charles_mcneil — 2016-08-25T11:01:10-04:00 — #1
Gender-Neutral Bibles are coming off the press and making their way into our homes and churches. Should Pastors and Christian Parents ban these Bibles? In addition, speak forcefully against them? [See below]*
These are translations that attempt to eliminate all male-only references in the Bible. The publication of these translations have caused arguments among prominent evangelical leaders.
Where can we find a good source of information on the issue? A detailed report analyzing the whole issue is:
Vern Poythress & Wayne Grudem (2000): The Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy: Muting the Masculinity of God’s Words. (click here to download the report, use the link at the bottom of the webpage)
The report is a detailed analysis of the whole question. While the authors oppose the gender-neutral translations, both sides of the argument are presented. However, the report does not cover the controversy of the TNIV (2005). Information on TNIV can be found at http://www.keptthefaith.org/.
If God made a clear distinction between male/females, why should we tolerate any difference? God made a mistake during the inspiration of "Holy Men" as they wrote?
It's a short walk of Gender-Neutral writings on secular college campuses to our church pews. Should we fight the rulings on the battle field of "Higher Education" or draw the lines and circle the wagons around our homes and churches? A couple of threads made references to a segment of this topic, but here, is a call to action. Or, should we keep silent?
Is there any redeeming value in Gender-Neutral Bibles? If so, is not the risk out weighed, the supposed, benefits? CM
***Gender-specific Bible versions**
KJV King James Version (1611)
ASV American Standard Version (1901)
RSV Revised Standard Version (1946, 1952, 1971)
NASB New American Standard Version (New American Standard Bible) (1963, 1995)
JB Jerusalem Bible (1968) [Roman Catholic]
NEB New English Bible (1970)
GNB(1976) Good News Bible: The Bible in Today’s English Version (1976)
NKJV New King James Version (1982)
NIV New International Version (1984)
REB Revised English Bible (1989)
NIrV(1998) New International Reader’s Version (1998 revision)
ESV English Standard Version (2001)
Gender-neutral Bible versions
NJB New Jerusalem Bible (1985) [Roman Catholic]
ICB International Children’s Bible (1986), simplified NCV
NAB New American Bible (1988) [Roman Catholic]
NCV New Century Version (1987, 1991)
NRSV New Revised Standard Version (1989)
GNB(1992) Good News Bible: Today’s English Version Second Edition (1992)
CEV Contemporary English Version (1995)
GW God’s Word (1995)
NIrV(1995) New International Reader’s Version (1995)
NIVI New International Version Inclusive Language Edition (1995, 1996)
NLT New Living Translation (1996)
NLT revised New Living Translation revised edition (1996)
TNIV Today’s New International Version (NT in 2002, entire Bible in 2005)
bill_coley — 2016-08-25T11:52:13-04:00 — #2
At the moment I have time only for a couple of comments, Charles:
Gender sensitivity in Bible translation is not a new issue. I remember a significant controversy that arose back in the mid-80's over the publication of an inclusive language Lectionary (not the entire Bible). At the time, even those of us who heartily endorsed gender inclusiveness in Bible translation believed that particular effort went too far.
To my knowledge, the objective of most gender inclusiveness Bible translators is not to eliminate "all male-only references." Rather, it is to replace male imagery with inclusive imagery when called for in the particular verse. For example, if the clear focus of a verse is all people, not just males, then replace the verse's male imagery with inclusive imagery. If, however, the verse clearly refers only to males, then make no changes to the verse.
The idea of gender inclusiveness in Bible translations is rooted in the reality that Bible writers lived in predominantly patriarchal times, when male imagery was the default rhetoric of choice. Today, many people accept that references to all people via male-only imagery needlessly and insensitively excludes females.
So gender inclusiveness is a matter of fairness; but it's also a matter of accuracy! The phrase, "All men are created equal" leaves open the possibility that the claim of equality is only for males. In context, we know it's not! But the word choice does in fact allow for an exclusive interpretation. But the phrase "All people are created equal" rules out such gender exclusion. Those of us who are passionate about inclusive language ask, why not use the most accurate language possible? We ask the same question with regard to Bible translations.
charles_mcneil — 2016-08-25T12:31:11-04:00 — #3
Thanks for your timely response, Bill.
Wouldn't the average reader be able to do this on his or her own. Must we spoon-feed every word and morsel of understanding in the Bible?
Above all, could there be a hidden-agenda in this "gender inclusiveness Bible" push?
Is not this part and parcel of biblical hermeneutics? CM
bill_coley — 2016-08-26T00:25:32-04:00 — #4
I don't think providing Bible translations whose inclusive word choices are supported by the biblical text's linguistics is "spoon feeding." I think it's action that improves the accuracy and readability of the text. If translators have to choose between word choices, one set of which consistently more accurately reveals the meaning of the original text's references to gender, I believe those translators should choose the more accurate set.
I suppose there could be hidden agenda in the work of every Bible translation team, all the way back to the KJV people. For Scripture readers, however, I don't think hidden agenda matter nearly as much as textual content. And if that content is both accurate and more reflective of the original text's meaning, then to the readers, it seems to me, the agenda potentially hidden in such accurate texts are of little consequence.
Yes. But most laypeople don't care about (or know from!) hermeneutics. They care what the Bible says. I contend that our first ambition should be to present laypeople (and pastors and academicians and...) with the most accurate text possible. In my view, if we can render a verse's gendered references more accurately, then we should.
charles_mcneil — 2016-08-26T01:35:28-04:00 — #5
Every translation is an interpretation.
I believe, but help thou my unbelief. I think it's a Trojan Horse to undo what God has clearly defined-- male and female. "Gender inclusiveness" appears to be biblical revisionism to comfort the gay community. It's a short step to "Mother God."
This is an assumption! Besides, why produce a "gender inclusiveness Bible?"
There are some words reflective of bias "soul", "wine", "hell", grave", etc., due to academic limitations and societal influences, but not to rewrite a clear biblical distinction, seeking to justify, the indefensible.
In addition, read the preface of the KJV from the translators.
Come on, Bill, don't pour water on my leg and tell me it's raining. All should study the Scriptures in-depth.
What about generating interest and a climate to teach (A knowledgeable person) the average members to study the text in its original languages (Greek/Hebrew). Give a member a translation--they will read with limited understanding. Teach members to the biblical texts (Greek and Hebrew), they will read with better understanding, have greater interest, and become a lifetime learner with unlimited knowledge of comprehending the deeper things of God. This should be a goal of first priority. CM
bill_coley — 2016-08-26T02:06:58-04:00 — #6
Yes, I agree that all translations have interpretive elements, Charles. But how does that reality speak to the value of creating translations that are both more accurate and more readable?
We might be talking about different kinds of translation outcomes. I'm talking about using the word "people" instead of "man" when the original language word clearly refers to both men and women. Or using the phrase "brothers and sisters" in place of "brothers" when the original language word clearly refers to people of both genders. What translation outcome are you referencing in your concern for the "male and female" which "God has clearly defined"?
With respect, Charles, I have no idea how you come to these conclusions. Please say more.
In my view, inclusive translations as described by the examples above more accurately reflect the original texts' meaning and give women a bit more reason to believe the Bible welcomes them more than exclusive text renderings appear to indicate.
I've addressed this several times in our exchange: Gender inclusion, when properly employed in translations, more accurately reflects the meaning of original texts and communicates a more inclusive message to women. A more accurate translation is always to be preferred over a more inaccurate text, or so I believe.
Again, I think we're talking about different translation outcomes. I'm talking about using inclusive gender pronouns when the original language word clearly refers to both genders. When what you call the "distinction" is clear - and by that I assume you mean when the original text clearly refers to one gender or the other - then I agree that translators should use a gender-specific word.
I don't understand the water/leg/rain imagery. Nor do I understand how your commendation that all should study the Scriptures in-depth speaks to my assertion that for Scripture readers, hidden agenda don't matter as nearly as much as textual content. Please advise.
I am not an original languages person. I admire and greatly respect those who are, as I also admire and respect your devotion to original languages study. In the Body of Christ writ large, however, there are many more people with my proficiency with the original languages than with yours. Until that changes, I contend we must provide the most accurate and readable translations possible.
charles_mcneil — 2016-08-26T03:44:41-04:00 — #7
I just don't trust Gender Inclusive Translators. To sanitize the entire Bible male/female distinction [I believe the real goal] beyond the stated "gender inclusive for clarity of meaning. I am sounding the alarm for all to be aware and the potential for gross societal influences for translators to work mischief with God's Word. The Devil is not on vacation.
The Bible is for all-- rich, poor, educated, uneducated, boys, girls, men and WOMEN! The Bible, Jesus, Paul, men and patriarchs are not against women. This is ginned-up nonsense. Women were with Jesus, the first to preach the resurrection, prophesied, Jesus protected and elevated them, women made decisions (e.g. Ruth/Rahab), and worked in the Bible.
What about the word, "brethren"?
God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."
"But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female."
Teachings about Divorce
…5 But Jesus told them, “Moses wrote this commandment for you because your hearts were hard. 6However, from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,…
Side Notes: A union is between a man and a woman. God didn't made a mistake. Adam and Eve; not Adam and Steve! or Evelyn and Eve.
He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created."
"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female."
Simply, when you said, "I don't think hidden agenda matter nearly as much as textual content." It's an expression to say, I am not buying your above statement or I am not easily misled. In short, hidden agenda does matter, long before a translation sees the light of day. The reason to be. I am sure of God's reasons for giving the Bible. It's some of the translators motives I question.
Bill, thanks for sharing and considering my point of view. Keep studying! CM
bill_coley — 2016-08-26T16:28:58-04:00 — #8
Charles, I think you impose an interpretation of gender inclusive Bible translation that far exceeds the intentions of such work. In my experience - and certainly this the only agendum about which I am passionate - when the original language text uses words that clearly refer to all people not just people of one gender - even though the original words may themselves be gender-specific - then in the translation use a word that clearly refers to all people, not just people of one gender.
If the original language text clearly means to say "all people" (not just men or just women) are loved by God, then in the translation use words that clearly refer to all people, not just men or just women - even though the original language word is male-gendered.
That's all I care about when it comes to gender inclusiveness, Charles!
May I ask you to respond directly to this: If the original language of a text clearly means to refer to all people - even though it may use gender-specific imagery to do so - do you endorse translators using words that clearly refer to all people?
I agree that the Bible is for all people. But Bible writers sometimes use male-gendered words to express their concern for all people. My ONLY concern is that in those cases, translators should use words that clearly express the text's concern for all people. In such instances, inclusive words are technically more accurate and practically simpler to understand than are male-gendered words which readers must convert to "all people" if they are to understand the text's meaning. Why make readers take that additional step - or risk readers' concluding that a verse refers to all people when actually it doesn't! - when the translator could have done the work for them?
"Brethren" is clearly a male-gendered word. Yes, it CAN refer to males and females, but it can also refer only to males. So if the original language of a verse clearly means to refer to males and females, then I contend translators should use a word/phrase that also clearly refers to males and females, such as "brothers and sisters."
Concerns for inclusive language Bible translation have nothing to do with the fact that there are both males and females in God's creation. Those concerns have ONLY to do with the words used to translate original language verses that clearly refer to both men and women.
charles_mcneil — 2016-08-26T19:23:47-04:00 — #9
Bill, when a reader (male or female) comes to the Bible he or she should not do so as if her or she watching a television program. One is mostly in a mindless mode, where information passes to the brain, with little or no critical-thinking or engagement. Why do you think advertisers are so successful?
I thank God for some of the translators. However, we (the readers) are not to be totally dependent upon them. The reader must read widely: The book, chapters (before and after) the passages of interest. The verses must be in the immediate and the intermediate. We must study the Bible in context.
Let's keep in mind, three things about the Bible:
1.It is a Divine/ human product. Holy Men wrote under inspiration ("God breathed") as they were moved the Holy Ghost. This means that the study of this Book must be approached with prayer for Holy Spirit illumination.
2. The Bible is its own interpreter. When the entire Canon (66-Books) is accepted and respected, read in context, with prayer, allowing the OT to share light (understanding) on the NT and vice versa; sweet knowledge is stored in the soul. Faith and a deep relationship with God is developed and lives are transformed. Readers of the Bible are to do exegesis (the process of drawing out the meaning from a text in accordance with the context and discoverable meaning of its author) and not eisegesis (when a reader imposes his or her interpretation into and onto the text).
3. The Bible is self-authoritative. It doesn't need councils, churches, church fathers or the Council of Jamnia (A. D. 90) to be the Word of God. In short, The Bible is reliable, dependable, trustworthy, sound, authentic, valid, attested, verifiable and accurate.
The Bible reflects how God relates to His creation in its beauty and in rebellion. It tells of humanity's redemption plans; man's origin, God's love, His power, Jesus, the Savior; principles of all men to live by, etc.
We are not to become too dependent upon translators. For the simple reason that God is active and available to the average reader. And, we run the risk of thinking like the translators, like some-- priori to the Reformation-- telling people what to think and what they said, the Bible said. He who interprets has a tendency to control the message. God is the Author of the Bible and "Holy Men" are the writers, translators can help, but I trust the Holy Spirit to bring full illumination.
You said, "Why make readers take that additional step - or risk readers' concluding that a verse refers to all people when actually it doesn't! - when the translator could have done the work for them? I am reminded of well know quote of Maimonides: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/maimonides326751.html
We're to study to show "ourselves approve unto God..." All readers of the Bible are to read the Bible as "thinkers and not mere reflection of other men's thoughts." CM
bill_coley — 2016-08-26T21:56:32-04:00 — #10
With respect, Charles, we continue to post about different subjects.
- You seem to be posting about the respective roles of readers and translators in the interpretive process.
- I am posting about the value of accuracy in translation.
I contend that REGARDLESS of readers' responsibilities to pursue Scriptural truth, translators have a responsibility to produce the most accurate translation possible.
So EVEN IF a reader doesn't want to work to understand a text, translators should provide that text in the most accurate possible translation.
THEREFORE, I contend, original language words that clearly refer to all people rather than to one specific gender should be translated using words that clearly refer to all people rather than to one specific gender.
I hope I have clarified my views and what I understand to be the issue sufficiently to ask you again about the issue I raised in my last reply to you:
Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Original language words that clearly refer to all people rather than to one specific gender should be translated using words that clearly refer to all people rather than to one specific gender.
charles_mcneil — 2016-08-26T23:20:47-04:00 — #11
Bill, said, "Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Original language words that clearly refer to all people rather than to one specific gender should be translated using words that clearly refer to all people rather than to one specific gender."
Bill, Let me say, pretty much, my last remarks on this matter for a while.
The short answer to your specific question, is No! Reasons, I don't know the translators, the number of them nor their motives. This is my present state of mind. As time passes and knowledge increases, I may have a different answer.
Yes, translators should do the best they can, but don't put those changes into the text, use footnotes. Besides, leave something for the readers to do as I stated above. CM
bill_coley — 2016-08-26T23:26:49-04:00 — #12
Thanks for the clarity, Charles.
edward_hatch — 2016-09-06T17:13:30-04:00 — #13
One of my issues with gender-neutral Bibles is that the translator is doing what I would consider as unnecessary additions to the text. Most people can read the Bible and see 1) that it is written by men to men and 2) that when read publicly, the women understood the inclusion. I would rather leave the work of interpretation as much as possible to the pastor/teachers. When the Greek word "anthropos" is used, for example, to translate the as people would not be out of place. But when we add "sisters" to "brothers", we are adding words that are not in the text and are not specifically needed to understand the teaching. I use the ESV and they footnote "brothers and sisters" when they think it is appropriate. I disagree with them in some instances because I believe that Paul was writing to men who would pass on the letters to women. That may have been cultural, but a translation should not unnecessarily add text that the original authors could have used, but didn't. I have never met a woman who was confused on whether or not the texts that are in question referred to them or not.