There are places women belong (like the kitchen) and places they should keep their powdered pronouns out of—like the Bible?
It’s true; thanks to the wildly unpopular 2005 edition of the New International Version of the Bible—which featured gender-inclusive phrases like “brothers and sisters” instead of just “brothers”—the most recent version, released online earlier this week, has been mostly re-edited back to the plain ol’ bro-version.
Let’s consider the good reasons why this was done. The Bible is an ancient text and all implications aside, the scholars in charge of translating it have to take into account the social context in which it was written—that is, a stringent world of well-defined gender roles. (Take for instance, our tolerance of Shakespeare’s not so subtle political incorrectness. See: Shylock’s hooked nose and Othello’s foreign barbarism.)
Secondly, the translators did ostensibly try to maintain some of their gender-inclusive language. Here’s Doug Moo, the head of the translation committee:
We really tried to get it right this time. We tried to be careful about not bowing to any cultural or ecclesiastical agenda. We also talked to anyone who wanted to talk to us.
And here’s Jay Phelan, senior professor of theological studies:
The whole idea that we want to make this constituency or that constituency unhappy is wrong. You don’t do a translation that way. You don’t say “this will make the liberals unhappy” or “this will make conservatives unhappy.” Your job is to produce the most accurate translation possible.
But here’s what’s wrong with these arguments: the gendered language was changed to please a consumer base that reacted violently against it to begin with. Bible publisher Zondervan is no stranger to marketing to an audience. When it released the 2005 version, they went so far as to advertise in Rolling Stone (to court the youngsters and hipsters).
Also, this version of the Bible is meant to cater to today’s common speech. That is, the historical integrity of the translation is already being upheld in other versions and this is the translation that’s supposed to be updated for peeps from this century.
Jezebel tartly points out:
The updated Bible is supposed to reflect “God’s unchanging Word in the way the original authors might have said it if they had been speaking in English to the global English-speaking audience today.” And we know that some of the Bible’s authors had serious issues with women (talking to you, Leviticus).
I realize that this might be an unpopular opinion. But is it so wrong to be bothered that there’s a constituency out there that really thinks women have no right to be in the Bible? Not for the historical integrity of an artifact, but on principal?
Readers, you tell me.