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  • On Fairness and Accuracy in the Academy:A Brief Response to Wim Vergeer's Use of Terminologies, and Some Simplifications, in the Article "The Redeemer in an 'Irredeemable Text' (1 Timothy 2:9–15)"
  • Maretha M. Jacobs

The reason for this brief response is that, in the above-mentioned article, Wim Vergeer dealt with my work, and with that of another scholar (Gerald West), inaccurately. More precisely, he ascribed to us an expression that neither of us used in the form quoted by him (Vergeer 2016, 84). Although the most visible problem is the incorrect quotation, more than a mere quotation is at stake, as will become clear. Since an academic discourse is an open one, this matter is discussed here in the openness of the same academic journal in which his contribution was published. Although I only write on behalf of myself, for the sake of fairness I briefly refer to the article by West.

Already in the abstract of Vergeer's article (2016, 71), the term "irredeemable texts of terror" is used and dealt with as if it is an existing expression with which he links up. At this stage, he merely ascribes it to "some" who "branded" this passage in this way, without providing names. Having read the article, I realised that Vergeer did not link up with an existing expression, but coined it himself by conflating two separate terms, used by two different authors—one by me and the other by Gerald West. Instead of making it explicit that he himself coined the term, thus taking responsibility for it, he ascribes it to both West and myself. On p. 73, he does keep the terms "irredeemable" and "texts of terror" separate, and places them between quotation marks, but he fails to link each term to a specific person's name. In the hermeneusis (p. 84), he explicitly ascribes the conflated term, which neither of us created, to both of us.

The term "texts of terror" is, of course, a term that is used by feminist biblical scholars, although I have never used it myself. It is probably derived from Phyllis Trible's book, Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives (1984), in which she undertook a close reading of the tragic stories of four abused women in the OT, reinterpreting them in the process. Gerald West used the term in the title of a 2004 article. Contrary to the un-nuanced way in which his work is referred to by Vergeer, West's is a theoretically well-informed article that not only brings into focus specific [End Page 359] contemporary examples of how the passage has been abused to the detriment of women, but also makes meaningful suggestions for interpreting the passage in a more life-giving way. By not taking the content of the article seriously, and merely relating the term "texts of terror" to its history of reception (Vergeer 2016, 84), the nature of the article is distorted. I did use the term "irredeemable" between quotation marks in a 2005 article: "On 1 Timothy 2:9–15: Why Still Interpret 'Irredeemable' Biblical Texts?" (Jacobs 2005a).1 However, I carefully qualified and therefore nuanced it (2005a, 85). By not taking this into account and by removing the quotation marks from the term, in both the abstract and the hermeneusis of his article, this nuance was completely lost (Vergeer 2016, 71, 84). His linking of the term "irredeemable," as used by me, solely with the passage's "depressing history of reception," as he calls it (2016, 84), is also not correct. In my article, I specifically paid attention to the problematic nature of the passage itself, embedded as it was in the Greco-Roman patriarchal culture of the time, in which males spoke and wrote about females and the latter did not have the authority to speak for themselves, where and when it mattered, specifically in the public sphere (Jacobs 2005a, 88–89). The passage itself, based as it was on the values of the hierarchical Roman household (Martin 2008, 278), gave rise to abuse against women. Part of the issue addressed by my article was whether or not it is really possible to...


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