by H. L. Hix
Broadstone Books, 2020
Paperback, 176 pages
Reviewed by Dr. Paula Trimble-Familetti
Have you ever wanted to read the Gospels again for the first time? Would you like to read them without male generic or binary language? How about reading the Gospels without layers of patriarchy? Imagine reading the Gospels absent the words utilized over centuries to control or manipulate. What about a Gospel with new insights? If you ever have wanted any of those things, this book is for you. H. L. Hix invites us to read from a different vantage point. Even those very familiar with the canonical Gospels will need to stop and think about what they have just read because of Hix’s unique use of language and insights.
The Gospel According to H. L. Hix is constructed around five, what Hix labels, concerns. They are: source bottleneck, enforced separation, example blindness, translation inertia, and gender tilt.
Hix identifies source bottleneck as the practice of singling out the four canonical Gospels to the exclusion of other Christian writings. Enforced separation is the practice of keeping the Gospels separate from each other. To rectify source bottleneck and enforced separation, Hix has incorporated quotes from forty-eight Christian texts, including Thunder: Perfect Mind, The Gospel According to Mary, and The Gospel of Thomas. The canonical Gospels are combined with these other Christian writings to tell the story of Jesus.
Hix uses the writers of Matthew and Luke as a model for his technique to overcome example blindness. Both those writers used Mark as a source for their Gospel, and other sources available to them. Hix describes his process as “accumulation, internalization, selection, arrangement, and translation.” The fusion of the Gospels and diverse Christian writings is what Hix believes early Christian writers did.
Much of the original meaning of the Gospels gets lost in translation. Many words continue to be translated from the original language in the way they were translated in 1611. Many translations use language that is not relevant to contemporary readers or does not reflect the word’s original meaning. This Hix calls translation inertia. Thus, Kurios, often translated as “Lord,” is translated “Boss,” to more closely reflect the original sense of Kurios and to eliminate a word that holds little relevance for present-day readers. Reading Jesus as the Boss always made me think I’m reading about Bruce Springsteen.
From a feminist perspective, gender tilt is the most fascinating and essential concern of this book. Many of us read the male generic language of the Bible and find it challenging to see ourselves or our creator in the text. Hix uses alternative, non-binary translations. Fother and Mather replace Father when speaking about God. Xe, Xer, Xers take the place of male generic pronouns. Xon replaces Son.
I highly recommend this book. It is refreshing to read a Gospel in which there are surprises and fresh insights.
Read an interview, “Authors H.L. Hix and Katie Nolan in Conversation,” on The Literary Review website.
Click here for an important FTC disclosure statement.
© 2021 by Christian Feminism Today.
Please request written permission before reprinting any part of this review.