[b-greek] Re: PARQENOS and Is 7:14

From: RHutchin@aol.com
Date: Fri Apr 13 2001 - 18:15:57 EDT

In a message dated 4/13/01 12:47:43 PM, dwashbur@nyx.net writes:

<< > Roger wrote--
> I agree. There is the assumption of virginity. However, does the term
convey the certainty of virginity? On this point, the articles I have read
all seem to waffle. Almah may imply virginity but it does not guarantee it.

I think this is a non-issue. If there is the cultural assumption of
virginity built into the word's usage, why is it necessary for us to try
and demand linguistic certainty as well? Linguistic meaning
doesn't happen in a vacuum; cultural factors affect semantics
thoroughly, in fact it could be argued that words mean what they
mean because a society chooses to use them that way and there's
no such thing as an "inherent meaning." .....If, in
that culture, a "young woman of marriageable age" was assumed
to be a virgin if she ever hoped to gain a husband, then it would
seem that virginity is at least implicitly guaranteed in the word's

I agree, but it seems that there are cases where almah is used when a girl is
not a virgin, thus the inability to outright conclude that almah explicitly
means that the girl is a virgin.

> RH
So, let's charge Mr. Washburn with the task of translating Is 7:14 into
Greek. Further, let's require that he do so in a way that conveys the idea
that the virginity of the almah is a certainty and not just to be assumed.
How would he translate Is 7:14? Would he consider the text in Matthew
sufficient to accomplish this purpose or would he think that a different
translation is required ?

Why reinvent the wheel? The LXX and Matthew's renderings are
good enough for me. The question, if there is one (see above)
seems more one of emphasis; was Isaiah out to emphasize the
woman's youth, her singleness, her virginity, what?.....Matthew was obviously
emphasizing virginity, but even if Isaiah was emphasizing the fact

that the woman was unmarried, the implication of virginity is still
there because that's how the culture understood the word. No
problem, no need for another translation. As I said, if one looks at
the word in its cultural context, this is a non-issue.

I agree that Matthew was emphasizing virginity and that led him to use
PARQENOS. While we agree on the cultural context, I am not sure that the
translator always has words available to convey that context. Some people
allege that the use of PARQENOS amounts to a mistranslation. My thinking is
that it was not intended to be a direct translation of almah, but that it was
selected to emphasize a specific aspect of almah (i.e., the virginity of the
almah). I agree with you. I just want to be sure that the technical
details of Greek translation also agree.

Roger Hutchinson

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