I have earlier defined racism as:
The belief that one's own race is superior to all others, and that with that superiority come certain rights and privileges.
On the first read through the following paragraph in the King James Bible, Paul doesn't immediately strike one as a racist:
Romans 9:3-5 King James Version
For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
But what happens when you read it in the NIV?
New International Version 1973-84
For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised![a] Amen.
a. Or Christ, who is over all. God be forever praised! Or Christ. God who is over all be forever praised!
Pauls "own race" definitely comes across as superior, with certain rights and privileges, even when the translation had been gone over to remove all language offensive to women--well, almost all:
New International Version (T/NIV) 2001-2011
For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised![a] Amen.
a. Or Messiah, who is over all. God be forever praised! Or Messiah. God who is over all be forever praised!
The CBT started off the problem way back in the late 1960's or early 1970's when they decided not to bother translating the Greek words οἵτινές εἰσιν,"who are." They apparently thought the passage would flow better as "my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel." Fifty years ago, the usage of 'race' as synonymous with 'ethnic group' had not yet gone obsolete, especially in poetry. But this is a most singular translation of the Greek word συγγενής, which is usually translated 'relatives' in the NIV. Biblical uses of this word refer to those outside the immediate family but still in the extended family; in Luke 21:16 it is also used in an expanding list of relations, falling between 'brothers' and 'friends.' So how did it become 'race' here?
And how did 'brothers' fare in Luke 21:16? Ah, 'and sisters' of course had to be added, although the gender of the friends was still left unspecified. Whatever happened to the English word 'sibling?'
What's of even more concern is that even as recently as 2011, this 1960's reference to 'race' has been left intact. It's without question that the CBT revised the verse in 2001, when they applied a global search-and replace to make sure the word 'brothers' never appeared in the TNIV without 'and sisters' being tacked on to the end*. But here they found that 'brothers and sisters' just didn't fit in an expanding list of relatives, especially in the context of 'sonship' and 'patriarchs.' When all else fails, the NNIV translates ἀδελφoι as 'people.' But it really doesn't make sense to keep 'race' in the verse, as it reads as a double redundancy, with 'people' now added twice to the text:
my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship. . .
Where is Virginia Mollenkott when you need her?
*update April 2012: There are some exceptions. Jesus' brothers are never identified as his "brothers and sisters," except, of course, when the sisters are explicitly mentioned. Interestingly enough, even though most manuscripts--including two ancient Greek codices and most of the Old Latin--do explicitly mention "and sisters" in Mark 3:32--and that is even the reading of the NIV's base text--the NIV doesn't provide the sisters with so much as a footnote.