In which I attempt to answer a question
- Certain words in Greek simply were more gender neutral than older English translations indicated. So the trend toward gender neutrality is usually a trend towards greater accuracy. So far I have yet to see the opposite.
Replacing 'brothers' with 'people' or 'friends' simply reflects the way the Greek word was used to refer to a collective of people, whereas in English 'brothers' does mean the men. And, of course, αδελφοι in Greek is easily understood as refering to both the αδελφοι the brothers and the αδελφαι the sisters. There is no easy way to represent this in English.
It is very important to start with the Greek first, each and every time. Once must not assume that earlier translations were more literal.
A simple example is the replacement of 'workman' with 'worker'. Of course, 'worker' is a word that much better reflects the morphology of the Greek word εργατης. This kind of thing is found throughout the Bible. The move towards gender neutrality reflects a more literal translation. So no discussion about gender should start from an older English translation.
- Suzanne, how would you answer a person who says that much of your approach is informed by classical Greek that is being read into Koine?
I would like to answer this question as fairly as possible. Not that much.
1. First, grammatical gender is not usually translated. Brother and sister in Greek are differentiated by grammatical gender alone. It is a general prinicple not to represent this in translation. Everyone agrees that αδελφοι means a group of both men and women.
2. For υιοι Luther and Tyndale translated this as 'children'. I am not sure if I need to review why. The υιοι Ισραηλ really were the 'people' of Israel, the men and women both. 'Sons' would not mean that today. It would mean the men.
3. For ανθρωπος, classical Greek, and modern Greek, both secular and religious, understands this to be a person, a human being. When we use derivatives of this word in English that is what we mean. There is no difference for Koine Greek.
Woman has always been a person, that is a human being, to God. However, in terms of the law and social customs, a woman did not function as a full human being. She did not share the rights and privileges of men. So, ανθρωπος means human, and not male, but is woman fully human? That is the real question. Is woman a person?
I can only refer you to Susan B Anthony's speech given in 1872. I suggest a software reading of this speech. Go to edit>find and type in 'person' and see how she analysed this word in terms of the right of women to be considered persons.
4. Women are overwhelmingly served by a literal and accurate translation of the text. A text like the King James, which uses the 'children' of God, in which 'brethren' are a collective of men and women, in which Junia is an apostle and Mary sat at the feet of Jesus as Paul sat at the feet of Gamaliel, serves woman.
In addition to that, a literal translation shows that Pheobe was a 'minister', as was Paul, and she was his advocate or patron, possible giving him legal or financial support.
5. The pronoun αυτος means that same person or thing which was just mentioned in the antecedent. If it is ανθρωπος or τις it is completely gender neutral. In fact, the only trend in gender neturality for Bible translation is a trend in English; it has nothing whatsoever to do with changing the Greek text, or misinterpreting it.
6. The loss of number accuracy in translation is legitimate. Thou, thee, thy and thine is now lost - more or less. I have heard that it is not completely lost, but I have also noticed that those who understand it well, can use it properly and can make the verb form agree with this pronoun naturally in fluent speech are in decline. The loss of this pronoun makes English an inferior language altogether, but we live with it.
A French - English dictionary certainly supports translating 'on' with either 'one' 'they' 'we' or 'you'. I cannot find that a loss of number, switching from the singular 'he' to a plural 'they' or using a singular 'they' represents a loss of accuracy. Nor does it have anything at all to do with Koine or classical Greek.
In summary, Gummby, I am not really sure what you meant by my 'approach'. Would you like to know more about my training and background, my qualifications? You may ask more about that if you wish. But the short answer is that I did study Hellenistic Greek. I have no difficulty telling you more, but I am not entirely sure if that is your question.
Others have mentioned so called 'poor scholarship'. Would that be refering to Longenecker, Fee, Waltke, R K Harrison, Pietersma, or some other men from whom I may have picked up habits of bad scholarship? Maybe Northrop Frye, who taught at my home college!