Re: ANQRWPOS in Jn2:25-3:1

From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Fri Jun 27 1997 - 08:40:17 EDT

At 04:03 AM 6/27/97 EDT, Paul S. Dixon wrote:
>Jonathan, Carl:
>Fair enough. I suppose we could check Bullinger on this, but there
>are figures of speech in scripture, such as metonymies where one
>thing is put for another thing necessarily related to it. Perhaps I
>am being overly concise here (yawn), but so be it. If ANQRWPOS
>can refer to man, as well as to humanity, and if there is a male
>leadership motif in scripture, then it is possible that ANQRWPOS
>can be taken as "man" and that it also be understood metonymically
>as a figure put for the whole corpus over which he is the leader.

I learned figures of speech in rhetoric about 22 years ago, so I may be
hazy, but the examples of metonomy that I remember are things like "the
chair" to refer to the leader of a meeting, "the bottle" to refer to alcohol
("he's giving up the bottle"), etc. Clearly, "the chair" is a figure of
speech associated with the concept of leadership, but I think it would be
bizarre to argue that leaders derive their status from chairs. Similarly, I
don't think that we would argue that the defining characteristic of
alcoholic beverages is the bottle. Although we say "the iron hand of
justice", I doubt that justice is derived from iron hands. Figures of speech
are, well, figures of speech, not to be taken literally.

Now maybe this is synechdoche, like "give us this day our daily bread",
where bread means food in general, and fish would also be gladly accepted.
But that would not mean that fish derives its foodhood from bread.
Undoubtedly, hO ANQRWPOS can be used to refer to the whole class of humans,
just as hOI ANQRWPOI can be used to refer to all humans, and I *think* that
our rhetoric class might have used "man" in this sense as an example of
synechdoche ("never in the history of man..."). But to argue that this means
that women participate in history only through their connection to men would
be to miss the point of what a figure of speech is. Figures of speech aren't
to be taken literally.

But I don't think that using ANQRWPOS to mean "human" is a figure of speech
at all, it is just a basic and frequent sense of the word, and the masculine
article for it is irrelevant. If you can say that hO ANQRWPOS is masculine
because the male is a prototype that represents humanity, then you can also
say that PROBATON is neuter because the castrated sheep is a prototype that
represents all sheep. And if educated people like you and some others on
this forum can get confused about this, that's all the more indication that
we have to be very careful about translating using English forms which imply
gender reference in contexts where gender reference was not implied in the


Jonathan Robie
POET Software, 3207 Gibson Road, Durham, N.C., 27703

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