This afternoon I found some time to continue going through some of my old files. Unfortunately much of the writing is in pencil and in some spots fading and blurred. One piece quickly caught my attention. It was a short response paper I had done for one of my literature classes back at Cal Poly in 1987. Why I still have a handwritten copy of it is beyond me. The topic was sexism in the Bible and was a response to an article about the need for a non-sexist rewrite of the Old and New Testament. The author believed that the Bible should be updated to reflect the growing women’s movement especially regarding non sexist language. To my surprise even the National Council of Churches supported the idea and were making preparations at making changes to selected passages used in readings for Sunday services. There approach would be slow and cautious so an entire rewrite of the Bible was several years off.
At that time I thought the idea of the Bible being sexist was ridiculous. I was then and still am a firm believer in equality, but a Bible rewrite because of sexism? Really? I simply couldn’t imagine why anyone would want a gender-neutral copy of the Bible. I mean, would the removal of male pronouns and other male related terms really make that much difference? Would the rewrite still reflect the Bibles true meaning? Would the message be altered? I thought the whole idea was a grand waste of time and energy. But apparently the Women’s Movement and the Council of Churches thought otherwise.
If you consider the time that events in the Bible take place, the cultures of the people involved and the beliefs they held, then the writers of the Bible did a good job of accurately depicting the Word of God. Men and women had specifically defined roles and the existence of these roles is not sexist. But apparently accuracy is sexist and you know what that means, gotta do away with all words sexist. Somehow I don’t think God would find it very pleasing. Yeah I don’t thing He/She would approve. I know I didn’t and the paper I was reading flat out said so.
That was then and this is now. Today that nonsexist Bible idea is a reality. It was a long time coming with the New Testament published in the mid 90’s, 3 volumes of the Torah from 1999 – 2004 and the complete Bible in 2007. It’s called “The Inclusive Bible: The First Egalitarian Translation.” All were written or should I say rewritten by a group called “Priests for Equality.” They are a worldwide movement of women and men, laypeople, religious and clergy who strive for full participation of women and men in church and society.
The Inclusive Bible has been lauded by some as the best translation of the Bible to date, a re-imagining of the scriptures, carefully written, even dynamic. Others aren’t so kind and rip the book. They say the writing isn’t faithful to the original language or intent and is a theological tragedy. Well I’ve just spent the last hour or so reading excerpts from the Inclusive Bible in an attempt to form my own opinion. I gotta tell you, I’m not feeling it. I’ve read and compared several passages and I find some of the nonsexist rewritten passages to be misinterpretations and distortions of the true Word, and some are even down right funny. Especially when it is obvious that a man is being addressed and still the pronoun is changed. For example when Jesus is casting out an evil spirit from a “man” instead of saying ” “Come out of him” Jesus says “come out of that person.” And changing “Rabbi, Truly You are the Son of God” to “Rabbi You’re God’s own.” Why? I just don’t understand.
I could give you several more examples of just how ridicules some of the changes are. I started researching with an open mind and was fully expecting to find words like he, him, man, and men to be replaced when appropriate but what I found is overkill. I couldn’t take it a second longer. I urge you to take a look at this “non-sexist” version of the Bible and see what you think. As for me I think I’ll stick to my American Standard and King James versions. Do we really need a politically correct Bible? I don’t think not.