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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

"We think that it means men"

There has been a lot of discussion about whether 'men' for anthropos in the ESV means 'men' or 'people'. With reference to 2 Tim. 2:2, Dr. Packer said "We think that it means men." I cannot understand why people are trying to deny this.

It is, however, possible that the ESV translators intended people to read 'men' in some places and 'men and women' in others. However, they did not actually give a key for this interpretation. Maybe they thought that in all the controversial verses they would say 'men' for anthropos and then in the non-controversial places they would say 'people'. I am not sure how this is supposed to make the translation transparent to the Greek but it does give one a certain latitude if you know that most of the times when it says men you are free to interpret this as either, 'men' or 'men and women'. Or 'men' who represent the human race.

I went as a woman to ask Dr. Packer does 'men' mean 'men', or 'men and women'. First, he said that it meant 'men' and then he said that until 1950, 'men' could mean 'men and women' although it was a different convention than how people speak today. Then he said that he and I would have to agree to disagree.

15 Comments:

At Wed Feb 22, 08:31:00 PM, Blogger KAT said...

First, he said that it meant 'men' and then he said that until 1950, 'men' could mean 'men and women' although it was a different convention than how people speak today.

Perhaps it was used more neutrally in pre-1950 times. Great. We should follow in their footsteps then, and use the neutral vocabulary for our day and time, just like they did for theirs.

 
At Wed Feb 22, 08:48:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I can read the old Bibles and I can read the new Bibles. But what am I to do with the Bibles where a team of men intervene and decide when 'people' means 'men' and when 'people' means 'men and women'?

No one seems to understand the grief I feel.

 
At Wed Feb 22, 09:05:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

No one seems to understand the grief I feel.

In addition to the exclusion that women feel when a generic anthropoi is translated by "men," there is the issue of accuracy. If a biblical word refers to a group of both females and males, then an English translation of that word should clearly communicate to the majority of English speakers today that inclusive meaning. To translate with a term that does not communicate the right meaning is not to have as accurate a translation.

 
At Thu Feb 23, 06:43:00 AM, Blogger Talmida said...

Suzanne, maybe the solution is not to read those Bibles.

The only way to vote is with your pocketbook (or your feet, if the Bible is used exclusively in your Church, I suppose).

I also find it helpful when I feel hurt by the sexist behaviour of the Church to look back a ways and see how far women have come in the last 30 or 40 years. It is slow, but change does happen.

 
At Thu Feb 23, 07:03:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Unfortunately, in certain circles women have lost ground in the last 30 years. It pains me to say this. In the secular world they have gained and in the Christian community they have lost.

I have been quiet for 30 years. How has that helped other women? I can leave but then who will protest and stand up for injustice?

But thanks Talmida, and certainly I will not read these Bibles.

 
At Thu Feb 23, 08:40:00 AM, Blogger Mike Sangrey said...

Suzanne remarked: I have been quiet for 30 years. How has that helped other women? I can leave but then who will protest and stand up for injustice?

At the risk of using the same sense of humor as our Lord (hmmmmm...is that risky?) perhaps you need to loose the cloak.

See the Historical, figurative interpretation of turning the other cheek.

What Jesus tells us to do here is extremely difficult. We must come up with incredibly clever ways to expose oppression. The idea is to force the other person to either do the right thing. Or, to do the wrong thing in a public way. That's not easy to do given man's [pun intended] propensity to veil some truth. (See Cor. 3:13 within its context) Though the attacking rhetoric of a few is of some help to the cause of truth.

I think exposing the quotes from the highly respected Packer is a strong step in the right direction. Packer is godly enough to state the truth, even though in certain specific cases it presents him in a bad light. For that reason, he holds my respect; even though in specific cases he has strengthened the understanding I already had (and which he apparently disagrees with).

 
At Thu Feb 23, 08:43:00 AM, Blogger Sungkhum said...

If I am not mistaken, in the ESV Bible New Testament the English word "people" appears 303 times.

The word "men" appears 208 times.

In the TNIV Bible New Testament the English word "people" appears 577 times.

The word "men" appears 120 times.

The first verse where ανθρωπος is translated different is Matthew 4:4

"...Man shall not live by bread alone..."
"...People do not live on bread alone..."

Does anyone know if the ESV always translates ανθρωπος into some form of "men"? And if the TNIV always translates it into some form of "people"

ανθρωπος in Luke 23:6 might answer that question, but I don't know Greek:

TNIV:
On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean.

ESV: When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean.

In this case has the TNIV chosen when to translate ανθρωπος as people and when to translate it as man (because it wouldn't make any sense to translate it as people here) or is it plain in the Greek that is is man (I don't know Greek)?

And also, regardless of what Dr. Packer says about it (this place it is everyone, this place only men) does the ESV translation dictate that the reader must interpret it as Dr. Packer does, or does it allow for non-gender specific interpretation, does it allow the reader to interpret for themselves what the TNIV has done for you by adding a word that makes sure everyone know that they think it is gender specific?

Just some thoughts - if anyone knows the answers, I would appreciate a reply.

Thanks - have a good day,
Nathan

 
At Thu Feb 23, 09:12:00 AM, Blogger Mike Sangrey said...

Nathan wrote: ανθρωπος in Luke 23:6 might answer that question, but I don't know Greek:

The issue is a little more complex than always translating a Greek word with the same English word. Both the TNIV and the ESV do the right thing by trying to let the context dictate how to translate ανθρωπος. They disagree in two areas: One, the exegesis of the specific instance; and, two, the theological implications (actually, ideological) of grammatical gender and words such as ανθρωπος.

Luke 23 uses the word ανθρωπος. I frankly think that 'person' would have been the better choice here, though it's the difference between 5.999 and a half a dozen. Pilate didn't use the other word for 'man' (ἀνήρ) since that would have conveyed a sense of respect. And that certainly doesn't fit the context.

 
At Thu Feb 23, 03:46:00 PM, Blogger KAT said...

Unfortunately, in certain circles women have lost ground in the last 30 years. It pains me to say this. In the secular world they have gained and in the Christian community they have lost.

Yes, it is sad. Not to take away from the admirable efforts in the secular sphere, but Christians, of all people, should be at the forefront of protesting injustice. We shouldn't be latebloomers, but instigators.

To show just how far behind many of us are (and to use a popular/secular example), it's to our shame that something as silly as "Star Trek" has even moved beyond this issue.

To explain, I'm referring to the old series in the 1960's. In the introductory monologue before each episode, William Shatner had a line that said: "To boldly go where no man has gone before..."

In the 1980's however, there was a new Star Trek series (called Star Trek: The Next Generation). The new series made it's adjustment in the title sequence to say "To boldly go where no one has gone before..."

And y'know...I didn't hear about ONE "trekkie" complaining about it. Trekkies are pretty fanatical when there are changes made that do not line up with the original 1960's show, but for some reason, they welcomed this change. I wonder why...Perhaps because it was right thing to do?

Point being: It's a pity that even "Trekkies" (let alone, countless others) have outdone Christians in good and can recognize what is right, when we should have been the drum major for issues like this all along.

Instead, there still many "Christians" willfully sticking their heads in the sand, crying about about the "downfall" of "manhood" and proper "roles" for men and women. Some of them even built entire ministries around the idea -- And if you think a crazy Star Trek fan wearing pointy ears is ridiculous, I'd say that the fact that there are Christians out there building ministries around "gender exclusivity" is even more ridiculous!


What Jesus tells us to do here is extremely difficult. We must come up with incredibly clever ways to expose oppression.

We are encouraged to call out injustice for what it is, with our words -- We don't have to turn the other cheek as far as words are concerned. We just have to turn the other cheek when we meet the consequence of our words. We don't have to be clever necessarily. We just have to be courageous.

When your opponents get sick and tired of your courage, and start revealing themselves for how dangerous they really are, then you must have the courage to take the opposite path they do -- the one that shows that you are not the dangerous one. Love like that heaps burning coals even on the heads of the guilty....Or at the very least, it shines a brighter light on their ugliness for all to see.

 
At Fri Feb 24, 01:25:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

Straylight, I heard many Trekkers complaining about that change. I was one of them, as it happens. I was twelve at the time, and I thought it was part of a feminist agenda to change the English language. Now I know from having studied the history of feminism that it really was from such an agenda that the language began changing but that not everyone who speaks with what's now called inclusive language is serving a radical agenda such as the one that spawned the language change (which included seeking inclusive language for God and denial of much of the Bible). It's exactly because of such a change that inclusive language is now in certain contexts especially important, though I would still emphasize that it loses something important if you're translating from a language that doesn't have exactly the same use of gender, such as the biblical languages (just as translating non-inclusively also loses something, I should affirm, and which loss is greater or lesser depends on the context, which is why I think both sorts of translations should exist).

Movements like Promise Keepers, Family Life, Focus on the Family, Campus Crusade for Christ, and many others have done tremendous good in calling men to stop being lazy jerks, expecting their wives to take leadership and such things. This is framed in terms of calling men to be biblical men, and I think it's worth being careful when tempted to speak of such language as inherently bad as if anyone speaking this way is doing what the more extreme people you're thinking of are doing. The model of biblical manhood many of these people have in mind (and I would say most of what someone like Wayne Grudem has in mind) is a real counterbalance to some terrible views on what manhood should be that American culture fosters.

Sungkhum, the ESV often (and I think by default) translates 'anthropos' inclusively. Part of what Suzanne's post was about was to lament that they didn't translate it consistently inclusively but decided with certain verses that it carried a masculine sense.

 
At Fri Feb 24, 01:25:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thank you, Straylight. I haven't watched Star Trek for some time but I was rather a fan of the classic show.

Funny thing about this 'man' word. It simply never bothered me one way or another till I read a certain complementarian blog this fall and started investigating.

So you must know that I have no general difficulty with the word, or its referent. :-)

It is only when the word is being used to deliberately allow an interpretation that excludes women that I have to question it.

 
At Fri Feb 24, 01:36:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

Suzanne, I wonder if you're being too harsh on Packer. One of the differences I've picked up on between English and Greek and Latin is that Greek and Latin would use 'anthropos' or 'homo' for a man without hesitation, while English uses 'man' to refer to a man who is known to be a man, in most cases anyway, rather than using 'human' or 'person'. 'Person' is used largely when we don't know someone's gender. In my experience, it's often used when someone is speaking of someone female and doesn't want to broadcast that it's a woman or girl but much less often used when it's a male, and a male term is just used. It's thus especially misleading to translate 'anthropos' as "person" when it refers to a man, because the first thing many people will think is that it's talking about women but not wanting to be explicit about it. If the passage does intend to refer just to elders, who for other contextual reasons might be restricted to men (as Packer believes is the case), then translating 'anthropos' as "people" gives the wrong impression. It's the literal translation with a misleading gender sense, the same problem inclusive language advocates have with how 'adelphoi' gets literally translated as "brothers". It is the literal meaning, or as close as we get to in English, but the literal meaning is misleading in some ways. So too with 'anthropos' as "person" in some contexts.

So it seems unfair to me to say that Piper is being inconsistent or backward, when there's a perfectly reasonable explanation of what he's thinking. In this case he went with what seemed to him to lose less of what was most important in the original, even if it wasn't the most literal translation. That's something that people at this blog should easily understand.

 
At Fri Feb 24, 02:24:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Fri Feb 24, 03:22:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Jeremy,

Stylistically anthropos singular would normally be translated man. That is the usual translation in a specific context for a known person.

Obviously 'person' in English has a very different connotation and etymological history. 'Human' also since they both came into the English language in different ways.

However, we were talking about the plural. On the one hand, does anthropos really indicate male + status, as elder would? On the other hand, could not some people still be excluded from eldership for a variety of reasons, not just that they were women. So does it really matter, is one giving away the ship, so to speak, to translate anthropos as people. Is there not some other way to keep women out? And can women really not teach? and in what contexts?

Since you brought up John Piper (I am not sure why. I don't think I did.) are you a fan of his lists? I like to take them out once in a while and count the things that Christian women have permission to do.

I would assume from the list, that Christian women would be allowed to teach Greek in a university but not in a seminary. This may explain a lot of things that I have seen lately. However, my great aunt taught Greek at university in the days when seminaries and universities were integrated. Actually I think many of them still are, but others aren't.

 
At Tue Feb 28, 03:50:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Jeremy wrote: "If the passage does intend to refer just to elders, who for other contextual reasons might be restricted to men (as Packer believes is the case), then translating 'anthropos' as "people" gives the wrong impression."

I agree. My problem is that it is only one possible exegesis of most of those passages that they refer only to men. I honestly don't see how this can even be considered a valid possible exegesis of 2 Timothy 2:2, which is not about elders. Thus by using "men" in the translation in such places the ESV translators are forcing upon readers their own distinctive exegesis of the passages. Now I realise that there are some cases, where the referents are explicitly male, where it would look rather odd to render "people" in English. But this does not apply when it is only some kind of remote context which tends to suggest that the referents are male.

 

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