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CS Lewis' Gender Bender Controversy

I never thought I'd see a story about a gender controversy with CS Lewis. My first thought was that someone was attempting to slander Lewis in the same way that was done to J. Edgar Hoover after his death painting him as a Monty Pythonesque cross dresser. But alas we have been spared the image of Lewis traipsing around his living room with JRR Tolkien in nighties and housecoats. It's simply a story about a publisher selling something called the CS Lewis bible with a bunch of notes from Lewis interspersed throughout the text. It's already sold over 20,000 copies. It actually sounds kinda' cool but something that's ticking off some Lewis fans is that this particular Bible is gender neutral, something that Lewis likely would have had a problem with.

You know, anytime "he," "father" and "son" shows up these guys replace it with something less offensive or something because you know the word "he" is such an insult to...well I can't imagine who it's offensive to except people in charge of translating the Bible.

Christianity Today reports:

Louis Markos says the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) translation used in The C. S. Lewis Bible has a gender-neutral agenda, which he says is at odds with Lewis's convictions.

The Houston Baptist University English professor began circulating the petition soon after the November 9 release of the Bible, published by HarperCollins. The author of two recent books on Lewis calls it unjust to tie the apologist's writings to an implicit push for the gender egalitarianism that Lewis would have opposed.

"The NRSV has been around so long, a lot of people don't realize there was an agenda behind it," said Markos, who wants HarperCollins to reissue the Bible in the King James or Revised Standard Version. "How can we do this to Lewis? He and his legacy have been hijacked."

The petition attracted modest support from signers that included James Kushiner, executive editor of Touchstone Magazine, and Robert Sloan, president of Houston Baptist University, as well as Wheaton College professor Leland Ryken, who said that for the goal of reading Scripture alongside Lewis, this Bible should have been released in the KJV translation that Lewis used.

"The choice of the NRSV, of which HarperCollins is the U.S. publisher, seems to have been a marketing decision rather than a logical choice," Ryken said.
I'm pretty sure that nothing will come of this petition business but I'm all in favor of raising a stink -mainly because it might make the stinkers think twice when they try it again.

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10 comments:

Thom, sfo said...

The NRSV is more accurately translated than the KJV. I wouldn't support this man very much who would, I'd wager, say you aren't Christian because you're Catholic.

Kevin Davis said...

The NRSV is not "gender-neutral" in the radical sense. "Father" and "son" are retained in every instance where it refers to God or Christ. Likewise, God is consistently referred to with masculine pronouns. The gender neutrality comes where both sexes are clearly being referred, as with Paul's salutation, "brothers," being translated as "brothers and sisters" (with a footnote for the Greek).

There are a handful of instances where I think the NRSV should have retained gender specificity (e.g., some of Jesus' parables), but, otherwise, it is a fine translation.

Anonymous said...

Should there be a C.S. Lewis Bible at all? A Blue Jeans Bible? Viet-Nam Veterans' Bible? Navy Bible? Air Force Bible? Motorcylists' Bible? Truckers' Bible? Cowboy Bible?

I haven't the critical faculties to examine and define just why specialty Bibles seem...wrong?

--Mack Hall, HSG

priest's wife said...

...my 10 year old came running into the room today with the BIG NEWS- Lewis & Tolkien were FRIENDS! I had to stop a smile. Discovery on one's own is a beautiful thing.

Mary De Voe said...

Of atheists who would obliterate the Word of God for their own satisfaction, “gender –neutral” is only a very small problem. The King James Version of the Bible obliterates the Persons of almighty God, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Wherein, in the Lord’s Prayer in the KJV, the PERSON of God, the Father, is not addressed as a PERSON using the pronoun “WHO”: “Our Father WHO art in heaven”, as God, the Person of the Father, is addressed in the Catholic Bible, but refers to God without acknowledging the Person of God and the Trinity, by not using the pronoun “WHO” and referring to God as a “thing”, by using the correlative pronoun “that”. How can the correlative pronoun “that” refer to any Person? It cannot.
Once the Person of God is denied, all sovereign personhood may be denied to all man, as in abortion, sex trafficking, slavery. Once the Person of God, the Father, is obliterated, God’s sovereign authority is emasculated. “Male and female, He created them.” (Gen2:27) God, the Father, created man first, then, God, the Father, created the female, in that order. It is what it is. The import here is that God, the Father, “HE”, created them male and female, while in accordance with His Only begotten Son, Jesus Christ and the LOVE, WHO proceeds from the Father and the Son. All Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity are male. IT IS MAN WHO IS CREATED MALE AND FEMALE. Man is the glory of God. Woman is the glory of man. God made man for HIMSELF. God made woman for the man. And woman glorifies God by being WHO she is made by God to be, feminine, daughter of the Most High, God, Mother of the Son of God, Mother of the Catholic Church, Mother of mankind for whom Jesus laid down His life.
Today I saw a painting with the devil standing before the Blessed Virgin Mary. The devil’s teeth are grit, he is foaming at the mouth and his genitals are lying on the ground underneath him, while our Lady wields a wooden bat to deliver the coup de grace. And I thought of all the people trying to castrate themselves by abuse.

paladin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mrs. Zummo said...

If the bible is C.S. Lewis's personal reflections, it makes the most sense to use the translation that he himself used. Or the publisher could simply publish the Lewis commentary with citations, the easiest the cheapest options in my opinion.

I haven't read Markos' writings, but I do have his Teaching Company course on C.S. Lewis. It's really wonderful, and in no way anti-catholic. When discussing Lewis' writings on medieval history and literature, Markos mentions anti-catholic bigotry as a common cause for denigration of medieval works and achievements.

Evangeliman said...

Thom:

C.S. Lewis wasn't Catholic.

Thom, sfo said...

I know. I was referring to the Baptist scholar who is leading the campaign against this edition of scripture.

Anonymous said...

Anytime I see things like this, I simply reply "Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea MASCULA culpa." I hereby release the Latin pun into the public domain. Use at will.

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