Monday, February 02, 2009

SBL International Paper Proposal Accepted

I was happy to hear yesterday evening that my paper proposal for the Society of Biblical Literature International Meeting in Rome (30 June-4 July) has been accepted. I submitted it to the Paul and Pauline Literature section. Here is my title and abstract:
Does περιβόλαιον mean "testicle" in 1 Corinthians 11.15?

In a recent provocative article ("Paul’s Argument from Nature for the Veil in 1 Corinthians 11:13-15: A Testicle instead of a Head Covering," JBL 123/1 (2004): 75-84), Troy Martin provides a new translation of a famously difficult verse. Arguing that περιβόλαιον in 1 Corinthians 11.15 means "testicle", Paul is saying that a woman's hair is given to her "instead of a testicle". Paul is assuming ancient attitudes to the body, according to which hair is "part of the female genitalia". However, the lexical basis for Martin's case is not strong enough to justify the new translation. Neither of the texts adduced by Martin (Euripides, Herc. fur. 1269 and Achilles Tatius, Leuc. Clit. 1.15.2) is speaking about περιβόλαια as "testicles", thus the interesting contextual material from ancient medical sources are not relevant as background to interpreting Paul. The conventional translations, according to which a woman's hair is given "for a covering" or "instead of a covering", are preferable.


matthew r malcolm said...

Hmm... I'm also presenting a paper on 1 Corinthians in the Paul & Pauline Literature section of the Rome SBL - but now that I see your abstract I think I'm going to have to sex mine up a bit to keep people interested!!

N T Wrong said...

"Testicle"!?! You can't say that in Church / SBL. Standards are slipping.

Along the same lines as the lexical liberality (I think) your paper documents, G. R. Driver once used a specialist Akkadian medical term for anal bleeding, ṣanāḥu, in order to translate the Hebrew term ṣnḥ in Josh 15.18 // Judg 1.14 as "break wind". Driver then included this translation in the New English Bible (NEB) (1970). I summarised the episode here: Breaking Wind from Your Ass

Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks for the comparison, antibishop. Fascinating! I had forgotten about that post. Are you planning to write it up for a journal? It would make an excellent critical note. And are you sure we can't coax you back into blogging? I'll be spending some time on testicles here soon.

N T Wrong said...

Cognates are dangerous things, aren't they? And all the more so when you're looking through specialist medical works and comparing them to the type of language you'd see in a rather badly thought-out letter.

I'm not going to be doing any biblioblogging in the foreseeable future. I might think about the critical note, though.

I'll be keeping an eye out for your testicles, Mark.

Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks, Wrong; I think you're right. I enjoyed reading some Arthur Gibson on the back of that post of yours; I hope you go ahead and publish a critical note on that. If you are right, then Driver was joking (hoaxing?); I doubt that Martin was doing the same.

My discussion of "testicles" went down well in the classroom recently. In fact, I don't think I have had such a good reaction before. One student wrote in a course evaluation, "Please keep the testicles lecture".

Janelle Peters said...

I am presenting on the Corinthian veils more generally in the Paul and Pauline Literature section as a continuation of my Boston Pauline Epistles paper. I am relieved to find that we are thinking along the same lines. To me, the problem is not simply that the ancient medical texts would not have contained the cultural attitudes by which Corinthians judged supernatural events... but also that the construal of ancient medical texts is highly selective. Why, for instance, does Galen write that madness is caused by too much blood in the chests of both men and women if there is an omnipresent etiology of invasion? Coagulation is not invasion. I am looking forward to your paper!

To keep things interesting, I think you should include Baubo and the Thesmophoria in your class discussion. (This was in my Boston paper and will be in my Rome paper.) There is entirely too much emphasis on testicles. It even has its own nomenclature: "phallocentrism."

Mark Goodacre said...

Janelle: great! I look forward to your paper.