Translating and Inclusive Language

From: McKay family (
Date: Thu Sep 04 1997 - 10:17:32 EDT

4th september, 1997
Mark comments:
  The enormous problem is of course the lack of an
> inclusive word in English to render him / her etc.

'Whoever has ears to hear, let THEM hear' etc. ... at
> least [it's] proper English. [paraphrased Metzger]

But is this proper English?

I cringe at the disagreement between the first clause and the second.

I understand how women have taken umbrage at our male-centric language. Not
only was the language biased this way, our attitudes were as well.

But what I'd like to know is how many times when NT writers wrote ADELFOI
did they mean "Brothers and Sisters." I'm sure in some cases that is what
they meant.
However, on other occasions they seem to be specifically talking to men.

It is interesting to look at the various experiments with inclusive
language. You can go completely overboard like a bible I saw recently
called The Inclusive Bible, which baulks at calling God "Father."

It is interesting to compare a given passage in recent translations.

For instance take 1 Corinthians 11:28 where Paul gives advice on
celebrating the Lord's Supper:

The KJV was But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that
bread, and drink of that cup.

The NRSV's solution is to put this into the plural:
        Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

The New Living Translation [which is a big improvement on the Living Bible]
puts the instruction into the 2nd person singular:
        That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and
drinking from the cup.

The Revised English Bible [also, IMHO a great advance on the NEB, which I
always thought was in rather wooden unnatural English, JRR Tolkein being on
the committee notwithstanding!] is not so squeamish about an occasional
masculine pronoun, and simply begins with an acceptable inclusive word:

        Everyone must test himself before eating from the bread and drinking from
the cup.

David McKay

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