Mischief follows in partisan Bible translations

Remember Junias? He was the imaginary male apostle with the unique and implausible name. “Junias” was invented by patriarchal Bible translators and inserted into the text of scripture because those translators didn’t like what the text actually said.

The text in question, Romans 16:7, says:

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

Junia is a woman’s name and it just wouldn’t do to have people reading about a woman who was an apostle — let alone one who was “prominent among the apostles.” For patriarchal Christians who insisted on a male-only hierarchy, Junia was intolerable. So they got rid of her. They translated her into an imaginary man with an imaginary name.

Politics — specifically, the political desire to control women — shaped the translation of that text. The translators changed the words of the Bible to make it seem like it supported their political agenda. They changed the words of the Bible so that others reading it would not be able to see that its actual words challenged and contradicted their political agenda.

This is something that happens sometimes.

Let me share another, more recent, example. Junias was invented and inserted into the Bible a long time ago, but this alteration of the text occurred in my lifetime. As I noted earlier, this change in the words and meaning of the Bible is more recent than the introduction of the Happy Meal.

The New American Standard Bible is a popular English translation, a revision of the American Standard Version of 1901. It was completed in 1971 and then revised and updated in 1995. I want to highlight one major change in one passage of the NASB — a case in which the 1995 update alters — and is intended to reverse –  the text of the 1971 NASB.

Those dates are important in understanding the reason for this change.

The text in question is from the book of Exodus, chapter 21. This section of the chapter — Exodus 21:12-27 — outlines various laws regarding deadly violence.

“Whoever strikes a person mortally shall be put to death,” verse 12 says. That’s pretty clear — if you strike a person and kill them, you get the death penalty. That’s the baseline for the rest of the laws that follow. For instance, what if you strike a person and they’re injured, but not killed? Verses 18-19 address that:

When individuals quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone or fist so that the injured party, though not dead, is confined to bed, but recovers and walks around outside with the help of a staff, then the assailant shall be free of liability, except to pay for the loss of time, and to arrange for full recovery.

OK, so those are the rules for hitting people — but what if you hit a slave? Do the same rules about hitting people apply to hitting slaves?* Verses 20-21 and 26-27 have got that covered. Basically, they say that if an owner kills a slave, “the owner shall be punished.” If the slave survives, but loses an eye or a tooth, then the slave goes free.

The punishments for violence against slaves were different from the punishments for violence against free persons because slaves were regarded as a separate category. There was one set of rules regarding violence against “a person” and another set of rules regarding violence against a slave.

That brings us to the text I want to highlight here as another example of politicized distortion via translation: Exodus 21:22-25.

Here is how Exodus 21:22-25 read in the New American Standard Bible’s 1977 revision of its 1971 original translation:

And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is not further injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him; and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

You can see how this fits in the context of the chapter. Here is another category of victim for which another set of punishments for violence is given. If a pregnant woman gets struck “so that she has a miscarriage,” but is not herself injured, then the man who struck her must pay a fine. But if the woman herself is injured, then the same rules and punishments for striking any other (non-slave) person apply — “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, etc.”

But here’s the same passage in 1995 in the updated current version of the NASB:

If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

“So that she has a miscarriage” has been replaced with “so that she gives birth prematurely.”

That’s new. That’s not at all how this passage was translated for centuries. Consider, for example, the Wycliffe Bible from 1382:

If men chide, and a man smiteth a woman with child, and soothly he maketh the child dead-born, but the woman liveth over that smiting, he shall be subject to the harm (he shall be subject to a fine), as much as the woman’s husband asketh (for), and as the judges deem (appropriate).

Or the King James Version from 1611:

If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

The KJV’s “her fruit depart” is a literal, but ambiguous rendition of the original Hebrew. If we ignore the context of the surrounding verses, then we could interpret that as meaning either what the 1977 NASB or what the 1995 NASB says. It could mean “she has a miscarriage” or it might mean “she gives birth prematurely.” Right?

Well, not quite.

It turns out that English-speaking Christians aren’t the very first people ever to read the book of Exodus. The Jews got there way, way before we did. It seems Jews actually wrote the thing. Plus they’re pretty good at reading Hebrew.

So Wycliffe and the majority of English translators who followed him all read this verse the way that it had been read for centuries before there ever existed such a thing as the English language into which it could be translated. (Plenty of examples of this at the bottom of this post, where — following Ross’ example in the comment that sparked this post, I’ve copied his list and added a few more.) They translated it to mean what it had long been understood to mean, and in the only way that it makes sense to translate it in the context of the rest of this chapter.

The New American Standard Bible translated this passage that same way up until 1977. But something changed between 1977 and 1995 — something that had nothing to do with scholarship, language, accuracy, fidelity or readability.

American politics had changed between 1977 and 1995. It had polarized and radicalized millions of American Protestants, rallying them around a single issue and thus, as intended, rallying them behind a single political party.

In 1977, the sort of American Protestants who purchased most Bibles couldn’t be summed up in a single word. But by 1995, they could be: “abortion.”

And for anti-abortion American evangelicals, Exodus 21:12-27 was unacceptable. It suggested that striking and killing an unborn fetus was in a separate category from striking and killing a “person.” Strike and kill a free person, you get the death penalty. Strike and kill an unborn fetus, you get a fine.

And so in 1995, like those earlier translators who invented and inserted “Junias,” the translators of the NASB reshaped this passage. “She has a miscarriage, yet there is not further injury” would, in consideration of the changes in American politics since 1977, henceforth be transformed into “she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury.”

Politics — specifically, the political desire to control women — shaped the translation of that text. The translators changed the words of the Bible to make it seem like it supported their political agenda. They changed the words of the Bible so that others reading it would not be able to see that its actual words challenged and contradicted their political agenda.

This is something that happens sometimes.

The 1971 NASB stuck with the traditional English translation of Exodus 21:22. Here — picking up from Ross’ comment — are many other similar examples:

Wycliffe Bible (1382): “If men chide, and a man smiteth a woman with child, and soothly he maketh the child dead-born, but the woman liveth over that smiting, he shall be subject to the harm (he shall be subject to a fine), as much as the woman’s husband asketh (for), and as the judges deem (appropriate).”

Douay-Rheims (1899): “If men quarrel, and one strike a woman with child and she miscarry indeed, but live herself: he shall be answerable for so much damage as the woman’s husband shall require, and as arbiters shall award.”

Bible in Basic English (1949): “If men, while fighting, do damage to a woman with child, causing the loss of the child, but no other evil comes to her, the man will have to make payment up to the amount fixed by her husband, in agreement with the decision of the judges.”

Revised Standard Version (1952): “When men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no harm follows, the one who hurt her shall be fined, according as the woman’s husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.”

The Jerusalem Bible (1966): “If, when men come to blows, they hurt a woman who is pregnant and she suffers a miscarriage, though she does not die of it, the man responsible must pay the compensation demanded of him by the woman’s master; he shall hand it over, after arbitration.”

New Life Version (1969): “If men fight with each other and hit a woman who is going to have a child so that she loses her baby but no other hurt comes to her, he must pay whatever the woman’s husband says he must, as agreed upon by the judges.”

The Living Bible (1971): “If two men are fighting, and in the process hurt a pregnant woman so that she has a miscarriage, but she lives, then the man who injured her shall be fined whatever amount the woman’s husband shall demand, and as the judges approve.”

New English Bible (1971): “When, in the course of a brawl, a man knocks against a pregnant woman so that she has a miscarriage but suffers no further hurt, then the offender must pay whatever fine the woman’s husband demands for assessment.”

Amplified Bible (1987): “If men contend with each other, and a pregnant woman [interfering] is hurt so that she has a miscarriage, yet no further damage follows, [the one who hurt her] shall surely be punished with a fine [paid] to the woman’s husband, as much as the judges determine.”

New Revised Standard Version (1989): “When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no further harm follows, the one responsible shall be fined what the woman’s husband demands, paying as much as the judges determine.”

Good News Translation (1992): “If some men are fighting and hurt a pregnant woman so that she loses her child, but she is not injured in any other way, the one who hurt her is to be fined whatever amount the woman’s husband demands, subject to the approval of the judges.”

Contemporary English Version (1995): “Suppose a pregnant woman suffers a miscarriage as the result of an injury caused by someone who is fighting. If she isn’t badly hurt, the one who injured her must pay whatever fine her husband demands and the judges approve.”

Complete Jewish Bible (1998): “If people are fighting with each other and happen to hurt a pregnant woman so badly that her unborn child dies, then, even if no other harm follows, he must be fined. He must pay the amount set by the woman’s husband and confirmed by judges.”

The Message (2002): “When there’s a fight and in the fight a pregnant woman is hit so that she miscarries but is not otherwise hurt, the one responsible has to pay whatever the husband demands in compensation.”

Common English Bible (2011): “When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that she has a miscarriage but no other injury occurs, then the guilty party will be fined what the woman’s husband demands, as negotiated with the judges.”

Numerous other translations followed the vague literalism of the King James Version (1611). Variations of “her fruit depart from her” can be found in:

Darby Translation (1890): “… so that she be delivered, and no mischief happen”

Young’s Literal Translation (1898): “… and her children have come out, and there is no mischief”

American Standard Version (1929): “… so that her fruit depart, and yet no harm follow”

English Standard Version (1971): “… so that her children come out, but there is no harm”

21st Century King James Version (1994): “… so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no misfortune follow”

New Century Version (2005): “… causing the baby to come out”

The 1995 New American Standard Bible was not the first translation to change a miscarriage with no harm to the woman into a premature birth with no harm to the baby. The New International Version did so back in 1978, albeit with a footnote allowing for the option of the more traditional translation. Here are several other translations following that new approach.

Note that all of these translations were produced post-Happy Meal.

New King James Version (1982): “If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.”

GOD’S WORD Translation (1995): “This is what you must do whenever men fight and injure a pregnant woman so that she gives birth prematurely. If there are no other injuries, the offender must pay whatever fine the court allows the woman’s husband to demand.”

World English Bible/Hebrew Names Version (1997): “If men fight and hurt a pregnant woman so that she gives birth prematurely, and yet no harm follows, he shall be surely fined as much as the woman’s husband demands and the judges allow.”

New International Reader’s Version (1998): “Suppose some men are fighting and one of them hits a pregnant woman. And suppose she has her baby early but is not badly hurt. Then the man who hurt her must pay a fine. He must pay what the woman’s husband asks for and the court allows.”

Easy-to-Read Version (2006): “Two men might be fighting and hurt a pregnant woman. This might make the woman give birth to her baby before its time. If the woman was not hurt badly, [a] the man who hurt her must pay a fine. The woman’s husband will decide how much the man must pay. The judges will help the man decide how much the fine will be. But if the woman was hurt badly, then the man who hurt her must be punished. The punishment must fit the crime. You must trade one life for another life. You must trade an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot.” (Footnote [a]: Exodus 21:22 hurt badly Or ‘killed.’)

New Living Translation (2007): “Now suppose two men are fighting, and in the process they accidentally strike a pregnant woman so she gives birth prematurely. [a] If no further injury results, the man who struck the woman must pay the amount of compensation the woman’s husband demands and the judges approve.” (Footnote [a]: Exodus 21:22 Or so she has a miscarriage; Hebrew reads so her children come out.)

Holman Christian Standard Bible (2009): “When men get in a fight and hit a pregnant woman so that her children are born prematurely [a] but there is no injury, the one who hit her must be fined as the woman’s husband demands from him, and he must pay according to judicial assessment.” (Footnote [a]: Either a live birth or a miscarriage)

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* Yes, slavery. This passage is appalling: “If the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment, for the slave is the owner’s property.” That’s the sort of thing that would give me a crisis of faith if I were attached to the biblicistic fundamentalism that surrounded me as I grew up, in which the Bible is viewed as the inerrant, infallible, uniform, authoritative and unquestionable Word of God.

If that’s what you believe about the Bible, then doesn’t this passage mean that you ought to approve of slavery? Of course it does — because that’s precisely why this form of inerrant, infallible, etc. biblicism was invented here in America. It arose in defense of slavery — slavery of an even more appalling and more brutal sort than that which this biblical passage describes. So, yes, a biblicistic, proof-texting approach to scripture designed in defense of slavery does, in fact, compel those who accept it to defend slavery.

But those defenders of slavery weren’t the only ones reading the Bible. Nor are those who learned to read the Bible from those defenders of slavery the only ones reading it now.  “Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God …”

  • Ryan Lutz

    Id say go talk to all the children aborted, but oh yeah you cant 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_K632TZJIMGU7TOWACHTKIQPMPA Mutant

    You can read it that way if you want to continue to stretch the bible’s text to prohibit abortion. Funny how people who use the bible as a shield stick to a single, literal translation when it suits them, but read all sorts of “hidden” meaning in other cases. This is the point: if a fetus was of equal worth in the eyes of the people who wrote the bible, the penalty for killing one would be the same as the penalty for killing after it was born. The original text “clearly” says the opposite.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_K632TZJIMGU7TOWACHTKIQPMPA Mutant

    But I thought god was the author? If, instead, this is a cultural text written and re-written by the dominant members of society at the time, then we can dismiss it as irrelevant (or, at most, no more relevant than any other cultural text).

  • Ryan Lutz

    115,000 abortions per day worldwide.

    Genocide is defined as “the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group”

    but of course your right those other genocides were much worse

  • sirius

    This is exactly why sola scriptura will always fail. 

  • Lunch Meat

    Genocide is defined as “the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group”

    What ethnicity, race, religion, or national group do aborted fetuses have in common? Who is organizing and systematizing this destruction? What is the system? Are all pregnant women having abortions because they hate fetuses? Are pregnant women and abortion doctors being controlled by a conspiracy that wants to make sure there are no more fetuses ever? Why then do pregnant women think they’re doing it just because they don’t want to be pregnant? Wouldn’t it be more efficient to get all women on board with the fetus-hating?  Why isn’t there a systematic attempt to reach out to pregnant women with incentives to kill their fetuses? Why is this genocide such a failure, with humans continuing to have children? The only way to make sure there will be no more fetuses is to kill everyone in the world. Is the goal toward which pro-choice people are striving? How are pro-choice people endeavoring to bring about the goal of no more fetuses ever? Can you find rhetoric from the leaders of this genocide targeting a certain ethnicity, race, religion, or national group of fetuses for destruction?

  • Lunch Meat

    If you spend anytime reading more than the verses that suit your argument you find that Yaweh of the bible talks extensively about knitting people together in the womb, having called people from the moment of conception to be his children etc etc.

    If you spent any time reading or listening to people who don’t already agree with you, you would know a) many of us have read the Bible a lot–we’ve even studied it carefully, some of us in the original language, and b) those scriptures you cite are not convincing at all (also most of them were written by humans talking to or about God–they aren’t “thus saith the Lord”, for the most part).

    How do you get from a poetic statement about God’s knowledge of and care for me to a scientific/theological statement about when my soul enters my body? How do you get from “God formed me in the womb” to “therefore I had a soul while God was forming me”? You can’t get from one to the other unless you’re starting with the other and need to justify it. If I’m “forming” a sculpture of a person with my hands, does that mean it’s a sculpture of a person when it’s still a lump of clay with only the barest shape? (If so, I can make a lot of money selling almost-blank canvasses and cans of paint to museums and saying “It’s a painting already because I conceived of it and started to form it!”) If I’m knitting a scarf, is it a scarf while half of it is still a skein of thread? If I’m baking a cake, is it a cake before I put it in the oven (Can bakeries sell batter and charge just as much as they would for a fully decorated cake)? Does any of that change just because it’s God doing the sculpting, knitting, or baking?

    The answer’s obviously no–look at Genesis. God formed Adam with God’s own hands out of the dirt. Was Adam a human person when God started to form him? What about when he sort of started to look like a person, or even when he was fully formed? No, no and no–Adam was not a living person with a soul until God breathed a spirit into him. Evidently we are not people until we take our first breath–an idea that has a lot of science behind it, since breathing for the first time causes a lot of changes in the lungs and body of a baby.

    Your arguments from verses about God knowing us before we were born are just as flawed and just as obviously trying to justify something you’ve already decided, instead of reasoning from what is there. Those are statements about God’s omniscience and foreknowledge, not our knowability. Are there any verse about people knowing other people before they were born? Or from the examples above, if I can predict that my cake batter is going to become a cake and imagine what it will taste like, does that magically make it a cake no?

    Your arguments are not new and you should read more about the debate before assuming you can come in here and convince us with them, because obviously we haven’t thought about it at all or we’d realize that you’re right!

  • Lunch Meat

    Sorry I broke the italics.

  • P J Evans

    Please cite the ethnic, racial, religious, or national groups that are being systematically destroyed by abortion.

    Oh, right. You can’t, because they don’t exist except in the forced-pregnancy backers.

  • P J Evans

    I just did it by accident on another thread. Fortunately they don’t break as thoroughly as at the old place. (Also: nice rants.)

  • Anonymous

    Uh, considering that the penalty for accidentally killing an adult human was that you had to move to a different city (Numbers 35), this accidental killing of a child does carry a greater “out of pocket” penalty. Look at the Holman Christian Standard (the southern baptist bible), it clarifies the ambiguity of the translation, and it is the most recent translation I can think of.

  • Sooo…

    Great! So then the bible says nothing about abortion?

  • Cyrik Riand

    Although you end up realizing that the bible as a whole is a collection of many smaller books, and that passage in Revelations was only referring to the book of Revelations, not all the other books that had yet to be collected into one volume.

  • Ursula L

    Uh, considering that the penalty for accidentally killing an adult human was that you had to move to a different city (Numbers 35), this accidental killing of a child does carry a greater “out of pocket” penalty.  

    I’d reconsider that comparison.

    Moving to another city isn’t cheap. And in a society without the telephone, or even widespread literacy and an organized postal system, it would be not just moving, but exile, isolation from your family, and everyone and everything you’d ever know. 

    Plus, if you look at the larger context of ancient Jewish law, the careful distribution of land, so everyone had a right to some, in a place affiliated with their immediate family, extended family, and tribe, was huge/  Being forced to move to a different city put you outside that social structure.

    A fine can be paid in cash, and you’re done.  Or in ancient Hebrew society, it would be paid in what you had, in kind.  Exile can’t be paid off, and is the rest of your life. 

  • Bob

    Because kids are stressful as hell, and those ill equipped will lash out.

  • Kate

    This is why I am agnostic, mofo’s wrote the damn book for political reasons, if there is god he wrote no silly book about his word, he just wants you to be a damn good person and enjoy life, not waste yours belittling others for their choices and how they will live their next life.The people who can’t be a good person without this magical being watching over you to count what you have done bad vs. good  and only does “good deeds” so they wont go to hell is completely un-altruistic and un-christian they also only have bad intentions for you if they didn’t have this rule book to live by, a silly reward system for children. grow up already its the damn 21st century. 

  • http://www.ghiapet.net/ Randy Owens

     @240de2ffabc3087ce98f635043495f11:disqus : At least you closed the sarcasm tags, though.  Wouldn’t want to be getting that all over the rest of the page.

  • Jfield

    That doesn’t work in context – the verses go on to indicate separate punishment for injuries to the woman. This verse clearly states it is determining punishment for the loss of the unborn in absence of harm to the woman.

  • Gospelz4life

    The Exodus (Greek ἔξοδος, exodos “way out”, Hebrew

    Are we going to talk about law given to men who lived like animals thousands of years ago. Is this how people try to defend abortion?

  • Jfield

    If you want to have a crisis of faith over abortion in the bible, check out Numbers 5:20-22 where God prescribes abortion (albiet supernaturally) for adulterous women. God clearly does not have the unborn’s best interest at heart.

    And if you just need to laugh about the absurdity of it all, consider that we’re arguing subtle issues of morality with a book that clearly and repeatedly advocates genocide, including that of women and children. The idea that the same book is going to lead us to a higher form of morality is delusional.

  • Anonymous

     I am new and I don’t see how to do an original reply. This is my reply.
    The first thing I saw was the mis-quote of Junia rather than Junias as the verse actually states.

    I
    didn’t see “abortion” anywhere in the quoted verses. I did notice the
    change from miscarriage and born-dead to pre-mature birth. I will ask my
    pastor about that as he has a doctorate of theology and is fluent in all three
    biblical languages. He is dead set against a number of the modern
    translations being cranked out by the modern liberal theologians as he
    feels that changing the language of the Bible is wrong. Many of the more
    recent translations quoted are not new translations as the 1971 NASB
    is, but simply paraphrases. The Message goes pretty far afield at times
    from any original translation as does the Good News Bible.

    Slavery
    was universally practiced in biblical times. What was unique about Jewish slavery
    was that all slaves were released with goods and/or money in the Year of
    Jubilee which occurred every 7 years.

  • Lunch Meat

    The first thing I saw was the mis-quote of Junia rather than Junias as the verse actually states.

    Did you read the post Fred linked to? The point is that the verse originally said Junias, but translators have changed it to Junias because they’re uncomfortable   accepting that Paul recognized a woman in a position of authority.

  • Lunch Meat

    It originally said Junia. Sorry, I’m just having typing issues today.

  • Sillysly

    So the Bible is not only complete bullshit, but it’s sexist too? Mind=blown.

  • Anonymous

     Did you read the post Fred linked to?

    I’m pretty sure a lot of the recent commenters didn’t even read Fred’s post all the way through, let alone his links.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    He is dead set against a number of the modern translations being cranked out by the modern liberal theologians as he feels that changing the language of the Bible is wrong

    Yum, irony!

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I came to read this to learn something interesting, but instead I find it is just someone saying “HA, we got you Christians now with an arbitrary change that means nothing. YAY, WE WIN.”

    You know Fred’s a Christian, right?

  • P J Evans

     It’s what the forced-birth people are using to justify their opinions.

  • LunaticFringe

    If you’re wondering about the influx of new commentators, this post was recently linked by Reddit, which is in some ways a fun and informative sight and in other ways a hive of really creepy misogyny.

  • Anonymous

    No, my daughter sent me this article to get my take on it. And I take that you mistyped Junias the first time? I read Fred’s post. I’m not entirely sure he’s correct. I don’t know his credentials, but I do know I don’t know the three biblical languages. I know someone who does, but it’s not me. I’m brand new here.

  • Nym

     Google “Reproductive Coercion”.

    The short version is that when I’m healthy, strong, and confident and you misbehave I can just leave.  When I’m the size of a house, can’t get a job ( who hires a pregnant woman? ), about to have the responsibility of caring for a child, etc etc I’m **vulnerable**.  Things that would not be tolerated before you can suddenly get away with because I can’t just leave anymore. 

    Consenting to become pregnant is an incredible gesture of trust.  And sometimes that trust is not deserved.

  • Nym

     Google “Reproductive Coercion”.

    This is about power, not sex.  Abusers prefer their spouses pregnant or with children to protect because it makes them more helpless and vulnerable.

    Hit a childless girlfriend and she’ll leave.  Hit the unemployed mother of your children and if she leaves … how will she provide for the children?  Leaving becomes a *selfish* act that betters her lot at the expense of food security for her offspring.

  • Nym

     He did not say it was the **start of** domestic violence.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    Leaving becomes a *selfish* act that betters her lot at the expense of food security for her offspring.

    Mm. I’m really hoping here that you mean “it’s easy for her to believe that leaving is a selfish act” or something like that.

  • Holtonmusicman

    all of this assumes she has a husband – there would have been no accounting for a woman being pregnant without first having been married, so I’m missing the point of the post 

  • Anonymous

    Actually, you can get a lot out of that passage, but not that ‘men were more or less unrestrained in their abuse of their wives’. That section describes a communal ritual that would have been entirely irrelevent in a society (like many today), where it was assumed a man would simply beat or kill a woman he suspected of cheating on him.

  • Anonymous

    that’s because intercourse and marriage were essentially the same thing in those days.

  • Tricksterson

    And water is wet.

  • Ursula L

    that’s because intercourse and marriage were essentially the same thing in those days. 

    Hardly.  

    The stories in the Bible set in that time are full of sex, of all sorts, very little of which had to do with marriage.  

    There is prostitution.  There are women warriors, who seduce and then murder enemy generals.  There are women who are raped.  There are women who are raped by their brothers. There are women who are slaves, who are forced to have intercourse with their owners.  There are women who are slaves/servants to wealthier women, forced to have sex with their employer’s/owner’s husband. There are concubines – women who nominally have a husband, but who lack the status and protection of being a “wife.”  There are girls who are thrown into the street by their fathers to be gang-raped.  There are women who are expected to have sex with their dead husband’s brother, in order to produce an heir for the dead husband.  There are women who disguise themselves as prostitutes, in order to have sex with a man they are expected, by society, to have sex with, who isn’t their husband, and who isn’t interested in having sex with them.  

    The one type of sex that is oddly absent is what we would consider a good marriage – two people, equals, who care for each other, and who are sexually faithful to each other, for a lifetime.

  • Anonymous

    “The one type of sex that is oddly absent is what we would consider a good “traditional” marriage – two people, equals, who care for each other, and who are sexually faithful to each other, for a lifetime.”

    Rebecca and Isaac, perhaps?

  • Ursula L

      Rebecca and Isaac, perhaps? 

    That’s the closest I can think of.  

    And even then, the power inequities between men and women that were part of the society they lived in makes the status of their relationship questionable.  

    And you’ve got the odd bit about Rebecca tricking Issac into giving Jacob the blessings that tradition said Esau was owed – a profound deception that doesn’t really fit well with a relationship built on love and respect.  

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     > Another traditional count has him 29 and her 14, which is, again, rape by any decent standard.

    As long as we’ve got such a definitive source handy, I should ask: what’s the correct age of consent for a decent culture to have? (Or ages of consent, if it’s different for men and women, or for other demographics.)

  • Dr. Cook

    Mormons don’t pay too much attention to the Bible, anyway.  They are more interested in The Book of Mormon and using personal, utilitarian/objectivistic decision making.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Canada’s at one point was 18 without problem and 14 under certain conditions. Since then it’s been changed to 18 and 16.

  • Tricksterson

    You mean the one where she dupes her husband into cheating one son out of his rightful heritage in favor of the other?  Abraham and Sara maybe though.

  • P J Evans

     Not the Mormons I know. I’ll grant that the ones I know aren’t very observant Mormons – but they’re good people.

  • Ursula L

    Abraham and Sarah?  Where Sarah gives Abraham her slave, so he can sire a son, and then arranges for them to be abandoned in the desert?  Nothing there about Hagar’s consent, either. 

  • Ursula L

    14 and 29?  He’s more than twice her age.  

    The more sensible consent laws I know about have age limits for younger individuals, so they can develop relationships with people who are their own age, as equals, while having protection from being exploited by fully grown adults.

    And they’ve never met before they were married, so how can either of them meaningfully consent?  Particularly her, being separated from the support of her family, so much younger, less experienced, and with few if any resources if she wanted to leave. 

  • Grace

     Oh, well how would you have written that verse? Like someone said, it did not happen very often, but when it did, something had to be done about it. We are in a new dispensation now…one of grace. This passage indicates the situation was accidental not intentional and God did not equate it with murder, however He established that this action was inappropriate by allowing the party to ask for monetary settlement. It is probably difficult to understand seeing their culture then because it is so vastly different then our culture today. The heathens of that day also fed their children into the fire of their gods. You will find passages that decry that action. Look at the big picture, not just bits and pieces.

  • P J Evans

     You seem to assume that no one here has ever read those passages.That’s not a safe assumption. Consider also how many translations are quoted in the post up at the top.


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