Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Inclusive Bible

In the realm of “gender-inclusive” Bibles, there is The Inclusive Bible: The First Egalitarian Translation, copyrighted in 2007 by Priests for Equality. The Preface states, “We challenge the traditional ways of speaking about God. Traditional Western religious language calls God ‘Father’ and Jesus ‘Lord.’ Our intention is to recover the sense of the text and express that sense in a manner that facilitates immediate application of the Word to the experience of the listener. To that end, we correct out own interpretations by referring them to what scripture scholars have to say about the texts.”

Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, a lesbian who worked as a stylistic consultant for the New International Version of the Bible, wrote “The Inclusive New Testament Review.” Concerning the TIB translation of Ephesians 5:21-22, Mollenkott writes, “Not only is the appearance of one-way submission corrected in a way that is actually more in line with the Greek text, but the insights are made accessible to people in nontraditional relationships. In fact, the Priests for Equality frequently use the word partner...”[i] “The goal of the Priests for Equality was to give to the English-speaking world a New Testament that would be ‘accessible to everyone, particularly to those who have felt that sexist language creates an uncomfortable (and, at times, insurmountable) barrier to their devotional life.’”

The Amazon blurb about this Bible states:
“While this new Bible is certainly an inclusive-language translation, it is much more: it is a re-imagining of the scriptures and our relationship to them. Not merely replacing male pronouns, the translators have rethought what kind of language has built barriers between the text and its readers. Seeking to be faithful to the original languages, they have sought new and non-sexist ways to express the same ancient truths. The Inclusive Bible is a fresh, dynamic translation into modern English, carefully crafted to let the power and poetry of the language shine forth—particularly when read aloud—giving it an immediacy and intimacy rarely found in traditional translations of the Bible. The Inclusive Bible contains both the Old and the New Testaments.”
Like many other recent Bibles, The Inclusive Bible by Priests for Equality can be seen as a niche Bible, rather than a mainstream one. There also exists The New Testament and Psalms: An Inclusive Version by a more mainstream Bible publisher, Oxford University Press. These translations, along with others, support the continuing goal of blurring gender language and gender roles in our contemporary society. How long will it be before a mainstream translation fully embraces this agenda?[ii]

[i] Ephesians 5:21-22 in The Inclusive Bible: “Defer to one another out of reverence for Christ. Those of you who are in committed relationships should yield to each other as if to Christ,”
[ii] The NIV has embraced the agenda concerning pronouns, but have continued to explain it from an “evangelical” viewpoint. The 2011 version replaces perhaps thousands of masculine pronouns with gender-neutral or gender-inclusive ones (for example, “brethren”or “brothers” become “brothers and sisters). See Robert Slowley and John Dyer statistics.

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