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Bible translation guidelines include 13 specific examples

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (BP)–A page of suggested Bible translation guidelines for gender-related language was adopted by 12 evangelical leaders who met May 27 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The meeting was convened by James Dobson, president of the evangelical ministry Focus on the Family. Signers of the consensus included the president of the International Bible Society, copyright holder of the New International Version Bible translation.

The guidelines, reported directly from a June 4 statement issued by the group, entail three main headings, with 13 specific examples:

A. Gender-related renderings of Biblical language which we affirm:

1. The generic use of “he, him, his, himself” should be employed to translate generic 3rd person masculine singular pronouns in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. However, substantival participles such as “ho pisteuon” can often be rendered in inclusive ways, such as “the one who believes” rather than “he who believes.”

2. Person and number should be retained in translation so that singulars are not changed to plurals and third-person statements are not changed to second-person or first-person statements, with only rare exceptions required in unusual cases.

3. “Man” should ordinarily be used to designate the human race or human beings in general, for example in Genesis 1:26-27; 5:2; Ezekiel 29:11; and John 2:25.

4. Hebrew “‘ish” should ordinarily be translated “man” and “men” and Greek “aner” should almost always be so translated.

5. In many cases, “anthropoi” refers to people in general, and can be translated “people” rather than “men.” The singular “anthropos” should ordinarily be translated “man” when it refers to a male human being.

6. Indefinite pronouns such as “tis” can be translated “anyone” rather than “any man.”

7. In many cases, pronouns such as “oudeis” can be translated “no one” rather than “no man.”

8. When “pas” is used as a substantive, it can be translated with terms such as “all people” or “everyone.”

9. The phrase “son of man” should ordinarily be preserved to retain intracanonical connections.

10. Masculine references to God should be retained.
B. Gender-related renderings which we will generally avoid, though there may be unusual exceptions in certain contexts:

1. “Brother” (“adelphos”) and “brothers” (“adelphoi”) should not be changed to “brother(s) and sister(s).”

2. “Son” (“huios,” “ben”) should not be changed to “child,” or “sons” (“huioi”) to “children” or “sons and daughters.” (However, Hebrew “banim” often means “children.”)

3. “Father” (“pater,” “ab”) should not be changed to “parent,” or “fathers” to “parents,” or “ancestors.”

C. We understand these guidelines to be representative and not exhaustive.