Brethren and the KJV
I thought I would explain what I was thinking of when I mentioned the King James Version in my last post. First, I find that the consistent use of 'man' for 'anthropos' in the KJV is much less disconcerting to me than the mixed use found in the ESV.
In 1 Timothy 2:4 ESV 'anthropos' (plural) is translated 'people', and in verse 5, the same word is translated 'men'. In the KJV and NKJV 'anthropos' is translated by 'men' each time. I find that easier in the end.
Another point that was very much present in my mind was the word 'brethren'. I grew up among the Brethren and accepted that term as applying equally to men and women. Early letters of the Brethren to groups of believers were usually worded "greetings to my brothers and sisters in the Lord". The word 'brothers' was reserved for men only. I remember still the announcements for 'brothers' meetings' where women were not allowed.
Therefore, I cannot personally feel included in any greeting to 'brothers'. I can ignore that word, and move by it, but I cannot instinctively include myself. That would require retraining my ear from my own particular religious upbringing.
However, I have a fair tolerance for archaism and would feel included in the term 'brethren'. I came close to putting a subtitle on my Powerscourt blog of "women among the brethren," since the only biography of Lady Powerscourt was in a book called "Chief Women among the Brethren." So it was the KJV use of the word 'brethren' which I was approving.
However, I decided to research the word 'brethren' a little more and found that it has been considered outmoded as a word for 'brothers' for several hundred years. It is only retained in its specialist use for members of a religious group or society. In fact, the first definition I found on the internet says, "lay members of a male religious order." I concede, 'brethren' will not do. 'Adelphos' was an ordinary everyday word, and as such ought to be translated by an ordinary every day word.
Another reason for my appreciation of the New King James Version is that I still have many memorized verses in my head from the KJV and the NKJV is close enough not to interfere with my memory triggers. In linking to Ben Witherington's post, I was attracted by his pro NJKV comment.
Having said that, I also have Today's English Version which I started using when I taught high school, because of its readability. (If I want to look up a particular point in Greek I can when needed.) For a pew Bible our church is stocked with both the RSV and the NRSV. Congregational readings are often in the NRSV.
Having grown up feeling included by the word 'brethren' and then finding that I could let the word 'brothers' pass by without remark, I have recently been asked as a parishioner if I would chose the ESV. I have to admit that I would be uncomfortable inviting a friend to a church where the pew Bible put 'sisters' in a footnote.