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Friday, February 17, 2006

Packer's bad exegesis of 2 Timothy 2:2

First let me clarify that this posting is about Dr J I Packer, not about the late Australian tycoon Kerry Packer, whose memorial service has just taken place. I doubt if the two are related!

Now I have respected Dr Packer for about 30 years, since as a young Christian I read his "Knowing God". At about the same time, not long before he left Britain for Canada, I heard him speak and took part in a small group discussion with him, in which he gave a robust defence of his evangelical faith in front of an audience of largely liberal Christians. But I am sorry to say that my respect for Dr Packer, at least as a Bible scholar, is now being challenged.

In her posting J I Packer and 2 Tim. 2:2 Suzanne McCarthy reported on how she questioned Dr Packer about this verse, which is rendered in the ESV Bible:
and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
The word "men" here is a rendering of Greek ἄνθρωποι anthrōpoi. Dr Packer, as General Editor of the ESV Bible, must bear responsibility for this rendering.

Here is an extract from Suzanne's conversation with Dr Packer:
Dr. Packer: Well, Paul doesn’t say that it was 'men only', he just says 'men', but in the situation, it was to the teachers, surely it is obvious from the context that they were men.

...
Suzanne: Luther translated it mensch. He didn’t add the masculine meaning. It was a disappointing verse for me.

Dr. Packer: Remember though until very recently the word, that the masculine word 'men' was understood as generic, 'men' was including women when the context implies it. Are you saying that the context implies women teachers especially in light of the second half of the second chapter of 1 Timothy?

I must say I am amazed that Dr Packer is capable of such bad exegesis. The word ἄνθρωπος anthrōpos simply does not have a male meaning component, even though at times e.g. when used in contrast with γυνή gunē "woman" it can refer to men only. And there is nothing in the context in 2 Timothy to restrict to men only the role of passing on the gospel to others. Indeed quite the opposite: Eunice and Lois (1:5) are credited with doing this for Timothy himself; for surely it was these two, rather than Timothy's Greek father (Acts 16:1), who taught him the scriptures in childhood (3:15). And of course the ἄνθρωποι anthrōpoi of 3:2,13 are also gender generic.

Dr Packer claims "in the situation, it was to the teachers, surely it is obvious from the context that they were men". No, with respect, it is not at all obvious. The only argument that Dr Packer could make that teachers were all male is not from this letter at all, but from 1 Timothy 2:12, and perhaps from 1 Corinthians. I don't want to go into the exegesis of those verses here. But it is a very bad exegetical practice to introduce into one book concepts, especially theologically controversial ones, which are plainly taught only in another book, in other words to harmonise different books. There are a few places where it may be necessary to do this in order to make a comprehensible translation. But this verse is not one of those. There is no good reason not to translate the normall generic ἄνθρωποι anthrōpoi in 2:2 with the generic "people", as TNIV does, and allow this "people" to be restricted by the wider context, rather than specify maleness here when the apostle did not do so. Dr Packer complained, as reported by Suzanne in another posting here, that TNIV practised "a sort of concealment of what was said in the Bible". Well, this is a case where ESV is practising the same kind of concealment, and betraying its published philosophy that "it seeks to be transparent to the original text, letting the reader see as directly as possible the structure and meaning of the original"; for here ESV has concealed from its readers the important fact that the Greek word used here is normally generic, and forced upon them a particular interpretation that only men can teach in this way.

And Packer can't even appeal to the practice of the churches sponsoring the ESV translation (who just might be able to influence the text of the translation) to limit teaching of others to males. Almost all churches allow women to teach children and other women in certain circumstances. Since there is no reason to restrict the "others" in this verse to adult males, there is no reason to restrict the teachers to males.

I suspect that this is a case where Packer has simply misunderstood traditional translations of 2 Timothy 2:2 as referring to men only (for even when he was young "men" was usually not gender generic here in England), and so has resisted any later attempts to challenge his misunderstanding on the basis of what the Greek text actually says. If so, I have to conclude that his understanding of this verse is bad exegesis.

43 Comments:

At Fri Feb 17, 01:33:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Peter,

I do not believe that Dr. Packer in any way misunderstood. He told me that he had a classical education and I believed him. He does not agree with the ordination of women and, I suspect, believes that ordained minstry is the highest form of teaching.

Dr. Packer and I disagree on this issue but I benefit from his teaching on other things. He is a moderate person. We attend the same church and fortunately beliefs around the ordination of women do not impair communion.

 
At Fri Feb 17, 02:36:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Well, Suzanne, you may be right. But this misunderstanding may go right back to his classical education, when he was taught that ἄνθρωπος anthrōpos means "man" (the main definition in my 1884 abridged edition of Liddell and Scott "chiefly for use in Schools" and very likely also in the rather later edition the young Packer would have used) and has ever since then wrongly assumed that there is a male meaning component to the word. Such misunderstandings, which may have been literally beaten into him (I remember being beaten by a Latin teacher, but I never learned Greek at school), can go so deep that they can never be eradicated.

Beliefs about the ordination of women certainly impait communion if it is a woman celebrating the communion. This has already had a profound effect on the Church of England. What would Dr Packer think, or do, if a woman was appointed as senior pastor of your congregation?

 
At Fri Feb 17, 04:07:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I am not going to speculate on hypothetical events.

 
At Fri Feb 17, 04:42:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Straylight, what texts? 2 Timothy? There is nothing in this book which can possibly be understood as supporting male-only teaching ministries, as least as far as I know. 1 Timothy? Yes, there are passages in this book which can be interpreted in this way. But does that make it right to impose ideas from one letter on to another one? I consider it important to let each book speak for itself, in translation. It is for theologians, not translators, to pull together the somewhat diverse teachings of the various biblical books into something of a coherent whole.

 
At Fri Feb 17, 04:43:00 PM, Blogger KAT said...

And what IF the texts really do support masculine-only teaching ministries, as men like Dr. Packer say? Would it still matter?

That, to me, is the more important question.

 
At Fri Feb 17, 05:13:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

And what IF the texts really do support masculine-only teaching ministries, as men like Dr. Packer say? Would it still matter?

Yes, it would matter, especially if we could be quite certain that the instructions were intended to have broader application than just to a single local congregation to which the letter was addressed.

 
At Fri Feb 17, 07:20:00 PM, Blogger Scott Carson said...

I'm not altogether sure that I would agree with you that the word anthropos carries no implicature whatever of maleness in its use in the New Testament.

On the one hand, the word clearly refers to humankind, not specifically to male human beings, but on the other hand Packer may well be on to something in attempting to associate the use of the word with the contextual associations that may have been in the mind of the 1st century reader/hearer.

In fact, if you will have a look at LSJ, you will find that one of the meanings for anthropos is given as "the man, the fellow", and when the word is joined with another substantive, it can even be used "like aner". There is even a feminine form of the word which means--you guessed it--"woman".

So suppose we agree with Packer that there is a certain audience in mind, an audience of men who assume that the reference is to other men. Although the word does not necessarily connote males, it may, nevertheless, denote them, in which case "men" is not a bad translation, since it captures both the sense and the reference.

It's probably worth remembering, too, that it is unlikely that St. Paul would agree with our own contemporary attitudes about gender discrimination.

 
At Fri Feb 17, 07:43:00 PM, Blogger R. Mansfield said...

Peter does this blog about Dr. Packer begin to go across the line of "Comments on blog posts should focus on issues not personalities. Please do not question the spirituality or motivations of anyone, including Bible translation teams"?

Granted, it's actually a blog entry, and not a comment, and it's your blog to say what you want, but this is certainly the most accusatory tone I've ever seen in an entry on this BBB before.

Just trying to raise a red flag before things get nasty.

Respectfully,

Rick

 
At Fri Feb 17, 09:03:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

As a singular it might be best translated as the 'fellow' but in the plural it meant 'men' in the generic sense. All other lgs that have a word for 'people' which is different from 'man' translated it 'people'. In German it was mensch.

In modern Greek it still has this meaning.

Reading Greek you get the constant sense that the contrast is between 'men' and 'gods'. But, as Dr. Packer said, we agreed to disagree. I did not argue with him or further question his motivation. I do not intend to do this. I simply wanted to know what meaning he intended and now I know.

I can't help but feel that the audience for this letter was not entirely male.

 
At Fri Feb 17, 09:38:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Rick asked:

Peter does this blog about Dr. Packer begin to go across the line of "Comments on blog posts should focus on issues not personalities. Please do not question the spirituality or motivations of anyone, including Bible translation teams"?

Granted, it's actually a blog entry, and not a comment, and it's your blog to say what you want, but this is certainly the most accusatory tone I've ever seen in an entry on this BBB before.

Just trying to raise a red flag before things get nasty.


Rick, I appreciate the concern behind your question. Because of it, I have gone back over Peter's post to see if there is anything which might cross that line which we have asked commenters not to cross. (FWIW, I believe that each of us who who post on the BBB should hold to the same standard that we ask of commenters.) I might be missing something that you may be picking up in Peter's post, but I do not sense him questioning Dr. Packer's spirituality at all. In fact, he honors Dr. Packer in that area. As for questioning Dr. Packer's motivations, I'm not sure I see any problem in that area, either. It is clear that Peter is questioning Dr. Packer's interpretation of Greek anthropoi in the context of 2 Tim. 2, and that is perfectly fine. It is appropriate to disagree with someone else, especially to do so with biblical language support for your own position as Peter does. You, however, may be picking up on something that I'm not. If so, please tell us, either in a public comment or private email. Thanks for your spirit of wanting posts and comments to be appropriate. Of course Peter needs to be able to respond for himself, if he desires. As you may or may not know, he lives in English so at this time of night in the U.S. he's probably still sleeping.

 
At Fri Feb 17, 09:40:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Well, my final sentence had one of my typical mental typos, where my fingers substitute a different word for the one my brain intend. I did not intend to say that Peter "lives in English" although he may do so, whatever that would mean. I do know that he lives in English.

:-)

 
At Fri Feb 17, 10:42:00 PM, Blogger lingamish said...

Ha ha. Get some sleep, Wayne.

We all know what you meant to say,

"Peter lives in Finland."

 
At Sat Feb 18, 06:20:00 AM, Blogger Scott Carson said...

Suzanne,

I think I agree with you that generally speaking the word in the plural was intended in a generic sense, but of course if you check out the usage of the word using the TLG you will find that there are contexts in which even the plural refers only to males.

That is only a necessary condition, however, for the word having the meaning "males"--clearly it is not a sufficient condition, since in most languages a masculine plural (or even a masculine singular) can have the generic meaning that you're talking about.

I'm not altogether sure what you mean when you say that you "cannot help but feel" that the audience was not all male. Is this some sort of intuition on your part, or are you referring to other textual indicators, contextual clues, etc., that I'm just missing? Again, I'm not saying that I disagree with you necessarily, I'm just wondering what you're going on there.

 
At Sat Feb 18, 06:44:00 AM, Blogger s said...

I have a Bible in modern Greek put out by the Bible Society in Athens. 2 Tim 2:2 is translated "eis pistous anthrwpous, oi opoioi" etc i.e. still using the generic "man" rather than the gendered word for "man" in modern Greek. I know this Bible is used amongst Greek Orthodox in Greece - who naturally don't ordain women, but used to have female deacons in the deep dark past (don't know enough about their role but I do believe it included teaching women and children and may have been in connection with or under direction of a male priest/deacon).

Frankly much as I respect Mr Packer hugely, I wouldn't be so dismissive of Greeks knowing the history and changes in their language or of even modern Greeks knowledge of koine Greek. I don't know about Suzanne's friend, but mMany of the elderly Greek migrants down here learnt koine Greek/translated the Greek NT in high school (where it along with classics was compulsory I think. Don't know about now) and would hear excerpts sung every week during the liturgy. When I was learning some basic NT Greek, I would visit one and she would correct me as she washed dishes and I would sit there doing vocab or conjugating verbs or doing verbal translation at her kitchen bench. She thought the pronounciation I was taught (different sound for every letter, almost Erasmum) was a hoot and taught me her pronounciation which is exactly as Carogounis (sic?) published recently.

Also from my understanding Greek has not changed as much as other languages in a similar time period i.e koine Greek still bares much similarity to today's demotic Greek.

I would be interested to know if anyone has access to the opinion of Greek Greek scholars from say a theological or classical school in Greece.

 
At Sat Feb 18, 08:47:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

My friend had studied classical Greek but not koine Greek. I was trying to get a naive reaction. I didnt talk to my friend about gender issues first. The point is not that anthropos might not refer to men but whether we can know that without knowing exactly who is being talked about. And as I said earlier, when one says American by itself it sounds more like a 'man' but we would not substitute the word man instead.

In any case, the differential translation of anthropos as sometimes 'people' and sometimes 'men' in the ESV is, I think, without precedent in any other Bible translation in the English language or any other European lg. It is an entirely new way of approaoaching the translation of that word. Truly unprecedented and therefore odd.

I would take a more inclusive meaning from the last few verses of the book where Claudia and Priscilla are mentioned in the greetings. Was this letter intended to be passed on to others or was it intended only for Timothy.

 
At Sat Feb 18, 09:01:00 AM, Blogger R. Mansfield said...

Wayne, I certainly don't want to the belabor the point, but I guess it was the statement "I am sorry to say that my respect for Dr Packer, at least as a biblical scholar, is now being challenged" sounded more concentrated on personality than the issues at hand. Even the title "Packer's Bad Exegesis..." seemed to have a different tone than many of the blog entries I've read here. If I misinterpreted either of these, my sincere apologies to Peter.

It's a minor thing in the big picture.

The major issue in the ongoing conversation over the last few weeks seems to be the flaws that Suzanne has pointed out in the Colorado Guidelines. And understand that I would consider myself cautiously conservative on some of these issues, but I'm not closed-minded. Regardless of where someone falls on the issue of gender equality, I would think that the flaws she has pointed out in the guidelines need to be taken seriously. I'd really like to see some of this explored further and published so that it can become part of the ongoing conversation in wider evangelical circles.

 
At Sat Feb 18, 02:26:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Rick, I appreciate you challenging me on the appropriateness of my posting. I agree with Wayne that the same standards apply to posters as to commenters. But I am glad that Wayne has agreed with my own understanding that I had not transgressed those standards. Let me reiterate that I continue to respect Dr Packer as a Christian leader. I just wanted to make it clear that his exegesis of this point is faulty. It is surely within the bounds of proper comment to hold teachers accountable on such matters.

Perhaps I should not have written "my respect for Dr Packer, at least as a biblical scholar, is now being challenged", as that made the issue more personal than it should be. However, I think it is reasonable comment that someone who promotes such clearly faulty exegesis cannot continue to command respect as a biblical scholar.

By the way, I am in England, not Finland, and I haven't been sleeping ever since Wayne mentioned this, in fact it is nearly time for me to sleep again.

 
At Sat Feb 18, 02:35:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Rick,

Don Carson and Mark Strauss have written books. I would be interested in hearing why that has not been effective.

 
At Sat Feb 18, 02:38:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Scott wrote: "I'm not altogether sure that I would agree with you that the word anthropos carries no implicature whatever of maleness in its use in the New Testament."

I did not say that, Scott. I would not agree it myself. Indeed I made that clear in my original posting, when I wrote "at times e.g. when used in contrast with γυνή gunē "woman" it can refer to men only." This was explicitly one example; other examples would be when there are clear contextial associations as you mention. However, as a general linguistic principle, if a word can mean either A or B, a particular use of it can never A to the exclusion of B, at least without clearly defined contextual clues; the most it can be is ambiguous. There are no such clear contextual clues in 2 Timothy. Therefore at most the word ἄνθρωπος anthrōpos here can be ambiguous. It is therefore wrong to translate it with a word "man" which in 21st century English, in such a context, is unambiguously male only. It is far better translation to preserve the ambiguity in English with a rendering like "people".

Scott also wrote: "There is even a feminine form of the word which means--you guessed it--"woman"." Well, the feminine "form" is in fact identical in form to the regular masculine, it differs only in grammatical gender.

Scott continued: "So suppose we agree with Packer that there is a certain audience in mind, an audience of men who assume that the reference is to other men." But we cannot agree with this because this is baseless speculation. There is nothing in the text to suggest that the reference is only to men. Indeed the opposite is true, for 1:5 and 3:15 make it clear that Timothy himself learned the truth from women.

 
At Sat Feb 18, 03:00:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Starr asked: "I would be interested to know if anyone has access to the opinion of Greek Greek scholars from say a theological or classical school in Greece." He or she also mentioned Caragounis (this is the correct spelling). Well, Caragounis is probably the scholar to turn to on this issue, although his current academic position and most of his education have been in Sweden. (He also taught me for a while at London Bible College, 20 years ago.) I don't have access to his recent book, but this was reviewed by Carl Conrad on the b-greek list. There is an online summary of his views (which should be viewed with the MacRoman encoding, but even then the Greek is not legible). See also this and this and the responses to it, which show that the issue has become highly controversial.

 
At Sat Feb 18, 03:34:00 PM, Blogger R. Mansfield said...

Suzanne, I have Carson's book, but I do not have the one by Strauss. If I remember correctly, Carson does not touch on the Colorado Springs guidelines in great detail. Both of those books were released in the late nineties and somewhat in response to the controversy ignited with the release of the inclusive NIV in Great Britain.

There seems to be a second wave of the controversy with the release of the TNIV, not to mention two translations under the guidelines of the Colorado Springs principles (ESV & HCSB) since Carson's and Strauss' books were published. I'll have to go back and take a look at my copy of Carson's book, but I felt like you were bringing up some valid questions that I don't remember him raising (although it may just be a bad memory).

On another note entirely, I have come to the conclusion that if the TNIV does not gain wide acceptance, it may just possibly be because the covers of every leather edition in print looks as if it was made with teenagers in mind. Personally, I'd prefer a Bible cover that doesn't call attention to itself with wild designs or two tone leather. Whatever happened to just a good old black or burgundy cover? I noticed that Cambridge is preparing to release more normal looking TNIV Bibles in the UK, but I see no sign of it on the US Cambridge/Baker site. Zondervan hasn't updated anything beyond "New for the Fall" rollouts. When did Bibles become seasonal fashion statements?

 
At Sat Feb 18, 03:57:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Rick,

I haven't read Carson's book but I just read the footnotes of the TNIV and the GNB Controversy by P & G which quotes a lot of very valid stuff from Carson and Strauss. In fact, I am surprised because the footnotes make more sense than the book.

And I agree with you wholeheartedly about how a Bible should look. That is too bad. I didn't think through all that. I know a lot of people who prefer a traditional Bible are happy with the NRSV, but I do realize the difference.

Peter,

I really appreciate all the detailed study you have put into this.I will read the articles you mention now.

 
At Sat Feb 18, 04:23:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Rick, in 2002 Mark Strauss did write a short paper and a Christianity Today article in response to the release of the TNIV NT. He also debated the issue with Wayne Grudem. And c. 2003 he wrote a longer and more general paper Current Issues in the Gender-Language Debate: A Response to Vern Poythress and Wayne Grudem.

As for a TNIV which doesn't look "as if it was made with teenagers in mind", look at this one at the IBS Direct site. Not leather, I realise, but why do you want leather if you don't want the cover to draw attention to itself?

 
At Sat Feb 18, 05:59:00 PM, Blogger R. Mansfield said...

Peter, thanks for all the links! I will enjoy exploring all of this information, especially getting up to speed with Strauss' contributions.

As for a Bible cover drawing attention to itself, I was speaking slightly tongue in cheek. I do have a copy of the standard harback text edition of the TNIV. But when I teach, maybe I'm old fashioned, but I like a Bible to "feel like a Bible" if that makes any sense at all. Plus, at my church anything that WASN'T leather would draw attention to itself :)

Lately, I've actually been using the HCSB a lot since it is included in the Sunday School literature of the class I teach. AND I have a copy of it that has a non-flashy cover!

 
At Sat Feb 18, 06:47:00 PM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Peter wrote: "anthrōpos simply does not have a male meaning component"

That is a false statement, Peter. Anthropos certainly does have a male meaning component. It is a masculine noun, after all, and in some places it is used opposite gune "woman."

 
At Sat Feb 18, 07:04:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Rick, there's a leather TNIV selling on eBay now:

TNIV Bible (2005) European Leather

It's two-tone leather but it looks manly to me, and not too young.

This morning the mailman brought me a leather TNIV pocket Bible, with the bluish gray stripee down the middle. My wife thinks it looks nice. It's OK with me. The bigger issue for me is that my presbyopic eyes call for a magnifying glass to read the tiny print. I got it for a bargan price on eBay.

 
At Sat Feb 18, 07:22:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

'A peasant and his wife'. 'Peasant' is contrasted with 'wife'. But the wife is also a peasant.

Certainly Martin Luther used Mensch, not Mann.

 
At Sat Feb 18, 08:14:00 PM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Wayne, are you there?

I want to tell you that this blog of yours has really gone downhill in the past few months. It's become like one of those political blogs where a bunch of ideological partisans get together to pump each other up. Here it's the TNIV-defenders blog, or something. Or the anti-ESV blog -- because you all treat the ESV as if it exemplified everything bad and wrong in Bible translations. You are all so predictable. It looks more like ax-grinding politics than scholarship or ministry.

You are in a "camp" here, circling your wagons, and not interacting with outside criticism in an objective or constructive way.

Michael

 
At Sat Feb 18, 09:25:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Michael Marlowe asked:

Wayne, are you there?

Yes, Michael, I'm here. But I had to be gone for awhile from our house to help our children move beds.

Welcome back, again.

Your final comment was:

You are in a "camp" here, circling your wagons, and not interacting with outside criticism in an objective or constructive way.

You've missed a lot while you were gone, Michael. Feel free to catch up with what we have interacted with from various sides in the Bible translation debates by reading blog posts since you last visited us as well as the resources in the right margin of this blog. The resources you have listed on the Internet were linked to in a post this very day, as well as at other times.

If you have other biblical scholars you know of who we should also be interacting with here, please feel free to cite them, along with their bibliographic information.

 
At Sat Feb 18, 09:32:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

We are seeking the truth, Michael. Dr. Packer was very open with me and I feel that he was truthful in not finding any fault with the scholarship of the TNIV. He did not say there was no fault, but that "he did not have this at his fingertips", but he did say that he has "great respect for the scholars of the TNIV", as do I.

I am interacting with your site in all honesty.

 
At Sun Feb 19, 10:47:00 AM, Blogger son of abraham said...

You've missed a lot while you were gone, Michael.

If I've missed so much, why is it that every time I pop over here to look at your blog, I see nothing but TNIV-defending and anti-ESV screeds all the way down the page? It's so predictably agenda-driven. And you still have people here who are insisting that anthropos has no male meaning component. This is demonstrably false. And the very idea that masculine pronouns used in reference to people would have no masculine semantic component is so improbable, I would even call it outlandish. I don't know how anyone who knows Greek or Hebrew could make such statements as I read here on this blog. I don't see much hope of your understanding the criticisms of the TNIV if you can't even admit that there is a male semantic component in singular masculine nouns that are commonly used in reference to men, never used in reference to women, and sometimes used in opposition to words that refer to women. As for the pronouns, do you really suppose that they have no masculine component of meaning? Honestly. And then you compare criticism of your position to terrorism. In your post about "Rage, riots, and holy books" you say, "It is a dangerous time to translate the Bible as you believe it should be translated," as if people like you were in danger of being assaulted and murdered by people like Wayne Grudem and Al Mohler. Criticism of the TNIV is equated with hatemongering and fanaticism. Your assertions are so improbable, and so clearly inspired by a desire to vindicate "inclusive language" in English versions. And this is all so obviously related to the impetuous "let's update the Bible to make it more appealing and relevant" attitude that tends to come with the DE philosophy of translation. Yet you are so sure that you are right about your avant-garde position that you even characterize any criticism of it as a crime. I think it's just irresponsible. It certainly doesn't promote a feeling of mutual respect.

 
At Sun Feb 19, 12:11:00 PM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Suzanne wrote: We are seeking the truth, Michael. Dr. Packer was very open with me.

Hi Suzanne. I have always looked upon Dr. Packer as just a popular-level apologist for conservative (mostly Calvinistic) Anglicanism, and not an exegetical scholar. I agree with him about many theological matters, I think he has good instincts and common sense, and in general I have a lot of respect for him. But I have seen things written by him in an exegetical vein that made me shake my head, they seemed to be so ill-considered. Don't expect too much from him in that area. If you want to interact with an exegetical scholar who focuses on linguistic features of the text in a disciplined and competent way, you should try to get an interview with Vern Poythress. But you'd better do your homework before talking to him. He is no dummy, let me tell you.

 
At Sun Feb 19, 05:20:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

"Son of Abraham" wrote: " Peter wrote: "anthrōpos simply does not have a male meaning component" // That is a false statement, Peter. Anthropos certainly does have a male meaning component. It is a masculine noun, after all, and in some places it is used opposite gune "woman.""

No, it is not a false statement. It is not in fact even grammatically masculine, for there is also a feminine form ἡ ἄνθρωπος hē anthrōpos, although this is not explicitly used in the New Testament. But even if we consider only the grammatically masculine form, grammatical gender is irrelevant to meaning. And, as I made clear in the rest of my sentence quoted here, I accepted that in certain contexts ἄνθρωπος anthrōpos acquires some kind of male meaning from its context e.g. in contrast to γυνή gunē "woman", or in fact "wife" when used in contrast with ἄνθρωπος anthrōpos or ἀνήρ anēr, as Suzanne so sensibly pointed out in a comment referring to 1 Corinthians 11:3. But my point was that except where this kind of contrast is signalled in the context the meaning of ἄνθρωπος anthrōpos is gender generic. I challenge "Son of Abraham" to provide any evidence to the contrary.

Later, he wrote: "And you still have people here who are insisting that anthropos has no male meaning component." He had better get used to us, because we will be around for eternity, bearing witness to the truth. "This is demonstrably false." OK, demonstrate it!

 
At Sun Feb 19, 08:00:00 PM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Peter wrote:
[anthropos] is not in fact even grammatically masculine ...

This looks like a pretty desperate move, if you are really denying that anthropos is a grammatically masculine noun. I haven't heard anyone say this before.

.. for there is also a feminine form

Really? I've never seen it. But in any case, it is a non-sequitur, and even somewhat nonsensical, for you to maintain that because a feminine form exists, this means that the masculine form is not masculine.

But even if we consider only the grammatically masculine form, grammatical gender is irrelevant to meaning.

That's not true. If it were true, Greek writers would not have felt the need to use the constructio ad sensum, where grammatical gender-agreement is departed from in order to use a pronoun that matches the physical gender of the referent. The frequency of this phenomenon clearly testifies to the physical gender component of meaning in the pronouns when they are used in reference to persons.

OK, demonstrate it!

Well, I do have a little article about it here:

http://www.bible-researcher.com/anthropos.html

 
At Sun Feb 19, 09:59:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

And substituting 'peasant' for anthropos gives a very nice match. But I would argue that any group of peasants will be both men and women unless otherwise specified. Peasant does not mean male but it functions in the same way as anthropos

Michael, what bothers me is that one group of scholars has been criticized by another group for issues that in other languages like German for instance are just taken for granted.

Now I wonder what it is about understanding anthropos as 'people' instead of 'men' that bothers you?

 
At Sun Feb 19, 10:39:00 PM, Blogger son of abraham said...

suzanne wrote: I wonder what it is about understanding anthropos as 'people' instead of 'men' that bothers you.

You can understand it in whatever way you please, as long as you are not in a position to impose your understanding of it on me.

But it bothers me when I see people asserting that anthropos has no male component of meaning. Because this is obviously false. The usage of the word clearly indicates that anthropos does have a male meaning component. For me this is a point of exegesis more than a demand about Bible translations. I think the "inclusive English" movement is now corrupting Greek philology and hindering accurate exegesis, because an attempt is being made to read the desired degree of gender-neutrality back into the source language. It's just bad philology, driven by concerns about the presentation in the target language.

You can have your "inclusive language" Bible versions. But I demand accurate and unbiased exegesis, at least, uninfluenced by all the political agendas of our age.

 
At Sun Feb 19, 10:40:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

because an attempt is being made to read the desired degree of gender-neutrality back into the source language.

Somehow I never thought of Luther this way before.

 
At Sun Feb 19, 10:55:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I think the "inclusive English" movement is now corrupting Greek philology

I tend to start with the Liddell-Scott 1869.

 
At Mon Feb 20, 05:00:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

The essential fallacy of Michael "Son of Abraham" Marlowe's argument is that he confuses meaning and reference. I repeat here a comment I made on another posting which makes the point more clearly than I could, and also more authoritatively, for the author of the paper it is taken from is DJA Clines, Emeritus Professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Sheffield and editor of the authoritative work The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew. Although this extract refers to the Hebrew word אָדָם 'adam, this part of the argument applies equally to the Greek ἄνθρωπος anthrōpos:

"Of course, if אדם means humans in general, it is very easy to argue that in many places it means males, and all the easier in places where it is paralleled to males. But such a conclusion does not follow; to think so would be to ignore the fundamental linguistic distinction between connotation and denotation (reference). Just because in one context or another אדם refers to males does not mean that such is the meaning of the word, any more than just because in some contexts “the French” means “French footballers” that is the meaning of the term “French”."

Now Marlowe himself has attempted to blur this "fundamental linguistic distinction between connotation and denotation" in this paper on his website. I refer here also to a shorter paper specifically about ἄνθρωπος anthrōpos. For a start, Marlowe claims in the longer paper that ἄνθρωπος anthrōpos is "a masculine noun that was not used in reference to an individual woman". This may be technically true in the Bible, but in Greek as a whole ἄνθρωπος anthrōpos is also a feminine noun referring to women (see sense II in LSJ (Liddell-Scoot-Jones): as fem., woman, Pi.P.4.98, Hdt.1.60, Isoc.18.52, Arist.EN1148b20; contemptuously, of female slaves, Antipho1.17, Is.6.20, etc.; with a [p. 142] sense of pity, D.19.197.), and in Numbers 31:35 LXX it is used in the plural, with grammatical gender not marked, referring to a group explicitly of women only. And then Marlowe adds some comments about the linguistic distinction between semantics and pragmatics which demonstrate a shallow understanding of this subject. Well, it is interesting that Marlowe has chosen in these papers to take on four well respected scholars, D.A. Carson, Craig Blomberg, Daniel B. Wallace (certainly not an egalitarian involved in "an attempt... to read the desired degree of gender-neutrality back into the source language"), and Darrell L. Bock. All of these, as well as Clines, seem to disagree with him on this issue. Now Marlowe is entitled to his own opinion concerning the meaning of ἄνθρωπος anthrōpos. But if he wants to claim that an alternative understanding is "demonstrably false" and "obviously false", he should explain why his attempts to demonstrate this have not resulted in it becoming obvious to these well known scholars.

Marlowe also writes in his shorter paper that "In this respect then, the word anthropos has the same range of meaning as the English word "man," which can be used in a gender-neutral inclusive sense". This is a different issue, but "man" cannot be used in this sense among a general readership here in the UK; it now only has the specifically male sense. As such there is a very limited match between the meanings of Greek ἄνθρωπος anthrōpos and English "man".

I would recommend to Marlowe to read the Clines article and consider how the principles in it can be applied also to ἄνθρωπος anthrōpos.

 
At Mon Feb 20, 09:21:00 AM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Peter,

In the comments section under your new posting "Feminine anthropos" (February 20) I have responded to the substance of your remarks here. You are not interacting with what I said. You are merely trying to make me look like a fool by misconstruing what I said, about my having never encountered the "feminine form" you alleged for anthropos. It remains true that this is a masculine noun, and, as a rule, in the singular it is not used in reference to a woman. I would like to see you interact with the substantial points of my article on this subject. In particular, I want to hear your explanation of why we see anthropos used opposite gune in so many places if anthropos has no male meaning component, as you claim.

As for the Clines article on adam, I read that article months ago, and I find it very unconvincing. I agree with Barr, who maintains that adam is a masculine word, and I don't think Clines has refuted him.

 
At Mon Feb 20, 04:26:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

"It remains true that this is a masculine noun". Well, OK, if you restrict your view to Koine Greek and exclude a classical usage attested in at least 7 authors.

"I want to hear your explanation of why we see anthropos used opposite gune in so many places if anthropos has no male meaning component, as you claim." My explanation of this is the same as Suzanne's, and Clines' as in the following passage from his paper:

... And even when the narrative wants to refer to them both, and we might expect to hear of “the man and his woman/wife” (האישׁ ואשׁתו), we read no such thing, but “the human and his woman/wife” (האדם ואשׁתו), a strange expression (just twice, at [Genesis] ii 25; iii 8), which occurs nowhere else in the Hebrew Bible.

What shall we deduce from these facts? That the first woman is not a human being, that
אדם is a male term, which correctly designates the male person in the narrative? Let us admit that it is strictly illogical, if they are both human, for one of them to be called “the human”. If there were two Canadians in a story, let us imagine, we could not bear it if the narrator insisted on referring to one of them as “the Canadian”. But let us suppose that one of the Canadians is a patriarch and the other his son; we would not be too troubled if the narrative always called the older man “the Canadian” and the younger one “his son”, and we would not suppose that the narrative was trying to tell us that that the son was not a Canadian. So too in our story, it is not special pleading to suggest that the woman is not called “the human” because she is not human but because that term has been applied from the beginning to the man. The human in question, from the beginning of the narrative, is a man, a man with a woman/wife (eventually); but the text, for its own good reasons, does not want to call him a “man” (אישׁ) but “the human” (האדם), just as it does not want to call him “Adam” (אדם) but “the human” (האדם). The fact that the human is a man, and is Adam, does not mean that אדם means a man, any more than it means Adam (the proper name).

 
At Mon Feb 20, 05:57:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Fri Feb 24, 09:58:00 PM, Blogger Gummby said...

Forgive my ignorance, but how is it that Packer gets low marks for importing meaning from other books of the NT, yet your main argument about anthropos (at least as I understand it) hinges on importing meaning from Classical Greek. What am I missing here?

 

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