Re: Searchng for an agenda-neutral Bible

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Nov 24 1998 - 20:16:19 EST

At 8:16 PM -0600 11/24/98, CRAIG R HARMON wrote:
>Dear list members,
>Perhaps I don't understand. Are we to assume that the Bible is
>agenda-neutral and that any agenda that comes through in translation is a
>result of the translators' bias? I think not.

I don't really think that has been said; if it appeared that I said it, it
was not what I meant. My own view is rather that translators with the best
of intentions and the best knowledge of the original language (assuming so
much) will still almost surely fall short of producing a version that
reproduces in his/her own language all that is actually present in the
original language.

Again, we need not assume that the Bible itself is agenda-neutral (that
seems rather silly, once one thinks about it!); it may well be, however,
that any agenda that comes through in translation CAN, intentionally or
not, distort whatever agenda is in the original.

>Furthermore, someone has said,
>>> The simple fact is that the "generic he" is archaic in contemporary
>English. It is no longer generic. >>
>When did the words 'man' and 'he' loose their generic, gender neutral
>meanings? I'll tell you when. When certain segments of society refused to
>recognize them. I submit that this does not constitute their going out of
>existence. In fact these still are the #2 meanings listed in my most recent
>dictionary (the Oxford Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus: American Edition; the
>Oxford University Press, 1997):
>man...2a human being; person (no man is perfect). b the human race (man is
>he...2 person, etc., of unspecified sex.
>No mention anywhere of these being archaic.
>Does anyone seriously contend that either of these uses is incapable of
>being understood today?
>Sorry if this sounds inflammatory. I get hot when people make patently
>untrue statements about the language I love.

I'm afraid that what we're getting off onto now is concerns about the state
of English, NOT concerns about the Greek and its right understanding. We
could argue at length about what "normative" or "good" English is, but I
rather doubt that we could reach a mutually satisfying consensus.
Dictionaries at their best describe current or traditional usage; they
cannot prescribe what usage shall be nor can they control connotations and
overtones that are entering into the usage of particular words. I'm afraid
that the masculine pronoun (whether or not the masculine ego) is going
through something of a depression these days.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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