Pride and Prejudice
“At no point is faith in the entire Bible being so viciously and successfully attacked today as at the point of the ”woman question“, and the Church so far attempts no defense here of her children. It assumes that the interests of merely a few ambitious women are involved, whereas the very fundamentals of our faith are at stake.” —Author’s Note, God’s Word To Women (GWTW), written 1908-1913
We tend to think that attacks on the scriptures come from the outside, or at least from liberals bent on twisting the words of God to allow sensual indulgence, or even to discard the written Word altogether as outdated or superseded by personal revelation to anyone and everyone. But the most insidious and treacherous attacks have come from the places we’d least expect: from theologians, scholars, translators, and preachers. Even now, in 2007, there are entire organizations such as the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) that openly push for “masculine” Bible translations which deliberately alter the scriptures in order to keep women in subjugation to men instead of directly to God.
We must know our Bible, including its transmission and translation. But how can we know it when we don’t look closely at these things but only pile one assumption on top of another? This is the case; many translations have been made that all are ultimately built upon errors introduced before the KJV, before the Vulgate, and even before the Septuagint. Before I list specifics, let me emphasize the great respect for the Bible by those who research these things. They are not liberals, subversives, liars, or apostates, but we will see instead that they expose such people who have been hiding for centuries, even millennia. God’s Word has indeed been preserved, but like the search for any precious gem we must dig deep to find it. This look at some of the content of the book quoted above is a step in that direction.
The issue of how the Bible views women may seem trivial to some, but it will prove to be the key that unlocks the Adversary’s last fortress, his perversion of the Word of God. Should we be surprised that God would choose “lowly” women to accomplish this? “But God selected the foolish things of the world in order to put the wise to shame, and God selected the weak things of the world in order to put the strong to shame.” (1 Cor. 1:27 The Source NT). But my emphasis here is really on how and why the Bible text has been changed, not just on what it actually teaches about women.
Let’s focus on Genesis, particularly the events we’re all so familiar with in the Garden of Eden, as they relate to understanding the text.
Notice first of all that in Gen. 3 Adam blames Eve for his sin, while Eve correctly lays the blame on the serpent. Yet Adam goes even farther, to blame God for it! Remember that the serpent (doubtless indwelt or ’possessed’ by Satan) is right there with them all, since he will be cursed in a moment. Nobody could overlook the fact that the serpent was involved, yet Adam blamed everyone but himself and the serpent, the two guilty parties. (Adam had failed to “keep” the garden by allowing the serpent in to begin with.)
So the scene is set: Adam has chosen to ally with Satan against God and Eve. First God curses the serpent directly, to crawl on its belly and eat dust. But the next phrase about God putting “enmity” between “the woman” and “you” is widely held to be a prophecy about the comming Savior who would “crush your head”. Some actually limit this to meaning women would hate snakes! Yet clearly there is more to God’s prophecy than that. Remember that Eve has not chosen to ally with the serpent against God, but merely stated what happened. So God is saying that Eve is the first of those who come honestly to God and not try to hide the truth. This is why it is HER seed that crushes Satan, not the man’s, and why Jesus would have to be born of a virgin— and why women have been so hated and abused through the bulk of history. Women’s subordination is how Satan dishes out his “enmity” against the gender through whom the Savior would come.
Where is the willful mistranslation in all this? First of all, we need to understand the difference between “will” and “shall”. “Will” is simply a statement of fact, while “shall” is a commandment. God did NOT force or command Satan to “bruise his heel”, and just as surely, God did NOT force or command Eve to have pain in childbirth or be ruled by her husband (note that even if this were true, it does NOT say all women must be ruled over by all men!).Here is the crux of the mistranslation: Verse 16 should read,
“A snare has increased your sorrow and sighing, in sorrow you will bring forth children. Your turning will be to your husband, and he will rule over you.” (GWTW Lessons 13-19).
Bushnell explains that the serpent was the “snare” (lit. “lying in wait”) that caught her unaware, and that this would entail the anguish of childbearing both physically and emotionally. This “turning” (NOT “desire”!) is predicting the fact that when Adam (“the man”, NOT both of them; lit. only “the man” was ordered to leave and forbidden to eat of the Tree of Life) would be driven out of the garden, she would “turn” to him and follow him out instead of staying in the garden with God. This “turning” would result in her being ruled over by her husband. So God is warning Eve, telling her what will be the consequences of her making this poor choice.
Do you see the great importance of correct translation here? Far from making God suddenly turn from blessing Eve with the promise that the Savior would come through her alone to allegedly cursing her with servitude, we see that God simply warns Eve of the consequences of wanting to stay with Adam instead of keeping direct contact with God herself. And how dreadfully accurate the prophecy was! Even today, women are told they cannot go directly to God but must be under the “covering” of a man, even those who are not married. Man has taken (usurped!) the place of God in woman’s life, and dares to call this “God’s natural order”!
Another often-overlooked truth, which is not so much a matter of mistranslation but “sweeping under the rug”, is that Gen. 2:24 says the man must leave his parents and join to his wife. Instead, for millennia Christian men have taken wives away from their families and made them mere property of the husband’s family. Historical records prove, however, that originally the man would leave his father’s clan and join that of his wife. She would thus remain protected from abuse and loss of property. This is a possible meaning of “one flesh”, that is, one family. (This also makes sense out of incidences such as when Samson’s wife remained with her parents and he came to visit her. Our western minds think this to be very strange, but it makes perfect sense in the light of history, and of God’s real “intended order”.)
There is evidence that originally families would take their names from the mothers, even for a time after male supremacism was becoming the norm. God did say that the Savior would come from woman, so it makes perfect sense that this should be what God intended. But Eve followed Adam instead, and in the course of time her lineage was overtaken by that of men. It did not happen instantly, just as “in the day you eat of it you will die” didn’t happen instantly.
Look, for example, at the somewhat perplexing account of Laban in Gen. 4:23-24. It is quite reasonable to understand that he “took” his wives (as opposed to going to them instead) by murdering one of their husbands (“a young man”). He threatens anyone who tries to avenge the murder and kidnapping with God’s vengeance, even though there is no reason to believe God would honor such a rash threat. This practice of stealing wives from other clans is quite common in history, and still acknowledged in many wedding rituals. Even today, in more traditional ceremonies, the father of the bride has to give his permission (if only symbolically) for the groom to take his daughter away, and the groom later runs away with her. This is no coincidence or mere romanticism! It is a testimony to an ancient reality, which is still literally practiced in some parts of the world.
So much error from one mistranslated verse! When and where did this error appear in the manuscripts?
There was a time between the Old and New Testaments (OT and NT) called “the days of mingling” by the Jews. It was the time of the Apocrypha, a time when God was silent, a time when the rabbis developed their traditions. These are the traditions Jesus hated and condemned when he came. It was called “mingling” because the Jews were immersed in other cultures and languages, which began to influence their treatment of the scriptures. They held women in utter contempt and created their infamous “Ten Curses of Eve”:
- “Greatly multiply” followed by words having to do with ministration
- “thy sorrow” in rearing children;
- “thy conception”
- “in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children”
- “thy desire shall be unto thy husband” [followed by language too coarse for reproduction, leaving no doubt of the rabbinical interpretation of “desire”]
- “He shall rule over thee” [more, and fouler language]
- she is wrapped up like a mourner, i. e.
- dares not appear in public with her head uncovered
- is restricted to one husband, while he may have many wives
- and is confined to the house as to a prison
(GWTW Paragraph 106)
Do you see where this misogyny began to be attributed to God, instead of to its true source, Satan? We can hardly overstate the great evil that was given birth by such teachings, and by such tampering with the Holy Bible by evil men. And not only misogyny but also hatred of Christianity was added to the rabbis’ tampering with the scriptures. This explains the controversy over Isaiah’s prophecy of the virgin birth in 7:14. Here the LXX (Septuagint) reveals the truth: that the original word was indeed “virgin”, not the more vague “young woman”. If you can’t tell an outright lie, be vague!
But how can we find out the truth? We certainly cannot blindly trust the dictionaries, lexicons, and concordances that perpetuate errors such as these.Happily, there is much historical evidence from various languages that shed light on what is and is not possible for the meanings of many words and phrases. It would take a library to list them all, so I must refer you to sources such as GWTW and those it references. But so many translations have been made on the basis of rabbinical tampering with the text, and these have served to perpetuate the myth that God views women, at best, as a notch lower than men. But the truth is that Eve was the only one in the garden that God was not upset with, proven by the fact that she alone was blessed with the promise of the Savior through her.
Think of what this means, including how people use NT references to the events of Genesis 3 to claim that women are to be forever “under” men. Now what becomes of their interpretations of Paul’s words in reference to creation order and the Fall? I’ve written elsewhere about many other examples of mistranslation, such as the fact that Paul was refuting, not ordering, the silence of women in the assemblies, and it fits perfectly with what we now know is true of Genesis 3. In spite of the fact that discoveries made in the 1800s of common documents from the first century clarified the many “guesses” of the scholars on the meanings of Greek words, this knowledge has never been incorporated into our very outdated lexicons, which are the basis for most translations.
No, God’s Word has not been lost, in spite of all Satan’s efforts. And I think that since he knows he can no longer fool us by means of Bible perversions, he has now turned his focus to throwing the whole thing out completely. People are being driven like cattle to a mystical, experience-based worldview (post-modernism) that cares nothing for facts or writings. Yet there remains a spirit of oppression that abuses the Bible for the purpose of beating women over the head and downplaying all the basic truths of Christianity.
What can it be but the sin of pride that drives believers to subject other believers under them? Does the Bible not say, “The LORD does not look at the things human beings look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7b NLT)? Yet male supremacists look on the outside only, ignoring the heart, and twisting the words of God to suit their pride and prejudice against women.And the women who submit to this are shirking their responsibilities before God alone, preferring to “turn” to man instead, thinking God will not require them to give an account. Must we keep making the same mistake as Eve, giving up what God has planned for us because we “fear men rather than God” (Acts 4:19)? Christian woman, do you hide behind a man or men as being your “priest” in the place of Jesus, insulting the Holy Spirit within you by failing to use the gifts he gave you for “building up the body” (1 Cor. 12:7)?
Were it in my power to do so, I would make GWTW required reading for all believers. It was written nearly a hundred years ago but will shock you even today. It isn’t “lite”, it isn’t pretty, it isn’t entertaining, but surely the pursuit of truth is more worth your time than pulp fiction, even if it’s “Christian”. If you can read through all the installments of Left Behind or watch/read Lord of the Rings, you have the time for this most important book-- and no more excuses!
God’s Word To Women by Katharine C. Bushnell, God’s Word To Women, Inc., ISBN 0-9762569-0-8, available at This Link. Please visit the website for many excellent articles and to order your own copy of the book. You can also read it online at that site.