Does Paul use gender accurate language in 2nd Corinthians?

Georgiadis

Puritan Board Freshman
2nd Corinthians 6:18
"And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me," Says the Lord Almighty.
Full disclosure, I am an english-only speaking lay-person with access to a Strong’s concordance. In other words, the most dangerous kind of theologian. That is why I am reaching out here.

There are a number of covenant verses that refer to a father and son(s) relationship with God.
2nd Samuel 7:14
I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me...
1 Chronicles 17:13
I will be his father and he shall be My son...
Hosea 1:10
...You are the sons of the living God...

My reference bible indicates that Paul may be blending the phraseology of these OT passages with Isaiah 43:6.
Isaiah 43:6
I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth

The Hebrew word in question here simply translates as “a son”. Its full meaning is derived from context and is often translated as children or people. In fact, many versions translate Hosea 1:10, “Children of the living God.” But Paul did not use the Greek word for “children” or “people”. He used “sons and daughters”. There is a Hebrew word for daughter and it is not included in the 2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles, or Hosea passages.

My question is this: did Paul, based on context from Isaiah, expand the literal word for sons to include daughters?

Is that an example of what is often referred to today as “gender accurate language”?

Does this parallel the argument for translating the Greek word adelphoi as “brothers and sisters”?

I realize it may sound like I am trying to build a case for gender accurate or neutral language by using Paul as an example. I can assure you I am not. This verse simply stood out to me. It probably wouldn’t have 20 years ago. However, since gender language has become such a hot topic, I was surprised!
 
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C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
My question is this: did Paul, based on context from Isaiah, expand the literal word for sons to include daughters?
We can only speculate.

Is that an example of what is often referred to today as “gender accurate language”?
No. The suggestion is anachronistic.

Does this parallel the argument for translating the Greek word adelphoi as “brothers and sisters”?
No. The Greek here is "υἱοὺς καὶ θυγατέρας". There are two Greek terms designating "sons" and "daughters," respectively. So the job of the translator is to accurately reflect that in their translation. The Greek language has terms for "brothers" (ἀδελφοί) and "sisters" (ἀδελφὰς). When those terms appear in the Greek text, they should be translated. But where the Greek text only says "brothers" (ἀδελφοί), a translator has no business adding "and sisters". It isn't there.

Now, does that mean the Apostles were only addressing the men of the church? Obviously not. Is it not clear that the term "brethren" (ἀδελφοί) was inclusive of both the men and the women? Of course. Then why not just translate "brethren" (ἀδελφοί) as "brothers and sisters"? Because, in his infinite wisdom, the Holy Spirit didn't say "ἀδελφοί καὶ ἀδελφὰς" but simply "ἀδελφοί."
 
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iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
It's not quite that simple (I think I begin every post on translation with this sentence). Many Greek and Hebrew words have a semantic range that covers more than one English word; translators often try to determine which part of the semantic range the original word is operating and therefore which English word is the best equivalent in this context. Sometimes that means a "gendered" term in the original is best translated by a non-gendered term in English, whereas other times the gender component is important. For example, bene-yisrael is literally "the sons of Israel", but KJV regularly renders it "the children of Israel" ( a gender-inclusive term, though presumably not for feminist reasons). In fact, KJV even translates the Hebrew words for man ('ish and adam) with the gender inclusive "person" in places (as does the ESV).
It is widely recognized by all the standard Greek reference lexicons that adelphoi can be used in antiquity to address a mixed audience ("brothers and sisters", as well as sometimes having in view a solely male audience ("brothers"). I don't know of any contexts in which ancient Greek used adelphoi kai adelphai as an address. It then becomes an English style issue rather than a strict translation issue - how do you address a mixed congregation in a contemporary context? Probably, some of us would say "Brothers..." meaning everyone, male and female; others would say "Brothers and sisters...." Your own usage may influence how good a translation you think it is on this question. Certainly, the CSB tried to discern contextually which was the more appropriate rendition in each passage - just as we did with the bene- family of words.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Other brothers have spoken to the linguistics. To your question about the source(s) Paul may have in mind: there does not appear to be any one text or translation of the OT to which the NT writer exactly refers.

Now, already in v2, Paul quotes Is.49:8; so it makes sense if he might further allude to other passages in the vicinity, as well as drawing on his full command of the OT and its themes. v16 could be drawing on Lev.26:12 and Ex.29:45; but see also Ezk.37:26-28, where the LORD makes his people into a permanent tabernacle/temple/sanctuary. It is a thematic reference, a highly skilled presenting of the truth of God's word, so that it is perfectly accurate for him to say, "As God has said...."

v17 refers back to Isaiah, now 52:11 (but cf. Ezk.20:34, 41). So, it is not beyond reason to think Is.43:6 is but a short step conceptually.

I'm of the mind that he could be thinking first about 49:20ff (e.g. v21, "you shall say, Who has begotten these for me?"), and in v26 he refers to himself as "the LORD... the Mighty One" (of Jacob); cf. Paul's closing: "...says the Lord Almighty."

Is.63:16 uses the term "Father" for Israel's God, as far ahead of ch52 as 43 is behind. And of course, all the other texts like 2Sam.7:14 and Hos.1:9-10 are thematically pertinent.
 

Robert Truelove

Puritan Board Sophomore
This is one of my gripes in contemporary translation. You don't see ἀδελφοί being translated as "brothers and sisters" in any translation until the late 1990s because it was considered by many to be a capitulation to feminism. Just like the English use of "brothers", context determines if ἀδελφοί is gender inclusive or not.

ανθρωπος (man) is another example of a male-oriented word in Scripture that can be gender-inclusive that has been feminized (human, person, the one, etc...).

It was never really an issue of understanding either. The feminizing influence on the English language has come about as a direct result of Feminists in academia and the media. I lament that many translations do not reflect the fact that the Scriptures were inspired in thoroughly male-oriented, gender inclusive language.

Also, it's not that these sorts of things are happening here and there for clarity in some places that would be otherwise difficult for the English reader, but we are finding this sort of thing to be done systematically.

I realize people will quip and say that the male-oriented language in the Scriptures was simply a reflection of the times in which it was written (which pretty much holds true for the entire history of man up until the late 20th century), but this is precisely why, beginning in the 1960s, Feminists have waged their war on language. Male-oriented language actually MEANS something, and feminists HATE it.

Even ανηρ is getting emasculated and this is not a word that can be gender inclusive. For example, τέλειος ἀνήρ from James 3:2 is rendered in a number of translations as a gender inclusive phrase. This goes against the meaning of the word as well as the context...for here James is addressing the men of the church—that many should not be teachers. He is not addressing the women because it was already established that none of them were to be teaching in the church (1 Timothy 2:12) and his use of language reflects this.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
This is one of my gripes in contemporary translation. You don't see ἀδελφοί being translated as "brothers and sisters" in any translation until the late 1990s because it was considered by many to be a capitulation to feminism. Just like the English use of "brothers", context determines if ἀδελφοί is gender inclusive or not.

ανθρωπος (man) is another example of a male-oriented word in Scripture that can be gender-inclusive that has been feminized (human, person, the one, etc...).

It was never really an issue of understanding either. The feminizing influence on the English language has come about as a direct result of Feminists in academia and the media. I lament that many translations do not reflect the fact that the Scriptures were inspired in thoroughly male-oriented, gender inclusive language.

Also, it's not that these sorts of things are happening here and there for clarity in some places that would be otherwise difficult for the English reader, but we are finding this sort of thing to be done systematically.

I realize people will quip and say that the male-oriented language in the Scriptures was simply a reflection of the times in which it was written (which pretty much holds true for the entire history of man up until the late 20th century), but this is precisely why, beginning in the 1960s, Feminists have waged their war on language. Male-oriented language actually MEANS something, and feminists HATE it.

Even ανηρ is getting emasculated and this is not a word that can be gender inclusive. For example, τέλειος ἀνήρ from James 3:2 is rendered in a number of translations as a gender inclusive phrase. This goes against the meaning of the word as well as the context...for here James is addressing the men of the church—that many should not be teachers. He is not addressing the women because it was already established that none of them were to be teaching in the church (1 Timothy 2:12) and his use of language reflects this.
Robert, as I pointed out in my posting, your gripe is with ancient translations as well, since the KJV does not share your principial objection to any translation of "male" words by gender neutral equivalents (a classic misunderstanding of linguistics, since by definition, a generic use of a word is non-gendered). For example, the KJV translates 'ish as "person" in 2 Sam 4:11 (where modern translations generally have "man"!) and 'adam as person in Ezek. 44:25. If it is acceptable for clarity, here and there, isn't that exactly what those who translate adelphoi as "brothers and sisters" argue that they are doing? You may not like their translational choice, but there is no ground to assume a mass conspiracy toward feminism on the part of all modern translations. Could it be that modern usage has simply shifted to the point where clarity might be obscured by the old translation? It is simply the same translational process that the KJV used in translating bene- regularly as "children" (a gender neutral term) rather than "sons", a "masculine" term that sometimes can be used with a generic sense. Nothing more and nothing less.

By the way, an obvious place where the KJV should have used "human" for adam for clarity is Numbers 5:6, where by rendering both 'ish and 'adam as man you end up with the confusing phrase "When a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit..." That makes it sound as if you have women committing distinctly masculine transgressions (whatever those might be). It would have been much clearer to say "When a man or woman shall commit any sin that a human (or "person", 'adam) may commit..." And I think you would agree that no issue of male headship is at stake here.
 

Robert Truelove

Puritan Board Sophomore
Robert, as I pointed out in my posting, your gripe is with ancient translations as well, since the KJV does not share your principial objection to any translation of "male" words by gender neutral equivalents...
Which was not my objection. I specifically clarified in the post above..."Also, it's not that these sorts of things are happening here and there for clarity in some places that would be otherwise difficult for the English reader, but we are finding this sort of thing to be done systematically."

I'm curious...Were you around in the 1980s when the battle was raging over gender neutral language?
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Which was not my objection. I specifically clarified in the post above..."Also, it's not that these sorts of things are happening here and there for clarity in some places that would be otherwise difficult for the English reader, but we are finding this sort of thing to be done systematically."

I'm curious...Were you around in the 1980s when the battle was raging over gender neutral language?
Neither is a generic rant against the pushing of gender-inclusive language by feminists germane to the question in the OP.

The question is about the inclusion of sons and daughters in 2 Cor 6:18.

18 και εσομαι υμιν εις πατερα και υμεις εσεσθε μοι εις υιους και θυγατερας λεγει κυριος παντοκρατωρ

As the Greek contains what ought to be rightly translated as "sons and daughters", it is not a question of being feminist to properly translate the Greek at this point.
 

Georgiadis

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you all for joining in. This is terrific info and I really appreciate it. Seriously good stuff.

As Semper Fidelis and others have pointed out, the Greek is pretty straight forward about the inclusion of daughters here.
18 και εσομαι υμιν εις πατερα και υμεις εσεσθε μοι εις υιους και θυγατερας λεγει κυριος παντοκρατωρ

As the Greek contains what ought to be rightly translated as "sons and daughters", it is not a question of being feminist to properly translate the Greek at this point.

So in this instance, it is less of a question about how the Greek should be translated into English but more of a question about why the Greek quotation of the Hebrew passage(s) includes daughters, (perhaps quotation is the wrong word and paraphrase would be better). In other words, why was the Hebrew translated that way?

I think Contra_Mundum makes a good case for how Paul may have fashioned this statement by Lord Almighty from a variety of places.
To your question about the source(s) Paul may have in mind: there does not appear to be any one text or translation of the OT to which the NT writer exactly refers.

Putting aside the intentions of contemporary translations, or feminist agendas, what do you think Paul's intentions were for writing "son's and daughters"?

At the risk of coming off totally sacrilege, could one swap out this previous comment with the Hebrew words for sons and daughters and put Paul in the hot seat?
Then why not just translate "brethren" (ἀδελφοί) as "brothers and sisters"? Because, in his infinite wisdom, the Holy Spirit didn't say "ἀδελφοί καὶ ἀδελφὰς" but simply "ἀδελφοί."
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
At the risk of coming off totally sacrilege, could one swap out this previous comment with the Hebrew words for sons and daughters and put Paul in the hot seat?
Then why not just translate "brethren" (ἀδελφοί) as "brothers and sisters"? Because, in his infinite wisdom, the Holy Spirit didn't say "ἀδελφοί καὶ ἀδελφὰς" but simply "ἀδελφοί."​
For one, Paul is writing under inspiration, and whatever he is referring to, he has the Holy Spirit to guide him in just what to say in order to bring out the sense that suits.

So, when a translator handles the text, his aim is not the same as Paul's or another inspired writer (even where we may find overlap); nor is it the same as any uninspired preacher or teacher who nevertheless faithfully presents the word in its fullness and depth. Scripture in its essential form has pure quality that the reader and hearer deserve to have given them simply and accurately. Throwing in an extra "and sisters" goes a bit further than clarification. Readers have some obligations as well, to appreciate the cross-cultural, trans-temporal majesty of the faith once delivered.

But in point of fact, depending on where one looks, clearly there are places where the language "sons and daughters" is found, and Paul (we should expect) hoped to call such places to mind.

It is an element of New Covenant reality that, in some ways frankly distinct from the norm in Israelite/Jewish society under the Old Covenant, women are raised in status, and have a recognized, ontological equality with men, see Gal.3:28. Highlighting and specifying that regard is something NT teachers like Paul were doing, and should have done; and the NT reflects the elevation of women. [Those who write off Paul's church-order teachings as attributable to his "misogyny" are themselves captive to culture, besides rejecting the historic doctrine of inspiration.]
 

Georgiadis

Puritan Board Freshman
For one, Paul is writing under inspiration, and whatever he is referring to, he has the Holy Spirit to guide him in just what to say in order to bring out the sense that suits.
I could have quoted your entire comment. It was really insightful. Thank you for the in-depth response. Thank you all. This makes so much more sense to me now. Kind of feel stupid for asking it in the first place haha!
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Kind of feel stupid for asking it in the first place haha!
That's inappropriate, and I hope you get over it quickly. People are at different places in their spiritual development

Sometime later, the response I gave you will be something you can offer someone else as your own explanation.

And I trust you will not want that person feeling (nor want to make him feel) like an idiot for asking.

2Pet.3:18
 
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