melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
([personal profile] melannen Jul. 29th, 2014 07:59 pm)
1. The sheet music offer is still open, since I didn't exactly get overloaded with reqeusts. (and i haven't gotten around to putting the scanner away yet.)

2. The reason I haven't posted anything substantial here since con.txt is... *drumroll* .... I am feeling guilty about not doing the con-txt followup I said I should do. So if there's something I told you I would do at/after con-txt and I haven't done it yet, pls poke me again? Either I've forgotten or I've been marinating in procrastinator's guilt and need somebody to kick me in the reset button.

3. So I finally watched Pacific Rim! It came in at the library, and people were still excited about it at con-txt, and also I acquired this DVD player I wanted to test, so we watched it projected on a sheet taped up to the screen porch, because that seems like the right way to watch a movie like that. (Then I watched it on my laptop so I could actually catch the details. Like Raleigh's drivesuit scars that there is NO FANFIC AT ALL ABOUT, wtf fandom.)

Anyway not going to bother with a spoiler cut since it's a year old and I'm not discussing plots, but here are my thoughts:

Both the worldbuilding and the plot are 100% incoherent, the giant monster fights were okay but I kept getting distracted from the awesome by trying and failing to make them make sense, they really really really dropped the ball on diversity otherwise even though Idris Elba is amazing and Make is also amazing, but don't let anyone tell you her story was groundbreaking, it's pretty standard and it's mostly about the men in her life.


This will probably remain a favorite of mine, because it is approx. 0% heterosexuality by weight. And that doesn't mean it's particularly queer either - there's just no portrayal of sexuality in it at all. This is a movie where you can easily argue that not only all the protagonists, but also the entire society, is asexual and aromantic.

And for a movie that is almost entirely about close, intense relationships, that's astonishing - but all the relationships, from Newt and Hermann's working partnership, to the various family relationships, to Mako and Raleigh's adorable bffs-at-first-sight, this is a movie that glorifies the nonromantic and nonsexual to the extent that it seems to forget that romantic and sexual exist. Other than one line in a flashback where a tertiary character casually mentions a semi-successful date, there's nothing - no offhand attempts to establish the heroes' het cred, no background advertisements selling sex, no casual references to attractiveness, not even any mentions of, like, people having parents who were a couple, that I can recall. (Even the Kaidonovskys, iirc, aren't mentioned as a couple in the movie canon, and don't interact in any blatantly romantic ways - taking the movie as a standalone, they could be, you know, cousins.)

And that was - it was so restful, you can't even imagine. Finally a movie that felt like me, you can't even imagine, it was so great. then I went back to the fanfic and of course it's like 90% shipping by weight. I know I almost always end up dissatisfied with the shippy fic once I watch canon, but in this case it left me ... itchy, probably because of the way the canan just felt so comfortable in its total lack of shipping and sexuality.

So I read some of the Newt/Hermann fic I've been saving, and it still did what Newt/Hermann fandom does so well - body mods, soulbonding, relationships with long histories, social maladjustment, disability, extremely smart people who like showing off, competence porn, snark hiding affection, xenophilia, weird telepathy stuff, people two feet beyond the end of their rope who can't even remember how to fall, etc. -- all things I like in a pairing, and it left me deeply unsatisfied.

So then I checked out the novelization because I'd heard it was good and it seemed like it might be what I wanted in terms of More Of Canon, but I still get too antsy to have gotten very far, because something in me knows exactly what I wanted out of Pac Rim fandom, and that's not it.

So finally I sat down and asked myself, okay, what is it you do want out of this fandom that you're not getting?

I want some fanfic that's novel-length, about the doomed, hotshot pilots who risk their lives fighting to protect the defenseless, in the last days of the Resistance, with an aesthetic of abandoned WWII bunker + neon and tattoos + SF technology taken for granted, in a war where the stakes are so high that entire planetary ecologies are just minor collateral damage. With a cast that's blatantly, in-your-face diverse on a bunch of axes, dealing with disabilities and scars both mental and physical and loss after loss of love ones, but resilient and idealistic despite that, drinking their pain away in makeshift dive bars deep in massive military installations. Most of the important relationships aren't Lots of stuff with organized crime intersecting the resistance, plus aliens and robots and maybe some poorly explained psi powers.

..and then I went "oh crap, I know what that is" and started re-reading the X-Wing novels instead.

So there's that.

I did start a Newt/Hermann fic where one of the side effects of Drifting is that you are no longer neurologically capable of finding your Drift partner sexually attractive - because that's the other thing that I *definitely* wanted out of this fandom - but even odds now if I'll finish that before I finish the one about Master Pentecost and his motley band of Jedi Pilot trainees and washouts, one last holdout on the Planet of the Kaiju in the decades after the clone wars, and how former Knight Beckett showed MAko Mori the way to her Jedi trials.

(The X-Wing novels hold up surprisingly well, better than I feared! I'm noticing some of the really awful stuff with how the universe handles aliens-as-metaphor-for-race more now that I did fifteen years ago, but the X-Wing novels try really hard to give you real diversity anyway, even if you do know that one of the nonhuman female pilots is always going to die first.)

Posted by Carolyn Cox

Yesterday we posted a clip that may or may not have been test footage from a possible Deadpool movie but was promptly taken down regardless. Lucky for anyone who enjoyed the animation’s banter, Blur Studios, the company owned by maybe-Deadpool director Tim Miller, has confirmed that the clip was leaked from eight minutes of test footage. The company released a higher-resolution version of the animation for our enjoyment–hopefully those six more minutes (or the entire movie!) are soon to come. (via Uproxx, image via Chris Jackson on Flickr) Are you following The Mary Sue on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, & Google +?

snickfic: Sam Dean pilot (SD in the beginning)
([personal profile] snickfic Jul. 29th, 2014 05:21 pm)
After a really great two years, it looks like [ profile] rocksalt_recs is closing down. I am so sad. I haven't used it a ton in the last six months or so, but it's been such a great resource for the SPN fannish community, and I've enjoyed reccing things there.

It sounds like there might be a possibility of it staying open if they found new mods to run it, so if that sounds like something you'd like to participate in, here's your chance.

Posted by Kristina Meek


Firefly had Reavers, Lost had the Others, Terra Nova had Sixers, V had Visitors, The 100 has Grounders, and Falling Skies has Skitters/Cooties. Slang terms for the enemy probably go back to the time of cave paintings, when early humans painted their enemies with vestigial tails. Television has no shortage of this brand of slang. Particularly, when a show is taking its audience to an unfamiliar world—as in fantasy or science fiction—it’s important to instruct the viewer in the lingo. Perhaps no word is important as the one the creators assign to their monster of choice.

Kids and adults churn out new terms for their enemies by the day, most often to clearly differentiate themselves from the other (think “Libertard,” “Teabagger”). In the world we live in, such language evolves and spreads at the rate of the internet. A lot of genre shows are set in times and places with no digital technology, and often after the complete collapse of civilization. So the study of how a new word travels in one of those settings could be the most pure study of modern etymology we can observe. I’m not talking about a name that was given to something deliberately, like “Cylon,” but names for things that evolve naturally. I know, I know, these worlds aren’t real. And sometimes they screw up in ways that bring our suspended disbelief tumbling to Earth.

Let’s talk about The Walking Dead, since it’s been around a while now, and some of us have watched each episode, well, more times than Lori told Carl to stay in the house. (Spoilers ahead.) I’m talking about the show here, not the comics, since each has become its own beast. In the eponymous example of the trope “Don’t Say the Z Word,” the writers created all new terms for a well-known monster. (Much has been said about how and why Kirkman and Adlard chose to assume the complete absence of fictional zombies in their created universe, so I won’t get into that.)

If you’ll harken back to the pilot, you know that Rick’s ambassador into the Brave New Apocalypse is Morgan. When Rick questions why Morgan shot “that man,” the former retorts, “You need glasses. That was a walker.” Thus we first hear the moniker for these strange, shuffling creatures. Rick heads off to downtown Atlanta, and, in the opening moments of Episode 2, we hear new character Glenn use the same word.

So we have two men we have no reason to believe have ever met using the same terminology. We could assume that the term was coined before the loss of mass media. For all we know, Matt Lauer came up with it. But it’s not universal. In fact, within minutes, Glen uses the term “geeks.” It’s an odd choice, being that it hasn’t been used to mean “freaks,” or specifically “circus freaks,” since the more ubiquitous definition of “geek” appeared in the 1980s. Still, throughout the remainder of Season 1, “geek” is the preferred word, with “walker” sprinkled in only occasionally. By the start of Season 2, the reverse is true. Possibly this evolution was intended to help illustrate Rick’s increased influence over the group. In the first part of Season 2, nobody in Rick’s group uses the word “walker” when talking to anyone in Hershel’s group. In fact, the writers skillfully dance around any of the first group using the term in the presence of the other. For example, in S2E4, Shane refers to “one of those things.”

In reality, enemy slang is commonly used to dehumanize, to draw stark lines between “us” and “them,” and science fiction, in turn, is often used as a mirror held up to reality. When Glenn uses the word “walker” with Maggie, her virulent reaction reveals what weight it carries—a racial slur of sorts—among the farm crowd still anticipating a cure. To put it simply, Hershel’s group still considers the bitten ones human, while Rick’s group sees them as anything but. It takes a tragedy to bring them eye-to-eye.

We find out that others roaming the south also use different terms, such as “lamebrain.” “Walker” hasn’t penetrated everywhere. Yet, Rick has a way of spreading its use to new people and groups. With the introduction of a new group and a new Big Bad in Season 3, we learn a new enemy name, “biters.” The use of a different word by each of two warring factions serves to emphasize the dichotomy. A season later, after The Governor is thought lost by his former henchmen, we find Martinez leading a survivor camp. That group calls the zombies—guess what—biters. Once again, we find the “biter” group warring with the “walker” one.

It’s a fascinating study in how splintered mini-cultures might influence each other in the absence of mass media technology. So the word we learned from Morgan “wins.” In similar fashion, “skitter,” used by the more “heroic” contingent seems to have won over “cootie,” used by the more anarchic one, on Falling Skies.

To zip ahead to a newer show, The 100 terms its main characters’ enemies Grounders. (Again, spoilers ahead.) Set 97 years after nuclear annihilation of Earth, The 100 follows a hundred youth with CW-grade looks back to Earth from their space station home. We can figure that at least three generations have been born on the space station, the Biblically titled Ark. It’s implied that the word “Grounder” has been used to apply to anyone who ever lived on solid ground, i.e. the first inhabitants of the Ark. So it doesn’t inherently carry a negative connotation. But, when our heroes discover there are still humans living on Earth, they label them “Grounders,” instantly coloring it negative—even frightening. By the time we, the viewer, first hear the word, one of them has already impaled a seemingly sweet kid with a giant spear. Grounders are bad.

Enemy labels aren’t reserved for groups, but can be applied to individuals as well. Another term bandied about on The 100 is “Princess,” used by smarmy Bellamy to refer to idealistic Clarke. He addresses her this way numerous times beginning with Episode 1, ostensibly to insult her… what? Pretty blond hair? The two characters are set at odds from the very beginning, and his disrespect paints the picture for us. But would he really use that word in that way?

Sure, there’s good reason to believe the hundred explorers know what a princess is. Judging by their articulate banter, it’s likely there’s some kind of space home schooling going on aboard the Ark. They’ve read books, probably stored digitally by the hundreds. But have they seen Star Wars? In other words, would it even occur to Bellamy to use the word “princess” ironically? It’s possible, sure.

The prison on the Ark is referred to as the “skybox,” and one character talks about grabbing a beer in a bar. These are words and phrases that would only come from exposure to pop culture. Was this a deliberate choice by the writers to let us know that our movies and shows were deemed important enough to save along with humanity? Or is it just lazy writing?

Here’s hoping it’s the former. But, have you seen how little stuff you’re allowed to take on a plane these days? How much stuff would you be allowed to save and ship to a space station while outrunning a nuclear mushroom cloud?

Next time you watch a genre show from the beginning, watch how terms are introduced and by whom, and how they evolve. It will give you something to think about while walkers eat your intestines.

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Kristina blogs about television pilots and has contributed to various other publications about television, video games, music, and the arts. She holds a M.A. in writing for performance, and Tweets at meek_the_geek.

Posted by Carolyn Cox

Yes, if I could hand-pick the production company I’d most like to see do an Expendables-style movie with an all-female cast, it wouldn’t be the studio responsible for Sharknado 2, Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark or Nazis at the Center of the Earth. I’d much rather hear an update on the long-discussed Expendabelles, say, or a similar Gina Carano project. But let’s not look a gift movie in the mouth. In anticipation of Expendables 3, Asylum will continue its trend of of barely-legal ripoffs with the release of Mercenaries–and several legendary ladies are along for the ride.

Mercenaries was directed by Christopher Ray and stars Kristanna Loken of the Painkiller Jane TV series, Vivica A. Fox, Zoe Bell (the amazing star of Death Proof and Raze and Lucy Lawless’ stuntwoman in Xena: Warrior Princess), martial artist Cynthia Rothrock, and Brigitte Nielsen (Red Sonja in the 1985 film). Each of these women has a decades-long career founded on athleticism and kicking ass, so although I’m by no means saying Asylum has a Criterion contender on their hands, it looks like Mercenaries will be the rare feature-length action film to feature all-female leads, many of whom, if prior work is any indication, performed their own stunts.

To reiterate, I’m not excited about Mercenaries because it looks good. A straight-to-DVD movie about a team of female commandos shouldn’t be notable, but considering the lack of big-budget action movies starring women (yet alone multiple women past the age when Hollywood typically views actresses as a valuable investment), Asylum’s mockbuster deserves attention if not outright applause.

Mercenaries will be available on August 5th, and according to IMDB there may already be a sequel in the works. Fingers crossed that the movie capitalizes on the super-human strength of its leads rather than catfights or PMS jokes–with any luck, Hollywood could be the one doing the ripping-off next.

(via Dark Horizons)

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([personal profile] domarzione Jul. 29th, 2014 07:54 pm)

There are valid reasons for why Marvel swapped out Janet Van Dyne and Hank Pym for Natasha Romanova and Clint Barton as founding members of the Avengers in the MCU. Especially for where Marvel's collective head was back in 2008-2011, when they weren't even sure there would be an Avengers to form. It required far less CGI (and thus less money), it fit better with the MCU conceit of the Avengers being a SHIELD-sponsored paramilitary unit instead of Team Treehouse living on Tony Stark's dime, it avoided tipping the team too far into Science Geeks Plus Cap territory, Black Widow and Hawkeye had more currency, etc. These may not be the best reasons, the only reasons, or insurmountable reasons, but they're valid reasons.

But Marvel is going to have to come up with perfect reasons to justify apparently fridging Janet in 2014 to give Hank a tragic past and Scott Lang an age-appropriate love interest.

They had options here, far more than they did in 2008 when this was all a pipe dream or in 2011 when they punched their golden ticket with The Avengers. The MCU has expanded greatly, both on Earth with Agents of SHIELD and out into space with Guardians of the Galaxy and there is plenty of room to fit Janet in. Janet's tiny, she fits everywhere.

Except, apparently, in the MCU as a living woman.

instead of Janet, we get her younger, hotter daughter )

Posted by Greg Wyshynski

Jake Gardiner gets mentioned more frequently in trade scenarios than conditional draft picks, and that might not end despite his new 5-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The restricted free-agent defenseman signed a 5-year, $20.25-million deal that’ll give the Leafs $4.05 million against the cap.

So it’s a very cap-friendly deal for a puck-moving 24-year-old defenseman, which brings us to the most salient point: There’s no trade or move protection in the contract, according to Chris Johnston, which obviously keeps the door open for a potential move down the line if the opportunity presents itself. 

Or, perhaps, the Leafs have themselves a great price on a burgeoning stud on the blue line, that has two full NHL seasons and one split with the Marlies under his belt. Defenseman take a few years to develop and, as Mirtle notes, the Leafs saw a ton of fulfilled promise in the last 20 games of last season.

So another good move for the Leafs. We’ve been writing that a lot lately. It leaves us frightened and confused. 

Posted by Susana Polo

[View All on One Page]

The bad news is the deadline for art submissions in our WeLoveFine contest is over. The good news is you can now vote on which designs you like best! The ratings will determine which art makes it to the top group of finalists, and the five judge’s picks (myself, Jill, Rebecca, Veronica Belmont, & Felicia Day) will be selected from that pool of finalists. The top rated design of all will also be our grand prize winner, so vote, vote, vote! Here’s just a taste of the designs that you can vote on but make sure to head on over to WeLoveFine to rate your favorite designs sometime in the next twenty-eight days, and you just might get to wear them!

And don’t forget our regular TMS merchandise for sale (we’ll be updating with more soon)!

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Posted by Victoria McNally

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 5.24.16 PM

Yeah, sure, the solution proposed in this Dorkly comic sort of works. But really, Superman’s only treating the symptom and not the disease. What’s gonna happen when somebody else tragically resorts to a life of crime on the mean streets of Gotham and goes after the Wayne family, Clark? You gonna go back in time and fix the extreme social disparities made possible by flagrant abuse of a capitalist system, too?

(via Dorkly)

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sage: art by phil noto. Natasha Romanova in left quarter profile, crouching, with firetruck approaching in background. (marvel: Natasha)
([personal profile] sage Jul. 29th, 2014 06:33 pm)
Hi, I need a beta for an accidentally epic Natasha fic! Can anyone help? I'd like to get it back by this weekend or sooner, if possible, but I can wait longer if necessary.

Story is 15,358 words long & includes Natasha/James/Steve, past Natasha/Winter Soldier, past Bucky/Steve, Natasha/OMC, Natasha & Fury, Natasha & Phil, and background Clint/Coulson.

Other tags )

New Yorkers, I have a subway question about what happens if you get on a train at Astor Place and get off in 20 or 30 minutes. Where are you? (Yes, I realize there are multiple lines. I'm good with multiple options?) I have never lived anywhere with commuter trains and I don't even know what to google to find out where you could end up. Help please?? <3

Please let me know if you can beta? I can send the file or do a Gdoc.

Many thanks!
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea (Default)
([personal profile] redbird Jul. 29th, 2014 04:13 pm)
I'm just back from spending a few days in Montreal with [ profile] rysmiel. We had a good time, mostly in a quiet sort of way: rysmiel was feeling low-energy if not actually unwell, but I think we worked with that reasonably well. (It helped that the only specific plan we had was lunch with [personal profile] anne/[ profile] txanne. The three of us had crepes, after which rysmiel and I walked Anne to a comic shop (because she wanted some specific French-language comics), and then went to Juliet et Chocolat because I concluded that yes, I did have room for dessert. We got there, glanced at the menu, and I was reminded of how much I'd liked the brownie with a balsamic reduction. So I got that again, and it was very good.

Also, one night we sent out for a pizza; rysmiel asked not-very-hopefully how I felt about fresh tuna on pizza, and my reaction was "I've never tried that, let's get it." I liked it, and it goes well with mushrooms, but I'm not convinced the meatballs added anything in terms of flavor. (This is one of the standard toppings at Pizza Pizza, if you're interested.) A less cheerful food note is that the patisserie nearest rysmiel's home has closed, so I didn't get croissants or other pastries this trip. (Next visit, if it's not deep winter, I will make more of an effort; this time, I decided to spare my knee the extra walking and stairs involved in buying some at Marche Atwater on my way to the airport yesterday.

Also, while it's a long trip to Montreal from here, Air Canada inadvertently put that in perspective with an announcement as my flight was landing in Vancouver "for those of you who are continuing on to Sydney…" and then my cab driver mentioned that when he goes home to visit his family, that's 22 hours' flight, because he's from India. (I had a short hop from Vancouver to Sea-tac: window seat in a Dash-8 on a gorgeous evening for flying.)
elsane: clouds, brilliance, and the illusion of wings. (Default)
([personal profile] elsane Jul. 29th, 2014 05:19 pm)
Back from insane amounts of travel, and I can't tell if I'm just jet lagged or if I have a cold. Properly, this means I ought to write stupid pun-laden fic, but I am feeling too guilty about my to-do list to do so, so instead I'm making extremely incremental progress and writing this.

Archive of our own has no Goblin Emperor fic, and I have already read the book through three times. (on my phone, on the road. I am forever and always grateful for ebooks.) Therefore you should all read it and discuss it with me so we can roll around in it together.

This is an obnoxious way of saying that this book is wonderful and I enjoyed it very much. The world-building is rich and layered, and the characterization is nuanced and delightful, fully inhabiting the world. The story is also deeply hopeful and compassionate, as it is in the voice of the main character, Maia, the despised and half-goblin son of the Emperor of the Elflands, unexpectedly elevated to the throne by the catastrophic death of his father and his full-elven brothers in an airship explosion. Raised in internal exile first by his mother and, after her death, by an abusive elven relation, Maia is unhappily aware of both the means by which people claim and exert power over others and the great gulf between himself and the court he inherits -- in the goblin culture his mother has taught him, and the social graces his father did not. Watching Maia build relationships, negotiate the court, and struggle not to lose himself in the process, is the story, and it's wonderful. Maia is a deeply good human being person, but always believable as a lonely eighteen year old in over his head.

This is a world that is industrializing, and the story knows about everything that comes with that: the economics, the politics, of this world, the injustices, are all there, and it feels bloodily, breathily, real. The supporting cast of characters is phenomenal, and fully reflective of the complexities of the world they live in.

I have been very lucky to find both this book and Martha Wells' Raksura books this year. They're very different, but they have in common beautiful prose, splendidly original world building, and fantastic characterization, and they are both about building, about hard right choices, and trust.

Posted by Dan Van Winkle

Ah, the bathroom mirror selfie. We meet again. This time, though, Mirrorsme has taken the much reviled method of self portrait and actually made it pretty awesome by drawing herself into scenes from games, movies, and other fun locations. Avoid all the “Mirror Selfie as Art” think pieces and just look at her awesome doodles. (via Laughing Squid)


Why so serious? Don’t you know we’re getting a LEGO minifig of Heath Ledger’s Joker? And oh, the Tumbler? You wouldn’t be interested in that… (via Collider)


To keep things canon with these romantic Star Wars mugs, you have to use twice in a row. Switch mugs with each other for the second use, and whoever has the “I know” mug on that go-round must drink sarcastically. (via BoingBoing)

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Posted by Carolyn Cox


Arrow executive producer Marc Guggenheim revealed during SDCC that the show’s third season would feature the arrival of Ted Grant, alias Wildcat, a Justice Society of America member and a trainer for heroes in the DC comics–and with next season’s October premiere date rapidly approaching, we now know who will play the man behind the myths.

Entertainment Weekly is reporting former 24 and Power actor J.R. Ramirez will fill the role of Ted Grant, a “former boxer who now runs a gym for underprivileged youth.” It’s rumored that Wildcat will be hugely influential on Laurel Lance’s arc (much like in the comics and Justice League cartoon for Black Canary) in the upcoming season (hopefully as more than just an inevitable love interest), so I expect we can look forward to some training montages and impressive action sequences. Are any of you folks familiar with Ramirez’s previous roles? Are you excited to see Grant whip Laurel into superhero shape?

(via Comic Book Resources)

Previously in Arrow

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case: (Default)
([personal profile] case posting in [community profile] fandomsecrets Jul. 29th, 2014 07:03 pm)

⌈ Secret Post #2765 ⌋

Warning: Some secrets are NOT worksafe and may contain SPOILERS.


More! )


Secrets Left to Post: 02 pages, 032 secrets from Secret Submission Post #394.
Secrets Not Posted: [ 0 - broken links ], [ 0 - not!secrets ], [ 0 - not!fandom ], [ 0 - too big ], [ 0 - repeat ].
Current Secret Submissions Post: here.
Suggestions, comments, and concerns should go here.

Posted by Fred Clark

Quaerite autem primum regnum et iustitiam eius et omnia haec adicientur vobis.
– Matthew 6:33, Vulgate

Nicholas Wolsterstorff, in Justice: Rights and Wrongs (pp. 110-113)

Those who approach the New Testament solely through English translations face a serious linguistic obstacle to apprehending what these writings say about justice. In most English translations, the word “justice” occurs relatively infrequently. It is no surprise, then, that most English-speaking people think the New Testament does not say much about justice; the Bibles they read do not say much about justice. English translations are in this way different from translations into Latin, French, Spanish, German, Dutch — and for all I know, most languages.

WoltersThe basic issue is well known among translators and commentators. Plato’s Republic, as we all know, is about justice. The Greek noun in Plato’s text that is standardly translated as “justice” is “dikaiosune;” the adjective standardly translated as “just” is “dikaios.” This same dik-stem occurs around three hundred times in the New Testament, in a wide variety of grammatical variants.

To the person who comes to English translations of the New Testament fresh from reading and translating classical Greek, it comes as a surprise to discover that though some of those occurrences are translated with grammatical variants on our word “just,” the great bulk of dik-stem words are translated with grammatical variants on our word “right.” The noun, for example, is usually translated as “righteousness,” not as “justice.” In English, we have the word “just” and its grammatical variants coming from the Latin iustitia, and the word “right” and its grammatical variants coming from the Old English recht. Almost all our translators have decided to translate the great bulk of dik-stem words in the New Testament with grammatical variants on the latter — just the opposite of the decision made by most translators of classical Greek.

I will give just two examples of the point. The fourth of the beatitudes of Jesus, as recorded in the fifth chapter of Matthew, reads, in the New Revised Standard Version, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” The word translated as “righteousness” is “dikaiosune.” And the eighth beatitude, in the same translation, reads “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The Greek word translated as “righteousness” is “dikaiosune.” Apparently, the translators were not struck by the oddity of someone being persecuted because he is righteous. My own reading of human affairs is that righteous people are either admired or ignored, not persecuted; people who pursue justice are the ones who get in trouble.

It goes almost without saying that the meaning and connotations of “righteousness” are very different in present-day idiomatic English from those of “justice.” “Righteousness” names primarily if not exclusively a certain trait of personal character. … The word in present-day idiomatic English carries a negative connotation. In everyday speech one seldom any more describes someone as righteous; if one does, the suggestion is that he is self-righteous. “Justice,” by contrast, refers to an interpersonal situation; justice is present when persons are related to each other in a certain way.

… When one takes in hand a list of all the occurrences of dik-stem words in the Greek New Testament, and then opens up almost any English translation of the New Testament and reads in one sitting all the translations of these words, a certain pattern emerges: unless the notion of legal judgment is so prominent in the context as virtually to force a translation in terms of justice, the translators will prefer to speak of righteousness.

Why are they so reluctant to have the New Testament writers speak of primary justice? Why do they prefer that the gospel of Jesus Christ be the good news of the righteousness of God rather than the good news of the justice of God? Why do they prefer that Jesus call his followers to righteousness rather than to justice? I do not know; I will have to leave it to others to answer that question.

Here’s Wolterstorff discussing the same subject during a post-lecture Q&A (responding to an audience member who was, apparently, sitting between him and the spotlight):

Click here to view the embedded video.




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