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Thursday, 20 September 2012

Hangin' with 'the brothers'--The NIV and John 2:12

As I've mentioned before in this series on translation, there is a glaring exception to the NNIV's general policy of using search-and-replace to add 'and sisters' to every mention of 'brothers' in the NT: Jesus' siblings, which are never so mentioned.

Our most recent example of such is in John 2:12--

NIV '73 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. Here they stayed for a few days.

NIV '78, '84, '01, '11 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.

So, this verse got attention in the very first NIV revision, when the entire Bible was published. But none since. Interestingly, there is a textual problem in this verse--one that does come through in the various translations--

Jerusalem Bible
After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and the brothers, but they stayed only a few days.

You see, very early on in the history of the Bible, the doctrine of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary took a strong hold among those who read it--and those who copied it. Thus it came about that certain passages in the gospels were altered to, on the one hand, downplay the possibility that Mary had any other children, and, on the other hand, to present Joseph as Jesus' father, so as to equate the possibilities of him parenting Jesus and his "brothers." The Jerusalem Bible, a Catholic translation, goes probably the farthest in subsuming the disciples themselves into a band of "brothers" (despite wide textual variation in this verse, no manuscript that leaves out 'disciples' has 'the brothers').

The reigning Greek text in 1973 was NA26, a.k.a. UBS-2. This text follows the Perpetualist manuscripts in leaving out the 'his' with 'brothers,' but the CBT's translation philosophy allowed them to translate in such a way as to not disclose which text they were following. This textual decision was never reconsidered, either by the compilers of the two subsequent Greek texts, or the latest two iterations of the CBT.

Apparently a commitment to the handful of NT manuscripts (p66*, p75, B, L, Psi, 0141, 0162, 1071) that follow the Perpetualist line so ruled the retention of this verse as-is that the CBT never considered the possibility that, in addition to his still-virgin mother and his stepbrothers, Jesus hung out in Capernaum with at least one of his stepsisters as well.

I guess the CBT felt that their place was back home in Nazareth. Just hangin' around.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Massive mobilization in Jerusalem?


I received a rumour by email today that Israel is gearing up for war in a massive way. The email started out,


and continued,

"My friend's brother and his family live in Jerusalem - he is a minister and former Navy SEAL, with an office located close to one of Israel's largest underground military bases. Calling last night, which is very unusual - usually it is email, to say that he is sending his family back to the US immediately due to what he is seeing occur within the last week and what is being inferred by his military contacts in both there and US, noting he is seeing military movements the likes of which he has never seen in his 20+ years in Israel. What he called a massive redeployment and protective tactics of forces is underway."

Okay, folks, we need go no further. This email has all the hallmarks of a hoax:

1. The sender is passing on something he received originating from someone that he doesn't know personally, but is a 'brother' of some 'friend' way up the line.

2. The account can't be verified, but is so urgent as to require immediate action.

3. The source of the report is identified as someone we should be able to trust: a minister; and someone who should know what he's talking about: a former SEAL.

4.No names or dates are mentioned. Were the technology available, this email could have been floating around since 1973 and we'd have no way of knowing it.

So, there you have it, folks. It's a hoax. Don't believe a word of it. If you want to know what's going on in Jerusalem, ask Google News. Or call the Israeli consulate closest to you and ask if they're accepting any volunteers for a special foreign legion unit in the IDF.

If things really were that desperate, they probably would be.

Added only an hour later:
I may have actually managed to strangle this rumour in the cradle. This post was just viewed by someone at a major international news outlet.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The mess at ABWE HQ gets ever deeper, and it's not just ABWE being affected


This blog has been deluged for the past few days with searches for news on Donn Ketcham, so I knew something must have gone down. It took a bit of digging, but sure enough: another Baptist missionary has just been implicated in the abuse of missionary kids in Bangladesh.

There's a problem, though: he's the father of one of the founding members of the group of AMK's who set out to expose what went on back there in their childhoods--now a former member, and a vociferous opponent of letting this thing go any further.

It gets worse. ABWE limited GRACE to only investigating Donn Ketcham's peccadilloes, and that investigation continues to plod along. GRACE is accountable to the public, and must be thorough. But what they can't do, per ABWE restrictions on the investigation, is follow any evidence that leads to the exposure of any other missionary. That job has to be left to someone else.

That's the other problem. The "someone else" was a legal team directly hired by ABWE and is accountable to them alone. And furthermore, they managed in just a few months to 'investigate' a whole pile of cases, do all their interviews, and wrap up their final reports and recommendations--all without any public disclosure or outside accountability. Can you say "Damage Control?"

What's happened is that several heads have quietly rolled due to the "preponderance of evidence" raised by their investigations--all before GRACE has even released a preliminary report.

What does this all have to do with me? Well, as someone with close ties to the Western Missionary Movement, I've taken a hard look at The Way Things Were Done and wondered if the organizations that Did Things That Way could ever manage to pull out of the old paradigm and embrace the future. And this latest move by ABWE tells me that, at least as far as regular Evangelical Baptist Missions are concerned (and I use the term generally, now that the specific organization that held that name for 80 years has gone ignominiously bankrupt), the answer is, No. The Phoenix cannot be transformed; it must be burned to a crisp before any new life can arise from its ashes.

So, the Old Guard Missions are going away; what will replace them? Alas, I see only more of the same. As long as a missionary candidate can find 100 churches to support him for an average of $50 a month, Bible College graduates will continue to sign their names on the line to go forth and plant Fundamental Baptist Churches. Mission Hospitals will continue to be built. Some things will be different--boarding schools definitely are still on the way out--but the next iteration of Western Missions will be only marginally different than the last. At least at the beginning--whether this next generation will be able to go farther than the last is capable of remains to be seen.

Stay tuned for a report on how this sort of thing all falls out for a ministry based out of Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

Monday, 10 September 2012

There probably never has been an authentic birth certificate for Barack Obama

A new document in the quest to verify Barack Obama as an eligible candidate for the Presidency which he currently occupies has turned up in the British National Archives. It seems that a birth certificate was in fact issued for a son born to Barack Obama in Kenya in 1961. That these records were sealed shortly after an unannounced visit to the Archives by Secretary of State 'Clinton' does not bode well for the triumph of Truth.
The books containing hand written line records of vital events attributed to Obama [Sr.] are contained in Series RG36 of the Family Records section in the Kew branch of the BNA.  The hand written line records first discovered in 2009, indicate several events were registered to the name Barack Obama (appears to be handwritten and spelled “Burack” and “Biraq”) beginning in 1953 and include two births recorded in 1958 and 1960, a marriage license registration in 1954 and a birth in 1961.  Barack Obama [Sr.] is said to have died in 1982 and had married at least once more in Kenya and had at least one more child in 1968, but no record of these were found in the BNA because, according to the Archives’ desk reference, the events occurred after Kenya achieved independence from British colonial rule in 1963.

Here's the problem: there is good reason to suppose that when Stanley Ann Dunham fell pregnant in 1960, she didn't have a very clear idea of who the father was. At some point Barack Obama agreed to take responsibility for the pregnancy and married Stanley (no records of this marriage are accessible).  In order to capitalize on a postcolonial fascination with all things African, the legend was then developed that Barack Obama II had been born in Kenya to a happily married Barack and Stanley, while a Hawaiian birth certificate was also filed in case American citizenship should ever be needed.

I'm inclined to believe that Barack Obama is in fact the son of his legal father, but right now I haven't seen the evidence to confirm that belief, and a lot of hints at now-sealed records to call it into question.