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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Bad Grammar

With respect to Wayne's most recent post, it is relevant to look at the Colorado Springs Guidelines and see whether 'all people' for pantes is a departure from the guidelines. Here are the relevant guidelines.

1. The generic use of "he, him, his, himself" should be employed to translate generic 3rd person masculine singular pronouns in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. However, substantival participles such as ho pisteuon can often be rendered in inclusive ways, such as "the one who believes" rather than "he who believes."

7. In many cases, pronouns such as oudeis can be translated "no one" rather than "no man."

8. When pas is used as a substantive it can be translated with terms such as "all people" or "everyone."

From these guidelines one can see that the participle, "the one who believes" "no one" and "everyone" can be translated as gender neutral, but the third person pronoun must be translated by the English pronoun "he".

In fact, Poythress and Grudem recommend checking for the third person masculine pronoun "he" as the test of a trustworthy Bible.

So what does the Greek look like? From my 1907 textbook which, along with my tattered dictionaries, is relatively unaltered by feminist agendas, these are the relevant paradigms.

The one who believes - πιστευων, πιστευουσα, πιστευον
Everyone - πας, πασα, παν
No one - ουδεις, ουδεμια, ουδεν
The same one - αυτος, αυτη, αυτο

Each one of these words is presented in three genders - masculine, feminine and neuter. In each case there is a lexical component to the word, the part which is constant. This part is usually translated. In addition there is grammatical gender, the ending. This part is not usually translated since we don't have any way of portraying, for example, that ekklesia is a feminine word; but kuriakon, from which the word church is derived, is a neuter word. Nor do we feel that this kind of gender dissonance is important. I wouldn't argue that we should translate ekklesia with assembly, rather than church, based on the gender of the word, but on the lexical meaning of the word.

What is it about αυτος that makes it mean "he" and not simply a third person of the same gender as the person previously referred to. Nothing at all. If that person is "anyone", or "a human being", "a person", a "believer", then αυτος simply means "that same one". There really isn't a word "he" in Greek, although some people might have that impression.

I have been reading The TNIV and the Gender Neutral Bible Controversy by Poythress and Grudem, but I still cannot explain why this pattern has emerged in the Colorado Springs Guidelines.

However, D. A Carson speculates, on a related matter, that the participants in the Colorado Springs Conference, "were blinded to the fact that the original words of God were ... not in English." Poythress and Grudem respond, "Among the original signers of the CSG three had earned doctorates in New Testament." I am still pondering this surprising information.

It now appears that not only were the guidelines drafted without reference to lexicons, but also without reference to introductory grammar books.

    After our June 3, 1997, press release we received considerable comment from many other scholars, and as a result made three modifications to the Colorado Springs Guidelines ...
This refers, in one case, to the fact that the lexical entry for adelphoi has read "brothers and sisters" at least since 1869, information that was unknown to Poythress and Grudem until a "scholar" pointed it out to them.

Here is a list of academic irregularities in Poythress and Grudem's book.

1. They insist on the exclusive use of the masculine pronoun "he" for autos for no grammatically defensible reason. They inconsistently apply the rule that grammatical gender should be translated.

2. Before drafting the guidelines they did not look up adelphos in any standard Greek dictionary, and they do not consider how it translates the Hebrew word 'ach.

3. They remain unfamiliar with the use of aner as "man" in the generic sense of "people", although that is also in the 1869 Liddell and Scott Lexicon.

4. They insist on using "man" for anthropos (human being) always in the singular, and sometimes in the plural.

5. They insist on changing expressions from the KJV like Matt. 5:9 "the children of God" to the "sons of God", although this creates patterns never before used in major English Bible translations.

6. They are so unfamiliar with the Koehler-Baumgartner Lexicon that they spell it Koehler-Bahmgarter, Koehler-Bahmgartner, and so on, without actually fixing on a constant spelling for this work of reference. It gives the peculiar impression that they are unfamiliar with this work.

If Christians want to use Bibles that follow the Colorado Springs Guidelines, they must be informed that these guidelines have absolutely no scholarship backing them up. They serve the sole purpose of "reinforcing the impression of predominance of male orientation in generic statements." Poythress & Grudem. p. 451. They do not glorify God.

It is their insistence that in Rev. 3:20,

    Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
'he' must be used for 'anyone' to "suggest the picture of a male as an example" P & G p. 451, that has spurred me on to express my opinion of these guidelines. As a true generic "he" did not necessarily offend. However, in its new form, as a representative generic, implying that woman has access to Christ vicariously, through a male 'image' in her mind, it does offend.


At Fri Feb 10, 08:47:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

However, in its new form, as a representative generic, implying that woman has access to Christ vicariously, through a male 'image' in her mind, it does offend.

Very well stated, Suzanne. And, of course, while offense is important, it is even more important whether the P&G hypothesis is true or not. P&G proponents would surely argue that truth (as they understand it) may offend, just as "the preaching of the cross" offends (1 Cor. 1:18). Both, they would say, is a necessary offense. Truth can and does offend sometimes, but we need to be sure that what we are saying is true before we say that it is causing a necessary offense. I have not yet seen evidence that P&G's male representative hypothesis as applied to grammatical forms of language is true.

At Fri Feb 10, 09:18:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I think maybe there is some truth to it in English and that is where the idea of male representation has come from. However, I fail to see it as something God intended in the Greek.

Okay, I used to teach high school French and English, so this offends me as a teacher that there is no basis for these arguments, that the authors of the guidelines didn't care about checking the facts first. They work from English to Greek in their theology, and I work from Greek to English in my belief. (I refuse to admit that I know anthing about theology, now that I see the books these men have written.)

Just because something is offensive, it doesn't make it right. There are many offensive things that we wouldn't defend as Christians. Poor manners and poor scholarship belong together in my books, as something a Christian should not defend.

At Fri Feb 10, 11:41:00 AM, Blogger R. Mansfield said...

Suzanne, you may have the beginnings here for a submission to a journal or some other kind of print medium.

At Fri Feb 10, 03:25:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

You're right, Rick.

At Fri Feb 10, 05:13:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Two of the three signers of the Colorado Springs Guidelines with PhDs in New Testament are of course Grudem and Poythress themselves. The third one may well be Piper. Well, I am ashamed to see that someone with (according to "Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood") a "Ph.D. in New Testament from the University of Cambridge", my own alma mater, can show the kind of ignorance of Greek and failure to use standard lexicons that Grudem has shown. And the other PhDs don't seem any better.

At Fri Feb 10, 06:12:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

The third was Piper. I have had a friendly talk with Dr. Packer and he says that on the ESV translation committee, besides himself, only Bruce Winter had a classical education and knew Greek outside of the context of the NT.

I should mention that Dr. Packer has not read this book by Poythress and Grudem. He was a little surprised when I mentioned that they did had not read the lexicons before drafting the guidelines, but he did not express any disbelief.


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