Re: Gender of TO PNEUMA

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri Nov 19 1999 - 12:22:42 EST

<x-rich>At 10:41 AM -0600 11/19/99, Joe A. Friberg wrote:

> . . .

>In Greek (and other languages), however, there was/is not complete

>for correspondence of grammatical gender to sex and personal

>characteristics. The use of 'he' in reference to the Spirit finds as

>precedence John's use of various masc. pronouns in reference to PNEUMA
in Jn

>16.13-14, and the masculine appelation hO PARAKLHTOS along with masc.

>pronouns in Jn 15.26, 16.7-8. In this context, it may be that the

>usage is prompted by the masc. PARAKLHTOS (esp. evident in 15.26,

>but it is definitely interesting that the masculine is permitted to

>even when the proximity is quite removed (16.13-14). Further, it
would seem

>that John could have coined a neuter *PARAKLHTO if he wanted to be

>consistent with the standard neut. reference to the Spirit. It would

>(without pressing the point too strenuously) that John used the masc.

>because his context was bringing out the personal aspects of TO


While I would not want to be so dogmatic on this matter as to insist
that Joe's interpretation of these texts to imply masculine gender for
the Spirit in John's gospel is wrong, I would certainly (respectfully)
argue that there is no necessity for interpreting these texts as he
suggests and good reasons for interpreting them otherwise. In John
16:13-14, the use of the masculine pronoun EKEINOS and of the reflexive
hEAUTOU (which could be either masculine or neuter, but I agree it
should be understood as masculine) is not with reference to any
preceding appearance of PNEUMA; rather 16:7 announces hO PARAKLHTOS and
I think one ought to understand every masculine pronoun in the next
several verses (AUTON in 7, EKEINOS in 8 and 13, hEAUTOU in 13, EKEINOS
in 14. EKEINOS in verse

13 is glossed with the appositive, TO PNEUMA THS ALHQEIAS, but the
masculine pronoun EKEINOS nevertheless is still in agreement with the
preceding PARAKLHTOS. That same glossing of hO PARAKLHTOS with the
appositive, TO PNEUMA THS ALHQEIAS, appears in 15:26 and is immediately
followed by the neuter sg. acc. relative pronoun hO\ in a relative
clause describing the Father's future sending of the Spirit. In sum,
there's nothing in the Johannine text that requires one to understand
John is indicating masculine gender for TO PNEUMA; one may reasonably
say that hO PARAKLHTOS has masculine gender and is referenced by
masculine pronouns, but the grammatical gender of hO PARAKLHTOS implies
nothing about the gender of the Spirit itself. On the other hand, I
would be willing to assent to the view that use of hO PARAKLHTOS
indicates intimate immediacy of the Spirit, personhood, if one wants to
understand it that way--but not that it must indicate a distinct
gender. I'd say, furthermore, that we have to understand PARAKLHTOS as
a substantive, not simply a verbal adjective in this instance, and that
the masculine substantive was already present in Greek (see the
citation from LSJ below). One might imagine a neuter form "TO
PARAKLHTON" (not PARAKLHTO), but I think the reason we don't see that
in John's gospel is that the masculine substantive hO PARAKLHTOS was
already in existence.

LSJ (from Perseus): PARAKLHTOS,ON,
<color><param>0000,7777,0000</param>called to one's aid, in a court of
justice : as Subst., legal assistant, advocate, Dem. 19.1, Lycurg.
Fr.102, etc.

2. summoned, DOULOI D.C.46.20, cf. BGU601.12 (ii A.D.).

II. intercessor, Ph.2.520 : hence in ti= Ph. NT, PARAKLHTOS, of the
Holy Spirit, Ev.Jo.14.16, cf. 1 Ep.Jo.2.1.


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


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:40:46 EDT