I am now blogging at a new blog: erdman31.com

If you post comments here at Theos Project, please know that I will respond and engage your thoughts in a timely manner.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Miriam - A leader in Israel

Dr. Claude Mariottini has an interesting post on Miriam. Here are a few clips:

Feminist hermeneutic has made an impact on biblical scholarship because it has demonstrated to interpreters that the biblical text reflects the patriarchal views of the society which gave birth to the text. In addition, feminist interpreters have shown that some of these same patriarchal values and concerns have affected biblical translations...

...Reading and interpreting the biblical text is not easy. At times, a translator, in order to make sense of a text, applies methods of interpretation that may reflect cultural and theological biases.

The NIV diminishes Miriam by omitting her name twice. Furthermore, the addition of the word “also” by the translators of the NIV and TNIV gives a slant to the text that serves to undervalue the role of Miriam as a leader in Israel. I do not know whether this addition to the text was intentional. However, the resulting translation has a strong theological overtone, one which may reflect an undercurrent of patriarchy.

In my judgment, the translation of Micah 6:4 in the NIV and the TNIV is not acceptable.



Dr. Claude Mariottini said...


Thank you for the link. I am was not familiar with your blog. I will drop by again.

Claude Mariottini

Melody said...

I know the NIV was put together by a bunch of scholars (and that always seems to be the primary defense NIV lovers give)...but it seems like there are a lot of issues with it...

On the other hand I'm not a bible scholar...so it's not like I'm sitting here with a copy of the orginal hebrew nodding my head sagely. I just keep hearing about little omissions, additions, alterations. It's disconcerting.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Translation is tough work. It also requires "compromises." One has to make interpretive decisions as to how to convey the meaning of words/phrases/idioms/figure of speech/metaphors/etc. - and that's assuming that one has a complete grasp of the original language. With biblical Hebrew, for example, we are dealing with a language so ancient that some phrases or words or passages are simply ambiguous and too vague to be really definite. Of course, in my opinion this only makes things all the more fun. We think we are translating, but all the while the text seems to be playing with us and teasing us. Such is the case with my buddy, Qohelet (the book of Ecclesiastes).

Anyway, in light of all that, if a person really wants to have a good idea of what the Bible says just keep several translations at hand and most of the time they will be ok. But sometimes cultural biases do go into translating, as Dr. Mariottini points out.