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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Should we quit like men?

I have often heard people telling males to "be a man" or "act like a man." This is meant to tell someone to act like we culturally believe men act, or at least should act, courageously. I have never heard anyone say "Quit like a man," but I suppose it could be said. I don't know how men are perceived to quit, but I know that I hate to give up. I am persistent (often stubborn!) and do not like to quit any job until it has been completed.

There is, however, an obsolete meaning of the English word "quit" which has a meaning, known by probably fewer than 1% of English speakers today. Here is that meaning, the last meaning sense found in my American Heritage Dictionary:
7. To conduct (oneself) in a specified way: Quit yourselves like adults.
It is this, now obsolete, meaning which was used by the KJV translators in 1 Cor. 16:13:
Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit ye like men, be strong. (italics added)
The original Greek teaches nothing about quitting, in our usual understanding of giving up on a job. Instead the meaning of the Greek command, ανδριζεσθε, is more accurately translated in all recent English translations of which I am aware, including these (with my italics added):
Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. (NKJV)

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. (NASB)

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. (NIV)

Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. (NRSV)

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. (ESV)

Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be brave, be strong. (GNT/TEV)

Keep alert. Be firm in your faith. Stay brave and strong. (CEV)

Be alert. Be firm in the Christian faith. Be courageous and strong. (GW)

Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be brave and strong. (HCSB)
I am thankful for Bible translations that use currently understood meanings of words. Such Bible translations more accurately communicate God's Word than those which use obsolete meanings unknown to many in their target audience.


At Sat Dec 09, 04:12:00 PM, Blogger Sungkhum said...

It is interesting, in the two translations of the Bible in the country where I worked for a while, the first translates it (1954), "act like humans"
and the second (1998), "you must have a brave heart"

What are your thoughts on that (outside of cultural knowledge of the country of course)?


At Sat Dec 09, 04:16:00 PM, Blogger Sungkhum said...

And for English - do you really think being "brave" is all that is meant in the original language?

To me being a man means more than just being brave...


At Sat Dec 09, 09:13:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Nathan said:

To me being a man means more than just being brave...

It does to me, also, Nathan. You make a very good point. I would like to do some further lexical research to try to figure out why so many Bible scholars consider that ανδριζεσθε focus on bravery. Perhaps there was semantic broadening during the etymology of the word in Greek.

Thanks for your comment. It's a good one.

At Sun Dec 10, 09:07:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

These words from 1 Corinthians were of course addressed to an audience consisting of about 50% men. Presumably the men didn't need to be told to act like men. And, whatever chapter 11 means, not to mention the controversial 14:34-35, it can hardly be consistent with an understanding of 16:13 that the women Corinthians were to act like men. So I can't agree with you that NASB and ESV's "act like men" is an accurate translation. But then, come to think of it, this gives me some interesting ammunition to throw back at ESV translator Grudem!

At Sun Dec 10, 05:23:00 PM, Blogger R. Mansfield said...

Wayne, I actually worked this into my Sunday School class this morning. We were in Ezra 4-6 and the theme was persevering to complete what God has called you to. I made the point that I as a man know that often we male-type-persons start projects that we don't finish. We tend to get sidetracked and quit before they are through. I had one lone individual in the class with a KJV, so I had him read this verse aloud. I wrote the phrase "quit ye like men" on the board. We had a good laugh and then I explained the older use of the word.

At Mon Dec 11, 02:13:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

It is interesting that many languages have a word or idiom derived from their word for "man" meaning "brave". For example:

Russian: муж muzh "husband", мужество muzhestvo "courage"
Persian: مرد mard "man", مردابه mardāne "manly, courageous"
Azerbaijani: mərd (loan from Persian) "brave/courageous man/person"
Ancient Greek: ἀνήρ, ἀνδρός anēr, andros "man", ἀνδρεία andreia "manliness, manly spirit, courage" (definitions from Liddell and Scott)
English: "manly", often meaning "courageous" but now perhaps rather archaic; and then of course "play the man" has a long history of meaning "be courageous", at least since 1555 when Bishop Latimer said the following to Bishop Ridley as they were about to be burned at the stake in Oxford:

Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.

I'm sure others can add many more languages to this list.

Thus there seems to be a common rule that words for "courage" are derived from words for "man". However, it is by no means certain that in every language there will be such derivations, or that the derived senses will be the same. So, as with any idiom, we should be careful about literal translation, and ensure that if we translate literally the correct meaning is understood. I suspect that in English today the idiom is going out of use and shifting subtly in meaning, perhaps from "courage" to "machismo". But I don't think Paul was encouraging the Corinthians to strut around showing off their muscles, so we should avoid any rendering which might give that suggestion.

At Mon Dec 11, 03:10:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Nathan, I now have a little more time to follow up on your question. Here is a summary of translation and commentary comments upon the verb andrizomai (these are excerpted from an exegetical summary for 1 Corinthians):

QUESTION—To what attribute of ‘manliness’ does ανδριζομαι ‘to be manly’ refer?

It refers to the attribute of courage or bravery [EGT, Gdt, Ho, LN, Ln, MNTC, NIC2, TH, TNTC; CEV, ISV, NET, NIV, NJB, NLT, NRSV, REB, TEV].

It refers to the mature qualities of self-control, confidence, and bravery [MNTC].

QUESTION—In regard to what are they to be manly?

They are to be brave in regard to the scorn of learned people and the persecution of influential people [Ho].

They are to be brave in regard to enemies [ICC].

They are to be brave in regard to dangers [ICC, NIC2].

They are to be courageous in regard to keeping true to the faith [Ln].

They are to be courageous in regard to error and loose moral living [NIC2].

They are to bravely pursue the Christian life [EGT].

As you can see, the exegetes are not united in their understanding of this Greek verb. However, there is a strong consensus that the verb refers to being courageous. That is what the BDAG lexicon says also.

At Wed Dec 13, 10:08:00 AM, Blogger Sungkhum said...

Thanks for the research Wayne - it is interesting.



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