Rehashing generic 'he'
Here is one of my most recent comments on Wayne Grudem: Part Five, Must a Woman Always Remain Silent in Church. (Let me add that this woman always does.)
I have less feeling for women in leadership (although I support that) and less interest in worrying about how to exegete this scripture and that, than I do about simple basic facts about Bible translation. I wish to see facts dealt with on an equal basis, regardless of whether they are presented by a woman or a man.
Here is one of my comments,
I need to address your misunderstanding regarding the generic 'he'.
Dr. Grudem claims,
- "Thus, in Hebrew and in Greek as well as in English, the usage “suggests a particular pattern of thought,” namely a picture using a male representative"
"But in typical contexts, singular masculine gender pronouns encourage a starting picture of a male, not just a totally faceless entity"
This implies to me that Dr. Grudem thinks that the pronoun creates male semantic meaning - a male image in the mind. Does it do this in Greek? In Greek, the pronoun is αυτος meaning 'the same one as has been mentioned'. And the grammatical ending is masculine.
In fact, no one has ever suggested that masculine grammatical endings create male semantic content, or a starting picture of a male in the the mind. So I cannot understand this argument of Dr. Grudem's. He may feel that this is true in English, but the Bible was not written in English. We have to deal with this.
Let me be clear - the Greek pronoun αυτος does not create a male image in the mind that encourages us to receive Christ in our hearts. Let's look at this verse.
- Rev. 3:2020Behold, 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.
Why should we need the pronoun 'him' to create a starting picture of a male in a woman's head. May not woman come to Christ untrammeled by the thought of a human male, not Christ himself, but the male who represents her in her relationship to Christ, as a picture in her head?
Indeed, if someone came to my door I would say, "Please let whoever is knocking come in and I will give them tea." I would not say "Please let whoever is knocking come in and I will give him tea." I think not. I will welcome a woman as easily as a man.
I discussed this with Dr. Packer and he agrees on this - the generic 'they' is perfectly standard.
Update: The discussion continues here where some old friends and new are reunited. Ruud, J. Mel, Peter, and others.