My family has attended Southern Baptist churches our entire marriage (25 years next month), and I’ve frequently taught adult Bible study on Sunday mornings.
It now appears I will frequently have to point out how the translation favored in the study literature is no longer faithful to a literal translation of the ancient text.
The (Christian Standard Bible) now translates the term anthropos, a Greek word for “man,” in a gender-neutral form 151 times, rendering it “human,” “people,” and “ones.” The previous edition ((Holman Christian Standard Bible)) had done this on occasion; the new revision adds almost 100 more instances. “Men of Israel” becomes “fellow Israelites;” when discussing Jesus’s incarnation the “likeness of men” becomes “likeness of humanity.” The CSB translates the term adelphoi, a Greek word for “brother” in a gender-neutral form 106 times, often adding “sister.” “Brotherly love” is translated “love as brothers and sisters.”
The gender-neutralizing pattern is also present in its translation of the Old Testament…
The SBC is America’s largest Protestant denomination and one of its most conservative. If its leaders and members are tolerating a softer, more inclusive approach to gender, it might be a bellwether of things to come in the culture war over gender.
When the SBC was more about discipleship than it was about being “seeker friendly” (in other words, before Rick Warren), it took the time to teach scripture in the context of its era in history. Yes, the past was largely male-dominated in terms of language; get over it. That very fact showcases how Christianity, far from subjugating women, actually improved their status within Christian fellowship and eventually within society as a whole.
That will no longer be so apparent with the “new” translation. I didn’t like it when SBC literature switched to the Holman Christian Standard version; now they’ve tipped their full hand with the revised in-house CSV. Modifying scripture to conform to modern sensibilities is not a good sign. We are told to call on God as “Father,” not as “Parent.” I’m sure the CSV hasn’t changed that yet, but if it’s changing anything at all it’s only a matter of time.
A church either worships the God who created us in His image, or worships a god made in our image. When a denomination starts to resemble the world in small ways, it’s usually not long before they start to resemble it in large ways. The SBC already split once over this kind of thing. Now it appears that the conservative side is no longer conserving as much. .
I’ll continue with my English Standard Version and my wife’s parallel Bible — and now I’ll be watching my own denomination and its teachings very closely. This may easily be a turn down a disastrous road. If that becomes the case, my family will find an off-ramp to a fellowship that is “rightly handling the word of truth.”