Issue with Inclusive language?


One of the criteria of bible selection is whether something have “inclusive language”, and if so, how many.

Would someone please explain to me the issue? As much as I hate to admit it, even though my Catechism is in english and more familiar of the English proper nouns, I still somewhat process it in terms of Chinese, so unless it was so explicit that is obvious in both language (Scotus version of course), the issue of inclusive language still confuse me except it is consider “bad”.


Inclusive language (changing “men” for instance to “People” loses something very important in the context of the passage. For instance.

The NT story of Jesus feeding 5,000 with two fish and five loaves states "he fed 5,000 men.
Sounds gender specific and overlooks there were probably women and children in those assembled. However, “men” indicates the number of people fed who could stand up in a court and attest to the truth of the incident. Women and children in Jesus’ time and in that society had no standing. Their word was not considered important, valid witness, etc. It sounds sexist, but what the writer is saying is that "Jesus fed 5,000 men and those 5,000 can attest to the truth of the incident. To change the masculine to the third person or even feminine renders an important point the author is trying to make moot.
There are other instances where the use of the masculine has a far different and important meaning other that just a 21st century sexist bias.




Thanks for that. :tiphat:


For me, it puts the question "if they changed these words because they didn’t like them, what else have they changed? in the back of my mind.

If you read the translators notes in the front of inclusive language Bibles, they swear they don’t change where unnecessary, but without a point by point chart of what was changed, you just don’t know.

As Joeybaggz stated, even a minor change can alter the meaning of the passage.


Also, it would be factually incorrect. He probably fed closer to 15,000 people, maybe 20,000 (assuming most men were married and had children). This is a good point though I’ve never thought about this.


Thank you all, and thanks for using that John 6:10, because when I gone back to check the Dun Scotus version (one of the two Chinese catholic bibles):
耶穌說:「你們叫眾人坐下罷!」在那地方有許多青草,於是人們便坐下,人約有五千 (emphasize mine)

In Chinese, you have to ADD description in order to make a general “men” into masculine “men”. This is absent in CUV, the Chinese Protestant bible:

Notice how in by not talking about 男人, it changed from “all the people, with 5000 male” to “5000 people”.

Based on this, I would take John 6:10 is also another litmus test, along with Isa 7:14 and Luke 1:28, in regard to how well it follows the Church’s teaching.

On a sidenote, have anyone on this side of the pacific have the Christian Community Bible English version (CCB) ( Apparently it was issued for English readers in Asia. Based on a few key passage, it seems to be better than NRSVCE and should be good for private use? Not sure how it would compare to DR-C…


Depends. If the original meaning is not lost, I don’t see why I should be angry that the word “men” is not used anymore.


It loses something important the other way as well, though.
If it says only “men”-- then we have no reason to believe any women or children were there at all, if indeed they were (unless they are mentioned elsewhere).
And in this case, none of these men did stand up in court and attest to the truth of the incident that we know of, unfortunately. It would have been very, very helpful if even one had done so.

So in this instance…it makes sense to say “people” IMO. Or better yet, to say, "5000 men…and also, thousands of women and children, etc"
Now THAT’S inclusive.

The bible writers didn’t have any problem saying that Mary M was the first person to see Jesus’ resurrect…so they shouldn’t have had a problem including women when they were present.
And since today, we do care if females and children are present and do think their words are important, it makes sense to include them.



There’s also the issue that some of the languages we’re translating from may use the word “men” ambiguously. It’s no longer common in the English language to use “men” in a sense that refers to people in general. But the same base word may be used in either a gendered or genderless connotation. So take the following 2 versus:

“For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh.”

“And this is the judgment: because the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their works were evil.”

Same base greek word - but one clearly refers to the masculine while the other clearly refers to people in general.


I think you touch on the fringes of a good point and reason we should keep “men” rather than people. The Bible has always been, and will always be, interpreted by the societal norms in which the person doing the interpreting lives. Whether 16th century Europe or sub-Saharan Africa today. You will naturally add in what it is you want to add or subtract that which you disagree with.

As to the point “if it only says men…”. This is why we need to study scripture. There are a lot of passages in the Bible if taken at face value, or out of context, that could be interpreted with a significantly different meaning.

It is important that the Church hold to the truth of what has been delivered to them and interpreted by them as the canon. If we change it widely today to fit with a particular norm, the interpretative rules quickly become more lax, and guided by human thought, until you have major denominations vehemently teaching against the truths God has revealed to us.

As you pointed out, if the original writers wanted to include women, they would have. They had no qualms about going against societal norms.

Thanks for your comment.


There are also certain passages, say in the psalms, which are seen as specifically referring to Christ. Using gender neutral pronouns, plurals, or both can obscure the reference.


The one thing I’d say is some things are translation conventions. Greek aner/] means “man/husband” and is generally masculine. However, anthropinos can mean either “man” or “human”, and the plural anthropoi means something like “mankind” or “people”. It’s translated as “men” in a lot of older translations, but the gender neutral translation is also a valid meaning of the word.


John 6:10 probably corresponds to Matthew 14:21 both describing the same event.

Matthew clearly states that there were 5000 men alone besides women and children. To change it to inclusive in John 6:10 (5000 people total), loses the sheer number of people.

Don’t know if that adds anything to this discussion, but that’s just one simple observation.


What about the transgender people? Shouldn’t they be included? Inclusive in today’s world extends pretty far.


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