Re: Re: Sexist Language

From: Lemuel G. Abarte (
Date: Wed Jun 25 1997 - 05:11:09 EDT

The point I am trying to make is this: The writers of the NT have a
theology. That theology is reflected in their writings. When Paul used
the word EPISKOPOS, he was talking about - men. There is no reference to
women. The same with DIAKONOS.

When we translate ANQRWPOS in Romans 5:12, we have to align ourselves with
orthodox theology that has developed since the inception of Christianity.
Adam is the federal head of the human race. The leadership - male role of
Adam here is the point raised by Paul which has been mentioned somewhere
else in this list. The question is: why did Paul used ANQRWPOS? We know
from etymological studies that the word could be applied in a non-sexist,
sexist or generic way, whatever we might call that in our language today.
Now, to avoid the offense current, are we going to translate this "human
being" or "person"? Is that not allowing the issue raised in some
SOCIO-THEOLOGICAL circles to diminish the impact of what the context says?
Should every instance of the Greek word be translated in a way to diminish
the sexist connotation of the term? I think we have allowed a current
existential presupposition into the task of translation to color the words
we have to use.

If we fast rewind our mental views and go back to the early days of
Christianity, we may get nothing from the cultural background at that time.
 Paul instructed Timothy that the elders and pastors teach no other
doctrine. Why will he select a male of the species to do this? Why are
the words used in Eph. 4:11 for apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors,
and teachers have definite articles "masculine"? Now, we could redefine
the whole grammatical structure of our Greek books as well to remove

I used to send a bill of quantities to someone I know who acknowledged he
was a homosexual and he got offended when I named a pipe fitting " elbow -
female". He wanted the name "elbow - screwed" . I also heard from a taped
message recently about a woman-minister who addressed God as "Father-Mother

The use of words in the GNT with etymology of sexist connotations could not
be removed. There are words used that only apply to the male of the
species. There are words where gender is not implied but from a
theological perspective apply only to the male of the species.

"To Paul, the human race is made up of families, and every several
organism, the church included, is composed of families, united together by
this or that bond. The relation of the sexes in the family follows it
therefore into the church. To the feminist movement the human race is made
up of individuals; a woman is just another individual by the side of the
man; and it can see no reason for any differences in dealing with the two.
And, indeed, if we can ignore the great fundamental natural diiference of
sex, and destroy the great fundamental social unit of the family, in the
interest of individualism, there does not seem any reason why we should not
wipe out the differences established by Paul between the sexes in the
church. Except, of course, the authority of Paul. It all, in the end,
comes back to the authority of the apostles, as founders of the church. We
may like what Paul says, or we may not like it. We may be willing to do
what he commands, or we may not be willing to do it. But there is no room
for doubt of what he says. And he certainly would say to us, what he said
to the Corinthians: ' What? Was it from you that the word of God went
forth? or came it to you alone? ' Is this Christianity ours - to do with
as we like? Or is it God's religion, receiving its laws from Him through
the apostles?" - Benjamin Warfield, Paul on Women Speaking in Church, The
Presbyterian, October 30, 1919, Reprinted by Mack Publishing Company,
Cherry Hill, New Jersey, USA, July, 1972.
> From: Peter Phillips <>
> To: ''
> Subject: Re:Sexist Language
> Date: 25 2540 14:15
> I'm sorry but I can't stop myself replying to the posting by Lemuel
Abarte about sexist language and how we need to interpret within our own
language rather than provide literal translations of the Greek.
> The issue is just not that simple. There are occasions when ANQRWPOS is
translated by 'man' in most versions where the Greek is clearly gender
non-specific. Therefore to say that the problem is simply with the reader
is wrong - the translation has suggested a male-exclusivity that is not
present in the text.
> I think that your reading has more to do with Lemuel's sociolinguistics
in his understanding of language - this is shown by his example of women
bishops - he has determined that the proper translation for EPISKOPOS is
bishop when this is clearly not the case in every instance of the word.
> Translators translating gender non-specific term in the NT or OT into
gender specific terms in English versions are violating the Word of God and
marginalising those who do not see themselves included within such gender
specific terms.
> Of course, the whole problem is that the new Inclusivist versions are
also translating gender specific terms into non-gender specific terms and
that's where the problem lies.....
> Pete Phillips,
> Cliff College, Sheffield, England

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:38:20 EDT