Religion: God Gets The He-Ho

Readers who find the Bible sexist, racist, elitist and insensitive to the physically challenged, take heart. Oxford University Press's new "inclusive language version" of the New Testament and Psalms has cleaned up God's act. In this version, God is no longer "Father" and Jesus is no longer "Son." The hierarchical title of "Lord" is excised as an archaic way to address God. Nor does God (male pronouns for the deity have been abolished) rule a "kingdom"; as the editors explain, the word has a "blatantly androcentric and patriarchal character." Darkness has been banished in connection with evil because the editors fear it may remind some readers of "darkies." Even God's metaphorical "right hand" has been amputated out of deference to the left-handed. Some examples.

In the majestic opening of John's Gospel, "the glory he has from the Father as only Son of the Father" becomes "the glory as of a parent's only child." (John 1:14)

The Lord's prayer now begins like this: "Father-Mother, hallowed be your name. May your dominion come." (Luke 11:2)

Jesus' own self-understanding as God's only son is generalized to: "No one knows the Child except the Father-Mother and no one knows the Father-Mother except the Child ..." (Matt. 11:27)

Avoiding another traditional phrase. "Son of Man," the Oxford text reads: "Then they will see the Human One's coming in clouds with great power and glory." (Mark 13:26)

The editors do not claim that Jesus spoke in gender-neutral language. But they obviously think he should have. The changes they have made are not merely cosmetic. They represent a fundamental reinterpretation of what the New Testament says--and how it says it. The King James Bible never looked so good.

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