Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The International Standard Version

1 Corinthians 11:3-16 in the International Standard Version
    3Now I want you to realize that Christ is the head of every man, and man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ. 4Every man who prays or prophesies with something on his head dishonors his head, 5and every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, which is the same as having her head shaved. 6So if a woman does not cover her head, she should cut off her hair. If it is a disgrace for a woman to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her own head.
    7A man should not cover his own head, because he exists as God's image and glory. But the woman is man's glory. 8For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9and man was not created for woman, but woman for man. 10This is why a woman should have authority over her own head: because of the angels.

    11In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man of woman. 12For as woman came from man, so man comes through woman. But everything comes from God. 13Decide for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?a 14Nature itself teaches you neither that it is disgraceful for a man to have longb hair 15nor that hair is a woman's glory, for hair is given as a substitute for coverings. 16But if anyone wants to argue about this, we do not have any custom like this, nor do any of God's churches.13(a11:13 Or It is proper . . . uncovered, isn't it? b11:14 The Gk. lacks long)

Ruud has mentioned a post on Metacrock's blog which explains in detail how this translation was arrived at. It also refers to the article which I linked to recently by William Welty, Rethinking the veil. William Welty is the editor of this Bible.

I have gone to the ISV site and downloaded a copy of the New Testament. This is also available in hardback or paperback. However, the OT is not yet finished.

I have been on a quest for a 'neutral' Bible translation this year. I have been looking for a Bible whose use of gender langauge would not offend by drawing attention to itself, a Bible which carries on the best of the old traditions.

This Bible uses 'children' instead of 'sons', a well established tradition from the King James and Luther Bibles. It uses 'brothers', instead of 'brothers and sisters', avoiding the awkwardness of the latter, it uses the generic 'he' pronoun, which will not in itself offend, as long as it doesn't come with the instruction to picture a "man in your head". (No offense intended to my friends who visit me here.)

Anthropos is well-translated, that is paramount for me, that the language referring to Christ's humanity be clear. There are naturally a few trade-offs here and there. So I won't say that it is 'exactly' what I would like to see in every case, but my personal opinion has only tangential relevance to my quest.

It is, however, this very passage 1 Cor. 11 that varies the most from the other translations, especially verses 14 and 15.

Food for thought. I would very much appreciate hearing from people what they think of this translation and if they have heard of it before.


Tim Bulkeley said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tim Bulkeley said...


The trouble with "a quest for a 'neutral' Bible translation" is that too often it leads to over literal versions.

Verses 7-10 printed as a paragraph, just make no sense. As a reader of English with a fairly wide vocabulary and years of experience in decoding difficult texts (both scholarly and student essays ;) it transmits no meaning at all to me!

7A man should not cover his own head, because he exists as God's image and glory. But the woman is man's glory. 8For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9and man was not created for woman, but woman for man. 10This is why a woman should have authority over her own head: because of the angels.

If the man should not cover his own head, whose head should he be covering?

Does Paul really mean that men are God's "glory"? I could have understood if he'd invoked a sunset over the sea or something...

And how does the "for" at the beginning of verse 8 work? I don't get the logic! etc. etc... the paragraph is just gobbledegook. Unless I already know the passage from Greek or KJV or wherever and speak Bibglish™!

Suzanne McCarthy said...


First and foremost, I feel that there should be at least one version of the Bible that churches of different persuasions could share. That might be a very literal version but it should exist, at the very least. I see the KJV, Darby and Luther Bibles are in that tradition. Little to offend either way.

This is probably the most in dfficult passage in the Bible to decode, and I don't really think I have that much to offer, nothing new at the moment. A while ago Talmida made this comment.

Orthodox Jewish women cover their hair once they are married.

A woman's hair is part of her feminine beauty, and makes her attractive to men. Once she is married, she covers her hair when she is not alone with her husband, because her "attractions" are now reserved for him alone.

I'm sure you can find someplace that explains it better than that, but that is how it was explained to me by one who practised this concept of modesty.

And I think there are other examples where girls (aka unmarried women) CAN go bare headed, but once married, the hair is covered. I have a memory that girls can wear their hair down too, but that married women wear it up? Don't know what corner of my brain that comes from. ;)

I only observe that wearing a shawl/veil is shown in Classical art and statuary as a beautiful and dignified custom, the prerogative of the wealthy free woman in society. Wearing a veil did not keep women silent.

Kimberly said...

what is the goal in having a gender neutral bible? not to offend. yet the bible itself says it will be offensive to people....

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Accuracy is the only reason, Kimberly. Anthropos means "human being" in Greek and not "man." Adelphoi means "brothers and sisters" and not "brothers". These are the first entry in any Greek lexicon. The terms "man" and "brethren" in the KJV were gender inclusive.

I can't imagine why all versions of the Bible now are not gender neutral.

Kimberly said...

You're talking greek, but not hebrew. what about the times when the OT is quoted in the NT?

Thanks for the quick answers and not impaling me with words for asking questions! That rocks!!

Suzanne McCarthy said...

The NT writers had a Greek translation of the OT which they often quoted so they were quoting Greek.

So for example, in Eph. 4:8 the Greek says anthropos, and the Hebrew adam, in Psalm 68:18, where the quote comes from, both are words for "humans" and not for "men."

I really only understand the use of the masculine to be a desire on the part of the editors to promote male leadership where the scriptures are talking about God's relationship to humanity.