Bible Translation: August 2005 Archives

A friend of mine read from the preface to his KJV on 'thee' and 'thou' and 'you' in the KJV. According to that preface, 'thee' and 'thou' are used exclusively for singulars and 'you' and 'ye' exclusively for plurals. I'd always been told that 'thee' and 'thou' were the familiar second person pronouns and 'you' the formal, with 'thee' and 'ye' as the subjective and 'thou' and 'you' as the objective. Does anyone have real information on which of these accounts is correct or if somehow there's something to both of them?

As anyone who's been reading this blog for a little while knows, I think most of the venomous language from those who are more conservative about gender issues against inclusive translations is just thoroughly immoral. This includes the literature produced by the Society for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, whose worthwhile original goal of defending complementarianism has been greatly damaged by their vehement ignorance on this issue. I think the overall argument for not wanting any inclusive language is linguistically insensitive. It involves cultural reactionism against what is perceived as a new phenomenon that in reality is so entrenched that anyone resisting it now just seems 19th century. The issue is basically over linguistic facts, and some of the people involved have raised it almost to the level of a gospel issue. That's just incredibly sad.

Still, I don't think all the points against inclusive language are wrong. On some particular issues, the criticism is sound. Some decisions the NLT, TNIV, NRSV, and other translations have made in the attempt to ensure gender neutrality have disguised important theological points. Of course, all translations have that sort of thing. To preserve one element of what a text means, you end up losing another, and sometimes that's something important. The NIV, for instance, translates a word in Philemon 6 that means fellowship in a way that almost guarantees younger evangelicals to interpret it as being about evangelism. It was supposed to make one element of the meaning of that word clearer, and it ended up masking what the passage is really about. One element of the gender neutrality movement in translation does exactly that, and a thoughtful post by Carolyn Custis James at Common Grounds Online points out what that issue is.

This one is a bit tough because the Greek is a little idiomatic:

  • And the sea wind great blowing was awakened. (interlinear)
  • And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. (KJV)
  • The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing.(ESV)
  • Soon a gale swept down upon them as they rowed, and the sea grew very rough. (NLT)
  • The sea began to be stirred up because a strong wind was blowing. (NAS)
  • Then the sea became choppy because a strong wind was blowing. (my translation)

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