Friday, January 31, 2014

The Effects of Gender Language

Back in 2012 I wrote a series of blog posts dealing with issues of biblical translation, including this post concerning gender language. If you share my concern for these topics you might want to check out a 2-part series titled "Footnoted" on the Junia Project blog. It's author, Rebecca Card-Hyatt. cites a footnore in the English Standard Version:
“Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church.”

This footnote first occurs in Matthew 5:47, “And if you greet your brothers only …” I remember thinking “Huh?! Totally didn’t know this! Interesting!”

One hundred and thirty-five times later I was in shock. Brothers, brothers, brothers, brothers. This footnote (or the truncated footnote “brothers and sisters”) appeared at the bottom of more pages than not in my New Testament.  I had always mentally translated “brothers” to something like “fellow Christians” without a second thought. But here, in no uncertain terms, translators were telling me that the original language provided the choice between brothers and brothers and sisters, and they had chosen the former.  There were other options brothers was an intentional choice.

For the first time in my life, I looked at the Bible in my hands and wondered if it was actually for me.
Click through to read the whole thing. It is worth it.

Rebecca Card-Hyatt does an excellent job of describing the effects that masculinist language can have on a woman's spirit. Readers might also want to ponder the effects that it can have on a man's spirit.

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