Gender Accurate Bible II

Two years ago I wrote… wait a sec. Two years ago? Was it really that long ago? Gadzooks. Time is going faster, I think. Let me start over.

Two year ago I wrote about the Gender Accurate Bible, and generally dismissed criticisms of the TNIV. It doesn’t say anything about a female god or any of that. It just tries to be more gender-neutral; when it says “brothers” but obviously means both men and women, the TNIV translates it as “brothers and sisters.” That sort of thing.

But CoffeeSwirls shines a little light on some of the problems the gender-neutral bible can have. Sometimes it really *does* just mean brothers.

I stand corrected.

6 thoughts on “Gender Accurate Bible II”

  1. The teaching that really blew me away on this topic came, I think, in an earlier lecture. The text describes us as sons and heirs, but the tNIV changes sons for children.

    When you look at the way way an inheritance was doled out in those days, a daughter’s share was meager at best. The firstborn son got the lion’s share and the other sons divided what was remaining.

    This verse says that we are all sons in this sense, including female Christians. We all are heirs to the kingdom, regardless of gender! By removing the word “sons” from the text to replace it with “children” a reader could come away from the tNIV with a less complete understanding of just how glorious their reward will be.

    The words that are in the Bible are there because the Holy Spirit wanted them to be there, and it is not for fallen humanity to determine which words would be easier to read. All translations must do violence to the text for it to be legible, but this violence should be as gentle as possible.

    Finally, the serpent in the garden first challenged Eve with the words, “Did God really say…” When your translation takes liberties like this, it undermines your ability to respond.


  2. I think this argument is just as bad as the previous ones. First, you need to distinguish between the meaning of the term being translated and what it refers to. The meaning of the term is gender-neutral. It can refer to men or women. The reference in a particular passage is to people who are men. So even if the reference in this passage is just to men, the term referring to them can mean siblings, not just brothers. In cases of ‘anthropos’ that refers to men, it still means people, so it doesn’t do to translate it as men just because it refers to people who happen to be men. That’s like translation a word for birds as “chickens” just because the birds you’re talking about happen to be chickens.

    But in this case it isn’t just a male reference anyway. Jesus’ being made like us is not being made male so that he could be a male priest. It’s being made human so that he could be a mediator for all humanity and not just men. Translating it in a male way makes it sound as if Jesus could only mediate for males. The TNIV of this verse is fine.


  3. I think both points are valid, but they’re not easily reconciled. Doug points to the historical accuracy and the culture of the people of the times that must be understood. Jeremy points to our current culture as the new audience that is trying to understand what is meant.

    While Doug makes a good point that under the old culture, we are all (men and women) considered “sons” to distinguish our heritage from those that inherit little or nothing, Jeremy makes a good point that our current culture doesn’t make this distinction, and that we are considered “children”.

    I bet the TNIV scholars wrestled with this, too.


  4. SO, how is that spirit led scripture de-cipherication going guys?

    This has ever been the problem with translations – you need authority to render a verdict on conflicting ideas.


  5. And on the nonsensical side. The Catholic bible must also make a translation of similar paragraphs, and both interpretations above have their pros and cons. The Catholic translation has the same pros and cons (and not to mention several translations over the years). Authority may make the final determination, but it doesn’t solve the underlying translastion problem.

    Unless, of course, you believe we should all speak Hebrew and Greek to eliminate these types of problems.


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