and his two brothers.
I don’t have to ask myself why people laugh at me. But by now, it is fun and gives me a focus for browsing a lot of ancient literature – gender language.
Here is how I see the family of Moses – two fathers, three sons, and many male relations.
- καὶ υἱοὶ Αμβραμ Ααρων καὶ Μωυσῆς καὶ Μαριαμ 1 Chron. 6:3 (1 Chron 5:29 LXX) ESV
the children of Amram: Aaron, Moses, and Miriam
πίστει Μωϋσῆς γεννηθεὶς ἐκρύβη τρίμηνον ὑπὸ τῶν πατέρων αὐτοῦ Heb. 11;23
By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, Heb. 11:23 ESV
ἀνέβη ἐπὶ τὴν καρδίαν αὐτοῦ ἐπισκέψασθαι τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς αὐτοῦ τοὺς υἱοὺς Ἰσραήλ
it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel. Acts 7:23 ESV
Here is the problem. I don’t think that the Bible literally or otherwise, tells us that Miriam was a son of Amram, or that Moses was hidden by his fathers. I just don’t think we can lay down a list and say that πατηρ (pl) cannot be translated as “parent” and υιος (pl) cannot be translated as “children.” It is eminently clear that if υιος (pl) refers to male and female then it can be translated by a gender neutral term and likewise for πατηρ (pl) and αδελφος (pl).
So, in seeking consensus, in coming together as readers of the scriptures, we should be able to agree to a certain latitude, and acceptance of the fact that these words, in Greek and Hebrew, had a legitimate gender neutral use which cannot be applied to the masculine terms in English.
At present the use of gender neutral language in Bible translation is causing unnecessary contention. The two statements against the TNIV are still posted. I suggest that first step towards communication between complementarians and egalitarians must be the ability to acknowledge the scriptures of the others as valid.
And so I attempt to demonstrate that gender neutral language is one valid way to translate the gender terms of Greek and Hebrew. We really cannot say in English that Donny and Marie are brothers, Joe and Mary are my two sons, and I was raised by my two fathers. We can’t do it in ordinary speech, so can we not agree that gender neutral terms, when referring to groups of mixed gender is accurate.