Monday, March 21, 2011

A Woman's Place?

           "If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar." 1 John 4:20

            Have you ever wondered why John the Evangelist didn’t mention anything about hating your sister? Does the Christian deity care so little for women that he will give you a pass if you hate your sister, as long as you love your brother?

            The editors of the 2011 translation of the New International Version Bible don’t believe that’s true. The NIV Bible has been carefully translated to use gender-neutral language as it was used in the original Greek and Hebrew. Plural references in Greek and Hebrew (and many other languages) are inclusive of both genders. (e.g. “hermanos” in Spanish includes both your brothers and your sisters.)

If John the Evangelist originally used a word that meant “brothers and sisters”, shouldn’t the English translation of the Bible reflect that?  After all, none of the authors of the Bible wrote in English. (Note: The statement "If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it's good enough for me" is commonly attributed to Gov. Miriam Amanda Wallace “Ma” Ferguson of Texas. Most Americans now believe that Gov. Ferguson had neglected to take her daily meds when she said this in 1925.)  

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood has already begun criticizing the new translation. The Council is an organization that believes women should submit to their husbands in the home and that only men can hold leadership roles in the church. Translating the Bible into gender-neutral language puts men and women on an equal footing and undercuts the very premise that women are less than men in the eyes of the Church and therefore in the eyes of God. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

W hat does a new translation of the Bible mean for English-speaking Christians? I guess it all depends on how willing they are to explore the Bible as an historical document translated from an ancient language. I suspect the 2011 NIV Bible will have a marginal impact on the daily lives of most American Christians.

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