The worst mistranslations in English Bibles relating to women
Andrew Bartlett has asked a good question: What is the worst mistranslation in our English Bibles relating to women?
Worst Translations: All in One is Andrew Bartlett’s answer to this question.
He discusses the question in four ways:
- Which mistranslation gets the prize for having the least shred of justification?
- Which mistranslation gives the most negative description of women?
- Which mistranslation is the most misleading?
- Which mistranslation has the greatest impact on women?
His article begins:
I started thinking about this question after I wrote “Men and Women in Christ: Fresh Light from the Biblical Texts” (IVP, 2019), where I reviewed the debates between complementarians and egalitarians. Trying to decide between competing interpretations, I kept finding that there were doubtful translations in past and even present English versions. Translations were sometimes distorted by unwarranted assumptions that were not in the text. I wasn’t surprised that there were some examples of this; what I hadn’t expected was that there were so many.
You may think that before my question can be answered I need to say what I mean by ‘the worst’. It could mean the mistranslation with the least shred of justification, or the one with the most negative description of women, or the one that is the most misleading, or the one with the greatest impact on women.
Instead of choosing between these categories, I’ll look at each in turn…
In his article he discusses:
- the idea that a woman must dress her head or hair in a certain way as a sign or symbol that she is under man’s authority (1 Corinthians 11:10)
- Junia being mistranslated as Junias in Romans 16:17
- “little women” being mistranslated as “silly women” in 2 Timothy 3:6
- translations of 1 Corinthians 7:4 that obscure the wife’s mutual authority over the husband
- women being called “gossips” and “busybodies” in 1 Timothy 5:13
- women being forbidden to teach men — the word authenteo in 1 Timothy 2:12 being translated as “exercise authority” or “usurp authority” over a man.
Read Andrew Bartlett’s article Worst Translations: All in One
Or, if you don’t want to read the “All in One” article because it is rather long, click here to find the four parts as separate articles.
Andrew Bartlett is the author of Men and Women in Christ: Fresh Light from the Biblical Texts (IVP, 2019). [*affiliate link]
*Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.
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