Friday, June 24, 2011

NIV 2011, SBC and brothers and sisters

For those who believe that a gender inclusive translation is a post modern endeavor that veils the original languages, please consider the following.

At the time that the King James Bible was printed, there were two terms "brethren," which referred to groups of people who had a common humanity, and may or may not be male; and "brothers," who were the male children in the same biological family. "Brethren" was the common way to address men and women together in the family of God. In the 1940's, "brethren" was changed to "brothers" in the Revised Version, and for the first time, the translation gave the impression that the scriptures in the original languages may have actually addressed men only.

However, since the very first Greek-English lexicons were published in the 1800's, the plural of the Greek word adelphos, which was translated as "brothers" in the RSV, was said to mean "brothers and sisters." This is because adelphoi (plural of adelphos) was a term which was commonly used in Greek to refer to the brothers and sisters in a family. It was the normal term for "brothers and sisters." In English "brothers" is not the normal way to refer to the brothers and sisters in a family. "Brothers" in English is not a term which has the same usage as adelphoi in Greek.

The simple fact is that "brothers" was never an adequate translation for the Greek word adelphoi. In the 1980's the New Revised Standard Version made the correction, and adelphoi was translated as "brothers and sisters." Not long after that other translations followed suite - the NLT, NET, CEV, TNIV and now the NIV 2011.

But rather than rejoicing in the accurate inclusion of sisters in the common address of the authors of the epistles, many today have rejected the phrasing "and sisters."

I honestly do not understand why there has not been a community wide acceptance of accuracy on this point. There should have been a seamless transition from "brethren" to "brothers" (briefly) and then to the more accurate "brothers and sisters." This is what one would expect, and for many this has been the case. But I ask myself why so many, men and women that I know, reject this simple truth.


Suzanne McCarthy said...

I seem to have lost my recent comments but am working on it.

CD-Host said...

Basically because for political reasons you have an extremely well financed group of people whose job it is to keep social issues on the front burner. I don't know how this plays out in Canada but in America.... at least until the 2008 recession America had a very tricky problem.

In 1963 America had two parties:
A socially conservative / economically liberal party, the Democrats
A socially moderate / economically moderate party, the Republicans

And that was because up until the 2008 recession:
About 1/4 of the population is economically liberal and socially conservative

As a result of the 1964 civil rights act the Democrats peeled off some of their economically liberal / socially conservative base. So the ended up focusing on working for the votes of "liberals" the economic liberals social liberals that had been swing voters. That threw American politics into flux. Evangelical protestantism got politically unified as it was opposed to explicit social liberalism, regardless of where it stood on economics.

To have meaningful defense of the family would involve:
a) And end to wage suppression so that families could do better with women could staying at home.
b) Enforcement of labor laws leading to a decrease in worker availability and hours so that families could spend time together.
c) High subsidies for children.

The business class doesn't want that. So they want to avoid they harp on social issues that don't have economic impact. Like gays, abortion or the role of women in the church.

Andrew T. Dolan said...

Can you provide some references to illustrate how adelphoi "was commonly used in Greek to refer to the brothers and sisters in a family"? I'm inclined to take the term as gender inclusive when used by Paul to address his readers, but I find it difficult to show unambiguous evidence that the term was used and understood this way.