Thursday, October 27, 2016
Gender-Biased-English-Translation-Theology Slanders the Woman at the Well
This is a preview relevant to Christian women's equality (indeed all women), not posted as yet (in its entirety) to the Hungry Hearts Online Bible Commentary
John 4: 1 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Iesous made and baptized more disciples than John 2: Though Iesous himself baptized not but his disciples 3: He left Judaea and departed again into Galilee 4: And it was necessary for him to pass through Samaria 5: Then came he to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph 6: Now Jacob's well was there Iesous therefore being wearied with his journey sat thus on the well and it was about the sixth hour 7: There came a woman of Samaria to draw water Iesous said to her Give me to drink 8: For his disciples were gone away into the city to buy food 9: Then said the woman of Samaria unto him How is it that you being a Jew ask drink of me which am a woman of Samaria for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans 10: Iesous answered and said to her If you knew the gift ho Theos and who it is that says to you Give me to drink you would have asked of him and he would have given you living water 11: The woman said to him sir you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep from where then have you that living water 12: Are you greater than our father Jacob who gave us the well and drank of it himself and his children, and his cattle 13: Iesous answered and said to her Whoever drinks of this water shall thirst again 14: But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give them shall never thirst but the water that I shall give them shall be in them a well of water springing up into everlasting life 15: The woman said to him Sir give me this water that I thirst not neither come here to draw. 16: Iesous said to her Go call your husband and come [back] here 17: The woman answered and said I have no husband Iesous said to her You have well said I have no husband 18: For you have had five husbands and he who you now have is not your husband in that you answered honestly 19: The woman said to him Sir I perceive that you are a prophet 20: Our fathers worshipped in this mountain and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where [we] ought to worship 2 Chronicles 6:6 21: Jesus said to her Madam believe me the hour comes when you shall neither in this mountain nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father 22: You worship you know not what we know what we worship for salvation is from the Jews 23: But the hour is come even is now when the true worshippers shall worship the Father by [the] Pneuma and by [the] truth for the Father seeks such to worship him 24: Ho Theos is a Pneuma and they that worship him must worship him by [the] Pneuma and by [the] truth 25: The woman said to him I know that Messias comes which is called Christos when he is come he will tell us all things 26: Jesus said to her I who speak to you am he 27: And upon this came his disciples and marvelled that he talked with the woman yet none said What seekest thou or Why talk thou with her 28: The woman then left her waterpot and went her way into the city and said to anthropos 29: Come see a man which told me all things that ever I did is not this Ho Christos 30: Then they went out of the city and came to him
 There was a woman there he needed to see. He was going to reach out in love to a woman who was outcast and desperately lonely.
 This fact must have come from spoken tradition as the Hebrew scriptures record the coat of many colors given to Joseph by his father, Jacob, and the jealousy of his brothers, but nothing about a parcel of land. The question is, was the land given to Joseph while he was still young, before he was sold into slavery by his brothers (at age 17), or was it bequeathed to him later while they were all still in Egypt?
 Statements like this give us a glimpse into the humanity of Jesus. He had walked a long way. He was tired. His feet probably hurt. He was thirsty. He sat on the well. It felt good to sit down. God became just like us. He experienced everything we experience Hebrews 5:15.
 The Samaritans descended from Jacob through his grandson, Ephraim, one of the two sons of Joseph.
 This woman suffered so much from the treatment she received of others that she waited until she could be reasonably sure that no one else would be at the well when she arrived, so she came in the heat of the day to draw her water. This well was apparently not in the middle of town at a convenient location, so the walk to and from it was better made when the sun was not yet high. Yet here was this woman at high noon only just arriving at the well. The cruel treatment she received from others, who came to the well during the cooler times of the day, must have been unbearable for her. The town well also served a second purpose as a social hub for the women as they came together to draw water each morning (we see an example of this in the Book of Ruth, where the well was the place Naomi reunited with the town’s women when she returned to Bethlehem-Judah from her long sojourn into Moab). But it was not for this un-named Samaritan woman to enjoy a morning visit with other women who met together in the cool of each morning. She apparently had few friends among these women. She was not an accepted part of a crowd who no doubt snubbed or jabbed at her with painful, malicious remarks. She was a social reject. She likely felt rejected by God as well. But she wasn’t. And Jesus went out of his way, into territory hated and avoided by respectable Jews, to tell her this. It was to a woman who was outcast in her community that Jesus felt compelled to travel through Samaria to see.
 What would have happened if the woman had not been honest with Jesus about her marital status? Would she have run back to town to fetch her “husband” only to find no one at the well waiting for her when she returned? Jesus made the first move. He started the conversation that changed this woman’s life—If she could pass the honesty test. He reached out to her with full knowledge of the fact that she was living in sin with a man she was not married to. But before he would continue, he required honesty. She had to come clean in order for Jesus to reveal the truth that would set her free.
 There a few things to note about Jesus’ answer. The gentleness with which Jesus confronted her sin is an example we should learn to emulate. Her honest answer about her marital status wasn’t a confession really, but she did not pretend to be a respectably married woman when she wasn’t. Even had she offered the details of her sin, she would not have been condemned for it—as we know from the rest of the discourse.
It is commonly asserted that this woman had been divorced. There is no basis to assume whether that was the case or not. She could have been. Assuming that she was a divorced woman—as is almost always asserted—it is important to note that Jesus acknowledged each of her five marriages as legitimate by saying she had, had five husbands. He did not suggest that she had anything to ask forgiveness for regarding any of her five marriages. This does not suggest she had never been divorced, but if she had been divorced, then Christians need to ask themselves why one of their most common words of “comfort” to divorced brethren are, “God forgives divorce” when Jesus said no such thing to this woman who had been married five times. Whether she had ever been divorced or not, most Christians have been taught that the woman at the well was a divorced woman. It is important to understand that all divorce is not sin. There are scriptural grounds for divorce, and it is an erroneous and smug position to assume that divorce is always sin when dealing with Christians who have experienced the pain (and undeserved shame heaped on them by other Christians) of it.
The woman at the well could very well have been widowed five times and been considered anathema as a wife. She could have been “put away” by her last husband, and therefore unmarriageable due to the fact that, though he cast her off, refused to legally divorce her in order to avoid paying a divorce settlement. This was a common practice in those days and before. God had harsh things to say through the prophet Malachi about men who dealt treacherously with wives they grew tired of by casting them off. Many Jewish wives were put away but never set free from the marriage by a legal divorce. This forced them to either live in limbo for the rest of their lives, or to marry again, anyway, bringing the label of adulteress on themselves, or to live with a man without being married to him. Regardless of what the case was with the woman at the well, the scriptures do not say “God hates divorce.” It is written that God hates shalachH7971 the putting away (sending away or casting off). Shalach (casting off) without a bill of keriythuwthH3748 (bill of divorce) is not the same as a divorce. The prophet Jeremiah3:8 wrote that God himself cast off Israel and gave her a bill of divorce for adultery against him. The salient points in this verse are 1.) Jesus confronted the woman’s sin but complemented her honesty and dealt gently with her 2.) The scriptures do not record whether her previous marital status was divorced or widowed. It is commonly taught that the woman at the well had been divorced at least once but perhaps multiple times, yet Jesus acknowledged the legitimacy of each of her five marriages and demanded no repentance from her on the issue of adultery/divorce.
 Religion is the strongest bond rulers can use to ensure the loyalty of their people, and that is where the bad blood between the kingdoms of Israel and Judah was deliberately solidified by Jeroboam, who had renounced David’s dynasty and became the first king of Israel. Jeroboam introduced idol worship as a national religion to Israel. Samaria, a part of Jeroboam’s kingdom, later, under Omri, became the Capitol city of Israel and eventually became known as home to hybrid Jews—ancient Israelites descended from Joseph [1/2 tribe of Ephraim] who later interbred with Canaanites.
The basis of the Woman at the Well’s argument about where to worship was an ancient argument and was deliberately engendered by two of Israel’s kings, Jeroboam and Omri. The biblical history is as follows: 1 kings 12:25 Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim and dwelt therein and went out from thence and built Penuel 26: And Jeroboam said in his heart Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David 27: If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord even unto Rehoboam king of Judah and they shall kill me and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah 28: Whereupon the king took counsel and made two calves of gold and said to them It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem behold your gods O Israel which brought you up out of the land of Egypt 29: And he set the one in Bethel and the other put he in Dan 30: And this thing became a sin for the people went to worship before the one even unto Dan.
1 Kings 16:23 In the thirty and first year of Asa king of Judah began Omri to reign over Israel twelve years six years reigned he in Tirzah 24: And he bought the hill Samaria of Shemer for two talents of silver and built on the hill and called the name of the city which he built after the name of Shemer owner of the hill Samaria 25: But Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all that were before him 26: For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger with their vanities
 It is only through the Holy Spirit that we can know and worship God. The Holy Spirit must draw us, indwell us, and empower us to worship God.
 Jesus is the way the TRUTH and the life. No one comes to the Father but by him. Jesus said the written Word of God as Truth—Thy Word is TRUTH—We must worship God according to his Word, through his risen son, Jesus.
 Faith always supersedes theology. In spite of the woman’s bad theology based on history, tradition, and outright lies fed to her ancestors by evil rulers and no doubt by the contemporary religious leaders of her day, nothing could squelch her faith in the coming Messiah. God always honors faith.
 The scripture record shows that the first person Jesus declared himself to, was a woman. If complementarian male headship, as taught by the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, is true, then Jesus would have asked her to go fetch one of the male heads of the city to stand beside her as he announced to the male who he was, as he knew she—a woman—would immediately run into the city and begin preaching that the Savior had come. But he did not tell her to call the men, first, before revealing his identify. He broke Jewish protocol (shocked his disciples into stunned silence) and kept a divine appointment with a woman. He then entrusted this woman, who was an absolute social outcast and held to bad Samaritan theology, with the first announcement ever that he was the long awaited Messiah.
 The unfortunate fact of translating the word anthropos as men in this verse has slandered The Woman at the Well, and forever sullied her name as associating her with being a prostitute when there is no scriptural evidence to support this assumption. When she went into the city to preach the gospel that Jesus was Messiah, there is no reason to believe she went to only males. She more likely announced this fact loudly and publicly to all within earshot. The crowd that came out of the city to see Jesus was no doubt a mixed crowd of both men and women. There is no textual reason why anthropos should be translated as men in this verse. The word is just as accurately translated as people or person and can refer to either females, males, or mixed crowds of both, or to the human race in general; it all depends upon the context. Although Greek is an androcentric (male centered) language—as is English and most other languages—the Greek word, anthropos, is not unique to just males.
Special Features of the HHBC
1. The main body of scripture text in this commentary is based on the Received Text (Textus Receptus) of the NT and the Ben Chayyim Masoretic text of the OT as found in the Original *Strong’s Concordance, 1894, by James Strong, and compared diligently with the work of respected scholars.
2. Archaic language is updated in most cases, but The AV is followed unchanged where the language and sense of the translation is clear to the modern reader.
3. Where a Hebrew or Greek word has no good English equivalent, the original word is left untranslated, in italics, and, in some cases but not all, with the *Strong’s Greek [G] or Hebrew [H] reference number notated beside it (see list of untranslated words below).
4. Where the Old Covenant is quoted in the New Testament, the Hebrew words may be used and left untranslated
5. In New Testament quotes of Old Testament that include the word “Lord” in referring to Jehovah [YHWH], the word LORD will be capitalized
6. Proper names and the names of God are often left untranslated
7. The names and titles of God are in bold print
8. The words of Jesus are in bold print
9. Scripture cross-references are noted in line with the text
10. There is little punctuation used in the main body of the scripture-commentary text
11. Brackets [ ] indicate alternate rendering or short commentary
12. Longer commentary is located in footnotes
*20th Century editions of this work, such as, The New Updated Strong’s, and, The Strongest Strong’s, are not referenced in the HHBC as they do not correspond to the Textus Receptus or the Ben Chayyim Masoretic Text this commentary is based upon.
List of Untranslated Words in the HHBC
Adam H120 Pronounced “audawm” The name of the first man, and the name God gave to both the first man and the first woman; the entire human race—homosapiens in general; mixed crowds in the Hebrew are also referred to as audawm. In the HHBC Hebrew text, when H120 is used in reference to groups of both females and males, or of the human race in general, the phonetic spelling of “audawm” will be used. In both Old and New Testament commentary in place of androcentric translation such as mankind or human race, the word audawm will be used. The word “Adam” will be used only when the text is specifically referencing the first male.
Adelphos G80 Brother; fellow Christians in general, both male and female; used of a group of Jesus siblings which included his sisters
Adown H113 Lord
Aner G435 Male, husband, all people, a group of people composed of both females and males (which indicates that G435 could be translated as female unless the context demands otherwise)
Amen G281 When used at the beginning of a discourse, it means truly or assuredly; When used at the end of a discourse or prayer, it means so be it, let it be so: The word "amen" is a most remarkable word. It was transliterated directly from the Hebrew into the Greek of the New Testament, then into Latin and into English and many other languages, so that it is practically a universal word. It has been called the best known word in human speech. The word is directly related — in fact, almost identical — to the Hebrew word for "believe" (amam), or faithful. Thus, it came to mean "sure" or "truly", an expression of absolute trust and confidence. — HMM
Anthropos G444 A human being; the human race in general; Mixed crowds of both men and women; angels who are sometimes mistaken for men; people in general, whether female or male. In instances where this is the case, rather than using a gender specific or androcentric term, the HHBC commentary uses the untranslated Greek word, anthropos, which is frequently used in the Received Text for mixed groups of women and men and of the human race as a whole. Most languages are androcentric (male centered) including the Hebrew and Greek our English scriptures were translated from. Most English translations are even more so, and in many cases supplement the text with the words, man or men where they do not appear. For that reason, where the Greek word, anthropos, occurs, the HHBC often leaves it untranslated, leaving it to the context and the reader to decide if the text is alluding specifically to males, or to a mixed crowd/group composed of both females and males, or of the entire human race in general.
Aule G833 Hall, Court, Palace [home/habitation]
Autos G846 a pronoun that could be translated any number of ways: she, he, it, himself, herself, the same, they, their, etc..
Christos G5547 pronounced kree-stos: Christ; Anointed One; Messiah
Ho G3588 definite article corresponding to: the; this; that. Other usages include: of; etc.; who; which
Iesous Pronounced Ee-A-Soos G2424 translated Jesus: Yeshua is the Hebrew name, and its English spelling is “Joshua.” Iesous is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew name, and its English spelling is “Jesus.” Thus, the names “Joshua” and “Jesus” are essentially the same; both are English pronunciations of the Hebrew and Greek names for our Lord. For examples of how the two names are interchangeable, see Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8 in the KJV. In both cases, the word Iesous refers to the Old Testament character Joshua
Kosmos G2889 The earth, the world/universe, the system of this world/arranged order of things, the people who inhabit the earth
Logos G3056 Word (said, thought, computation, motive)
Messias G3323 pronounced Me-say-us or Me-sy-us: Messiah; Christ; Savior
Pneuma G4151 Pronounced Nu-maa: SpiritTheos G2316 Deity; god; The reason the word, Theos, is largely left untranslated in this commentary, is to put to rest erroneous teaching that the word must be prefaced by the definite article, “ho,” in order to be referring to Yahweh. In fact, most New Testament scripture references to Theos are not introduced using the definite article, “ho,” but even so, it cannot be argued when the Almighty is being referenced—especially in the case of John 1:1, where John, a Jew who would never commit blasphemy by following anyone who was called “A” god, calls Jesus God. John was specifically stating that Jesus is YHWH [Yahweh].
YHWH H3068 (without vowels—Hebrew has no vowels) known as the Tetragrammaton) Yahweh; The true name of the name of the Almighty; Known to scholars as the Tetragrammaton; the correct pronunciation is, Yahveh.” This pronunciation has never been lost, according to Jewish scholar, Kaufmann Kohler. In the HHBC, any New Testament citing of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton from an Old Covenant source will be treated as Hebrew. The letters YHWH will be used in the verse in place of LORD.
Posted by Jocelyn Andersen
Jocelyn Andersen is a domestic violence survivor, a Bible teacher and ordained minister. She is outspoken for functional equality of the sexes, and a publisher of Christian books.