Saturday, January 19, 2008

Grudem and Aner

This is still up on the CBMW website as of today, Jan. 19, 2008.
    So it seems to me that the burden of proof is still on those who say that aner could lose its male meaning. Before I would agree that aner can sometimes mean "person," I would hope to see some unambiguous examples from the Bible or from other ancient literature. This kind of evidence is simply what is required in all lexicography, especially concerning such a common word. Unless such examples are forthcoming, it seems unjustified to translate aner as "person" or the plural form andres as "people."

    And even if someone produces some unambiguous examples that aner can mean "person" without implying a male person (as there are many unambiguous examples with anthropos), this would still be an uncommon sense, not the "default" sense that readers assume without contextual specification. And even in such cases the male-oriented connotation or overtone would probably still attach (with the sense that the people referred to are mostly or primarily male).

    But until substantial evidence in that regard is found, we cannot agree with the procedure of systematically changing many NT examples of aner to "person" or "persons." What seems to be driving the decision at this point is not the preponderance of evidence but an attempt to eliminate male-oriented meaning
I presented this evidence to CBMW and Grudem in April of 2007. Included in my article is this lexical example,

ποτὲ ἀνὴρ ἀγαθὸς γίγνοιτ' ἄν,
τὴν ἀνθρώπῳ προσήκουσαν ἀρετὴν τῆς ψυχῆς ἔχων .... ,
εἴτε ἄρρην τις των συνοικούντων
οὖσα ἡ φύσις εἴτε θήλεια, νέων ἢ γερόντων

… in which a member of our community--
be he of the male or female sex, young or old,--
may become a good citizen, possessed of the excellence of soul
which belongs to man. Plato's Laws 6. 770d.

At first, CBMW linked to it but eventually removed that webpage. I have Grudem's email (April 11, 2007) in response to an earlier interaction on aner, so he is aware that there is a gender neutral meaning in the LSJ lexicon.

How should one go about confronting a Christian organization that behaves in this way. The views of the CBMW have caused considerable pain to many people. There is both the statement against the TNIV and the persistent teaching on the rulership of the husband.


Anonymous said...

Suzanne, I reserve the right to be wrong since I am not trained at all in the classics, but it was my understanding that only men could be citizens in ancient Greece.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

You are absolutely right, Mike. But in this treatise Plato is including women hypothetically, since he says "either male or female."

Plato was a utopian. Although not always generous to women, he varied substantially from Aristotle. Here is a comparison,

For Aristotle, women are not citizens of the ideal city, since they are excluded from political office. But in Magnesia, women can participate in elections and hold political office and the Athenian explicitly counts them as citizens (Laws 814C2-4).[15]

Magnesia was Plato's ideal city, not a cure for diarrhea!

You might be interested in my paper on the use of Aner in ancient Greek.

My point is not that women were citizens in ancient Greece. My point is that the term aner meant citizen regardless of whether it was a man or a woman. Usually a man, but not always. Anyway, aner was often used as a synonym for anthropos. There are many examples in the lexicon for aner having a gender neutral meaning. When CBMW says the TNIV translators have given in to feminism when they translate aner as "person" they are not being accurate.

Anonymous said...

Deliberately hiding evidence is the mark of a coward. Fear of being proven wrong is, to some people, greater than the fear of God.

This is the same problem in the area of origins; evolutionism cannot allow alternative views to be known, but lately have taken even to hiding contrary evidence in the fear that someone might begin to doubt evolution. This is not science but religion, when one "excommunicates heretics" (as evolutionism does) and buries unflattering evidence.

Anyone who knowingly buries evidence against patriarchalism just because it would erode their favored social and alleged spiritual status, is indeed doing great harm to the Body of Christ and favoring the traditions of men over the truth of God.

Anonymous said...

Well the "aner" sword can cut both ways, I suppose. Your post reminded me of this, which I thought was a very insightful observation by Katharine Bushnell from here:

75. The New Testament, in several passages, carries forward the thought of all believers being, in some special sense, the seed of the woman. At present we will call attention to one instance only, explaining first, however, that the fact is not emphasized (but clearly implied, nevertheless),—for God knew from the first the tendency of the church toward Mariolatry. John 1:12-13 declares: "As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." That word "born" might, perhaps, with greater propriety, have been here translated "begotten," since the two words are identical in the original. "Sons" of God, here, of course, mean children of either sex. Now fix your thoughts for a moment on the last part of the quotation. The "not" and the "nor" are distinctly eliminative, and the word "man" in the phrase, "nor of the will of man," is not the title of the race,—mankind, but the specific term used of the adult male or husband; in other words, it is aner, not anthropos. Most commentators pass this fact by unnoticed, or declare one word is used where the other is meant, but this is very doubtful. The scholarly Bengel says: "The will of man is contained in 'the will of the flesh,' and yet it is mentioned separately, as if it were the greater, and in some measure the more guilty part of it. For Christ had a mother, but one who knew not man." See par. 83.

76. Let us analyze these words in John's Gospel:

1. In the birth of the sons of God, natural descent ("blood") is counted out.

2. Natural appetite ("the will of the flesh") is counted out.

3. The "will of man" (the husband), is likewise counted out.

4. But, in that it is not mentioned, the will of the female is not counted out. This prophecy concerning womanhood, made in Eve's day, fulfilled in its first stages in Mary's day, will have its complete fulfillment only in the regeneration of every human being who becomes a child of God. Mary had a wonderful character which Protestants do not enough appreciate. She reached that high pinnacle of purity and self-renunciation from which she could regard dishonor with scorn, and allying her will with the will of her God, in the conception of the Head of a new race (when she said: "Be it unto me according to Thy word"), she became, in her own person, the one to realize the promise that the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. Modern rationalism, which talks of "the divinity of man" (not meaning likewise "the divinity of woman"), and the "natural conception of Jesus," robs woman of her crown, and will quickly reduce her, in public esteem, to the level of the woman of paganism.

Psalmist said...

CBMW has consistently constructed its web pages, including its blog, so that they need not include any dissenting opinions or disclose any to the public. They've obviously rejected your attempts to correct demonstrably bad scholarship, and it's no stretch to say that they do so because without that bad scholarship, their already weak biblical basis for their teachings becomes nearly non-existent.

Only you can know when it's time to shake the dust from your shoes, but that *is* another way to confront them, since the method you've used until now has been ignored.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Suzanne, I skimmed the Greek to quickly to notice that line. Next time, I will take my time in reading it.

Suzanne McCarthy said...


Aner usually means man or husband, and that is obvious in the context. No doubt in the passage you have cited aner means husband.

However, Grudem has criticized the TNIV translators for translating aner as person in some contexts where everyone agrees that people, both male and female are referred to. I am simply arguing for openness to the evidence, not that aner normally means "person" but that it can sometimes mean "person."

Anonymous said...

To limit the evidence as Grudem does means he should not be assessed as a scholar, but rather an advocate for his position.

Peter Kirk said...

If Psalm 84:5 is correctly translated in ESV, as I believe it is for the Hebrew is the gender generic 'adam, then aner in the LXX of this verse is gender generic. Grudem can't have it both ways on this verse.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

I know, the arguments against aner being gender generic are not well grounded. I had an email exchange last year with CBMW on this and Grudem admitted to not having looked at all the cases. He only says that if you cannot prove that something refers to both men and women, it doesn't count. I think it was after that that I found this quote in Plato, but Grudem did not respond to that. He had already "spoken."