Sunday, October 08, 2006

Genesis 2:18-24 (Year B, Proper 22; 18 Pentecost)

For Genesis 2:18-24 in the NRSV, click here. However, do check out Fox's translation in the Schocken Bible, especially the man's exclamation upon first seeing the woman: "This-time, she-is-it!" You gotta love it.

One of the neatest terms in the text (see Genesis 2:18, 20) is כנגדו, meaning that the woman is created as partner, proper companion, fitting counterpart, one who is just right. The Hebrew makes clear the complementarity and parity of the two, male and female, ruling out subordination for women in Eden's ideal state.

Just as neat are the nuances of the closely juxtaposed word עזר, for which the KJV gives the awful rendering "help meet." Alter's translation gives us a better rendering: "a sustainer beside him." R. E. Friedman gives us another good alternative translation: "a strength corresponding to him." As these renderings bring out, the Hebrew suggests that the woman is not an auxiliary or a subordinate to the man, but one who actively intervenes for her partner (cf. Psalm 121), one who is the true strength of her partner (cf. the parallelism of terms in Psalm 46:2).


Blogger Talmida said...

I've just recently found your blog, and I like it.

This is one of my favourite passages -- I see an implication that neither male nor female is really complete without the other.

We are only truly human, adam, in the image of God when we are male+female.

Sun Oct 08, 04:26:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Thanks for the comment, Talmida. Do come back and visit often. ---SLC

Sun Oct 08, 09:37:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Tim Bulkeley said...

Hi, I also <shame> discovered your blog recently</shame> and have been enjoying it.

But I do not see why you think "a help meet for him" is an "awful rendering" (unless you are writing KJV English and "aweful" means inspiring awe ;-)

"Meet" meant appropriate, so KJV (in modern English) rendered עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ as something like "an appropriate help for him" I grant you "help" is less than clear as a rendering for עֵזֶר but they were consistent using the same word when the עֵזֶר was God!

Sun Oct 08, 09:55:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Hi Tim, I checked and you are right. Thanks! OED defines "meet" as an equal. I will adjust my text. ---Steve

Mon Oct 09, 06:03:00 AM GMT-5  

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