Re: Colossians 1 questions

From: Jane Harper (
Date: Thu Apr 02 1998 - 16:00:27 EST

> At 05:34 AM 4/2/98 -0800, Jane Harper wrote:
> >> Well, I dislike "siblings" as a translation... I use brethren as a
> >> gender-neutral form of "brothers", which reflects my understanding of
> >
> >I'm not sure where the idea that "brethren" is gender-neutral comes from
> .. it
> >certainly doesn't include us "sistern". [And I might add at this point
> >are NO style sheets, whether APA, MLA, Chicago, Vancouver, or whatever, that
> >still consider male nouns or pronouns generic.]
> Well, if "brethren" is not gender-neutral, then there would be no advantage
> to using it in translation. When I use the term, I think of it as
> gender-neutral. I'm not trying to offend the "cisterns" (is that really the
> right word?).

Nope. There is no female equivalent in the archaic form ['brethren' rather
than 'brothers'] as far as I know. Feeble attempt at humor ;-)

The point is fundamental though. Women in the Church of the Brethren have been
trying to get the name changed for at least 30 years.

> What I'd really like is a term like "siblings" that has warmth and life,
> and which any 5 year old would be familiar with. What's the word I'm
> fishing for?

That's a problem. I'm not sure there *is* one. You're right, 'siblings' is
awkward, and 'brothers and sisters' [or, 'sisters and brothers'] is a mouthful.
 NRSV uses the latter, and it may be the best of a bad lot ... sigh. English
can be such a pain!


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