Quote of the Day

I went back to re-read an article by Mark Strauss this evening and I came across a paragraph that I had forgotten about. This was pretty humorous and it made both my wife and I laugh (my emphasis):

Ironically, P&G [Poythress & Grudem] inadvertently demonstrate the potential confusion of using masculine terms when they themselves misunderstand masculine generic “man” to be gender specific (i.e., male). In their discussion of Greek aner, they argue that the Greek lexicons do not recognize the sense “human being.” To prove this they cite various lexicons, including the Liddell-Scott Greek-English Lexicon. The first two entries for aner in Liddell-Scott are (1) man, opposed to woman, and (2) man, opposed to god. P&G use this data to deny that the term ever loses its distinctively male sense. But what is the sense of “man, opposed to god”? The first sense, “man, opposed to woman,” is clearly “male human being,” but the second is clearly “human being.” P&G have read the generic use of “man” in this second entry, and have misunderstood it to be gender specific (i.e., male). In this way they illustrate the potential for misunderstanding “man” for contemporary English readers!

Note: This is a separate issue from the comp/egal debate. The author of the article is a complementarian criticizing other complementarians.

4 thoughts on “Quote of the Day

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  1. Mike, it is my hypothesis that the complementarian position and much of the theology of Grudem (perhaps also Poythress, but not Piper) is based on reading “man” in English Bible versions like KJV and RSV and misunderstanding it, as a young man in the 1960s, as specifying gender, whereas the KJV and RSV translators, working before the 1960s, had no intention to specify gender when they used the word. Much of Grudem’s life’s work, I would suggest, has been trying to defend the fixed theological position he derived from a juvenile misunderstanding of English versions. So the example Strauss notes is not a slip but is a fundamental part of the authors’ misunderstanding of Scripture.

  2. Peter, that may very well be the case for Grudem, but I don’t know if it can be applied to all complementarians since Mark Strauss, himself who has argued so well for gender accuracy is also a complementarian.

  3. Mike, my comment was meant to refer only to Grudem’s position, not to complementarianism in general. My wording came out more ambiguous than I had intended.

    I would surmise that there are two strands to complementarianism: a traditional one represented by Piper and most Southern Baptists which is a hold-over from long-standing traditional patriarchal attitudes; and a new complementarianism, in which Grudem is a leading figure, which is a reaction to 1960’s feminism. For traditional complementarians “man” is a gender generic word and always will be. The new complementarians understand “man” as specifying males only, read that into for example 2 Timothy 2:2 RSV, and form from it their doctrine – the doctrine expressed tendentiously in the ESV rendering of that verse.

  4. I got it now. Thanks for the clarification. I’ve always been confused by Grudem’s aligning of egalitarians with 60’s feminism when egalitarianism has its roots in the last century.

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