The Spanish Edition of the Roman Catholic Bible to Change “Fishers of Men”
A new Spanish version of the Roman Catholic Bible drops the word “man” for “person”.
Desclée de Brouwer’s Jerusalem Bible has updated the word used for “man” (“hombre”) to “person” (“persona”) in its latest Spanish edition.
This move changes Jesus’ iconic call to his followers to become “fishers of men” in Matthew 4:19 to more neutral “fishers of people.”
In Greek, the word for “man” is “anthropos,” which is used over 500 times in the New Testament, including multiple instances where Jesus refers to himself as the “Son of Man.”
Published in 1966, the Jerusalem Bible is an English translation of the Catholic Bible. In addition to the 66 books of the Protestant Bible, it includes seven additional books considered extra-biblical books outside the Catholic Church.
Unlike the Latin Vulgate, the Jerusalem Bible was based on the original Hebrew and Greek texts when its first edition was published in French in 1956 and continues to do so.
Javier Gogeaskoetxea, managing director of publishing house Desclée De Brouwer, told Catholic News Agency that the change was precipitated by “fidelity to the original text” and not by social pressure or inclination.
According to Gogeaskoetxea, the decision came from the Biblical and Archaeological School of Jerusalem and not from the publisher. The school is linked to the Dominicans, an order of the Catholic Church.
“If I were to put ‘man’,” he said, “we would lack fidelity to the original text because the Greek word is neither male nor female.
“I understand that there is an attempt at ‘polemization’ by attributing an ‘inclusive’ language to the translation. But nothing could be further from reality; the reason for this is fidelity to the original text”, he said. -he adds.
Gogeaskoetxea said the original Greek text did not include gender for “anthropos”, so the translation should also reflect a lack of gender with “person or human being”.
A Spanish priest took Twitter to refute the new translation.
Father Jesús Silva, whose biography reads “a priest-writer” and a graduate in patristic theology, said “translation as ‘people’ has its problems”.
“Which people was Jesus referring to: human, angelic, or divine? Well, in the text thus translated, it is not excluded that Jesus calls the disciples to evangelize the angels or God himself,” Silva writes.
Silva said that since “human people” is a relatively vague term. Thus, “to avoid the misunderstandings that occur with words like ‘person’, ‘human being’ or ‘earth human’, and adopting the principle of economy of language, one could translate the word ‘anthropos’ by ‘man ‘, which includes all of the above.”
Another priest, Fr. Antonio María Domenech Guillén, of the Diocese of Cuenca, seemed to agree with Silva’s assessment.
Cuenca wrote“That doesn’t seem right to me, but I think it has the importance we give it. If we read Holy Scripture every day, we would have realized long ago that the Jerusalem Bible translation n is not the best option.”
After its English translation was completely updated in 1985, the Jerusalem Bible—now known as the New Jerusalem Bible—became the most widely used Roman Catholic Bible outside the United States.