What words will be changed in two new editions of the Bible? | The Hot Word | Hot & Trending Words Daily Blog at Dictionary.com

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Transcribing the text of the Bible has been an ongoing and often controversial process ever since the Greeks translated ancient Hebrew manuscripts around the 3rd century BC. The revised New International Version (NIV) and The New American Bible, respectively, will include gender-neutral language and substitute words that the editors claim will reflect a modern understanding of the book’s theology. What are some of the words that will be changed in this translation? And how will the use of gender-neutral pronouns affect reading of the text?

In Indo-European languages (primarily the languages of Europe) there are three gender noun classes or categories: masculine, feminine and neuter; the latter refers to words that are non-gender specific or refer to language and cultures that recognize a third gender, where the gender of the subject is always referenced by the subject of the word. In contrast, gender-neutral language aspires to “neutralize” any reference to a specific gender; replacing “stewardess” with “flight attendant” is a widely understood example, as is “chairperson” for “chairman.”

The Apostle Paul writes, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female…”  – this passage from Galatians 3:28 makes a statement about gender roles by using the specific masculine and feminine pronouns. However, if replaced with a gender-neutral pronoun, as in the case of NIV, the intended meaning may simply get lost in the translation. The same could be said for the passage: “Man cannot live by bread alone” (Mathew 4:4), as it has become such a popular cultural phrase.

(On the topic of religion, do you know what the common word “amen” literally means? Check out our analysis, here.)

The New American Bible’s revisions also attempt to reflect the evolution of modern language. For example, in the original scriptures “holocaust” refers to the offerings made to God. Most people equate that word with World War II and the genocide of Jews. The new version reads, “burned offerings” which denotes the original, positive meaning.

Booty,” which has a modern sexual connotation, has been replaced with the “spoils of war” – a reference to the gains inherited from the winning of a battle.

What do you think of these examples? Can you think of other circumstances where translation has changed the way you experience a piece of writing? Let us know.

Author: Hot Word | Posted in Uncategorize

I thought this was a fascinating concept, and it is certainly not the first time the debate has come up. The greater question is whether or not this is an attempt to make Scripture more palatable for the masses by eliminating any potential points that may “alienate” certain readers. And, gender specificity is one of those discussion points that gets certain people fired up. It will be interesting to see how far NIV takes this “update.”

One thought on “What words will be changed in two new editions of the Bible? | The Hot Word | Hot & Trending Words Daily Blog at Dictionary.com

  1. Bob

    To those with no absolutes, Bible translations are simply another way of stating what was said in the original. Four people witnessing the same event will always give different perspectives each claiming theirs to be corect. Translation boards are littered with known atheists, homosexuals, agnostics, and a similar variety of various focus groups attempting to have their way in redirecting and rewriting scripture. The greatest travesty in disasembling KJV is that once all of Christiandom spoke the same words, quoted the same scriptures and thus believed in the same way. Today you can’t find that any where. Give four people the right to rewright any great novel for their own purposes and it would be met with world wide outcry. Rewrite the Bible, and the Church says little to nothing. Academics mock me as uneducated, gnostics like wise with all of their wisdom, but the Church of Satan knows exactaly what I am talking about and they have the best rewrite of Scripture that can be found. Most unsuspecting readers can hardly tell the difference. One thing is certain, the Word of God stands true, and no one can add to or take away from IT.

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