Re: John 6:10

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Feb 04 1999 - 15:18:56 EST

At 2:17 PM +0000 2/4/99, Jim West wrote:
>At 12:57 PM 2/4/99 -0600, you wrote:
>>I need some help with John 6:10. Almost every translation I own takes
>>andres as the subject of anepesan, 'sat down'. But since it is unlikely
>>that only the men sat down and since the point of andres seems to be that
>>there were 5000 men there (besides women & children as Mt 14:21 adds), I
>>would prefer to translate "There was plenty of grass in the place, so they
>>sat down, the men numbering about 5000." I note that Father Brown (AB)
>>translates "Now the men numbered about 5000, but there was plenty of grass
>>there for them to find a seat." A little loose, but the semantics are
>>similar to mine. Could I get some feedback? Thanks.
>>Ray Clendenen
>The first part of the verse may help--- "Jesus said- make the men sit down-
>for there was grass aplenty there- The number of men sitting down was around

I'm just a bit hesitant to make this suggestion, and I certainly wouldn't
if I didn't think that it may very well be true: that ANHR as used here
really means "person" rather than "person of male gender." It's true that
one is not likely to see it ever used with feminine adjectives (as
ANQRWPOS, on the other hand, is not infrequently used with feminine
adjectives), and certainly there are plenty of instances the context makes
it quite clear that ANDRES does mean males as distinguished from GUNAIKES.
And yet, although I find no real support in either LSJ-Glare or BAGD
(although BAGD s.v.4 really seems to indicate usages of ANHR in a
non-gender sense, hAMARTWLOS ANHR = "sinner," ANHR AGAQOS, ANHR FRONIMOS
vs. MWROS; such usage is rather like our "reasonable man"--a phrase
wherein, if "man" were to be taken in a strictly male-gender sense, would
have to imply that males by and large are not reasonable although women
just might be! LSJ suggest that a primary sense of ANHR is to refer to the
human being as distinct from QEOI. Morever, despite Hesiod's story of
Pandora and its implication of a separate creation of womankind, there's no
reason to think that the Homeric phrase PATHR ANDRWN TE QEWN TE is meant to
refer to Zeus as "father" only of male gods and male humanity. So for my
part I am very strongly inclined to think that ANDRES here is not really

Curious. One may raise the question of the relationship of Mk 6:44 KAI HSAN
know that there are those who want to believe that Mark abbreviates the
Matthaean narratives, but it does seem (to me at least) like CWRIS GUNAIKWN
KAI PAIDIWN is a gloss ADDED in Mt for the precise purpose of indicating
that ANDRES should NOT be understood in a NON-gender-specific sense, as it
might have been understood without that gloss.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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