Monday, December 13, 2010

Does anthropois mean "men" in 2 Tim. 2:?

Denny Burk posted on this topic, and I answered with a comment there. However, there is no guarantee that Denny will allow my comment. He allows about 50% of my comments.


There are several arguments here which need to be considered. One concern is establishing the semantic content of the word, and then laterlooking at the possible referent. After that comes the decision on how to translate.

That is, when the word dendros "tree" is used in the text, it may very well refer to a fig tree. However, “fig tree” is not the appropriate way to translate dendros.

Therefore, we can establish that even if the referent of the word was “men as in males” that still does not establish with certainty how we should translate this word.

First, anthropos is a common gender word, not a masculine word, and can refer to a single referent who is a woman when one is saying that she is human. This is common in classical Greek.

Second, in Numbers 31, 30.000 girls who had never known a man, are called anthropos.

So we know that there is no semantic content in this word which makes it male. Only the grammatical form of the adjective makes it grammatically masculine. This is usual for any plural referring to a group of mixed gender.

In several of the Bibles which you mention, the NASB, KJV, NKJV and so on, the word anthropos is routinely translated as “men” with the meaning of people. At no time in the past was it possible to tell in an English translation that the referents were male. Salvation was for all “men” and nobody said that women could not go to heaven.

In fact, based on the NIV 1984, and the NASB, a whole literature has been established in campus and Inter Varsity discipleship in which anthropois was understood as generic. This is the traditional use and understanding of the word preceding the current gender debate.

With the ESV, this changed. The preface of the ESV includes this statement.

“But the words “man” and “men” are retained where a male meaning component is part of the original Greek or Hebrew. … In each case the objective has been transparency to the original text, allowing the reader to understand the original on its own terms rather than on the terms of our present-day culture.”

This is not in fact, true, because anthropos does not have a male meaning component, even if the referents are male.

Which is it, and which helps transparency to the original?

If, in fact, 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy are both written by Paul, then we know that know that aner typically means male, as we can see in 1 Tim 2 and anthropos regularly refers to human beings.

It is not possible to see this contrast in the ESV or HCSB. It is only in the TNIV and NIV 2011 and the NRSV, that we can see the two Greek words that are used.

I believe that since we do not know the referent of this word, we ought to translate male meaning components only when they are actually there in the original Greek. There is no male meaning component in anthropos, as we know it can refer to a single woman or women. i do not believe that inserting male meaning that was not there in the Greek, into English translations is helping anybody.


Jay said...

As you have pointed out before, the ones teaching in the Pastorals were not only men. So even if someone holds that women are not to teach men, it would be wrong to assume that the ones here are only men, but also include the women who are teaching other women. Even if at one time "men" in verses such as this were understood as "people" it seems that that is no longer clear. Anyway,great post.

J. K. Gayle said...

And since it was only men (i.e., males) signing the Declaration of Independence in 1776, Denny Burk must also understand that Thomas Jefferson really intended it to begin this way:

"When, in the course of men events, it becomes necessary for one group of adult males to dissolve the political bands which have connected these guys with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle the fellas, a decent respect to the opinions of adult males requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We gentlemen only hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men [and not any women or children either] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

And let the facts show too that women in the United States of America were not a part of independence or civil life with regards to property rights and votes until some 144 years later. So all the notions of "human events" and "mankind" in the opener of the Declaration, let's just correct that mistaken inclusive language right now. Jefferson and Paul shouldn't have used such problematic gendered language. Let's let men reclaim the male only referents please. Would all you shrill feminists please just simmer down and shut up? We're talking about accuracy and sacred texts of adult males.

believer333 said...

Sometimes, I just wish such men would go make themselves a male only denomination and leave the women alone. :( We can have 1 Cor. 14 type meetings with whoever is left quite well.