An Egalitarian Review of Bible Translations

The chart below compares how a number of English versions of the Bible handle certain passages that have become notorious for gender bias in translation.  The chart does not compare all available English translations, nor does it examine all such controversial passages.

The Bible versions being reviewed include: the Common English Bible (CEB), the New English Translation (NET), the International Standard Version (ISV), the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), the New International Version (NIV), the English Standard Version (ESV), the New American Standard Bible (NASB), and the King James Version (KJV).

Questions considered:

  • Does the version use gendered (male) language, when the oldest available manuscripts do not? (Genesis 1:27, and 2:7)
  • Does the version suggest that male authority is a divine mandate, or that women will “desire to control” men? (Genesis 3:16)
  • Does the version portray the leadership of women as inherently misleading? (Isaiah 3:12)
  • Does the version introduce negative accusations against a female character in the Bible that are not found in the oldest available manuscript evidence? (Judges 19:2)
  • Is the version inconsistent when describing ministry roles for men and women? (Romans 16:1-2)
  • Does the version change the name of a female apostle to a man’s name, or does it call into question her apostolic ministry? (Romans 16:7)
  • Does the version appear to presume that authority in the church or in the home must be “male”? (1 Timothy 2:12)

This review reflects my own personal impressions of the passages as they appear in each version.  Different readers may get different subjective impressions when they read a particular passage.

Translations with a check mark appear free of androcentric, patriarchal and sexist language in those specific passages.  They also appear to have a higher degree of accuracy when compared with the oldest available Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic manuscripts.

Definitions, According to the Oxford Living Dictionary

AndrocentricFocused or centered on men.

Patriarchal: Relating to or denoting a system of society or government controlled by men.

Sexist: Characterized by or showing prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.

Bible chart photoRanking (Gender Accuracy in the Old Testament)

  1. The Common English Bible (CEB), and the Good News Translation (GNT): 4 out of 5.
  2. The New English Translation (NET): 3 out of 5.
  3. The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) 2 out of 5.
  4. The International Standard Version (ISV), The New International Version (NIV), The New American Standard Bible (NASB), The King James Version (KJV): 1 out of 5.
  5. The English Standard Version (ESV): 0 out of 5.

Ranking (Gender Accuracy in the New Testament)

  1. The International Standard Version (ISV): 3 out of 3.
  2. The Common English Bible (CEB), The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), The New International Version (NIV): 2 out of 3.
  3. The New English Translation (NET), The Good News Translation (GNT), The English Standard Version (ESV), The New American Standard Bible (NASB), The King James Version (KJV): 0 out of 3.

Summary

The most gender-accurate Bible translations of the Old Testament, as evaluated by these criteria, are the Common English Bible (CEB) and the Good News Translation (GNT).

The most gender-accurate Bible translation of the New Testament, as evaluated by these criteria, is the International Standard Version (ISV).

The least gender-accurate translation of both Old and New Testaments, scoring 0 for each category, is the English Standard Version (ESV).

Bible translations and books that I have personally found helpful on my egalitarian journey are available at the following resource page: http://www.awakedeborah.com/other-resources/

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