The first problem is that the Archbishop writes:
2 A distinction needs to be drawn between translation and paraphrase. Versions which are read in church during the course of public worship should be translations of the Bible, not paraphrases of it. In less formal contexts, paraphrases may be useful.Well, perhaps this is right, but what distinction does he have in mind? Presumably not the technical linguistic distinction, that a paraphrase is a version prepared from another version in the same language, whereas a translation is from another language. Some may read paraphrase here as little more than a pejorative term, the kind of version which I don't like. So it is unhelpful that the Archbishop failed to define his terminology or specify the characteristics of a paraphrase - or perhaps list some sample versions which are not recommended for this reason.
The best clarification given is that seven versions (AV/KJV, RSV, NIV, NJB, NRSV, REB, ESV) are listed as acceptable on this and other criteria, and none of these are dynamic equivalence translations. Is the Archbishop's point that dynamic equivalence translations should not be used in church? If so, he should say so, using the standard terminology - and I could give a sensible response, arguing that dynamic equivalence translations are suitable where indicated by:
- Intelligibility to the listener
- Appropriateness to the linguistic register of the particular congregation
The statement continues with another unfortunate paragraph:
6 Some of the translations listed in paragraph 3 are ‘inclusive’ translations which avoid the use of masculine nouns and pronouns when reference is made to women as well as men. Where a masculine noun or pronoun is used in the original language, making an English text ‘inclusive’ necessarily involves a degree of departure from accurate translation. A conscious choice would have to be made between the two criteria of inclusivity and accuracy in respect of any of these versions.In fact the only definitely "‘inclusive’" translation listed in the statement is NRSV, described as "an inclusivized revision of the RSV". (Did the Archbishop really write that dreadful Americanism ☺ "inclusivized"?)
I am disappointed in this paragraph 6 because it demonstrates a misunderstanding of the relationship between grammatical and real world gender. The implication here is that "Where a masculine noun or pronoun is used in the original language" an accurate translation must use a masculine noun or pronoun in English, for anything else is "departure from accurate translation". But this is clearly nonsense. Greek and Hebrew have grammatical gender, but English does not, although its pronoun system does reflect real world gender. There are many cases where masculine pronouns are used in Greek and Hebrew and are correctly translated by "it" etc, because they stand for grammatically masculine nouns referring to inanimate objects. And, although I don't know of a case where a masculine pronoun refers to a definitely female person, there are many cases where masculine pronouns refer to persons of unknown or indefinite gender and to mixed groups in the plural; in such cases the pronoun is generally masculine not because it refers to male persons but because it agrees with a masculine noun. I trust that the Archbishop has studied enough Greek, or in fact almost any other European or Semitic language, to understand this principle.
Would the Archbishop support a translation which used "She" for the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, simply because the Hebrew word ruach is grammatically feminine?
This implies that true accuracy in such cases consists not of using masculine pronouns in English where there are grammatically masculine pronouns in the original, but of using the English pronouns accurately according to their English usage, which refers to real world gender. Thus, as a general rule, "he" should be used for male persons, "she" for female persons, and "it" for inanimate objects, regardless of the grammatical gender in the original language. And in difficult cases such as singular persons of unknown or indefinite gender, some other solution such as singular "they" should be chosen. These are the principles followed by gender-inclusive translations such as NRSV and TNIV, as being the most accurate especially in the current state of the English language. They should be commended as such by the House of Bishops.