A Gender Matter A Response To The Colorado Springs Guidelines -- By: Aída Besançon Spencer

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 11:4 (Fall 1997)
Article: A Gender Matter A Response To The Colorado Springs Guidelines
Author: Aída Besançon Spencer


A Gender Matter A Response To The Colorado Springs Guidelines

Aida Besançon Spencer

Dr. Aida Spencer is Professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and a prolific author. This article is the initial draft that was revised and printed by The Christian Century 14 (July 2-9, 1997): 618-619.

See also The Goddess Revival (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995), chapters 5-6 regarding language about God, and Beyond the Curse: Women Called to Ministry (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1985) about the biblical defense for women in ministry. Both books are available from the CBE Book Service.

“This is not a gender matter, it’s a language matter.” Professor Jimmy Duke speaks for many in his comments on translations (Saint Paul Pioneer, June, 1997:4D). I beg to disagree. As a professor of New Testament who has served on several translation committees, and as a woman, I propose that the May 27 “Guidelines for Translation” released from Focus on the Family’s headquarters in Colorado Springs are solely “a gender matter.”

These guidelines do not appear to achieve accuracy nor do they represent a desire to spread the Good News. Rather, they are guidelines that reflect the prejudice of some men who want to hold on to a power that is not really theirs, sending bad news to women. The Bible is being misused as a weapon rather than a self-examining tool among sincere Christians, shoring up current cultural practice rather than flooding the church with the truth wherever it may lead.

The guidelines are clearly a gender matter in three ways: 1) They are of concern to both males and females; 2) They represent a misunderstanding of grammatical gender; 3) They are an attempt by some men, one gender, to hold on to power even if it should thwart the very good news they propose to advance.

Inaccurate And Inconsistent Guidelines

Focus on the Family is a deeply respected organization in evangelical circles. However, stepping out of Focus’ realm of expertise and into biblical translation takes the focus off the family and leads to confusion.

For example, one guideline proposes that” ‘Man’ should ordinarily be used to designate the human race or human beings in general.” This begs the question: Did God create “human beings” or “man” in his image? Genesis 1:27 itself clarifies this question: “male and female he created them.” The original Hebrew declares that God created “the adam,” but “adam” is a collective “they.” That is why “the human” would be the most literal translation, but “God created the human in his image” is not common English. Thus Odyssey’s New Century...

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