In Sunday school this morning I followed along in the translation of the Bible I use while a young lady read aloud from another translation. The passage: Ezekiel chapter 18. I could easily follow the few variations of word choices, but noticed that the agreement of nouns and pronouns differed. Where the verses stated a person, a father, a son, the pronoun that followed was read not “he” but “they.” Agreement changed from singular to plural in an attempt not to be gender specific. Instead of using the singular “he,” her translation read the collective pronoun “they.”
This style chosen by the publisher indicates, to me, a change in relationship. The context of this chapter is about who receives life or death, salvation or judgment. It’s a personal thing, not collective. A father or son who sins receives personal judgment; a person who does what is just and right receives life. God administers salvation and judgment in a personal manner, not collectively. Yes, the translations chose a style suited to our generation where we do not want to make gender specific references, but we lose the personal element – that each person is judged on his or her own merit, each person’s state of righteousness by faith.