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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Rom. 12:1 poll says it's gender-inclusive

For many weeks we have polled visitors to this blog about Rom. 12:1:
I understand Romans 12:1 to be addressed to

male Christians only 8% 11
both male and female Christians 92% 132

143 votes total
As you can see, 92% (132 of 143 total votes) of those who voted overwhelmingly believe that those who Paul addresses in Rom. 12:1 (Greek adelphoi) are both male and female Christians. Many recent English Bible versions make this clear with translations that accurately communicate this gender-inclusive understanding of adelphoi in this passage. Even the ESV, an "essentially literal" translation, indicates the possibility of gender-inclusive meaning here by footnoting their translation word "brothers" as "Or brothers and sisters." Unfortunately, having the word "brothers" in the translation text inaccurately communicates to many English speakers today that Paul was only addressing male Christians. It is more accurate to put the actual meaning in the translation text itself, rather than in a footnote.

This poll will now be taken down. Thank you to each one of you who voted in it.

Categories: , , ,

4 Comments:

At Tue Sep 20, 11:12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wayne wrote: "As you can see, 92% (132 of 143 total votes) of those who voted overwhelmingly believe that those who Paul addresses in Rom. 12:1 (Greek adelphoi) are both male and female Christians."

This demonstrates that people can easily see the inclusive intent from the context, without the use of explicit "inclusive language." So the question is, why do you think the "inclusive language" is so important, when people do not really need it to see the inclusive intent?

 
At Wed Sep 21, 04:57:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

This demonstrates that people can easily see the inclusive intent from the context, without the use of explicit "inclusive language."

No, it only demonstrates the understanding that visitors to this blog have of the Greek word adelphoi in this context. We have dealt with the translation question in other polls, and the results show that many English speakers do not understand the English word "brothers" as being inclusive.

So the question is, why do you think the "inclusive language" is so important, when people do not really need it to see the inclusive intent?

Inclusive language is only important if we want our translations of the Bible to be accurate. Inclusive language should only be used when the persons referred to in the Bible are understood to be inclusive gender, as is the case in Rom. 12:1. Inclusive language should never be used to make the Bible more gender inclusive than it originally was. That would not be accurate.

 
At Thu Sep 22, 09:01:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wayne wrote: "No, it only demonstrates the understanding that visitors to this blog have of the Greek word adelphoi in this context."

Do you have good reason to think that most of those who responded to the survey understand Greek?

"We have dealt with the translation question in other polls, and the results show that many English speakers do not understand the English word 'brothers' as being inclusive."

Your English comprehension surveys are flawed in several ways (e.g. you fail to test comprehension in context), and they do not demonstrate what you claim.

"Inclusive language should only be used when the persons referred to in the Bible are understood to be inclusive gender"

I think you need to clarify your concept of "reference" here. Paul does not "refer" to anyone in Romans 12:1. He is addressing people, not "referring" to them.

 
At Thu Sep 22, 10:51:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

anonymous (probably Michael) said:

Do you have good reason to think that most of those who responded to the survey understand Greek?

No, and that was not the question in the survey. The question in the survey was about how one understood who was addressed in Rom. 12:1. People can gain that understanding in a variety of ways.

Your English comprehension surveys are flawed in several ways (e.g. you fail to test comprehension in context), and they do not demonstrate what you claim.

Your claims are too broad to deal with here. If you would cite a specific example of one of these flawed tests, we can deal with them empirically. As far as I know, I have always only tested terms in context. Please provide proof for your claims.

I think you need to clarify your concept of "reference" here. Paul does not "refer" to anyone in Romans 12:1. He is addressing people, not "referring" to them.

Correct. Thanks, Michael. Yes, Paul is addressing a group of believers. Functionally, addressing a group of believers and referring to them are essentially equivalent in terms of semantic deixis (the composition of the group does not change whether we are addressing them or referring to them, only the relationship between speaker and entities change). In this case, I was using the term "referent" in a broader sense, one which would include any entity in a speech event. But you are technically correct, and I'm glad to use a more precise label here.

 

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