The Colorado Springs Guidelines
address gender issues in Bible translation
. They are not the product of any particular Christian denomination
, but have been used, endorsed or cited by many Christian scholars, publishers and pastors. The guidelines were drafted at a meeting convened by James Dobson
in Colorado Springs
on May 27, 1997 and signed by twelve representatives of concerned parties. They were later revised slightly, and reissued on September 9, 1997 with ten of the original twelve participants explicitly assenting to the revisions.
According to two participants at the Colorado Springs meeting, the final list of guidelines was compiled by reference to two separate lists drafted by each of the two ostensibly opposing parties who had agreed to the meeting to discuss their differences. One list was supplied by concerned scholars and pastors, the other by Ken Barker on behalf of translators and publishers.
The text below is that of the revised version of the Guidelines, the three footnotes provide details of the changes from the original version. The important change was agreement that adelphoi (Greek for "brothers") can sometimes be better rendered as "brothers and sisters" in English (Guideline B1).Colorado Springs Guidelines for Translation of Gender-Related Language in Scripture
A. Gender-related renderings of Biblical language which we affirm:
- 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."
- 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.
- "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.
- Hebrew 'ish should ordinarily be translated "man" and "men," and Greek aner should almost always be so translated.
- 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.
- Indefinite pronouns such as tis can be translated "anyone" rather than "any man."
- In many cases, pronouns such as oudeis can be translated "no one" rather than "no man."
- When pas is used as a substantive it can be translated with terms such as "all people" or "everyone."
- The phrase "son of man" should ordinarily be preserved to retain intracanonical connections.
- 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:
- "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.
- "Son" (huios, ben) should not be changed to "child," or "sons" (huioi) to "children" or "sons and daughters." (However, Hebrew banim often means "children.")
- "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.
The ten signatories to both the original and revised versions were as follows.
- Ken Barker, Secretary, Committee on Bible Translation; Member, Executive Committee of Committee on Bible Translation
- Timothy Bayly, Executive Director, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood; Pastor, Church of the Good Shepherd, Bloomington, Indiana
- Joel Belz, Publisher, God's World Publications
- James Dobson, President, Focus on the Family
- Wayne Grudem, President, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood; Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
- Charles Jarvis, Executive Vice President, Focus on the Family
- John Piper, Member, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood; Senior Pastor, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis
- Vern S. Poythress, Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Westminster Theological Seminary
- R. C. Sproul, Chairman, Ligonier Ministries
- Ron Youngblood, Member, Committee on Bible Translation; Professor of Old Testament, Bethel Theological Seminary West
The two signatories to only the original version were:
The guidelines have been endorsed by many leaders and scholars internationally and interdenominationally, including Gleason Archer, Hudson Armerding, Clinton E. Arnold, S. M. Baugh, Alistair Begg, James Montgomery Boice, James Borland, Bill Bright, Vonette Bright, Harold O. J. Brown, Bryan Chapell, Edmund Clowney, Robert Coleman, Charles Colson, Jack Cottrell, Jerry Falwell, John Frame, W. Robert Godfrey, Jack Hayford, H. Wayne House , Elliott Johnson, Peter Jones, Mary Kassian, D. James Kennedy, George W. Knight III, Andreas J. Köstenberger, Beverly LaHaye, Tim LaHaye, Gordon R. Lewis, Robert Lewis, Erwin Lutzer, Richard L. Mayhue, R. Albert Mohler, Jr., J. P. Moreland, Joel Nederhood, J. Stanley Oakes, Stephen Olford, J. I. Packer, Dorothy Patterson, Paige Patterson, Dennis Rainey, Pat Robertson, Adrian Rogers, Paul Sailhamer, Robert Saucy, Jerry Vines, John Walvoord, Bruce Ware, Stu Weber, William Weinrich, David Wells, and John Wimber.
Some denominations have passed related resolutions, opposing "gender-inclusive" Bible translations, including the 16 million member Southern Baptist Convention,
the 250,000 member Presbyterian Church in America (PCA),
and the 40,000 member Conservative Congregational Christian Conference (4C's).
Notes and references
- Carson, Don Arthur. The Inclusive-Language Debate: A Plea for Realism. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1998.
- Grudem, Wayne A. " A Response to Mark Strauss' Evaluation of the Colorado Springs Translation Guidelines". Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 41 (1998): 263–286.
- Grudem, Wayne and Vern Poythress. The TNIV and the Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2005.
- Hutchens, S. M. (for the editors). " Unmanning the Bible". Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity June, 2002.
- Kohlenberger, John R. III. "What About the 'Gender Accurate' TNIV?" Priscilla Papers 16 (2002): 3–9.
- Nussbaum, Emily. " The His-and-Hers Bible". The New York Times 10 February, 2002.
- Padgett, Alan G. (for the editors). " Heretical Bibles". Touchstone April, 2002.
- Poythress, Vern Sheridan. " Is the TNIV Faithful in its Treatment of Gender? No." Christianity Today 7 October, 2002.
- Poythress, Vern and Wayne Grudem. The Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy: Muting the Masculinity of God's Words. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2000.
- Ryken, Leland. The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Crossway Books, 2002. ISBN 1581344643
- Strauss, Mark L. " Current Issues in the Gender-Language Debate: A Response to Vern Poythress and Wayne Grudem". In Glenn G. Scorgie and others (eds). The challenge of Bible translation: Communicating God's Word. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2003.
- Strauss, Mark L. Distorting Scripture?: The Challenge of Bible Translation & Gender Accuracy. InterVarsity Press, 1998.