Re: anhr vs. anqrwpos

From: Micheal Palmer (
Date: Fri Jun 27 1997 - 00:00:39 EDT

At 2:24 PM -0400 6/24/97, Theresa J List, Dcs wrote:
>It is simplistic to insist that either "anhr" or "anqrwpos" have only one
>meaning respectively. Each word can take on a specific meaning of "a
>male" or a generic meaning of "a person." An example of each case is
>cited below. (Many, many, many more examples could be found in big
>Kittel if anyone cares to look them up.)

This is very true. Still there are limits to what any given word can mean,
even in the strangest of contexts. ANHR can mean 'a male' or the generic 'a
person.' But there is no evidence that it was ever used to mean a male
parent (i.e. 'a father') while there is overwhelming evidence that it was
regularly used to mean
a male marriage partner (i.e. 'a husband').

>Each of these words is contextually defined, and therefore, no amount of
>lexicon thumping, or no amount of systematic theology textbook thumping,
>can change that. The meaning of either of these words depends on the
>context of usage.

This is exactly the point that I have been making. To know whether ANHR
could have a particular meaning we have to examine the contexts in which it
was used. While those contexts provide large numbers of examples of ANHR in
a clear generic usage, and plenty examples of ANHR used to indicate a male
marriage partner, there are none which demand a meaning of AHNR as
'father.' It is therefore not legitimate to claim that it means 'father' in
Matthew 1:16 where the another meaning of the word can easily be read--even
if it is theologically uncomfortable for some. To insist on a new meaning
of the word based on this one controversial example is simply bad
lexicographical practice (or faulty word study).

>. . . I think our individual theological biases are
>making us ignore the necessary linguistic perimeters within which we can,
>and cannot, draw conclusions.


Micheal W. Palmer
Religion & Philosophy
Meredith College

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