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About the Author

Dr. Sharyn Dowd is Associate Professor of Religion at Baylor University.  She holds degrees from Wake Forest University, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Emory University and is the author of two books on the Gospel of Mark, a number of articles on the New Testament, and is the editor of two other volumes.  She is a member of Calvary Baptist Church in Waco, Texas. 

This article on Helen Barrett Montgomery's Centenary Translation of the New Testament is informative and extremely well researched.  We found that it was easier to digest the content by reading through the article and then checking out the endnotes.  Those doing research in the area of women in the church will find Sharyn Dowd's notes a goldmine of sources. 


Sharyn Dowd
Lexinton Theological Seminary
Lexington, KY 40508

Helen Barrett Montgomery (1861-1934) is known among American Baptists (ABCUSA) as a pioneer promoter of international ministries (2) and as the first woman to serve as president of the Northern Baptist Convention (1921-22).  She studied Greek at Wellesley, graduating with the first class in 1884.  Montgomery was a contemporary of Walter Rauschenbusch and of Susan B. Anthony, with whom she was active in the civic and religious life of Rochester, New York, in the early years of this century.  (3) Despite hr many achievements, she is hardly known at all among Baptists in the South, whose female saints are limited to Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong. (4)

The purpose of this address is to call attention to Helen Barrett Montgomery's translation of the New Testament into contemporary English, published in 1924 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the American Baptist Publication Society and therefore called the Centenary Translation. (5)  After a brief introduction to the translation, we will focus on some of the characteristics of, and some of the influences on, Montgomery's translation.  Several of these influences she acknowledged explicitly, but at least one important influence she does not seem to have acknowledged. (6)  I will argue for Montgomery's dependence upon the work of a relatively obscure American woman scholar who was active in the women’s movement at the beginning of this century.

The Centenary Translation was published in 1924, when Montgomery was sixty-three years old, but it was begun nine years earlier in the midst of one of the busiest periods of her life.  In the years between the beginning of the translation project and its publication, Montgomery served as president of the Women's American Baptist Foreign Mission Society, helped found the World Wide Guild (an international missions education and recruitment organization), presided over the Northern Baptist Convention at the height of the fundamentalist controversy, and published two of her eight books on missions. (7)

That context is important because there is a sense in which Montgomery's motivation for translating the New Testament was evangelistic.  One of her first ventures in ministry had been a Bible class for underprivileged boys; in those days before linguistic sensitivity, she referred to them as "street urchins." (8) Montgomery found that the "stately and old expressions which had such a charm for the literary-minded, were a bar and a hindrance to the less educated,’ so she turned for her teaching to Weymouth's translation, which one of the urchins pronounced "real interesting." (9) In making her own translation, Montgomery tells us that her aim was "to consider young people, busy Sunday-School teachers, and foreigners, and to try to make it plain.  (10)

For the most part, she succeeded in making it plain.  There are one or two places which may even reflect the speech of that first audience of young boys, such as I Cor. 4:13, where Montgomery has Paul complain that he and his associates "have been made, as it were, scum-o'-the-earth, the very refuse of the world, to this very hour." At Gal. 3:15, where the Authorized Version reads, "Brethren, I speak after the manner of men," Montgomery translates, "Let me illustrate, brothers, from every-day life." Sometimes making the meaning plain requires avoiding euphemisms.  At I Cor. 7:1 Montgomery translates, "It is well for a man to have no intercourse with a woman." At Matt 21:7, Montgomery makes it plain that Jesus seated himself on both the ass and the colt at the same time, leaving the rest to the reader's imagination. (11)

There are occasional lapses into archaic expressions.  I doubt very much that the average person on the street in Rochester in 1924 went around exclaiming "forsooth!" but Montgomery's Paul does so in 1 Cor. 4:8.  In Phil. 2:27 she has Paul report that Epaphroditus "was sick nigh unto death," and at Mark 3:29 Jesus says of the one who blasphemes the Holy Spirit, "Nay, he is in the grasp of an eternal sin." Although the denarion in Mark's version of the saying about taxes is translated "dollar," it becomes in Matthew and Luke a "shilling," which would not have been much more informative to the American reader than the transliteration "denarius." (12) But these infelicities are the exception rather than the rule; on the whole, the Centenary Translation is very readable.

The reader is assisted by a number of features in this translation.  Montgomery gave a title to each chapter "to aid in becoming so familiar with a book that one could think [one's] way through it." (13) This idea she borrowed from Dwight L. Moody, who "used to use it in his Bible classes" at Northfield.(14) She also assigned headings to smaller units of thought within chapters. (15)  These, she said, were "to help people who hadn't a concordance. . .to find a passage that they remembered but couldn't locate."(16) These headings over pericopae or paragraphs were hailed as an innovation by a reviewer who characterized them as "ingenious, striking, often most happy." (17) Although most of these sub-heads are merely descriptive of the content (e.g., Feeding of the Four Thousand, The Pharisees Seek a Sign, Peter's Great Confession), some are derived from hymns and gospel songs ("My richest gain I count but loss"—Phil 3:7-11; "Immanuel's orphaned cry"—Matt. 27:45-49), and some must surely have been sermon titles (Not Creeds, but Deeds-Matt 25:3440; Breakfast on the Beach--John 21:8-14).  Montgomery was particularly offended by the response of the Gadarenes to the exorcism of the demoniac(s).  She headed Matt. 8:32-34 with "Property vs. Persons," but by the time she got to Luke 8:34-37 the heading had become even more indignant: "Hogs Mean More than Men." In more than one case, the heading interprets the passage, sometimes helpfully (Rev. 11:1-3--A Composite Vision Drawn from Ancient Prophecies) and sometimes unhelpfully (Jas. 5:19-20--The Blessedness of Soul-Winning). (18)

The text is printed in paragraphs with the verse numbers relegated to the left margin.  Quotations from the Old Testament are printed in italics and identified in footnotes.  Poetry is indented to differentiate it from prose.  Dialogue is identified by a paragraph indentation at each change of speaker! (19) A reviewer remarked upon the use of quotation marks: “All the modem resources of punctuation are used to make the distinction between narrative and dialogue or spoken discourse perfectly clear." (20)

But Montgomery did not limit her use of quotation marks to passages in which the identity of the speakers was clearly indicated.  Like many translators, she recognized in Paul's letters the voices of real or rhetorically imagined opponents whose views or words Paul quotes in order immediately to refute or qualify them.  Montgomery's translation thus has quotation marks in the usual places in 1 and 2 Corinthians, (21) but she goes further than most translators, identifying from "opponents" in twelve other places in the Corinthian correspondence and three places in Galatians. (22)  We will return to one of those quotations shortly.

Another feature of the Centenary Translation is the liberal use of square brackets to clarify pronoun reference and other matters.  Thus in Romans 11:23; 15:27 and Eph. 1-3, square brackets inform the reader when Paul’s pronouns (they, them, you, us) refer to Jews and when they refer to gentiles. (23)  In Luke 7:2 and Acts 21:31, brackets are used to clarify the meanings of centurion and tribune.  Montgomery also uses square brackets to indicate a textual problem, (24) identify a possible interpolation, (25) or provide information she regards as missing from the text. (26)

Footnotes have a variety of functions in Montgomery’s New Testament.  Most of the notes identify Old Testament quotations or inform the reader about textual variants. (27)  At the end of John 5, a note tells us that “some scholars believe that the section, Chapter 7:15-24 originally belonged at the end of Chapter 5, to which it is closely joined in thought.” Notes are used to give credit to other translators (28) and to provide various kinds of historical background information (29) Montgomery writes explicitly about her interest in the papyri and inscriptions “written about fascinatingly by Deissman [sic] and other scholars." (30) Many of her footnotes consist of short word studies on vocabulary items like hilasterion (Rom 3:25), gnosis (I Cor. 8:1), poiema (Eph. 2:10), diakonos (Rom. 16:1), and prostatis (Rom. 16:2). The latter two examples will be important later in our discussion.  Montgomery was especially concerned that the reader of the New Testament understand that an “apostle" was the same as a “missionary." She devoted at least four notes to this reminder. (31)  Montgomery's vocabulary studies also led her to translate hypostasis at Hebrews 3:14 and 11:1 as "title deed," and soma at Romans 6:6, 7:24, and Revelation 18:13 as “slave." (32)

In her own discussion of the translation, Montgomery emphasizes' her dependence upon the work of A. T. Robertson, whom she called, "the greatest master we have in the interpretation of the tenses that convey so much in such compressed form." (33) It is clear she took Robertson's treatment of the tenses very seriously because she is extremely careful to bring out the durative or repetitive sense of the imperfect and often of the present, and she tries to specify in the translation whether an aorist is ingressive, conservative, or effective.  She also pays special attention to the perfect tense.  A few examples from familiar passages will illustrate her approach:


Rom 14:9—“For this purpose, Christ died and became alive again. . .

1 Cor.15:11--"But whether it is I or they, thus do I preach, and thus you came to believe.”

Rom. 6:15--"What then?  Shall we commit an act of sin because we are not under law, but under grace?"


Mark 5:28—“‛If I can touch even his clothes,’ she kept saying to herself, ‘I

shall get well.’”

Mark 14:35—“So he went a little farther, and throwing himself upon the ground, he prayed repeatedly that, if it were possible, the hour might pass away from him."


2 Cor. 2:5--"As to him who has been, and now is, causing pain, it is not I whom he has pained, but all of you. . ."

Rom. 5:2--"Through him also we have had our access into this grace in which we have taken our stand. . .”


Heb 7:25--"He is able to continue saving to the uttermost those who are ever drawing near to God through him, seeing that he is ever living to intercede for them."

Phil. 3:1--"Finally, my brothers, continue to rejoice in the Lord."

Sometimes these present imperatives become awkward:

Luke l0:4--"Be carrying no purse, no bag, no shoes. . .”

When Montgomery finds a change of tense within a sentence, she tries to reflect it in the translation:

Matt 25:5--"Now because the bridegroom tarried, they all fell to nodding and went on sleeping.”

In this, Montgomery follows the explicit counsel of Robertson, who writes, "Where the aorist and the imperfect occur side by side, it is to be assumed that the change is made on purpose and the difference in idea to be sought.  In juxtaposition, the aorist lifts the curtain and the imperfect continues the play.” (34)

This careful attention to tense takes on the character of commentary in certain passages, like this one from 1 John:

“Whoever continually abides in him does not habitually sin; whoever lives in sin has not seen him, nor come to know him. . .Whoever is a child of God cannot go on sinning. . .” (1 John 3:6, 9) (35)

In matters of format, vocabulary, and syntax, Montgomery appeals to well-known male authorities to support her decisions: Dwight L. Moody, Adolf Deissmann, A. T. Robertson.  In the footnotes to her translation she occasionally gives credit to other men-scholars or exegetes on whose work she relies at particular points: Farrar, Way, Moffatt, Saunders.  But one of the boldest strokes in Montgomery's translation seems to demonstrate an influence that for some reason she failed to acknowledge, and to that issue we now turn our attention.

There are a number of bold translations in the Centenary New Testament, and not a few of them have to do with the place of women in early Christian life and ministry.  Roger Bullard has analyzed these in detail, so here they may be simply listed: (36)

Rom 16:1--diakonos is translated "minister" with reference to Phoebe.
Rom 16:7-Junia is taken to be a woman's name; a woman is "notable among the apostles."

1 Tim 2: 15-- The means of the salvation of women is taken to be the birth of Christ, not the births of their own children.  Montgomery translates: “Notwithstanding she will be saved by the Child-bearing; (so will they all), if they continue in faith and love. . .”

1 Tim 3:11-gynaikas is translated "deaconesses" in the section on the qualifications of deacons.

And finally, the interpretation of greatest interest for our present study: 1 Cor. 14:34-35 is taken to be a quotation from the Corinthians' letter to Paul, expressing a sentiment with which Paul vehemently disagrees in 14:36.  Montgomery translates as follows:

“In your congregation” [you write], “as in all the churches of the saints, let the women keep silence in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak.  On the contrary let them be subordinate as also says the law.  And if they want to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home, for it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.” What, was it from you that the word of God went forth, or to you only did it come?” (37)

This interpretation of verses 34-35 as a Corinthian slogan which Paul rejects has been gaining ground in recent years, (38) but at the time Montgomery was working on her translation, 1915-24, none of the scholarly commentaries suggested such a possibility. (39)  Montgomery either came to this interpretation from her own study of the text, or she borrowed it from someone else.  The person who had published an interpretation of 1 Cor. 14;34-36 strikingly similar to Montgomery's was Katharine C. Bushnell.

Katharine C. Bushnell (1855-1946) was a medical missionary to China.  Upon her return to this country, she went to work for the Department of Social Purity of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, serving during the last fifteen years of the nineteenth century.  By 1910 she was producing a Bible correspondence course while doing biblical research in various libraries in England. (40) In these Bible lessons, Bushnell analyzed passages dealing with the status of women in order "to point out to women the fallacies in the 'Scriptural’ argument for the supremacy of the male sex" and "to show the true position of women in the economy of God.” (41)

Bushnell was a conservative Methodist; her position on inspiration was that the Bible was "inspired," "infallible," and "inviolable." (42) It was not the Bible, she argued, that suppressed the ministry of women, but rather the "sex bias of translators (43) and the "antiquated notions" of "fossilized theologians.” (44) She warned that "those who stupidly hinder. . .prophesying on the part of women are placing themselves, as it were, across the path of the fulfillment of God's Word" and delaying the coming of Christ. (45)

Bushnell published her Bible study leaflets in several different forms over the years.  The first cloth-bound edition seems to have been published in 1921, bearing the title God's Word to Women.  It was followed by an expanded edition in 1923, which is the one still being distributed. (46) Her treatment of 1 Corinthians 14 occupies four lessons (fourteen and one-half pages), in which Bushnell argues as follows:

(1) The prohibition here contradicts Paul's repeated emphasis that "all” may participate in speaking and learning (14:31) and his command to the whole church to be eager to prophesy (14:39). (47)

(2) The prohibition contradicts the practice assumed by the Hebrew Scriptures (she cites Num 27:1-7), the practice of Jesus (Luke 8:47; 11:27; 13:13) and the practice of Paul himself.  (Rom 16; Acts 18). (48)

(3) The prohibition contradicts Paul's position in I Cor. 11:2-16, where he assumes that women are to pray and prophesy, and prescribes the manner in which they are to do so. (49)

(4) "The law" in 14:34 must refer to "the Oral Law of the Jews." She cites I. F. Schleusner to the effect that "in the Old Testament no precept concerning this matter exists.” (50) She then addresses rabbinic evidence for the prohibition of women's speaking in the assembly. (51)

(5) "We should be ready to suspect Paul is making a quotation from the letter addressed to him by the Corinthians whenever he alludes to their knowledge, or when any statement stands in marked contrast either with the immediate context or with Paul's known views." Bushnell is here quoting Sir William Ramsay. (52)

(6) Having demonstrated that 1 Cor. 14:34-35 meets Ramsay's criteria, Bushnell concludes that "the Apostle Paul is here quoting what the Judaizers in the Corinthian church are teaching,--who themselves say women must 'keep silence' because Jewish law thus taught." (53) Paul then responds in verses 36-40 with an “indignant protest." (54) in which he insists that it is God's will for all in the church to share in leadership. (55)

Although Bushnell's contemporaries in the Holiness and Pentecostal movements produced a large body of literature that justified the ministry of women and attempted to cope with chapter 14, Bushnell seems to have been the first to publish an argument for interpreting 14:34-35 as a Corinthian slogan. (56)  She was familiar with the attempts to reconcile the prohibition of chapter 14 with the permission of chapter 11, but she found all of them unsatisfactory. (57)  She did not discuss the textual problem created by the placement of verses 34-35 after verse 40 in some manuscripts, (58) nor did she argue for the disjunctive character of the particle e at the beginning of verse 36, though she does translate the particle with the expletive "What?" rather than "Or." (59) In important ways, however, Bushnell anticipated the recent discussion by over eighty years.

Bushnell's views enjoyed widespread circulation in a condensation of her Bible studies by Jessie Penn-Lewis entitled The "Magna Charta" of Woman According to the Scriptures” and published in 1919 by The Overcomer Book Room, Bournemouth, England.  Nevertheless, God's Word to Women was either not read or not taken seriously by biblical scholars, and went out of print until its discovery by a Pentecostal preacher, Ray B. Munson, who has been reprinting and distributing the book out of his home in New York since 1975. (61)

We know, however, that one New Testament translator did read God's Word to Women.  Helen Barrett Montgomery reviewed it for The Baptist in 1924.  In a review article, "Good Books for Busy Pastors," Montgomery praises Bushnell for proving "that both Paul and the Bible in general when properly translated and understood favor the widest possible service of women. (62)  The example that Montgomery cites from God's Word to Women is Bushnell's observation that Paul calls Phoebe a "deacon" in Rom 16:1 and that the noun prostatis, used of Phoebe in 16:2, is "a noun corresponding to the verb which Paul uses when he tells the men to rule well their own households.  The word means a champion, chief, protector, patron---why this unwillingness to use the stronger word?” (63)  The Centenary New Testament has footnotes at Rom 16:1-2 explaining diakonos and prostatis, the latter note containing almost precisely the list of definitions found in God's Word and in the same order: "champion, leader, protector, patron.” (64) Neither in these notes, however, nor anywhere else in the translation, nor in her published discussion of the translation does Montgomery acknowledge any debt to Bushnell's work.

Although Montgomery's review of God's Word to Women appeared in July, 1924, and her translation of the New Testament epistles was published in December of that same year, (65) she could have had access to Bushnell's work much earlier.  Bushnell's collected Bible study leaflets were published in the United States in 1916, 1921, and' 1923.  It is therefore entirely possible for Montgomery to have read God's Word to Women before she submitted the manuscript of her translation of the epistles for publication. (66)

Returning to 1 Cor. 14:34-36 in the Centenary Translation, we find even stronger evidence for Montgomery's dependence upon Bushnell.  Montgomery's footnote on the phrase ''as also says the law" in verse 34 bears a strong resemblance to the wording in God's Word to Women:

Montgomery: "This can only refer to the oral law of the Jews, as no such prohibition is found in the Law.  Paul is probably quoting a sentence from the ]udaizers."

Bushnell: "The great German lexicographer, Schleusner, in his Greek-Latin Lexicon, declares the expression 'as also saith the law,' refers to the Oral Law of the Jews.  Here are his words: 'The oral laws of the Jews or Jewish traditions. . . .In the Old Testament no precept concerning this matter exists. . . But think again! It is not likely that the Apostle Paul would quote the traditions of the Jews, and refer to them as 'the law' and as constituting a final authority on a matter of controversy in the church. . .No, the Apostle Paul is here quoting what the Judaizers in the Corinthian church are teaching. . . (67)

Of course, it is not impossible that Montgomery, like Bushnell, had read Schleusner and drawn the same conclusion. (68)  We know, however, that Montgomery had not always read 1 Cor. 14:34-35 as a Corinthian slogan.  In her history of women's contributions to foreign missions, published in 1910, (69) she has a long paragraph on Paul's attitude toward women.  Here she regards the prohibition against women's speaking in church as Paul's own "specific directions," which "are to be read first in the light of conditions then existing in Greek society." In other words, Paul felt that "the remarkable freedom already developing among the Christian community was laying its women open to foul imputations in the rich Greek city, where the only women free to speak and associate with the men were women of loose character.  Hence Paul's urgency that the cause not be imperiled by a liberty which was turning the unaccustomed heads of the women." (70)

Sometime between 1910 and 1924 Montgomery changed her mind about 1 Corinthians 14.  She came to an interpretation of the passage identical with the position of Katharine Bushnell and worded her note on the passage in a way that suggests Bushnell's comments.  Bushnell had come to this position as early as 1889. 

The case for Montgomery's dependence upon Bushnell is strengthened by the observation that Montgomery also translates 1 Corinthians 11 in line with Bushnell's interpretation.  Bushnell regards the angels in 11:10 as the woman's guardian angels. (71)  Montgomery follows suit.  Bushnell translates 11:13b-14 as statements rather than questions:

"It is proper for a woman. . .to pray unto God unveiled.  Nor is there anything in the nature of hair itself that teaches you that if a man wear it long it is a dishonour to him, while if a woman have long hair it is a glory to her, for her hair has been given her instead of a veil." (72)

Montgomery again follows suit.

Thus, although the evidence is circumstantial, it seems probable that God's Word to Women was an important source for several translations in the Centenary New Testament, particularly in controversial passages about the ministry of women.  To borrow a phrase from Roger Bullard, the "feminist touches" in the Centenary New Testament bear the fingerprints of Katharine Bushnell. (73)

Thanks to Judson Press, which kept it in print for many years, and now to Holman, the current publisher, Helen Barrett Montgomery's Centenary New Testament is available for study.  I commend it to you as a significant contribution to the ongoing Baptist conversation with the Bible. (74)

Note: The translation is currently out of print completely and unavailable except in libraries.  10/27/01


1. This article was presented as the president’s address at the twelfth annual meeting of the NABPR in Kansas City, MO, 23 November 1991.

2. Montgomery and her contemporaries spoke of “foreign missions."

3. Brief biographical sketches of Montgomery may be found in the following: W.S. Hudson, “Montgomery, Helen Barrett," Notable American Women 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary, 2/G-O, ed. E.T. Jones (Cambridge, MA: Harvard [Belknap], 1971) 566-68; F.T. Hoadley and B.P. Browne, Baptists Who Dared (Valley Forge: Judson, 1980) 87-91; W.H. Brackney, The Baptists (New York: Greenwood, 1988) 228-29. An autobiography was assembled posthumously from her papers and published along with tributes by friends and associates, as Helen Barrett Montgomery: From Campus to World Citizenship (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1940).  There is, as far as I can determine, no critical biography of Montgomery; and the sketches that exist are riddled with inaccuracies.  Brackney, for example, states that Helen Barrett's brother “was the eminent biblical scholar, C.K. Barrett" (Baptists, 228).*1n fact, her brother was Storrs Barrett, a professor at the University of Chicago (Montgomery, 21, 140).  *corrected in subsequent editions.

The best critical treatment of Montgomery that I have seen is an unpublished paper by Julie Fewster, "Helen Barrett Montgomery: A Disciple of Jesus Christ, 1861-1934," written at Colgate Rochester Divinity School as a class assignment in 1981 and available only from the author.  Fewster corrects the impression given by Hudson that Montgomery became involved in the "social gospel" movement under the influence of Rauschenbusch.  In fact, Montgomery and her cohorts were already changing the shape of religion and politics in Rochester while Rauschenbusch was cutting his teeth on the problems of Hell's Kitchen.  The general biographical information in this article is dependent upon Fewster's work.

4. Her name does not appear in Leon McBeth's massive The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness (Nashville: Broadman, 1987), despite his having devoted 46 pages to the Northern Baptists (ABCUSA), including a detailed ten-page account of the Northern fundamentalist controversy of the 1920s.  Nor does Montgomery appear in McBeth's more focused Women in Baptist Life (Nashville: Broadman, 1979).  She is mentioned in Carolyn DeArmond Blevins, "Women in Baptist History," RevExp 83 (1986): 59-60.  In 1988 the Montgomery New Testament was published by Holman Bible Publishers to celebrate the l00th anniversary of the founding of the Woman's Missionary Union auxiliary to the Southern Baptist Convention.  The publication was encouraged by Carolyn Weatherford [Crumpler], who had been buying copies of the Centenary New Testament published by Judson Press to give to women as ordination presents.  When she learned that Judson was about to allow the Centenary New Testament to go out of print, Weatherford persuaded Holman to arrange to re-issue it (interview with Carolyn Weatherford Crumpler, November 12, 1991).  The Montgomery New Testament carried a WMU logo on the cover and a biographical sketch of Montgomery inside.  It did not sell very well, probably at least partly because of Montgomery's obscurity in the South.

5. The translation was first published in two parts, the Gospels in February, 1924, and Acts through Revelation in December, 1924.  The translation was published for many years by Judson Press as The New Testament in Modern English and is now available from Holman Bible Publishers as the Montgomery New Testament.

6. Helen Barrett Montgomery, "Translating the New Testament," The Baptist (1925-26): 651-52.  The translation was reviewed by Henry C. Vedder in The Baptist (1925-26): 312 and by A.T. Robertson in RevExp 20 (1925): 244-45.  The only published study of the translation about which I know is Roger A. Bullard, “Feminine and Feminist Touches in the Centenary New Testament," BT 38 (1987): 118-22.  There are two unpublished studies that I have not been able to consult: a paper in the files of the American Baptist Historical Society, "Helen Barrett Montgomery--Translator of New Testament," to which Brackney refers (Baptists, 229) and a section of J.H. Skilton, “The Translation of the New Testament into English 1881-1950" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1961) 1:388-92, referred to by Bullard ("Feminine," 120n4).  Bullard (118) and Hoadley and Browne (90) believe Montgomery to have been the first woman to publish an English translation of the entire New Testament.  Julia Evelina Smith, however, published her translation of the entire Bible in 1876; see Kathleen Housley, “‛The Letter Kills but the Spirit Gives Life’: Julia Smith's Translation of the Bible," The New England Quarterly 61 (1988): 555-68.  I am indebted to David M. Scholer of North Park College and Theological Seminary for the information about Smith.

7. The books are, in chronological order: Christus Redemptor: The Island World of the Pacific (1906); Western Women in Eastern Lands: An Outline Study of Fifty Years of Woman's Work in Foreign Lands (1910); Following the Sunrise: A Century of Baptist Missions, 1813-1913 (1913); The King's Highway: A Study of Present Conditions on the Foreign Field (1915); The Bible and Missions (1920); Prayer and Missions (1924); From Jerusalem to Jerusalem (1929); The Preaching Value of Missions: Being the John M. English Lectures Delivered at the Newton Theological Institution (1931).  On Montgomery's contributions to missions work see Ruth Tucker, “Female Mission Strategists: A Historical and Contemporary Perspective," Missiology 15 (1987): 73-89.

8. “Translating.” 651.

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid.

11. It is also possible that Montgomery took “upon them” as a reference to the cloaks rather than to the animals.

12. Perhaps "shilling” was meant to convey" the sense that this is the coin of a colonizing oppressor nation.  Similarly, in films about the New Testament, Roman officials and other villains seem invariably to speak with British accents.

13. “Translating,” 651.

14. Ibid.

15. Although she recognized that the chapter divisions were, as she put it, "not scientific," she did not violate them by recognizing thought units that overlapped chapter divisions.

16. "Translating," 651.

17. H. C. Vedder, “Mrs. Montgomery's New Testament," The Baptist 6 (1925-26): 312.

18. Bullard, "Feminist Touches," 118, has a paragraph on the section titles and some comments on aspects of the translation itself.

19. Montgomery reports that as a child she chose books "by looking to see how much dialog and how many pages with broken lines they carried" ("Translating," 651).

20. Vedder, "Montgomery's New Testament," 312.  It is important to remember that such remarks are contrasts with the King James Version, which was indented at each verse number and lacked quotation marks altogether.

21. 1 Cor. 1:12; 3:4; 6:12; 6:13; 8:1; 10:23; 2 Cor. 10:10. She does not put quotation marks in 1 Cor. 7:1, as does the NRSV.

22. 1 Cor. 8:5-11; 10:29-30 (with the added phrase "you may object"); 14:34-35 (with [you write] in brackets); 2 Cor. 5:11-13; 10:1, 15; 11:1; Gal. 1:10; 2:15; 5:11.

23. Similarly, in Mark 11:20 the reader is informed in square brackets that, “they" refers to Jesus and the disciples rather than to the chief priests and scribes of the previous sentence.  Montgomery is not consistent, however, because in Mark 2:15 she specifies Levi as the owner of "his" house without any indication that the proper noun is not in the text.

24. Luke 9:55-56.  Sometimes, however, she uses footnotes for this purpose and sometimes she makes controversial text-critical decisions without informing the reader at all.  There is no indication of any problem with John 8:1-11, and Luke 2:44 reads "Joseph and his mother" with no footnote to indicate the alternative “his parents."

25. 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1 following Moffatt.

26. At the end of Matthew 23 after the lament over Jerusalem, Montgomery informs the reader in a bracketed paragraph that “Jesus withdrew from the city with the close of Tuesday and spent Wednesday in retirement, perhaps at Bethany.”

27. Montgomery based her translation on the Westcott and Hort text “for the most part” (“Translating,” 651).

28. A.S. Way (Rom. 5:5, Titus 3:14), “Dr. Saunders” (2 Cor. 5:14), Farrar (Heb. 10:39), and Moffatt (Rev. 9:17).

29. Montgomery pulls Acts 1:18-19 (the death of Judas) out of the text and puts it in a note, explaining that it was "probably an early marginal note which has crept into the text." This seems to be a ploy to avoid the conflict with Matt 27:3-10.  At Acts 17:6 she crows over the inscriptions that vindicate Luke's use of the term politarch for the magistrate of Thessalonica.  At Acts 27:17 she identifies the “Syrtes” as “quicksands off the coast of Africa.” She seems to have a strong interest in defending the historicity of Acts, if not the whole New Testament.

30. “Translating,” 651.

31. Matt 10:2; Mark 3:14; 1 Tim 2:7; 1 Pet 1:1.

32. In “Translating,” 652, Montgomery discusses these last two items.  She remembered that she was “tempted” to read “slave” at Rom. 7:24, apparently not remembering that she yielded to the temptation.

33. “Translating,” 651.

34. A.T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, 4th ed. (Nashville: Broadman, 1934) 838.  The grammar was out in its first edition by 1914.

35. See Vedder, “Montgomery’s New Testament,” 312.

36. Bullard, “Feminist Touches,” 120-22.

37. For some reason, Montgomery translated the phrase in 33b, hos en pasais ekklesials ton hagion, twice. She closes the paragraph immediately preceding this with, “The sprits of prophets are subject to prophets, for God is not a God of confusion but of peace.  This custom prevails in all the churches of the saints.”

38. The argument has been made in various forms by (in chronological order): K.C. Bushnell, "Keep Silence," The Union Signal 15 (September 12, 1889): 7 (National Headquarters, WCTU Joint Ohio Historical Society-Michigan Historical Collections WCTU microfilm edition, role 5, frame 609); idem, God's Word to Women: One Hundred Bible Studies on Woman's Place in the Divine Economy (Piedmont CA: By the author, n.d.) pars. 189-215; Jessie Penn-Lewis, “The Magna Charta of Woman "According to the Scripture,” (Bournemouth, England: The Overcomer Book Room, 1919; now Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, 1975); J. A. Anderson, Women's Warfare and Ministry: What Saith the Scriptures? (Stonehaven, Great Britain: David Waldie, 1933); Joyce Harper, Women and the Gospel (Pinner, Great Britain: Christian Brethren Research Fellowship Publications, 1974); W .C. Kaiser, "Paul, Women and the Church," Worldwide Challenge 3 (1976): 9-12; G.B. Dunning, "The Place of the Christian Woman,” The Shorter Works of Guy B. Dunning (Dunning Memorial Library Fund of Dakota Bible College, 1977); N.M. Flanagan and E.H. Snyder, "Did Paul Put Down Women in I. Cor. 14:34-36?" BTB II (1981): 10-12; D. W. Odell-Scott, "Let the Women Speak in Church: An Egalitarian Interpretation of I Cor. 14:33b-36," BTB 13 (1983): 90-93; C.U. Manus, "The Subordination of Women in the Church. (I Cor. 14:33b-36) Reconsidered," Revue Africaine de Theologie 8 (1984): 183-95; C.H. Talbert, "Paul's Understanding of the Holy Spirit: The Evidence of I. Corinthians 12-14," PRS II (1984): 95-108; G. Bilezikian, Beyond Sex Roles (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1985) 144-53; C.R Talbert, Reading Corinthians: A Literary and Theological Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians (New York: Crossroad, 1987) 91-93; idem, “Biblical Criticism's Role: The Pauline View of Women as a Case in Point," The Unfettered Word: Southern Baptists Confront the Authority-lnerrancy Question, ed. R.B. James (Waco: Word, 1987) 62-71; D. W. Odell-Scott. “In Defense of an Egalitarian Interpretation of 1 Cor. 14:34-36: A Reply to Murphy-Oconnor’s Critique,” BTB 17 (1987): 100-103; RW. Allison, “Let Women Be Silent in the Churches (1 Cor. 14.33b-36): What Did Paul Really Say, and What Did it Mean?" JSNT 32 (1988): 27-60; L.M. Bridges, "Silencing the Corinthian Men, Not the Women," The New Has Come: Emerging Roles Among Southern Baptist Women, ed. A.T. Neil and V.G. Neely (Washington D.C.: Southern Baptist Alliance, 1989) 40-50; D. W. Odell-Scott, "Women: Speaking in Corinth," Biblical Literacy Today (Spring, 1989): 14-15 (reprinted from The Disciple); L.M. Bridges, "Paul's Use of Slogans in the Rhetorical Strategy of 1 Corinthians 14:34-36," unpublished paper read in the NT section of SBL/SE, March, 1990.  The interpretation is acknowledged, but discarded by I.M. Robbins, "St. Paul and the Ministry of Women," ExpTim 46 (1934-35): 185-88 and by G.D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1987) 704n26.

Some of the above arguments are apparently independent of each other.  Bushnell and Montgomery are virtually unknown in the recent scholarly debate.  Of the above, those citing Bushnell are Penn-Lewis, Anderson, Harper, Kaiser, Bilezikian, Bridges, and Fee.  Only Talbert (1984) and Fee cite Montgomery.  Gordon Fee told me in a telephone conversation on February 21, 1990, that he learned about both Montgomery and Bushnell from his father, who was a Pentecostal minister.  I learned about Robbins and Dunning from an unpublished essay by David Odell-Scott, “A Brief History of an Ignored Interpretation," 1986.

39. Here I am relying on the work of others.  Linda McKinnish Bridges of the Baptist Theological, Seminary at Richmond reports to me that she has checked the commentaries from Calvin to Bushnell and found no evidence for this reading.  David W. Odell-Scott of Kent State University found nothing except Montgomery, Robbins, and Dunning (whose work may go back as far as the 1930s but no earlier).  William Kostlevy of Asbury Theological Seminary, a leading bibliographer of the Holiness movement, reports that a preliminary search of that literature uncovered nothing prior to Bushnell.

40. The biographical information about Bushnell in this study is dependent on Dana Hardwick, "Oh Thou Woman That Bringest Good Tidings: The Life and Work of Katharine C. Bushnell" (unpublished M. Div, research project, Lexington Theological Seminary, Lexington, Kentucky, 1990).  It is available on inter-library loan from Bosworth Memorial Library.  *Hardwick’s book was published in 1995 by Christians for Biblical Equality; Box 7155; Saint Paul, Minnesota 55107-7155.  www.cbeinternational.org

4l. Bushnell, God's Word, par. 1. There are no page numbers.  References are to paragraph numbers, which run consecutively throughout the volume.

42. Bushnell, God's Word, par. 2.

43. Ibid., par. 616-44.

44. Ibid., par. 275.

45. Ibid., par. 794, 791.

46. For the history of God's Word, see Hardwick, "Bushnell," 93-96.  The distributors of the volume are (or were in 1990): Ray Munson.  11899 Gowanda Road.  North Collins, NY 14111 and God's Word to Women Publishers (Cosette Jolliff and Bernice Menold), Box 315, Mossville, IL 61552.  For the story of the rediscovery of Bushnell's work, see G. Hearn, "New Publishers of Katharine [sic] Bushnell," Update: Newsletter of the Evangelical Women's Caucus 11 (Winter 1987-88): 7-8. *Note Br. Munson has since passed away.  The latest publisher as of 2004 is the God's Word to Women website, 600 Partridge Lane, Eagle Lake, TX 77434.

47. Bushnell, God’s Word, par. 190.

48. Ibid., pars. 192-96.

49. Ibid., par 205.

50. Ibid., par 201.

51. Ibid., par 202.

52. Ibid., par 205.

53. Ibid., par 201. Bushnell’s emphasis.

54. Ibid., par 207.

55. Ibid., pars. 208-15. Bushnell argues in pars. 192-96 that the controversy in Corinth was caused by the ministry of Priscilla, who, being a Jewish Christian originally from Asia Minor, would have been accustomed to the egalitarian practices that prevailed there with respect to the status of women.  (On the cultural situation in Asia Minor, Bushnell cites W.M. Ramsay's The Church in the Roman Empire and The Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia.) Priscilla's ministry, and particularly her instruction of Apollos (Acts 18:6), would have offended the "Judaizers," "Palestinian Jews who pursued Paul wherever he went," according to Bushnell (par. 193).  She cites Harnack in support of the importance of Priscilla as an associate of Paul.

Bushnell's understanding of Paul's opponents in 1 Corinthians as Judaisers places her in company with the majority of critical scholars of her period.  Current versions of the "slogan" argument depend more on the rhetorical structure of the passage and less on the identity of the opponents. 

56. See note 38 above.  It is impossible to claim originality for Bushnell on this point, especially in light of a passage in her The Reverend Doctor and His Doctor Daughter (Oakland CA: By the author, 1927) 87:

"Susanna, what an acute, logical mind you have! I wonder no one has thought of this interpretation [of 1 Cor. 14:34-36] before.  It puts the passage in perfect harmony with the words about women prophesying in chapter eleven."

This passage is from a fictional work portraying a conversation between a minister and his daughter, Susanna, who is a physician.  It is impossible to determine whether the women mentioned by "Susanna” are actual persons known to Bushnell or fictional supporters invented to add the strength of numbers.  It is also unclear whether, if these other interpreters existed, their interpretations influenced Bushnell or were contemporaneous with and independent of her work.  Given the regularity with which Bushnell cites published support for her arguments when such support is available, it seems likely that she did not know any published versions of the argument.  I am indebted to Dana Hardwick for calling this passage to my attention.

It is theoretically possible that Montgomery could have come to the interpretation on her own, but a case will be made below that this is not what happened .

57. Bushnell, God's Word, par. 197. Bushnell concludes this section of her argument with an allusion to Matt 7:9, the image that provided the title for Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza's treatment of feminist hermeneutics, Bread Not Stone (Boston: Beacon, 1984).  Bushnell writes: "we do not believe Paul went about giving the Bread of Life to all men, and a stone for bread to many women, after this partial manner."

58. In a note to par. 2, Bushnell states a general preference for the Authorized Version, although she occasionally makes a textual decision in agreement with what she calls "the Revised Version," as at Acts 18:26, where she reads Priscilla’s name first (par. 195).  This must have been the English Revised Version of 1881-1885.

59. Bushnell, God’s Word, par.206.  The disjunctive character of the particle has become an important argument in the current discussion.  Odell-Scott, “Let the Women Speak,” 90-91, seems to have been the first to argue this way (1983), but the argument was made independently by Manus, “Subordination” (1984) and Allison, “Let Women Be Silent” (1988), who claims to have learned about Odell-Scott’s work only after Allison presented his own research at a regional SBL meeting in 1984 (see Let Woman Be Silent,” 60n45.) According to Odell-Scott, Guy B. Dunning, “an old line restoration fundamentalist,” derived the interpretation of 1 Cor. 14:34 as a slogan of “legalist” opponents from the King James translation, which renders the particle as “What” (“History,” 6).

60. This booklet is now published as The Magna Charta of Woman (Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, 1975).  *Note: The book is now out of print.  It has been put up online by the God’s Word to Women website: www.godswordtowomen.org

61. Hearn, "Publishers," 7-8.

62. H.B. Montgomery, "Good Books for Busy Pastors,” The Baptist 5 (1924-25): 557-58.

63. Ibid., 557, paraphrasing Bushnell, God’s Word, par 367.

64. Bushnell includes one word that Montgomery omits in the translation note.  Bushnell’s list in par. 367 is “champion, leader, chief, protector, patron.” The similarity would ordinarily be attributed to the use of the same lexicon, rather than to Montgomery’s dependence on Bushnell, expect for the fact of Montgomery’s knowledge of Bushnell established by the book review.

65. The original Centenary New Testament appeared in two parts.  The Gospels were published in February, 1924, and Acts-Revelation in December, 1924.

66. Of course, she could have seen Jessie Penn-Lewis's condensation of Bushnell's interpretations, which appeared in 1919, or even the 1889 article, “Keep Silence," Nevertheless, the wording of Montgomery's notes to Rom 16:2 and to I Cor. 14:34 suggests familiarity with the version of the argument in God's Word to Women.  See below.

67. Bushnell, God’s Word, par. 201.  Bushnell’s emphasis.

68. Records at what is now Colgate-Rochester Divinity School indicate that both Schleusner’s Novum Lexicon Graeco-Latinum in Novum Testamentumand his Novus Thesaurus Philologico-Criticus were in the collection prior to September, 1857, according to Bonnie L. vanDelinder, Assistant Librarian for Public Service in a telephone conversation with me on March 16, 1989.  This means that these resources would have been available to Montgomery, who was living in Rochester while working on her translation.

69. H. B. Montgomery, Western Women in Eastern Lands (New York: Macmillan 1910).

70. Ibid., 72-73.

71. Bushnell, God’s Word, pars. 247-48.

72. Ibid., pars. 247, 249.

73. Montgomery's translation also agrees with Bushnell ' s interpretation of Rom 16:7 (Junia as a woman apostle: God's Word, par. 642), Eph 5:21 (Christians of both genders are to be subject to one another: God's Word, par. 359), 1 Tim 3:11 ("the women" are also deacons: God's Word, par. 364). Montgomery's translation is similar, but not identical, to Bushnell's interpretation at 1 Tim 2:15 (Women are saved by the birth of Christ ["the Child-bearing"]: God's Word, pars. 342- 44). These agreements, however, are not pressed as evidence because such interpretations would have been available to Montgomery from other sources.

74. I am grateful for the assistance of the following people: Ruth Hoppin, William Kostlevy, Linda McKinnish Bridges, David Odell-Scott, and David Scholer for bibliographical assistance; Char Blake, former Serials Librarian at Bosworth Memorial Library, for help with inter-library loans; Lexington Theological Seminary students Dana Hardwick and Marilyn Patzwald for help with bibliography, word-processing, and proofreading.  I first learned about Montgomery's translation through the late Linda Boland, to whose memory this research is dedicated.

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