Brothers and Sisters: Colorado Springs
On June 2, 1997, when the initial Colorado Springs Guidelines were agreed on, Guideline B 1 originally read,
- "Brother" (adelphos) and "brothers" (adelphoi) should not be changed to "brother(s) and sister(s)."
The following refined guideline was approved on Sept. 9, 1997,
- "Brother" adelphos should not be changed to "brother or sister"; however, the plural adelphoi can be translated "brothers and sisters" where the context makes clear that the author is referring to both men and women.
- "in fact, the major Greek lexicons for over 100 years have said that adelphoi, which is the plural of the word adelphos, 'brother" sometimes means "brothers and sisters" (see BAGD, 1957 and 1979, Liddell-Scott-Jones, 1940 and even 1869).
This material was new evidence to those of us who wrote the May 27 guidlines - we weren't previously aware of this pattern of Greek usage outside the Bible. Once we saw these examples and others like them, we felt we had to make some change in the guidelines."
By their own admission, these men were of an age where they had already established their own personal theology, and had presumed to write theology for others, without ever learning to use a variety of the most standard Greek lexicons. They came to Colorado Springs with their gender guidelines already prepared, based on a narrow view of what the Greek said, and attempted to make these guidelines binding on the Christian community.
I suggest that today we have the first generation of translators for a major English revision of the Bible who have, for the most part, not been exposed in any way to the study of classical Greek. They do not bring a knowledge of Greek to the Bible, but they bring their own preconceptions of the English Bible to the Greek.
Many other passages in this book confirm that the authors are not aware of patterns of Greek usage outside the Bible, in particular with reference to anthropos, aner, and arren.
I am particularly indignant, since I studied Greek from the age of 14 to 21, and when I became an adult someone gave me Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood by Grudem and Piper, so I could presumably, benefit from their wisdom.
More on the generic pronoun another day. On adelphoi, 'brethren' was once an acceptable solution for me but 'fellow believers' also sounds appropriate. However, I am sure that Wayne Leman will want to take issue with 'fellow'. I appreciate Stephen Carlson's thoughts on this here.