Spanish edition of Roman Catholic Bible to change 'fishers of men' to 'fishers of persons'

Publisher reportedly denies move is tied to ‘inclusive’ language


A new Spanish version of the Roman Catholic Bible is ditching the word "man" for "person."

The Jerusalem Bible from publishing house Desclée de Brouwer updated the word used for "man" ("hombre") to "person" ("persona") in its latest Spanish edition.

The move changes the iconic call of Jesus to His disciples to become "fishers of men" in Matthew 4:19 to the more gender-neutral "fishers of persons."

In Greek, the word for "man" is "anthropos," which is used more than 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 of 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, the managing director of the Desclée De Brouwer publishing house, told Catholic News Agency the change was precipitated by "fidelity to the original text" and not by any social pressure or trend.

According to Gogeaskoetxea, the decision came from the Jerusalem Biblical and Archaeological School and not 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 be lacking in fidelity to the original text because the Greek word is neither man nor woman.

"I understand that there is an attempt to 'polemicize' by attributing 'inclusive' language to the translation. But nothing is further from reality; the reason is fidelity to the original text," he added.

Gogeaskoetxea said the original Greek text does not include gender for "anthropos," so the translation should also reflect a lack of gender with either "person or human being."

One Spanish priest took to Twitter to refute the new translation.

Father Jesús Silva, whose bio reads "priest writer" and Patristic Theology grad, said the "translation as 'people' has its problems."

"What people was Jesus referring to: human, angelic or divine? Well, in the text, thus translated, it is not excluded that Jesus is calling the disciples to evangelize the angels or God himself," Silva wrote.

Silva said that since "human persons" is a relatively vague term. Thus, to "avoid misunderstandings that occur with words like 'person,' 'human being' or 'human earthling,' and adopting the principle of economy of language, we could translate the word 'anthropos' as 'man,' which includes all of the above."

Another priest, Fr. Antonio María Domenech Guillén with the Diocese of Cuenca, appeared to agree with Silva's assessment.

Cuenca wrote: "It doesn't seem right to me, but I think it has the importance that we give it. If we read Holy Scripture every day, we would have realized long ago that the Jerusalem Bible translation is not the best option."

After its English translation was completely updated in 1985, the Jerusalem Bible — now known as the New Jerusalem Bible — has become the most widely used Roman Catholic Bible outside of the U.S.

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