Scot McKnight repents and I like ESV John 13:35
“All men will know that,” Jesus once said, “you are my disciples if you love one another” (John 13:35).I love to tease and often my teasing tries to make a point. When I read Scot's post, the word "men" in his quote from John 13:35 jumped off the (virtual) page at me. So I did my typical Wayne thing and commented on his post:
All women too, presumably!I knew Scot would take it well, and he did. He emailed me saying he had revised "All men" to "All." Great! Even Bible scholars can repent!
I decided to look up John 13:35 in several English versions. Until fairly recently most have used "men" in that verse even though there is no corresponding Greek word for "men":
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (RSV)The Greek simply has pantes which means "all" or "everyone." It is a generic word referring to everyone, regardless of their biological gender. Pantes is grammatically masculine but is often semantically generic (gender-inclusive), as it is in John 13:35. Greek uses grammatically masculine words to refer to groups consisting of both females and males. This is simply the way that Greek works. There is no theological or other significance to it.
By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (NASB)
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV)
One of the versions I checked was the ESV. I was encouraged to find that the ESV translators accurately revised RSV "men" of John 13:35 to "all people" which, of course, means the same as "everyone" or, simply, "all":
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (ESV)This is a departure from the frequent ESV practice of translating Greek grammatically masculine generics with English masculine words. This is done even though it is not accurate for many English speakers. For instance, ESV masculine "brothers" of ESV Rom. 12:1, is understood today by a majority of English speakers as referring only to male siblings, the Greek word it translates, adelphoi, does not refer to males only, but to both males and females. I'm glad that the ESV translators got it right in this passage. They used a truly generic English wording "all people" to translate a truly generic Greek word, pantes. That is accurate translation. Now if the ESV team would follow the same policy for other Greek generics, the ESV would become even more accurate. Perhaps it will someday, since the ESV team is revising the ESV and will be publishing a new edition in a year or so.
Categories: Bible translation, Scot McKnight, ESV, translation accuracy, gender accuracy, gender inclusive