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Monday, 22 February 2010

Gender insensitivity in Matthew 8:28

All three Synoptic Gospels--Matthew, Mark, and Luke--record the story of Jesus allowing a swarm of several thousand demons to enter a herd of swine, which then committed mass sooey-cide. The textual matter of where this occurred can be saved for a later post; right now I'd like to focus on the question of just who was possessed by the Legion.

Both Mark and Luke give the story in some detail, but refer only to a man (Luke specifically uses the word aner) who was demon-possessed. Matthew, on the other hand, gives a much briefer account, but mentions "two possessed with devils." At least, that's how the KJV reads. The NKJ adds the word men, in italics because it is only implied in the Greek. This would not do, of course, in a gender-sensitive version, where females must be read into every context where they are not specifically excluded.

Or would it?

Yes, and even worse: all three translations of the CBT (NIV, NIrV, and TNIV) call them 'two men' without any italics. As does the Amplified, an earlier project of Zondervan's. Even the NLT does, in both editions.

What's up with that? There's nothing in the Greek of Matthew to even hint that the demonicas were both men. The NRSV at least allows for this, calling them "two demoniacs."

Nothing gender-sensitive about that, though; it turns out to have already been the reading of the RSV. And of the ASV, of which the RSV was a revision. The ASV, of course, was an update of the KJV--and we can continue this chain back through every English version all the way to Tyndale. Nobody called them 'men' until about 50 years ago, when the NASB began taking liberties with the text which have yet to be corrected.

The CBT still hasn't attained to the level of "gender-sensitive yet accurate" translation that some have enjoyed since 1525.

UPDATE: The NNIV is unchanged.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Dolphins are fish

I have before me two cans of Bumble Bee brand Dolphin Safe Premium Chunk Light Tuna. Each bears a logo reading, "FISH TALES: See Inside of Label."

What does the word 'fish' mean, according to Bumble Bee? Well, a couple of things, depending on which label you read.

According to label #1, a fish is a swimming creature that can communicate by means of coded electrical signals--a rather unscientific statement that errs in a couple of ways, even if the fish in question are elephant snouts.

According to label #2, a fish is a swimming creature with a bone structure in its appendages similar to that of humans. Interesting, if not particularly scientific, because the fish in question are dolphins.

It seems that all manner of pseudoscience is permitted in popular literature, so long as the theory of allele creation by natural selection on random gene mutations is upheld.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

One more thing to crab about

This is so typical of the way governments respond to simple problems in the real world.

The Russian fishing industry, largely responsible for the Western Nations making their continental waters off limits to foreign fishing boats, got the brilliant idea way back in 1961 of introducing King Crabs to the Barents Sea. For several decades, it didn't appear that the experiment had worked. Then, suddenly the Northern Atlantic appeared overrun with the critters, ironically just as they appeared close to commercial extinction in their home waters of the Bering Sea on Russia's other coast.

The solution was all too typical of the government: the respective nations on both sides of Russia slapped heavy restrictions on their own fleets, while Russian fishermen proceeded to flood the world markets with crabs caught in their own newly expanded territorial waters.

While this action barely saved the King Crab in the Bering Sea--the quota was filled one season in only four days of frantic fishing--it did little to contain the explosive growth of the King Crab in the Barents Sea. Grudgingly, the governments raised the quota year by year--but, maddeningly, in both oceans. This, despite the clear evidence that the crabs were nearly extinct in one ocean, but a burgeoning invasive species in the other.

And note this--the Atlantic population had been assumed extinct for at least 15 years when they suddenly appeared out of nowhere, in numbers far more than the fisherman could initially handle. And they've already made it more than halfway to the North Pole, surviving even under the ice cap.

Humans only think they have the power to raise a species up, or put it down.