Women are not men: Semantic Burqas in Scripture

 Most Bible versions, and most writers [both secular and Christian], use the pronouns he, him, and his, to reference humanity in general or mixed crowds consisting of both women and men. 

In case no one has noticed, women are not "he, him, or his." Women are she, her, or hers," and mixed crowds are "they." Modern Bible translations should accurately reflect this but usually do not. 

Semantics do matter, but according to most Bible translators, women do not. And in this day and age, with so many modern Bible translations, there is no excuse for this.

I just finished reading 1 Peter chapter 4, so I will use my version as an example. My Bible is an ancient version, so the androcentricity (male-centeredness) of the semantics are understandable but be aware that most modern versions are inexcusably comparable when it comes to the semantics of male pronouns and the words man or men being used as a generic term for all humans. 

In 1 Peter chapter 4, the pronouns he, him, or his are used 11 times. The words man or men are used 8 times. In just one chapter, women are called men 16 Times, as the words are used correctly only 3 times. Seeing as there are 1189 chapters in the Bible, it is entirely possible that Bible-readers see women referred to as men up to 19,000 times

That would seem to make the Bible an androcentric book. But it isn't when we understand that it is human language that is male-centered, and not our loving Creator. Language evolves as people evolve in their understanding of the world around them. Androcentrism came about as a result of sin. God never ordained it. But he did predict it (Genesis 3:16).  

In his 1974 book, Word Play, Peter Farb wrote that, "An English speaker uses the word 'he' to signify a hypothetical person [either male or female]...centuries of social convention have made 'he' the acceptable word...." 

1974 was almost 50-years ago, and in case no one has noticed, times and many social conventions have [rightly] changed. "He" is no longer an acceptable pronoun with which to describe women, which, by the way...comprise over 66% of the human population. 

Blackstone Law reigned supreme in England and the U.S. until the 1920's. It decreed that wives be absorbed into the legal identities of their husbands. Since the 1960's, such legalities have changed in the U.S., but Blackstone Law and its archaic view of women is alive and well within the psyches of most modern Bible translators and commentators, who continue to absorb all womanhood into the identities of God's male creation, effectively rendering women virtually invisible, via semantic burqas.

Over the years, many [formerly] socially accepted words and norms have changed. Languages change and morph with time. Modern English bears little resemblance to ancient English. So, why is it that the social norm of referencing all humanity as male--by describing all people using the words man, men, he, him, or his--persists? 

The tradition is archaic. And as a woman, I find the practice offensive. It no longer reflects the values and mores of the English-speaking world and must change. 

Understanding that all languages are androcentric, including English, biblical scholarship must make the translational shift from the historical and traditional male-centered perspective and begin using language that includes both sexes as biblical context dictates. 

It is not Ok to continue referring to women using male nouns and pronouns. God speaks through his written Word to his daughters as well as his sons, and the language of our Bibles and commentaries must reflect that. 

Our Creator does not favor his male creation over his female creation. The Living God does not merge the one into the other, so Bible translators, scholars, and commentators must stop doing so. 

Even when the male-centered original languages use a male noun or pronoun [when addressing both women and men], context must be taken into account. Biblical writers used the languages they had available to them. Modern scholars know this, yet they persist in predominantly using the male perspective in Bible translation and commentary. 

They even add sexist and misogynistic interpretive language when they are fully aware that the original texts say no such thing. But by using male nouns and pronouns while speaking to or referencing both sexes, gender-biased English Bible translators render women virtually invisible. Islam does this by forcing their women to wear burqas in public. Bible translators do the same by calling women men.

New editions of Bible translations roll off the presses at record rates. There are hundreds of modern translations. So, when are the translators going to stop calling all of humanity men. When are they going to stop calling women men? Peter Farb's advice in, Word Play, has long been obsolete. When speaking of a hypothetical human, either woman or man, the word "he" is no longer acceptable. 


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

“Gentlemen, don’t even think about marriage until you have mastered the art of warfare.”

Pastor John MacArthur

(Quoting World War Two Field Marshall Montgomery) in 

the Introduction to his teaching, “The Fulfilled Family….”

Does the Bible teach such a thing as a woman’s “place?” Are women really cursed because of sin? Are women silly and gullible as some teach? Christian author, Jocelyn Andersen, doesn’t believe so. To gain a comprehensive overview of what God says about women, Woman this is WAR!, is the book to read.

What readers are saying:

"This book is well written, well researched, and a real eye opener."

"Andersen is a gifted writer, and the book was easy to read even as it covers thoughtful and sometimes technical information. I am glad I read it. I’ve read a great deal about women in the church and home, and it is easy to think there is nothing new to be learned or considered – but this book has a unique approach and covers aspects overlooked by others. Everything is well documented with footnotes in case you have questions or want sources."

"The author is not only a gifted writer but clearly well-studied and informed."

" I was pleased that translation bias was covered in a chapter, an issue that needs to be addressed, and one that I find quite hard to bring up with lay people or everyday believers who lack knowledge about Bible translation. We can trust our Bibles, but we also need to acknowledge that certain passages are difficult to translate and bias can come into play."

"Andersen tackles most of the primary the teachings of complementarianism with an impressive exegesis"

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.  

If the topic of God and Women interests you, join the conversation HERE.

No comments:

Post a Comment