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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  • Posted by: - Oct. 28, 2007 4:46 PM ET USA

    The "she/he/it" is a very old joke. We used it in the Episcopal Church in the mid-1970s. To no avail. The door that is opened by women's ordination ushers in all that is bad or worse. Thanks be to God for the firm position taken by the Roman Catholic Church.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 27, 2007 11:40 PM ET USA

    "Jesus Christ is true God and true man. During the first centuries, the Church had to defend and clarify this truth of faith against the heresies that falsified it." (CCC 464) Our Lord was indeed revealed as 'man' in the USCCB’s second reading of Sep. 23/07: "There is also one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," But the USCCB’s new bible version? "There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human" (1Tm2:5) What does the Bible really state?

  • Posted by: - Oct. 27, 2007 8:46 PM ET USA

    Oh no Diogenes, you are behind the times. She/he/it are obsolete; all the hip kids say "their" as in "There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in *their* orchard." Sure, it may sound stilted to an old fogy like me, but try it out for a while and your love for good language and clarity will numb soon enough.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 27, 2007 8:01 PM ET USA

    If not you can cut it down. And the person slapped him and said, "Thou fool! Dost thou not realize that thy grammar may be required of thee this very night?"