Denny Burk vs. Jonathan Merritt

In a recent article, Jonathan Merritt drew the attention of his desired audience and the ire of the same. He said the new Holman Christian Standard Bible is “gender inclusive” in areas it formerly said translations should not be, and Denny Burk accused Merritt and his co-author Garet Robinson of being inaccurate.

The question is this: Is the HCSB consistent with these Col Sprgs Guidelines, which Burk claims the HCSB followed? Maybe we should ask, “How” consistent is the HSCB with these Guidelines?

(My other questions would be how Burk defines [1] gender inclusive vs. [2] gender neutral vs. [3] gender related.)

Merritt says No. What say You?

Colorado Springs Guidelines for Translation
of Gender-Related Language in Scripture

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

  1. 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. 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 or first person statements, with only rare exceptions required in unusual cases.
  3. 3. “Man” should ordinarily be used to designate the human race, for example in Genesis 1:26-27; 5:2; Ezekiel 29:11; and John 2:25.
  4. 4. Hebrew ‘ish should ordinarily be translated “man” and “men,” and Greek aner should almost always be so translated.
  5. 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. 6. Indefinite pronouns such as tis can be translated “anyone” rather than “any man.”
  7. 7. In many cases, pronouns such as oudeis can be translated “no one” rather than “no man.”
  8. 8. When pas is used as a substantive it can be translated with terms such as “all people” or “everyone.”
  9. 9. The phrase “son of man” should ordinarily be preserved to retain intracanonical connections.
  10. 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. 1. “Brother” (adelphos) should not be changed to “brother or sister”; however, the plural adelphoi can be translated “brothers and sisters” where the context makes clear that the author is referring to both men and women.
  2. 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. 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, and that some details may need further refinement.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.