Re: Sexist Terms In OUR LANGUAGE

From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Wed Jun 25 1997 - 09:06:33 EDT

At 11:38 AM 6/25/97 +0700, Lemuel G. Abarte wrote:
>I think we are mixed up, guys (the men of this list). Why do we have to
>qualify the terms of the GNT like ANQRWPOS, etc. to focus the boundary of
>application to non-sexist, sexist or generic?

Non-sexist and sexist are judgemental terms, and I don't find them helpful
in this kind of discussion. I believe that you are introducing them to the
discussion for the first time in this forum.

>Take the example of rendering the word mentioned above into the plain word
>man. If we rather qualify the word man IN OUR LANGUAGE with the
>qualifications we applied to the Greek word, then our troubles are over.

That is true only if people actually read the Bible that way. The issue we
were discussing is not whether "men" or "man" are sexist terms, but whether
most people think that "men" means the same thing as "men and women" or that
"man" means the same thing as "person". If not, then we have to be careful
to distinguish different senses of the Greek word ANQRWPOS when we
translate, just as we distinguish different senses of most other Greek words.

>Then there is no need to make a new translation!

I think it would be really stupid to characterize the King James as a
"sexist" translation because it used these terms according to the
then-currant usage. People who read and understand the King James correctly
do not need a new translation. But are you against new translations? Are you
against following modern English usage in new translations?

>Romans 5:12 Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death
>by sin...
>You take your pick: man = human being = person. But why qualify the Greek

In this case, I would be comfortable with either "man" or "person", but I
would want a footnote to point out that both possibilities are there. Why?
Because we want them to understand what it means.

>I think this sexism controversy is getting into our nerves. In a refinery
>project I used to work with a Singaporean supervisor who used to say: "If
>what you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." That is the gist
>of what common sense is all about.

But before you entered the debate, nobody was talking about sexism. I
haven't seen that word in this thread before.

>Have women in our society raised this issue? Who did?

Bible scholars follow in the tradition of the scribes and pharisees,
debating at length every possible shade of meaning of every passage, and
translators really struggle with the best way to convey each word and
phrase. The reason the issue keeps coming up is that *every* issue related
to the meaning of the Bible comes up whenever you translate it. As long as
there are new translations, this will continue to be an issue.
>Women always take issue on things that men take for granted. This is a
>common observation of human behaviour, not linguistics?

Again, this kind of statement really doesn't help advance the argument of
how to translate various passages accurately. The question is not whether
men or women raised the issue, or whether women "always" take issue. The
question is simply how to best translate a variety of Greek phrases into a
modern language which does not have exact equivalents.


Jonathan Robie
POET Software, 3207 Gibson Road, Durham, N.C., 27703

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