How bias ruins Scripture translation – 1 Peter 3:1-7

Greek seems like a hard language, and you are sure to be put off by the complex presentation of it that inevitably happens at the higher levels of church clergy. But people have been scared away from it unnecessarily. It’s not complex. It was a real language. Real people spoke it.
Hundreds of millions of people put their Christian faith into the hands of a handful of men who have been responsible for the transmission of the Scriptures. Virtually no one reads it in the original languages. They are in fact told not to unless they learn it at a seminary. In the case of Islam, the vast majority of Muslims read the Qur’an in its original language, or learn to. They will tell you that it must be read in Arabic and that translations are not the real deal. They would consider a watered-down paraphrase of the Qu’ran an absolute abomination. Conversely, a pastor will tell you that a gross paraphrase of the Bible is “just as good as the real!” You have not realized the amount of trust you have extended to translators. Were they faithful really? Unbiased? Factual? Let me ask you this question, if Bible translations were labeled this way:

  • New International Interpretation
  • New Living Interpretation
  • King James Interpretation
  • Good News Interpretation
  • New American Interpretation
  • English Standard Interpretation

Would you buy it? Would you entrust your life to what you read?

It doesn’t take much (especially these days) to look up in dictionaries and lexicons the words that are consistently fed to you. This is a noble thing to do. Do not believe everything you hear.
Much of the Bible has been defaced and obscured through heavy bias.  One good example is 1 Peter 3:7. Greek and Hebrew have no specific words for husband/wife. Occasionally Greek words have a broad meaning, and the translator must choose, as is the case with sunoikeo. Sunoikeo occurs only once in the NT, in Peter’s exhortation.

sunoikeo συνοικέω 1 dwell together, Plat., etc.; ς. τινί to live with, Aesch., etc. live together in wedlock, cohabit, Hdt., Eur., etc.; τούτων συνοικησάντων γίνεται Κλεισθένης from their marriage sprang Cleisthenes, Hdt.
3.metaph., ἄχθος ξυνοικεῖ the grief with which he is associated, Soph.; so, ς. φόβῳ Eur.; ἡδοναῖς, ἀμαθίᾳ Plat.; ἱππικοῖς ἐν ἤθεσι ξ. being versed in the ways of horses, Eur.
b.reversely, with the thing as subject, γῆρας ἵνα πάντα κακὰ κακῶν ξυνοικεῖ old age with which all evils are associated, Soph.; of the poisoned robe of Hercules, to cling closely, id=Soph.

II. to colonise jointly with, Κυρηναίοισι ς. Λιβύην Hdt.:—Pass., of a country, to be thickly peopled, Xen.

Source: Liddell and Scott. An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon. Oxford. Clarendon Press. 1889. 

Take note of how Peter spoke of women and men in the plural, not singular. An accurate, and far less biased translation of 1 Peter 3:1-7 would therefore be this:

In like manner, the women, be you all subject to your own men, that even if any are disobedient to the word, through the behavior of the women, without a word they will be won over having beheld your pure behavior in fear.

Who should not be the outwardly plaiting of hair and putting around of things of gold, or the dressing of garments of the world

Peter grouped a bunch of nouns into three symbolic points as seen in bold. Kosmos in this sentence is always interpreted as “adorning” and plugged into the first part of the sentence. But this is the literal and sequential order of the the sentence. The only verb is to be at the beginning. It is fascinating that out of 186 instances of the word kosmos in the New Testament, meaning world, this one time we are told to believe that Peter had in mind something totally different. Taking into account the definite articles (the) we can read “the secret” rather than “a hidden” and “the gentle tranquil spirit” rather than “a gentle quiet spirit”:

but rather the Secret Man of the heart [Christ], in the incorruptible Gentle and Tranquil Spirit, who is before God, of great cost

The men, in like manner, dwelling [colonizing jointly] with them, according to knowledge, as to a weaker vessel — to the woman– imparting honour, as also being joint-heirs of the grace of life, that your prayers be not hindered.

1 Peter 3:7 literal

What is taught of women is taught equally of the Church, and vice versa, the two are inseparable ideas when it comes to truth. This puts the conversation on a much higher level, doesn’t it? Do women want real power in the Church? Their behavior collectively could win over men, without a word! Instead they are terrorizing them. Most of my years, in the Church, in the bible college, in the seminary, I have heard plenty of women complain, scoff, and bitch at everything under the sun. Far, far from being won over I, like a multitude of men, grew repulsed.

In Peter’s statement the relationship between men and women is defined corporately rather than individualistically. Rather than isolating married couples and their problems and demanding that the woman subject herself to an ass of a husband “because the bible says”, how about we step back and look at the corporate picture? Are brothers dwelling with all their sisters with understanding? Are sisters subjecting themselves to the brothers? This frees the individual relationship between a man and woman from being oppressed with untenable rules, standards, and burdens that they simple cannot bear and under which companionship is crushed, and places the responsibility on the whole corporate Body collectively. Imagine that. Sharing responsibility.