Thursday, June 20, 2013

Greek Gender and Some Johannine/Pauline Verses

Richard A. Young (Intermediate New Testament Greek, page 76) reveals that the antecedent of the masculine pronoun hOS in 1 Tim 3:16 is the neuter noun MUSTHRION. He suggests that the shift in gender signals a reference to someone personal, namely, Christ.

Also, in John 16:14, the apostle uses a masculine pronoun (EKEINOS) when referring to a neuter antecedent (PNEUMA). An interlocutor once disagreed with me on this point by arguing that EKEINOS actually should be construed with PARAKLHTOS in 16:7:

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you."

My interlocutor provided the translation. My response was:

You may be right about John 16:14. Since John employed EKEINOS (the "far away demonstrative"), the antecedent of EKEINOS may well be PARAKLHTOS in John 16:7. What you say may also be true of John 14:26, where EKEINOS could point back to PARAKLHTOS. However, EKEINOS could just as easily refer to PNEUMA in both passages as Young points out in his grammar (page 78). Its really hard to tell.

Interestingly, Daniel B. Wallace disagrees with Young and thus sides with you on this issue. Personally, I think either construal of EKEINOS does not prove the masculinity of the Holy Spirit. Wallace points out that not only is PNEUMA appositional to PARAKLHTOS, but the relative pronoun that follows PNEUMA is also neuter; on the other hand, he rightly concludes that such a construction does not prove the personality of the Holy Spirit. But you too present a strong line of reasoning.

Also note the pronoun-antecedent usage in Rom. 2:14; 1 Cor. 6:9-11.


Anonymous said...

MUSTHRION is neuter

Edgar Foster said...

You are correct. Not sure why I typed feminine. I wrote this piece a long time ago and should have reviewed it more closely before posting. Thanks.