Dr. Wallace rightly critiques a choice of wording in the NRSV. He writes,
In Matt 18.15, the NRSV is an ugly translation. This is due to an overriding principle of making the translation gender inclusive, even if the English ends up being terrible. Who speaks like this: “If the member listens to you, you have regained that one”? In this respect, the NRSV has gone retro, mimicking the homeliness of the old RV, but without its accuracy. Ironically, the NRSV committee’s attempt at avoiding sexual connotations by replacing ‘brother’ with ‘member’ results in creating sexual connotations of another sort! (One of the major tasks of Bible translators these days is to get rid of what one scholar calls the ‘snicker factor’—those places where bathroom humor or sexual innuendo need to be changed, making the translation junior-high-boy foolproof. The NRSV succeeded on several fronts, changing what the RSV had—e.g., Ps 50.9 [“I will not accept a bull from your house” vs. “I will accept no bull from your house”]. But not all: see, for example, Matt 8.20.) Further, by stretching the limits of gender inclusiveness to the breaking point, the NRSV distorts the text here: ‘brother’ is a familial term, and in the context of church discipline has connotations of warmth and commitment to each other that ‘member’ lacks. What is left is a cold harshness in the context of discipline, far removed from what the Matthean saying originally intended to convey.All very well and logical. A little funny even. But I didn't laugh. Am I a humourless feminist? Some days I am. Here is why.
Early on, I had read some of what Dr. Wallace had written. I came accross this essay called "Biblical Gynecology". I do read Greek, it wasn't that. So far in my life, I have never used the word without spreading my legs. I think of the gynecological theologians as "spread leg" theologians. That is, they spread the legs of women, they measure women by their womb, or by extension, by their submission to the man. Here is the note for 1 Tim. 2:15 in the NET Bible. "The idea of childbearing, then, is a metonymy of part for the whole that encompasses the woman’s submission again to the leadership of the man." It evokes a certain view of sexuality that I cannot bear to read.
I am writing about how it feels for this woman to read the words of a "respected" theologian.
Let me be clear here. There are few enough women who have not had an unknown male grope, grab or pinch their private parts in a public place. And I don't mean the cheeks. No, I mean intrusive sexual grabbing of the private parts. How many men have been groped and had their "member" grabbed in public by an unknown female? But I am a woman, and I know all about being grabbed in public while wearing modest clothes. Men need to be sensitive to the fact that women are subject to the crude violence of males in their every day life. And it isn't funny.
I appealed to Dr. Wallace to change the title of his essay and he did not. Some time later, in response to a male biblioblogger, Dr. Wallace did change the title. But the question is why did Dr. Wallace not respond to a request from a female.
And my next point is that being called a "brother" evokes absolutely zero "warmth." It reminds me that some believe that the Bible is written for men, and women exist in harsh subordination. I have suffered enough outrageous deprivation of my own self, body and soul from subordination. I cannot bear to know that some people have no idea how painful this kind of writing is.
I can't interact with Dr. Wallace's post because I have been blocked for not backing down on points of accuracy in Latin and Greek, or something like that. But there is no way on earth that reading "brother" and "he" gives me the feeling of a family or recalls in any way at all, my own family, which was an old-fashioned, Brethren family of "brothers and sisters."
There is a need for women to wake up and say that they are not "brothers" and what is more important is that nobody treats us like brothers. In fact, most places where men predominate, women are not treated as one of the men. There is a family with all the females left out. That does not make me feel very good.
It breaks my heart. We are "sisters" expunged from the text, or we are "brothers" but not treated as brothers, or we are wombs and child-bearers, in the gynecological position.
In conclusion, I acknowledge that Dr. Wallace writes fairly and favourably about the TNIV and NIV 2011. He writes,
Finally, the TNIV (2005) and NIV 2011 should be mentioned. These are gender-inclusive translations or perhaps gender neutral, but not nearly to the extent as the NRSV. And on the translation committee—indeed, the chairman of the Committee on Bible Translation, Douglas Moo—are those who would be styled ‘complementarians.’ That is, these translators (by no means all, but a good portion of them no doubt) generally believe in male leadership in the home and church. The opposing group is known as egalitarians, those who believe essentially that men do not have the sole rights as leaders in the home or church. The remarkable thing about these two newer translations is that such scholars could work together to produce them. And all of them are evangelicals. This speaks very highly for the TNIV and NIV 2011 and serves as an implicit endorsement of the translation by both groups. Although ‘over 100 scholars’ seems like overkill for a good translation (a much smaller group could do as good a job if not better), the NIV’s multinational and multidenominational workforce removes it from any charges of sectarian bias. This really has to go for the gender issue, too, because of both complementarians and egalitarians on the translation committees.All this does is break my heart all over again. How could he write such sensible words, when he is the one responsible for removing Junia from her position as apostle, on a misreading of the Greek? I just don't get it.