Monday, December 06, 2010

Does the ESV deny heterosexuality?

Updated at bottom.

Okay, I admit that this is an attention getter. But listen for a minute. If anthropos means "men, as in males" then perhaps we have a problem. Here is a selection from one of the books that I grew up on, The Iliad,
ἐπὶ δὲ μέγαν ὅρκον ὀμοῦμαι
μή ποτε τῆς εὐνῆς ἐπιβήμεναι ἠδὲ μιγῆναι,
ἣ θέμις ἀνθρώπων πέλει ἀνδρῶν ἠδὲ γυναικῶν.

and I will furthermore swear a great oath
that never went I up into her bed neither had dalliance with her
as is the appointed way of mankind, even of men and women.
If ἄνθρωποι actually has the semantic meaning of "men" as in "males" then what was it that Agamemnon did not do. As the story stands, Agamemnon had captured Briseis, a young princess, but did not sleep with her. Instead he gave her as a virgin to Achilles, the hero of the Iliad. This is the story that I read as a young teenager - you know - I always identified with Briseis, her and Michal - being a girl was crap, actually. But I thought that Agamemnon was saying that he had not done with Briseis that thing that people do, men and women together.

But now Biblegateway has spoken. Mike Bird writes about 2 Tim. 2:2,
The ESV’s translation of pistois anthrōpois as “faithful men” is entirely possible and appropriate given the lexical meaning and gender of anthropos, and it corresponds with the largely patriarchal perspective in the Pastoral Epistles (e.g., 1 Tim 2:11-14).
First, I want to acknowledge that Mike Bird intends his post to be in defense of the NIV 2011, while upholding the accuracy of the ESV.

Next, let me express my first reaction - O...M ...G. Mike actually said, "given the lexical meaning and gender of anthropos." The lexical meaning of anthropos in the plural is "mankind in general." And the gender of the word anthropos is "common" gender. It is NOT a word of maculine gender. I don't know what Mike is using as a parsing tool. Yes, the form of the article is masculine, as one would expect when any group of mixed gender is referred to. But the word anthropos is NOT a word of masculine gender.

I sometimes imagine complementarians as having a great paper shredder in the sky, and they are stuffing the Greek language into it as fast as they can. They are hoping that at some point the Greek language will be completely shredded and then they can say that the Bible means whatever they like.

Come on, Mike. If you are reading this. Wake up.

PS

Here is the lexical meaning of anthropos at GreekBible.com.
ἄνθρωπος,n \{anth'-ro-pos}
1) a human being, whether male or female 1a) generically, to include all human individuals 1b) to distinguish man from beings of a different order 1b1) of animals and plants 1b2) of from God and Christ 1b3) of the angels 1c) with the added notion of weakness, by which man is led into a mistake or prompted to sin 1d) with the adjunct notion of contempt or disdainful pity 1e) with reference to two fold nature of man, body and soul 1f) with reference to the two fold nature of man, the corrupt and the truly Christian man, conformed to the nature of God 1g) with reference to sex, a male 2) indefinitely, someone, a man, one 3) in the plural, people 4) joined with other words, merchantman
But the word is listed as "masculine." I assume that this is because software does not have "common" gender built into it. Bizarre. Here is a discussion on the B-Greek list,
Perhaps in your learning of NT Greek you didn't learn about common-gender nouns, which may be either masculine or feminine just as there are adjectives of two terminations, one termination serving for both masculine and feminine and another for the neuter, e.g. AGAMOS, AGNAFOS, AGNWSTOS, or even the word for wilderness/desert that is very common in the gospels, ERHMOS, an adjective usually written as a substantive hH ERHMOS, probably with the noun GH normally understood. At any rate, ANQRWPOS [anthropos] and DIAKONOS are indeed common-gender nouns. What makes it clear in Romans 16:1 that DIAKONOS must be understood as feminine is the participle OUSAN that construes with it.

I hope you're not arguing that word-usage in the GNT is somehow different from standard Greek usage outside of the GNT. That is a notion that has generally been laid to rest for the better part of a century.
I hope you guys are listening out there! I hope that some of those men who have the big jobs and the big voice and the big influence will learn a little Greek some day.

(Yeah, I know, blogging in the middle of the day - waiting for the plumber.)

PPS

I think that I am losing my mind. Here is Colin Hansen on Biblegateway,
Though not quite the flash point that 1 Timothy 2:12 has become in the gender debate, 2 Timothy 2:2 presents a challenge for contemporary translators. Several modern Bible versions, following the KJV, identify the teachers Paul describes in this verse as men. The word Paul writes here is anthropois, which commonly refers to men. But some newer versions, including the updated NIV, identify them as people. What accounts for the difference? I asked our panel of scholars: “How should we identify the teachers Paul has in mind in 2 Timothy 2:2?”
What does he mean by "commonly"? If this word means "men, as in males" we are back to the stinky sock heaven, men only! (I say this with the humble awareness that I have stinky socks also, so don't jump to any conclusions about my sexist slip showing here.) BTW, doesn't Colin realize that "men" in the KJV means "people." What kind of alternate world have I slipped into?

16 comments:

Don said...

Amen

I tried to post on BG forum.

Paula said...

History is written by the victors, and they've had their paws all over translation of the scriptures. It is only the scholarly interest in preserving texts of antiquity, and the internet's provision of access to them by many people, that have kept this rewriting the Bible to suit patriarchal "flesh" from completely snuffing out the glorious gospel of truth.

We do seem to fight a losing battle here in this life, but remember that "the first shall be last", and some of these flesh worshipers will, if they are saved at all, be wearing diapers in heaven.

Kristen said...

Sue, if the original writer had meant "males," what is the word he would have used? The plural of "aner"?

What is the word for "men" in "even men and women" in the Iliad above?

I'm just picking your brain. Thanks!

Kevin Knox said...

FWIW, Suzanne, I still read you faithfully. I'm still jealous of your background and knowledge, and still agree with you pretty much down the line.

This post, though, had me rolling from the first words. Brilliant. Accurate. Disarming. BAD.

May the Lord bless your quest. I gave up a long time ago thinking I could help you in your fight, but I pray the Lord speed the day mankind and deacon mean everyone to everyone. Thank you for sharing your gifts and labor.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

ἣ θέμις ἀνθρώπων
The appointed way of humans (humankind),

πέλει ἀνδρῶν ἠδὲ γυναικῶν.
even of men and of women

ἀνδρῶν is the plural genitive of ANER, which is the usual way to say "men" but also, once in a while, ANER just means citizens or people. But mostly, it means "men" as in males. That is what it means here.

Kristen said...

Thanks, Suzanne! Can you transliterate the Greek letters for me there? Turn it into a word that looks like the plural of "aner"?

Suzanne McCarthy said...

aner has a root of andr- so the plural of aner is andres, and the genitive plural is andrōn. This is used in the English word polyandry, meaning more than one husband.

Look part way down this webpage for the noun aner. ἀνήρ

http://www.greek-language.com/grammar/15_ThirdDeclension.html

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, did I just beam into an alternate universe where an educated woman told me that I won't burn in hell for saying "mankind"??? You mean that "all men" really includes men and women? I can say "he" when I really mean "he or she"?? I've been twisting my aged verbal skills around in knots (not recommended at my age) in order to use "inclusive" language when the "old" language was really OK? :-)

Bless you for bringing a welcome breath of sanity into the inclusive language debate.

-- Ishmael

E said...

Thanks for linking to Carl Conrad's B-Greek response at the link you post. I was going to ask if you interact with Dr. Conrad, and this answers my question. Unless I'm wrong, I don't think he has much patience with complementarians' exegetical shenanigans.

Kristen said...

Anonymous, the "real" universe is one where certain Christians want to have it both ways. They want "men" to mean "men and women," but they also reserve the right to arbitrarily decide when it just means "men," based not on the context in which the word is used, but on their own ideology.

Kristen said...

And thank you very much, Suzanne, for the information about "aner" and its plural forms.

J. K. Gayle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J. K. Gayle said...

Like Homer's Iliad, which you quote, there's another good example. It's Plato's Laws (from 836a-b, my translation here). The question of the text is whether God or the police can enforce a Law to control the sexual lusts of youths (and adults) in the ideal City State:

τηρεῖν δ’ ἀεί τοὺς νέους τ’ αὐτούς, πρὸς μὲν τὰς ἄλλας ἐπιθυμίας, ὅσα γε ἀνθρώπινα μέτρον ἔχει— τὰ δὲ δὴ τῶν ἐρώτων παίδων τε ἀρρένων καὶ θηλειῶν καὶ γυναικῶν ἀνδρῶν καὶ ἀνδρῶν γυναικῶν ὅθεν δὴ μυρία γέγονεν ἀνθρώποις ἰδίᾳ καὶ ὅλαις πόλεσιν, πῶς τις τοῦτο διευλαβοῖτ’ ἄν

But [someone] always has to keep watch on the youth, on these other lusts (at least as is humanly [ἀνθρώπινα anthopopina] possible by some measure). But when it's the "love desire" of young people (both guys and gals, women for men and men for women) - which has given birth to myriads of problems both to human [ἀνθρώποις anthropois] individuals and to whole City States - well how, just how is anybody [anyOne or anything] ever going to guard against that?

J. K. Gayle said...

Michael Bird might suggest that "it is entirely possible and appropriate given the lexical meaning and gender of anthropos" and that "it is grammatically correct to translate ... anthrōpois as ... 'men'" here in Plato's Laws because of the context of the "Patriarchy." It is, Bird might contend after all, primarily Greek men making the Laws. In that case, the problems caused by youthful lusts and erotic desires in whole City States would be problems only for men as individuals and not problems for women.

J. K. Gayle said...

If we'd like a first-century example of Paul's word in 2 Tim 2:2, then here's from Chariton's novel Challirhoe (Book 4 chapter 7 section 5 line 4). The English translation that follows is by G. P. Goold, who suggests that Chariton is contemporary with Paul. Goold's rendering makes clear that it's not just men but "everybody" (of all genders) who will hear of this woman:

προέτρεχε γὰρ τῆς γυναικὸς ἡ Φήμη, καταγγέλλουσα πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις ὅτι Καλλιρόη παραγίνεται, τὸ περιβόητον ὄνομα, τὸ μέγα τῆς φύσεως κατόρθωμα,

Indeed, the woman's fame ran on before her, announcing to everybody [ἀνθρώποις anthropois] the arrival of Callirhoe, the renowned Callirhoe, the masterpiece of Nature.

Chariton actually also uses the singular ἀνθρώπινος [anthropos] to describe this woman.

Anonymous said...

Do believers still say "OMG?" I thought we were all tired of that sort of subtle-and-often-ignorant blasphemy by now.