Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 30:2 (Fall 2009)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Priests for Biblical Equality, trans. The Inclusive Bible: The First Egalitarian Translation. Lanham, Md.: Sheed & Ward, 2009. 808 pp. $29.95.

This 2009 publication is a paperback version of the hardback that appeared in 2007. It contains the entire Bible. The OT books follow the Hebrew order (Torah, Prophets, Writings). At the end of the Writings, several books from the OT Apocrypha appear: Baruch, Tobit, Judith, 1-2 Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, and Sirach. These are included as part of “the Hebrew Scriptures,” though historically speaking this is problematic as they were never part of the Hebrew-Aramaic canon in the same sense that the Tanak (traditional OT corpus) was. The NT contains the traditional books in their canonical order. There are some explanatory footnotes in the OT portion. Footnotes almost disappear in the NT section and are limited mainly to text-critical observations.

The “Priests for Biblical Equality” who are credited with making or overseeing this translation seem to be a dissident Roman Catholic group dating back to 1975. A website indicates that they are associated with a group called Catholics Speak Out, who state, “We support gender equality, including ordination for women; the civil rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons; and advocate for an end to the rule of celibacy for Catholic clergy” (

This “translation,” then, is in some respects a study in how overt political commitments can affect what is usually taken to be the primarily historical and linguistic operation of rendering the OT and NT from their original languages into a modern one, in this case American English.

While most of this translation does not stray far from other contemporary versions, it is not a “Bible” to be relied on uncritically. Psalm 1:1 becomes, “Happiness comes to those who reject the path of violence, who refuse to associate with criminals or even to sit with people who belittle others.” This is a less than compelling “translation” of Hebrew words typically rendered something like “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers” (NIV).

As the preface makes clear, what is most distinctive about this translation is its commitment to address the problem of certain objectionable expressions. An example is “Lord.” This is the usual translation of kyrios in the NT. But “to avoid sexist and classist connotations” (p. vi), Jesus is never called “Lord” but instead “Savior” or “Christ” or some other acceptable term. Paul’s formulaic “if you confess...

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