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the low-testosterone Bible

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Oct 27, 2007

From today's Gospel: Luke 13:6-9, as given us by the RNAB Lectionary:

And he told them this parable: "There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, 'For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. (So) cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?' He said to him in reply, 'Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.'"

Puzzling. If the fig tree's owner is addressed as "Sir," we can conclude-- can't we?-- that he is male. The use of "he" and "his"-- by the RNAB, which shies away from those words-- is another strong indicator. But then why is "he" introduced to us as a "person" rather than as a man? Mysterious.

Or take another approach. If hesitations (grammatical or other) about the gender of the vineyard owner spook the translators into the "person" hedge, why not be consistent, and use gender-neutral references throughout? Ideally, to avoid discriminating against anyone on the basis of gender or species, each reference should be to "she/he/it."

But then that might not sound quite right when you read it aloud.

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