brother. Adelphós generally denotes a fellowship of life based on identity of origin, e.g., members of the same family...’, Zodhiates, ‘The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament’, G80 (electronic ed., 2000).

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 01:28 AM

The only definitions given which refer the word to individuals from the same womb specify males (‘male sibling with at least one parent in common’,45a male from the same womb’,46a male having the same father and mother as the reference person—‘brother’,47son of the same mother’48).

Even Vine (which Ian and Averil used elsewhere in their book49), defines the primary meaning as ‘male children of the same parents, Matt, 1:2; 14:3; (2) male descendants of the same parents, Acts 7:23, 26; Heb. 7:5; (3) male children of the same mother’.50 This is the primary meaning of the word adelphos, and the lexicon entries quoted above (including Vine), show that this is also the primary meaning of the plural adelphoi. The plural adelphoi certainly has a secondary meaning with reference to brothers and sisters in Christ, and this is overwhelmingly the meaning in Paul’s writings. However, that meaning is still secondary.

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45 Friberg, Friberg, & Miller ‘Analytical lexicon of the Greek New Testament’, volume 4, p. 34 (2000).

46 Arndt, Danker, & Bauer, ‘A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature’, p. 18 (3rd ed., 2000).

47 Louw & Nida, ‘Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains’, volume 1, p. 117 (2nd ed. 1989).

48 Liddell, Scott, & Jones, ‘A Greek-English Lexicon’, p.20 (rev. and augm. throughout, electronic ed., 9th ed. with supplement, 1996).

49 Cited in ‘All One’, pp. 57, 95, 102 (March 2009).

50 Vine, Unger, & White, ‘Vine's complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words’, volume 2, p. 82 (1996 ed.).

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 01:29 AM

It seems therefore that Ian and Averil didn’t check the meaning of this word in any Bible dictionary or lexicon at all (not even the dictionary they used elsewhere in their book), and simply made up their own definition for it by combining the two root words (as they themselves say).

Given that they owned Vine’s, given that Thayer’s is freely available online, and given that the professional lexicon LSJ9 is also available freely online,51 it is unclear as to why they chose to make up their own definition of the word, ignoring even the definition in the dictionary they used elsewhere in their book.

Ian and Averil provided no evidence for their definition other than a personal application of the root fallacy, and readers will note that standard lexicons say otherwise.

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51 http://www.tlg.uci.edu/lsj

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 01:31 AM

Were New Testament texts corrupted by misogynists?

The claim made

‘We rely on a large number of handwritten manuscripts in Greek to provide us with our text of the New Testament. Interestingly, it can be observed that alterations were made in the second century in such a way as to downplay the reported involvement and importance of women.


Because these changes are not followed in the majority of manuscripts, the original text can easily be identified. But the changes suggest a climate in which some scribes were not happy to see women prominently involved. The changes are slight, but significant in the thinking they betray. They indicate an anti-women swing in at least some circles in the early churches.’52


Readers will note that Ian and Averil describe the changes as slight, and explain that they are not followed in the majority of manuscripts. This is a considerable understatement. It would be far more accurate to say that in the vast majority of the thousands of New Testament manuscripts, less than a dozen such alterations have been found. Furthermore, these alterations are limited to a tiny number of texts.

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52 ‘All One’, p. 246 (2010), which is the edition available on the ‘sistersspeak’ website at the time of writing (http://www.sisterssp...s/pdf/AOICJ.pdf); this document is dated 2010 on the cover page, but this web version was created from a Word document in February 2011, according to the document’s metadata.

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 01:35 AM

Examination

Although Ian and Averil originally said ‘it can be observed that alterations were made in the second century’,53 they actually provided no evidence for this (whether they realise it or not). 54

Neither of the two sources they cite actually says this. One source they cite (Ben Witherington), says ‘it appears that there was a concerted effort by some part of the Church, perhaps as early as the late first century or beginning of the second’.55

However, when it comes to presenting the actual evidence which can be observed, Witherington does not cite any textual evidence earlier than the 4th century,56 some 200 years after the 2nd century,57 and most of his textual witnesses date to the 5th century.

It is significant that these errors are all found in the Western text type. This text type is most well known not for its ‘anti-feminist’ bias, but for its general tendency to paraphrase and edit the text in a particularly arbitrary manner.58

It is also significant that almost all of these errors are found in only one manuscript tradition of the Western text (D), with only three errors appearing in any other Western manuscript tradition (Gpm, ita, b, d, k ),59 as this demonstrates that these are not even systematic changes to one particular manuscript tradition, let alone the entire Western text type.

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53 ‘All One’, p. 181 (March 2009).

54 In the 2010 edition of ‘All One’, Ian and Averil revised their previously dogmatic statement to reduce its certainty; ‘Interestingly, it can be observed that alterations were made, probably in the second century, in such a way as to downplay the reported involvement and importance of women.’, ‘All One’, p. 246 (2010).

55 Witherington, ‘The Anti-Feminist Tendencies of the ‘Western’ Text in Acts’, Journal of Biblical Literature (103.1), 1984.

56 In fact he only cites one text as early as the 4th century

57 Witherington’s most frequently referred to text is the 5th century text D (Codex Bezae), but the Greek text type (called ‘Western’), which D preserves cannot be dated any earlier than 250 CE, even if quotations from early Christian writers are used (there are no Western type Greek manuscripts or papyri earlier than the 4th century).

58 ‘The chief characteristic of Western readings is fondness for paraphrase. Words, clauses, and even whole sentences are freely changed, omitted, or inserted. Sometimes the motive appears to have been harmonization, while at other times it was the enrichment of the narrative by the inclusion of traditional or apocryphal material. Some readings involve quite trivial alterations for which no special reason can be assigned’, Metzger, ’A Textual Commentary On the Greek New Testament: A Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament (Fourth Revised Edition)’, p. xx (2nd edition 1994).

59 The text referred to as ‘Gpm’ (the ‘pm’ stands for the Latin ‘permulti, meaning ‘very many’, and indicates that many manuscripts of this tradition have this reading), is a 9th century Greek/Latin interlinear diglot also known as Codex Boernerianus (Gregory-Aland number 012); Witherington (Ibid., p. 84), says ‘D, G pm, et al. [and others]’, but does not say which other manuscripts he is referring to. The text referred to as ‘ita’ is an African Old Latin copy of an earlier Greek text (the ‘it’ stands for ‘Itala’, meaning Latin, and the other letters stand for various specific copies of this Latin manuscript); this same reading is also found in Greek and Latin manuscripts, according to the 4th-5th century Christian writer Augustine.

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 01:38 AM

This is one of the reasons why modern textual scholars generally view few (if any), of these alterations as genuinely motivated by a desire to minimize the role of women in the early church.

They are so few, so inconsistently found, and some of them are so much more readily attributable to accidental scribal error or the desire to render the text more grammatically, that they contradict the idea that the New Testament was revised studiously by groups of ‘anti-feminist’ scribes as a result of changing attitudes to women in early Christian history.

It should be pointed out that Witherington is an egalitarian scholar, whose interpretation of these textual alterations is influenced by his own sensitivity to the subject. Comparing Witherington’s statements on the texts with the statements of the United Bible Societies’ Committee edited by Bruce Metzger,60 shows that in a number of cases there is a more likely explanation for the text’s alteration than any ‘anti-feminist’ attitude by a particular scribe.

  • Matthew 5:32: Metzger makes the point that the scribal tendency to smooth the text (in this case to create a neat parallel), and to remove material perceived as redundant, is an adequate cause for the alteration, so there is no necessity to attribute to this alteration an ‘anti-feminist’ motivation.
  • Acts 1:14: Metzger notes it is characteristic of the Western text type to alter the text to make it more stylistically ‘interesting’, and in this case Metzger also points out that the scribe altered the text to conform to the grammatical pattern already existing in Acts 21:5, an alteration which the scribe considered to be more likely to be in conformity with the original. This is characteristic of the Western text type, so there is no necessity to attribute this alteration to an ‘anti-feminist’ motivation.
  • Acts 17:4: Both Witherington and Metzger agree that the text here is actually ambiguous in the first place, and could be read either way. This is therefore not clearly a matter of a deliberately ‘anti-feminist’ reading being introduced, but a scribal decision as to which particular interpretation of the text made more sense to them.
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60 The committee responsible for the UBS Greek New Testament, 4th edition, the Greek text from which almost all modern English Bible translations are made.

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 01:41 AM

  • Acts 17:12: Metzger points out that the reason for Codex Bezae (D), altering the text was to smooth the grammar and render it into better Greek. This is a common feature of the Western text type, especially in Codex Bezae, so the alteration is simply what the scribes of this text type typically did in any case. There is therefore no need to attribute to this alteration an ‘anti-feminist’ motivation.
  • Acts 17:34: There is a case to be made that the alteration is a deliberate attempt to diminish the importance of the women in the text, but Metzger says ‘It is, however, more likely, as A. C. Clark suggests,10 that a line in an ancestor of codex Bezae had been accidentally omitted’,61 so there is no necessity to attribute to this alteration an ‘anti-feminist’ motivation.
  • Acts 18: Although it is possible to read the tendency in some of the Western witnesses to place Aquila first or insert Aqulia’s name without including Priscilla as a desire to reduce the prominence of Priscilla, there is also the fact (as Metzger observes), that the general tendency of the Western text type scribes was to ‘change the unusual to the usual’. They altered the text to conform to what they considered to be more likely to be original.
  • The fact that they did this with many other passages having nothing to do with women indicates that there is no necessity to attribute to this alteration an ‘anti-feminist’ motivation, even though in this case it is entirely likely.
  • Colossians 4:15: Metzger notes that the gender of the name was uncertain to start with, giving rise to variations in the text. The difference between the female name Nympha and the male name Nymphas was a matter of accenting the Greek letters one way or another, but the earliest manuscripts did not use any accents at all, meaning that later scribes had to make interpretative decisions at times. There is therefore no need to attribute to this alteration an ‘anti-feminist’ motivation, even though the ambiguity was settled in favour of the male name Nymphas.
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61 Metzger, ’A Textual Commentary On the Greek New Testament: A Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament (Fourth Revised Edition)’, p. 407 (2nd edition 1994).

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 02:19 AM

 

The following table summarizes the conclusions of a number of recent studies on passages suspected of misogynist bias.

 

 

Assessment of Alleged Misogynist Alterations

Passage

Witherington

Malick

Kurek-Chomycz

Holmes62 63

Matthew 5:32

Yes64

NA65

NA

NA

Acts 1:14

Yes66

Yes67

Unclear68 69

Probable70

 
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62 To meet Holmes’ criteria for a misogynist motivation 'it must (a) be intentional (rather than accidental) in origin, (b) have some negative impact on the role or portrayal of women', Holmes, ‘Women and the ‘Western’ Text of Acts’, in Nicklas & Tilly (eds.), ‘The Book of Acts as church history: text, textual traditions and ancient interpretations’, p. 201 (2003); he cites a number of alterations which have a negative impact on the portrayal of women but which he believes do not bear evidence of intentional alteration for the purpose.


63 Holmes also included Acts 2:17 in his analysis, deciding that there was no evidence for a misogynist alteration in this text; however, his judgment on this text has been omitted from this table since none of the other writers comment on it.


64 ‘Consider the Western text of Matt 5:32b. D, ita, b, d, k, and other manuscripts omit κaὶ through μοιχᾶτaι in 5:32b. Bruce Metzger suggests that some scribes felt that if the divorced woman is made an adulteress by illegal divorce, then anyone marrying such a woman also commits adultery. Alternatively, this omission may reflect the tendency of the Western text to highlight and protect male privilege, while also relegating women to a place in the background. In this case, the omission here is of material that reflects badly on men.’, Witherington, ‘The Anti-Feminist Tendencies of the ‘Western’ Text in Acts’, Journal of Biblical Literature (103.1.84), March 1984.


65 The commentator made no direct comment on this passage.

66 ‘Of a similar nature is the addition of κaὶ τέκνοις at 1:14 by Codex Bezae so that women are no longer an independent group but are simply the wives of the apostles.’, Witherington, ‘The Anti-Feminist Tendencies of the ‘Western’ Text in Acts’, Journal of Biblical Literature (103.1.82), March 1984.


67 ‘Consequently, Codex D appears to limit the meaning of the text in Acts 1.14 so as to place women in a more subordinate role in the early Church.’, Malick, ‘The Contribution of Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis to an Understanding of Women in the Book of Acts’, Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism (4.166), 2007.


68 ‘In spite of what most translations imply, it is by no means certain that in the former passage means “with (certain) women” (supposedly those who had followed Jesus during his earthly life), whereas in the latter, “with wives.”’, Kurek-Chomycz , ‘Is there an ‘Anti-Priscan’ Tendency in the Manuscripts? Some Textual Problems with Prisca and Aquila’, Journal of Biblical Literature (125.1.122), 2007.


69 ‘The addition of kai; tevknoi" in Codex Bezae does not necessarily indicate that the copyists wanted to marginalize the role of women as witnesses by identifying them as “wives” of the apostles. It could just as well suggest that they made more explicit what according to them was already implicit in the text.’, ibid., p. 122


70 Holmes, ‘Women and the ‘Western’ Text of Acts’, in Nicklas & Tilly (eds.), ‘The Book of Acts as church history: text, textual traditions and ancient interpretations’, table on p. 201 (2003).

 



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Posted 03 January 2013 - 02:24 AM

 

Assessment of Alleged Misogynist Alterations

Passage

Witherington

Malick

Kurek-Chomycz

Holmes

Acts 16:14-15, 40

NA

No71

NA

No (14-15)72

 
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71 ‘Unlike Codex D’s expansion in Acts 1.14, the textual variants in Acts 16.14, 15, and 40 do not reveal a great deal about Codex D’s theological concern for women.’, Malick, ‘The Contribution of Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis to an Understanding of Women in the Book of Acts’, Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism (4.170-171), 2007.

 

72 'There is no real evidence here of any "anti-feminist" tendency, and this passage may be set aside from further consideration.', Holmes, ‘Women and the ‘Western’ Text of Acts’, in Nicklas & Tilly (eds.), ‘The Book of Acts as church history: text, textual traditions and ancient interpretations’, p. 190 (2003); Holmes does not comment directly on verse 40.

 






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