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Home : Faith/Spirituality : The Question Box
5/4/2016 10:12:00 AM
Inclusive language is worthy

Deacon Owen Cummings


Q — Is knowledge of Scripture better for changing “man” to “human”? Every time the Sunday readings include “human,” I wonder if there are aliens, and if so, if they were given a different creed, if they sinned, if they will have a separate heaven, or if we’ll all be together. Did the original scriptures from which our translations come mean “mankind/man”; or “humans” as a species, leaving open the question of other God-like forms? When I hear such Scripture passages, I think, “as opposed to aliens?”

A — There can be complexities with the translation of the ancient biblical languages — Hebrew, Aramaic, Hellenistic Greek. The complexities arise from such factors as how words change meaning when translated, cultural distance between biblical authors and our own times, etc.

Many modern English translations of the Bible attempts to use inclusive language as appropriate, that is, as it seems to be intended by the biblical authors. The only “alien” beings of which biblical authors are really aware are the angels.

On a personal note, while it may be interesting in a speculative fashion to think about aliens, alien anthropology and theology, I do not myself think that it is a very worthwhile use of my time.







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