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Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The NIV and the King of Sheba

The Washington Post
reports that a secretary in D.C. is now the king of a village in Ghana.

There's a problem with this; she's a woman. Not a problem for the people who allegedly elected her, but a problem for the English language, which has never referred to a woman as king before.

The word queen has always had an exclusively female connotation, even before it took on specific reference to royalty. In recent centuries it has been used both for the consort of a male monarch and for a female monarch; queen mother is now used for the mother of the monarch (a distinction already made in the NIV). But the editors of the Washington Post now want to call a female monarch king--without bothering to mention what they will call her husband. Or, actually, husbands; kings in Ghana are always polygamous.

The Committee for Bible Translation believes that literary English changes measurably every generation; certainly this is a new English term for female monarch, and they had better take it into consideration for their upcoming revision of the NIV: "Queen of Sheba" is sexist, outmoded, and discriminatory. Time to start getting used to calling her "The King of Sheba," or the New and Improved NIV will be obsolete before the ink has finished drying on its pages.

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