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Dear friends,

Welcome to my blog. I am honored to have you visit. I hope you'll find my articles a blessing. I welcome your input and especially comments and questions.

I write as a Christian from Jerusalem, Israel about Biblical subjects.

I am particularly interested in the subjects of children, families, women's issues, corporal punishment, science and nature as these subjects relate to the Holy Scriptures.

For more information, see my website: www.biblechild.com

With every good wish - Samuel Martin

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Behind every Church Father is a Mother

Behind every Church Father is a Mother

In response to a comment left by Crystal on my blog, http://samuelmartin.blogspot.com/2011/11/if-king-james-version-was-good-enough.html, Crystal mentioned the following:

"My 4th child was born peacefully, painlessly, and calmly at home- blowing the pain-filled woman's curse out the window. "

First of all, do yourself a favor and visit Crystal's blog. http://piscessunleomoon.blogspot.com and see her really interesting experience with raising diaper less children (among other things).

Crystal's experimentation is in fact giving us all a glimpse into the past: a past which did not have diapers or any of the other so called modern 'conveniences' that, as Crystal has aptly demonstrated, help disconnect parents from the rhythm of life and the communications that even little infants can give. This is really amazing stuff and eye opening information that working daddies may miss, but attentive mommies know all too well. Thanks Crystal.

Her blog in fact was one of the most instructive things I have read in a while because I have been thinking about writing a major article on family life and her experience is so helpful because researchers often have so little to go on.

I mean when it comes to the Bible, often times, we just don't know what was going on in ancient times and this affects how we relate to the texts.

I know one scholar (Dr. Stephen Pfann of www.UHL.ac) who uses a grading system to help put things in perspective.

A. 100% sure were know about the issue
B. Somewhat certain
C. Less certain
D. Speculation or educated guesses

You'd be surprised how many times honest scholars will tell you that they simply do not know what was happening in the Biblical period (designating things grade 'D') because we just don't have enough evidence.

Family life is one of these. There is just so little information about all of this because most of the information we do have is passed down to us mostly from the perspective of men if we get anything at all. It is really hard to find a mother's voice sometimes and this is where Crystal's example is so helpful for the researcher.

Her experience allows us anthropologically to see how things may have been in ancient times in daily life of caring for little infants in particular. The Bible has a paucity of information on this and other sources are also equally sparse.

This is especially important to my research because I am seeking a better understanding of how to relate to the biblical texts relating to child rearing.

I'll have much more to say about this later because this has not only the potential to be a major paper, it could end up in fact being a small book, but I am asking for more inputs from mothers who have experience in this area.

But before I forget, let me say something about that child birth curse.

I am currently studying for my higher Theology degrees here in Jerusalem and I am seriously considering in the future doing my Ph.D. on the subject of equality between men and women in the Bible. This inspiration for this, in fact, comes from Karen Campbell at www.thatmom.com. Thanks Karen. Her question to me really touched a nerve. (The answer to her question is currently almost 50,000 words and counting.)

In fact, I have already started working on a dissertation in this regard with the hope that I will be able to move forward with this suggested subject for a doctorate. All in good time. Rest assured though that I will bring this material out in the future at the right time, but it is not ready yet.

However, Crystal's comment on my blog does raise a point which is important and it concerns the common conception that there is some awful curse associated with child birth. It goes back to Genesis 3:16 & 3:17. Here is a small excerpt from my possible future dissertation.

Now, after they both arrived, here is where we can thank our dear male scholars for starting us off on the wrong path of gender inequality. It starts right here in the third chapter of Genesis. Look at it here from the perspective of multiple versions. Here we want to home in two sections of Genesis 3:16 and 3.17.

Text from Genesis 3:16
(about woman - Eve)
Text from Genesis 3:17
(about man - Adam)
pains in childbearing”
through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.”
pain of your pregnancy,”
“All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.”
pain in childbearing”
in pain you shall eat of it”
pain in childbirth”
“in toil you will eat of it”
God’s WORD Translation
pain and your labor when you give birth to children”
“Through hard work you will eat”
“in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children”
“in sorrow shalt thou eat”
“in sorrow you shall bring forth children”
“in sorrow shall you eat of it”
“in pain thou shalt bring forth children”
“in toil shalt thou eat of it”
Bible in Basic English
“in sorrow will your children come to birth”
“in pain you will get your food”
Douay-Rheims Bible
“in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children
“with labour and toil shalt thou eat”
Darby Bible Translation
“with pain thou shalt bear children”
“with toil shalt thou eat of it”
English Revised Version
“in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children”
“in sorrow shalt thou eat of it”
Webster’s Bible Translation
“in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children”
“in sorrow shalt thou eat of it”
World English Bible
“In pain you will bring forth children
“In toil you will eat of it”
Young’s Literal Translation
“in sorrow dost thou bear children”
“in sorrow thou dost eat of it”

Now, in the above referenced table, you can see that the italicized words relative to the woman are: pain, pains or sorrow. However for the men, the words italicized are: painful toil, struggle, pain, toil, hard work, labour and sorrow.

Now, when we compare these two columns, we can note that the language that describes what happens to woman really looks harsher on the surface and these above referenced language differences highlight this issue. Here, on the surface, we see that woman is getting a seemingly greater punishment. This is how it has been framed by theologians down through the centuries until now. 

Modern versions correct this. For example, note my favorite, the ESV: (see http://www.esvbible.org)

    To the woman he said,
    “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
        in pain you shall bring forth children.
    Your desire shall be for your husband,
        and he shall rule over you.”
    And to Adam he said,
    “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
        and have eaten of the tree
    of which I commanded you,
        ‘You shall not eat of it,’
    cursed is the ground because of you;
        in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
    thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
        and you shall eat the plants of the field.
    By the sweat of your face
        you shall eat bread,
    till you return to the ground,
        for out of it you were taken;
    for you are dust,
        and to dust you shall return.”
(Genesis 3:16-19 ESV)

What we can see though when we look at these verses in light of an accurate Biblical understanding what is here being conveyed in the original Hebrew language, a different picture presents itself.

What we must understand is that the words italicized in the first column, which are designated towards woman and the words found in the second column which are associated with man are in fact in Hebrew the very same word!

Yes, that is correct. In Hebrew, we find in these two verses the exact same Hebrew word (עצבוןgitz-tzah-vohn) is used! There is no difference in the intensity or stress, the force or level: No! Not at all. What woman was to suffer in child birth, man was to suffer by working the ground. Not more for one and less for the other. Equality by using the same term.

There is no greater degree or intensity of punishment on woman or women in this text of Scripture at all, but were one to rely on these many Bible versions, mostly created by men, one would decidedly not get this opinion.

This is really where many well intentioned people get off on the wrong foot concerning gender relations in Scripture. In this verse, the gender relations are equal! There is no greater punishment for the one over the other in the original language.

In closing, thanks again Crystal for your really important capacity building. I hope that others will give some of your ideas a go.


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