About Bible Quotations in This Blog

Quotations from the Bible in this blog are usually ad hoc and not from any published Bible version, though, with the vast numbers of English Bible versions available, it is inevitable that a given translation of a sentence from the Bible will tread close to one or more published translations. Not using any published translation is somewhat self-indulgent on my part: it’s just easier for me to work that way. But I also use this method so that emphasis can be given to a particular part of any sentence with a minimum of verbiage and fuss.
    It has become common for published Bible translations to use inclusive language. In this way, for instance, the typical disciple of Jesus is not identified in the words of Jesus as of any particular gender. This is certainly best, especially when the Scriptures are read in worship gatherings. But the translations here do not do so.
    The male identification in, for example, “whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matt 23:11) can be associated with the dominance of public life by males through much of human history. Or it can be connected more specifically with the fact that disciples, in the strict sense, of a first-century Jewish teacher like Jesus were necessarily male. The male language was accurate. It is by a work of God’s grace that anyone is able to be a disciple of Jesus, including any woman, who thus breaks out of being a partial outsider or, if she is a rich, a patron (Luke 8:3). Ultimately, we might say, God does not agree with the gender restrictions honored by Jesus and his followers, but not such that God was obligated to challenge those restrictions at the outset.
    The gender of God is another issue. There are two basic considerations here. First, God has no gender. Gender requires physiology, and male and female physiology were created by God (Gen 1:27). Second, Israel and the Jews consistently referred to their God as male. That they could use female metaphors for God (as Jesus does for himself in Luke 13:34) does not affect that. So among the gains and losses of not using gendered language in referring to God can be a strong sense of the continuity of the Christians’ God with the God of Israel and of Jesus, which is of first importance here. For this reason and others, I retain the Bible’s use of male pronouns for God.


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