procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Monday, June 16, 2008

wright and women

trying to write (no pun intended) a practice essay for my Biblical Theology exam on Thursday, trying to write a biblical theology of men and women. which isn't as hard as it sounds - it's just i can't keep focussed.

i keep thinking about this paper by N.T. Wright, entitled Women's Service in the Church, which really is a cracker of an article.

the thing i keep coming back to (yes, i did a little scribbling out in my bible) is his translation of Galatians 3:28

the NIV has,
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
there's a nice rhythm there, neither A nor A', B nor B', C nor C'.
however, as Tom Wright puts it:
That is precisely what Paul does not say; and as it’s what we expect he’s going to say, we should note quite carefully what he has said instead, since he presumably means to make a point by doing so, a point which is missed when the translation is flattened out as in that version. What he says is that
"there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, no ‘male and female’".
so i checked my greek*, and he's right.

the question is of course however not if Wright's right (he is Wright, after all), but what are the implications? why the marked difference from Paul's neither this nor that formula? especially in the context of elsewhere affirming maleness and femaleness, the differences and complementarity between the two.

i do wonder about IVPs New Dictionary of Biblical Theology's quote in thinking through the implications of maleness and femaleness in the new creation,
the people of God will be 'like angels in heaven', in that the centre of their existence will be undivided communion with God. Then the beautiful and delicate interplay of man and woman with one another will give way to the ultimate reality of Christ and his church for ever at one.
i'm not sure what that bit at the end means (at one), but the picture i get, despite the author's assurances, is that of androgynous winged angels playing harps in the clouds. which i don't quite get from Galatians 3 (nor elsewhere really).

so why's he done it? what's the point? whaddya reckon?

*greek language version New Testament, not a person of Grecian origin routinely asked to clarify translation issues. (ed)

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Blogger reuben// said...

hmm, that's interesting!

I hoped that Wright, having spotted the translation issue would have given us some help, but I cant see much?

He seems to still end up in the same place that reading male NOR female would get you. i.e. there is no privilege in being male as opposed to female since we are one in Christ.

If the verse quoted is Gen 1:27, then no 'male and female' should have something to do with image bearing (since that is how the verse starts). It doesn't signify unequal privilege, but the jointly held privilege of image bearing.

speculating, but perhaps the conclusion would be something like:
no 'male and female' = no longer do 'male and female' exist as image bearers. Image bearing is now only possible when male and female are in christ? Jesus is the image of the invisible God after all (Col 1).

what do you think?

I don't see how this fits easily in an argument about abraham etc though!

6:24 pm  

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