Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A quick note

I'm in the middle of an assigned translation for my Greek class, and I just ran across something interesting.

Most translations of 1 Peter 1:7 read along the lines of "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ," (KJV). Most translations read similarly, and it's a perfectly valid translation. There is, however, a nuance present in the Greek that is very difficult to carry into the English translation. The adjective "more precious" (polutimoteros, in Greek) is modifying dokimion, "trial," and not pistis, "faith." In other words, in this case, it is not the faith that is "more precious than gold that perishes even though tested with fire," rather it is the testing of that faith.

There is, I think, much that could be said on this point theologically, though unfortunately I haven't the time to say it at present. Suffice it to say that I'm reminded of James 2 and Genesis 22, where righteousness must be proven by action, and our faith is shown by how we respond to certain situations.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Marriage Advice

Well, the guy is a marriage expert...

Saudi Marriage Expert Advises Men in Right Way to Beat Their Wives.

"Woman, it has gone too far. I can't bear it anymore." I'll have to remember that.

Seriously, though, it is sort of interesting from a sociological standpoint. We post women's-lib Western types hang up on the "here's how a man ought to beat his wife" part, and fail (at least, the author of the article seems to fail) to recognize what's actually going: he seems to me to be attempting to moderate the effects of his culture's acceptance of a man beating his wife. Notice that the "right way" is not to just slap her around for the slightest reason - when she burns your dinner or if she doesn't happen to feel like putting out that evening - but rather to use the beating as a last resort, and to exercise restraint, rather than just hitting her out of anger.

Not that I'm defending him, not at all: I heartily disapprove of wife-beating under any circumstances, for reasons both moral and pragmatic (I've been breathing on my own for a good many years now, and have gotten rather fond of it, to be honest). It just struck me (pardon the pun) that this was an interesting example of how things can seem different to people of different cultures: whereas we tend to react with unadulterated scorn, a deeper look might show that things may be different, if only slightly, than our initial reaction.

This is interesting to me, particularly, in that some of these same factors are in play when we talk about the role of women in the New Testament: passages that make the apostle Paul, for example, seem one way to the 21st century western observer may actually turn out quite different when we look at them within their proper socio-cultural context.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Of Eunuchs and Archaeology

Tiny Tablet Provides Proof for Old Testament.

Now, that's an awfully ambitious headline, but it's not really that far from the truth. Incidental details are one of the ways we can be sure of the general historicity of a text which is otherwise uncorroborated (for example, the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts: the author is very careful and scrupulous with minor details of geography, dates, and history that can be confirmed in other sources, which lends support to the picture of him as a careful historian concerned with accurately reporting facts, which in turn allows us some confidence in trusting the accuracy of those details which can't be confirmed from other sources). As a former OT prof of mine put it, "if the Bible 'incidentally' captures correctly the names of third-tier officials in the Neo-Babylonian bureaucracy, can we really be content with [certain scholars] telling us it's just ideological fiction?"