When 'Foot' Means Something Else: Euphemisms in the Bible

BY: Ben Witherington


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The Holy Bible has been translated into many different languages. In some translations one word or a group of words can have very different meanings then what the original scripts said. Due to this is the Holy Bible translated accurately? A group of people are translating the Bible into "gender-neutral" language. Will this change the meaning/accuracy of what the writers wanted to be said? --foxk

Gender-neutral translations are not attempts to falsify the Biblical data. Rather, they are attempts to make clear that when an ancient androcentric text spoke about men, most of the time what was meant was both men and women. In our own era terms like humankind rather than mankind are commonly used to refer to a mixed group of men and women, and there is no reason why such terminology shouldn't be used for translating. My own personal preference would be for the use of gender-inclusive language of a mixed group-so, for instance, if the Greek term "brothers" is used to refer to a group of men and women, it would be more helpful to render this "brothers and sisters"-as, in fact, the NRSV and other modern translations do.

I have become friends with a Native American Eskimo in another community and we have been discussing Christianity. She wants to know what happens to the souls of her ancestors who died before ever having been told of God. Please refer me to scriptures that will help answer this question for both of us. --Mary

According to Romans 1, there are no human beings who were totally ignorant of the reality or power of God due to their social location or the era in which they lived. God judges persons according to the light they have received and what they have done to respond to it. So Romans 1 says the problem with pagans in the past was not that they were completely in the dark about God, but rather that they had exchanged the truth they could know about God for a lie. In other words they were not totally ignorant, they simply chose to ignore the one true God who made them.

Is the 40 days of Lent symbolic of the 40 days of the temptation of Christ? If not, can you tell me what the 40 days of Lent symbolize and perhaps suggest some scripture references? -- Carol F.

You are right that the 40-day period of Lent is chosen because of the 40 days of Jesus' temptations. The 50 days between Easter and Pentecost, however, reflect the Jewish calendar, which had fifty days between Passover and the Jewish feast of Pentecost.

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