Professor Jason BeDuhn, chair of the religion department at the Northern Arizona University, has offered to the public his thoughts on biblical translation. He wishes to prove that the majority of English translations are not simply the result of sober biblical scholarship, but have been...
Thank you Gryllus Manor for a helpful review.
Here was an excellent catch!
BeDuhn asserts “But “neuter” nouns are used only for impersonal things…” (p. 140). This claim is simply erroneous.
The fuller quote from BeDuhn is even worse.
(And the quote from BeDuhn is used many times on the Internet, including the book by Patrick Navas.)
Jason BeDuhn - p. 140
Now it turns out that both ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ Greek nouns can be used for impersonal things as well as persons. But ‘neuter’ nouns are used only for impersonal things, such as objects, animals, forces, abstract principles, and so on. The same holds true for ‘masculine,’ ‘feminine,’ and ‘neuter’ pronouns.
Here Jason BeDuhn is even putting animals as impersonal!
Beyond that, animals are frequently masculine or feminine nouns even when there is only one word for the animal.
Gender on Animal Nouns in Greek
Giorgos Spathas and Yasutada Sudo
And , returning to your correction, we have the common usage of neuter nouns for personal usages like groups of people, (nations, multitude, Gentiles, crowd) that then can be used in masculine grammar by constructio ad sensum.
Barry Hofstetter gave these four verses, Matthew 25:32 Luke 19:37 Acts 5:16 Romans 2:14, when he was looking for neuter nouns taking masculine grammar. And these are the real, legit, well-known cases of constructio ad sensum. (Barry thought this was an aha! response to Eugenius Voulgaris in the heavenly witnesses discussion.) These are the types of examples that you will find in the 1800s grammars, e.g. Romans 2:14 is given in Winer-Stuart here:
Stuart-Winer grammar - p. 153
This is called constructio ad sensum, the meaning, and not the grammatical gender of the word, being mainly considered. It is particularly when some animate object is denoted by a Neuter or an abstract Feminine noun. The pronoun is then made to grammatically with the object in question ...
1. The pronouns personal, demonstr. and relative often differ in gender from the noun to which they relate, as the idea expressed by them, and
not their grammatical gender, is taken into view. This takes place uniformly when a neuter noun denotes things which have life; in which
case, the pronouns take the grammatical gender, of these objects, as masc. or fem...
Winer 1840 translate by Agnew and Ebbeke
Today there is a tendency to wildly expand constructio ad sensum into allegorical and metaphorical realms. Granted, scholars using the critical text, having to deal with the Westcott-Hort recension, created new difficulties that did not exist in the Greek New Testament editions before 1881.
Going back to BeDuhn, watch the continuation:
Jason BeDuhn p. 140
Now it turns out that both "masculine" and "feminine" Greek nouns can be used for impersonal things as well as persons. But "neuter" nouns are used only for impersonal things, such as objects, animals, forces, abstract principles, and so on. The same holds true for "masculine," "feminine," and "neuter" pronouns. Greek tends to use personal pronouns more than English does. Some things that would be handled with "which" in English, because they are not persons, are referred to with the equivalent of "who/whom" in Greek because the nouns that name them are either "masculine" or "feminine." But even though the "personal" category is larger in Greek than in English, the "Holy Spirit" is referred to by a "neuter" noun in Greek. Consequently, it is never spoken of with personal pronouns in Greek. It is a "which," not a "who." It is an "it," not a "he."
You can see that DeBuhn is still fishing around, mixing up grammatical gender and natural gender in the Greek text. When you have an inanimate object in Greek that is masculine or feminine grammatical gender, it is not:
referred to with the equivalent of "who/whom" in Greek
BeDuhn is superimposing the English construction over the Greek. And BeDuhn is simply ignoring what he had just written (the accurate part.)
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