(CT) Bronwyn Lea–Scripture Says, ‘Sisters, I’m Talking to All Y’all’

As a woman, I take joy in watching the growing recognition among scholars that adelphoican be better translated as “siblings” or “brothers and sisters.” Greek has a word for a brother or a sister, but when you use the plural—adelphoi—it’s a gender-neutral catch-all. The decision to use “brothers and sisters” as the optimally equivalent translation reflects a commitment to gender accuracy and is not a concession to gender inclusivity.

In their handling of adelphoi, the translators of the Christian Standard Bible “chose to avoid being unnecessarily specific in passages where the original context would obviously include men and women,” explains Trevin Wax. “If the original used a masculine generic word to refer to both male and female, the translators made that clear. This is why, often in Paul’s letters, adelphoi is translated as ‘brothers and sisters’ instead of just ‘brothers,’ because Paul obviously had the whole church in mind when using the generic masculine form in Greek.”

I’ve always known I was generally included in the broad sweep of humanity’s plural pronouns: I’m part of mankind even though I’m a woman, and brothers includes me as a sister, too. But something deep within me pays better attention when these verses specifically include me as a woman. I listen not as a passively engaged eavesdropper but rather as a fully committed part of the intended audience. “Sisters, I’m talking to all y’all,” it says. Scripture’s teaching and tending is for my ears, specifically.

In this age of individualism, men and women are doubly compelled to tune in to the gospel’s corporate call. We are addressed directly and with familiarity—the children of God gathered around the Father’s table. And when he speaks to me as a sister in this family, I need to do more than listen in. I need to listen up.

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Posted in Anthropology, Theology: Scripture

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