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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Response to Adrian, part 3, neutering

Adrian writes,

    There is no doubt that English is in a state of flux where the use of the word 'man' - with or without pronouns such as 'he' - is being attacked for political reasons connected with a feminist agenda. In fact, at least in some quarters, the battle seems to have been lost and ancient English language structures consigned to the trash-heap of history. The question is whether our Bibles should go along with this neutering of our language or whether we should try to use words that are, at times, intended to be inclusive whilst still retaining a sense of male representedness.
Adrian ignores the fact that using both 'human' and man' in English to translate Greek makes the translation more transparent to the Greek, not less. This is not a feminist agenda. He then posits that replacing 'man' with 'human' neuters the language. How does calling a man a human neuter anything?

Adrian is, in fact, in spite of this kerfuffle, a warm and generous human being. I hope that doesn't hurt, Adrian! Do you really find this neutering? I just don't have the expression 'warm man' in my vocabulary, so 'human being' comes into my head first. It is intended as such a compliment, such an expression of fellow feeling, such an inclusive and friendly expression. And please don't read sarcasm into this. You have been welcoming and friendly to us, albeit with your own quirky humour.

Another odd thing is that I have such a warm place in my heart for many translations that use the word 'man' in the generic sense: the KJV, the original GNB, the NEB, etc. But the ESV simply cannot decide. It sometimes translates anthropos as people and sometimes as man. It is ambiguous and confusing, neither fish nor fowl.

And Adrian, if you visit our comment section often enough, you will find that some of us are still dwelling in that 'trash-heap' of history, clinging to the Wycliffe Bible, the Tyndale, the KJV, the Hebrew, the Luther, etc. etc. No, I don't think that acccusation is going to fit here!


At Fri Aug 25, 11:19:00 AM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

As an educated adult I have long abandoned “caring” about the English vs. Greek/Hebrew gender issues (although I do occasionally "pick up" the issue in order to stay current on the arguments). I’m just speaking honestly about this issue. I am fully capable of adapting my reading sensitivities to different translations depending on whether they exhibit a generic use of “man” or not. Perhaps I am unique, but some people do seem to be sensitive in one way or another. Some, perhaps, are sensitive towards neutralization, while others show marked concern for retention of generic uses for words such as “man” or “men”. I, on the other hand, find neither to be offensive and realize that we are, in fact, dealing with translations of ancient texts here; to get even remotely close to the actual meaning of the text is good enough for me.

Here is one thing to keep in mind: The Word of God has always and shall continue to be a stumbling block for humankind or mankind. The Gospel message in particular perturbs those without the Holy Spirit. I, for one, find this to be comforting. If the words or messages found between the covers of our Bibles did not disturb the faceless multitudes I would be the one who is most agitated. The word of God “rubs me in the wrong direction” on a frequent basis. I expect it to do so for everyone because that is the nature of God’s Word.

What if some failed to believe? Their unbelief surely does not nullify God’s faithfulness, does it? Not at all. Rather shall it be: God must be true though every man is a liar…” Romans 3:3-4a The New Berkeley Version in Modern English

At Fri Aug 25, 06:06:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Fri Aug 25, 07:20:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...


Stop! Please! I'm trying to concentrate and now I can't get that silly chorus from Pirates of Penzance out of my head!

Just kidding.

At Sat Aug 26, 10:08:00 AM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

(1) You find it significant that if a person who does not believe in the gospels (e.g. "without the Holy Spirit") then he or she does not believe in the gospels (e.g. find it "perturbs."

This entire sentence is a mess. Clean it up, then I will try to reply to it.

(2) It is in the nature of the Bible to offend -- what does this say about Chuck Palahniuk's novels?

The Bible will inevitably offend somebody?!?!?! Haven't you ever read it? I have no idea who Chuck Palahniuk is...

(3) You are comforted because the Bible disturbs, and presumably would be disturbed if the Bible comforts. May I call you Epimenides? It seems you are well on your way to mastering Titus 1:12.

Your presumptions have let you down. Read, The Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther and you will understand what I am trying to contrast between comfort and discomfort.

I'm not exactly sure what you are getting at with your snide mastery of Titus 1:12 remark. "It seems..." that your presumptions have, once again, failed you miserably.


At Sat Aug 26, 11:33:00 AM, Blogger anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Sat Aug 26, 12:07:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Ms. McCarthey -- regretably, modesty forces me to concede I am not yet able to write a washing bill in Babylonic cuneiform.

By which statement I am obliged to assume that you are in every other respect the very model of a modern M-G!


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