Gender bias through Bible translation


 Theology is the study of God, and most people begin that study with simply reading their Bibles. 

So wouldn't it make sense for translators [as much as possible] to leave their personal theological conclusions out of the translation process? 

As a general rule, this has not been the case.

Now, we understand that all languages, including English, are androcentric. That means the language itself is male-centered. That is because all ancient cultures were patriarchal, and their languages evolved to reflect this. But there is simply no excuse for modern translators, who understand the history of language evolution, to continue producing Bible translations that perpetuate  gender-biased-translation-theology, which is found in virtually every chapter of every Bible, simply with the use of the word "man" (and its derivatives) to describe all of God's human creation.

This translator habit, overtly, covertly, even subliminally, influences and skews perceptions of gender relations in light of scripture. 

In the English language, there is not a single word to describe humanity without the word "man" being present somewhere within the words [HuMAN, HuMANity, MANkind, MAN, MEN]. This is understandable due to the historical evolution of the English language in a male-centered society.  But why, unless it is for gender-biased reasons, do modern English Bible translators still translate Hebrew or Greek words that obviously refer to mixed groups/multitudes/crowds that include both sexes, as MAN or MEN? 

In modern English culture, these words most often refer to males and not to females and should stop being used in reference to women or mixed crowds that include both women and men.

Women are not men. And for Bible translators to insist on calling women men is incorrect and perpetuates the unscriptural idea that men are the preeminent sex, i.e., more important than women.

One, seemingly innocuous, example of erroneous theological influence through translation, is found in Proverbs 1:4-5 (one of thousands): "To give subtlety to the simple to the young knowledge and discretion The wise will hear and will increase learning and those of understanding shall attain unto wise counselsHHBC"  

Now, reading the above verses in the HHBC, no one would consider that they are directed only to young men or to men in general. However (as shown below), in these two verses alone, there are three instances where many modern Bible translators have used or inserted the word man where, in the Hebrew, no male is indicated.

4: To give subtilty to the simple to the young man knowledge and discretion 5: A wise man will hear and will increase learning and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels 

Considering that most Christians simply read their Bibles without looking up every single word in the original languages, to see if the word has been translated accurately [or even if a word is in the original text at all, which is often the case with the word "man." It is frequently not there], we would expect modern translators to use discretion when inserting translator supplements, such as man or men, into a text. It is not difficult to ascertain whether or not males are indicated in the original--either textually or contextually (preferably both). But sadly, many modern scholars seem to ignore this point. 

In Bible translation, there is frequently option involved with choosing which word most accurately reflects the original text. But translating all humanity as "man" in hundreds if not thousands of instances, is an egregious over-reach of translator latitude. 

They should know better. 

This habit is nothing less than gender bias in Bible translation. it is a patriarchal, complementarian, purely theologically driven practice. There are many words that are no longer considered acceptable when used in a cultural or traditional sense, as these words are now recognized as being discriminatory, adverse influencers, in how people perceive certain groups. 

The most discriminated group of people in history is women. This is true in every culture, every race, and every religion. It is also true that language perpetuates how women are viewed in every culture, including English-speaking cultures. 

The single greatest influencer in the Christian era, on how women are viewed has been theology, which until recent times has been entirely dominated by men. Most Christians instinctively trust academically qualified scholars (most of whom have been male) to give as true a translation as possible to non-academic (but by no means unintelligent) readers.  But we find instances where Bible scholars skew even the definitions of certain words in order to align them with personal theology. 

With scholarly resources so widely available to modern readers, there is no longer any excuse to accept at face value the theological influence of any translation, and most especially when that influence includes unscriptural gender bias towards women.

 Author and speaker, Jocelyn Andersen, is an eclectic Christian writer. She is a Bible teacher who writes about many subjects including Bible prophecy and equality of the sexes. She is best known for her advocacy in domestic violence awareness. Her book, Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence, has been a staple in the library of resources on that subject.  

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Woman this is WAR! Gender, Slavery & the Evangelical Caste System: Andersen, Jocelyn: 9780979429323: Books

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