Aner and Grudem

*Updated April 28, 2007. Please view my full article The CBMW, Grudem and the TNIV: the lexicography of Aner in which I plead for the CBMW to retract their inaccurate statements about the TNIV.


Original Post

In this post I wish to document what I can of the debate surrounding the meaning of ἀνήρ and explore why Dr. Grudem does not accept the notion that ἀνήρ does not always have a male specific meaning, and can, in fact, sometimes mean ‘person’.

In the Colorado Springs Guidelines, drafted by Grudem, ἀνήρ is mentioned here.

    A 4. Hebrew ‘ish should ordinarily be translated “man” and “men” and Greek aner should almost always be so translated.

In A Brief Summary of Concerns about the TNIV Grudem writes this about the TNIV,

    There are many other problems…. “Man” (when translating the male-specific term aner) is changed to things like “people” or friends” 26 times. In each case these changes remove details of meaning that are there in the Greek text.

In Can Greek aner (“man”) sometimes mean “person”? No, says Dr. Wayne Grudem posted on the CBMW website, Grudem writes regarding ἀνήρ,

    2. No new data: It has been well-known by Greek scholars for centuries that the term anthropos can mean either “person” or “man,” depending on the context, and aner means “man” or “husband.” Nobody in the last several years of the gender-neutral Bible controversy has “discovered” any new examples that prove a new meaning for aner. But some people, even scholars, are now saying, “Maybe there is another meaning for aner, the meaning “person.” But they have no new data to work with, just a new meaning for the same old data that people have always had.

    3. Two words, anthropos and aner: Given the way language works, it is highly improbable linguistically that Greek would have two different words, anthropos and aner, and that both words would mean both “man” and “person.” That would leave Greek an amazing linguistic vacuum of having no common word that could be used to speak specifically of a male human being.

    4. Liddell-Scott: The standard reference work, the Liddell-Scott Lexicon (p. 138) for all of ancient Greek, gives no meaning “person,” but only “man, husband,” and some specific variations on those. This is very significant because aner is not a rare word: it is extremely common in Greek. Thousands upon thousands of examples of it are found in Greek from the 8th century BC (Homer) onward. If any meaning “person” existed, scholars would have found many clear examples centuries ago.

    8. But could new information change your mind about this?

    We do not wish to deny the possibility that the plural of aner could take on a wider sense such as “people” in the fixed idiomatic expression, andres + plural noun, such as “men of Athens,” “men of Israel,” etc. But where is the proof? If substantial evidence is forthcoming, we would be happy to change our understanding of plural andres, and we recognize that there may be such evidence that we have not yet seen, especially with regard to fixed idioms such as “men of Athens,” etc. But we have not yet seen clear evidence that this is the case. So we cannot at this point agree with the TNIV’s claim that aner “was occasionally used as a generic term for human beings.”

Here Dr. Grudem presents his arguments. He believes that ἀνήρ always meant only ‘man’ or ‘husband’. He depends on an argument of ‘probability’ without presenting any related statistics. He misunderstands the Liddell-Scott entry for ἀνήρ. However, he states that he would be happy to change his understanding of the plural andres if clear evidence were presented.

One of the things that has puzzled me is trying to understand how Dr. Grudem came about his understanding of the LS entry for ἀνήρ.

In the Gender Neutral Bible Controversy: Muting the Masculinity of God’s Word, 2000, page 309, Grudem abbreviates the LS entry for ἀνήρ in the following manner,

    I. man, opposed to woman (anthropoi being man as opposed to beast). II. man, opposed to god. III. man, opposed to youth, unless the context determines the meaning … but anēr alone always means a man in the prime of life, esp. warrior. IV. man emphatically, man indeed. V. husband. VI. Special usages [several idioms are given] (p. 138). [italics added by S.M.]

From an entry which is several hundred words long, Grudem has taken the line “but anēr alone always means a man in the prime of life, esp. warrior” without providing the context. I would like to provide this context given in the LS lexicon.

    τοῖς δὲ δολοφρονέων μετέφη πολύμητις Ὀδυσσεύς:
    “ὦ φίλοι, οὔ πως ἔστι νεωτέρῳ ἀνδρὶ μάχεσθαιἄνδρα γέροντα,

    Then with crafty mind Odysseus of many wiles spoke among them: “Friends, in no wise may an old man that is overcome with woe fight with a younger” Homer. Odyssey. 18.53-55

When the LS remarks that ἀνήρ alone always means a man in the prime of life, this statement stands as a clarification concerning whether ἀνήρ can normally mean both an ‘older man’, as well as a ‘younger man’, or whether it would, if standing by itself, *and* when refering to a warrior, have to mean a man in the prime of life, a man at his most physically vigorous. According to LS, it would mean a man/warrior in the prime of life, unless context dictates otherwise.

This is not a statement which in any way affects whether ἀνήρ can elsewhere be used for people generically. The LS had already categorically stated that ἀνήρ may refer to ‘men as opposed to gods’, and ‘men as opposed to monsters.’ This is the usual way to designate humanity as a race in the LS.

Here I am going to include more extensive material from the Liddell-Scott lexicon, 1940.

    I [introductory remarks omitted] -man, opp. woman (ἄνθρωπος being man as opp. to beast), Il.17.435, Od.21.323; τῶν ἀνδρῶν ἄπαις without male children, Pl.Lg.877e; in Hom. mostly of princes, leaders, etc., but also of free men; ἀ δήμου one of the people, Il.2.198, cf. Od.17.352; with a qualifying word to indicate rank, ἀ. βουληφόρος Il.2.61 ; ἀ. βασιλεύς Od.24.253 ; ἡγήτορες ἄ. Il.11.687

    II. man, opp. god, πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε ib.1.544, al.; Διὸς ἄγγελοι ἠδὲ καὶ ἀνδρῶν ib.334, cf. 403, Hdt.5.63, etc.: most common in pl., yet sts. in sg., e.g. Il.18.432:–freq. with a Noun added, βροτοί, θνητοὶ ἄ., Od.5.197,10.306; ἄ. ἡμίθεοι Il.12.23 ; ἄ. ἥρωες ib.5.746:–also of men, opp. monsters, Od.21.303:–of men in societies and cities, οὔτε παρ’ ἀνδράσιν οὔτ’ ἐν ναυσὶ κοίλαις Pi.O. 6.10 ; and so prob., ἄλλοτε μέν τ’ ἐπὶ Κύνθου ἐβήσαο . ., ἄλλοτε δ’ ἂν νήσους τε καὶ ἀνέρας . . h.Ap.142 .

    [I include the following meanings from LS in an abbreviated form.]

    III. man, opp. youth

    IV. man emphatically, man indeed

    V. husband

Unfortunately this material is not easily accessible unless one also reads the quotations given as examples. I will provide these quotations here. The headings in bold are my own, but the examples are from the original Greek documents and the traditional translations are supplied by the Perseus Digital Library. These are some of the examples referenced above in the Liddell-Scott lexicon, 1940. This is not new data.

1. ανδρες as ‘people’

    αὐτὸς δ’, ἀργυρότοξε, ἄναξ ἑκατηβόλ’ Ἄπολλον,
    ἄλλοτε μέν τ’ ἐπὶ Κύνθου ἐβήσαο παιπαλόεντος,
    ἄλλοτε δ’ ἂν νήσους τε καὶ ἀνέρας ἠλάσκαζες.

    And you, O lord Apollo, god of the silver bow,
    shooting afar, now walked on craggy Cynthus,
    and now kept wandering about the islands and the people in them. Homeric Hymns 3.142

2. ανδρες as ‘race of men’, which I note refers to human beings of both sex.

    καὶ ἡμιθέων* γένος ἀνδρῶν

    and the race of men half-divine Iliad 12:23

3. ανδρες as ‘mankind’

    ἐξ οὗ Κενταύροισι καὶ ἀνδράσι νεῖκος ἐτύχθη

    From hence the feud arose between the centaurs and mankind; Odyssey 21:303

4. ανδρες as ‘men’ generic

    τὴν δ’ ἠμείβετ’ ἔπειτα πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε:

    In answer to her spoke the father of men and gods: Iliad 1.544

5. ανδρες as ‘men’ with the same referent as ‘people’

    ἀκίνδυνοι δ’ ἀρεταὶ
    οὔτε παρ’ ἀνδράσιν* οὔτ’ ἐν ναυσὶ κοίλαιςτίμιαι:
    πολλοὶ δὲ μέμνανται, καλὸν εἴ τι ποναθῇ*.

    But excellence without danger is honored
    neither among men nor in hollow ships.
    But many people remember,
    if a fine thing is done with toil. Pindar Odes 6.9-12

In spite of this clear presentation by the Liddell-Scott lexicon, Grudem comments that “exhaustive computer searches through the body of Greek literature in the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae” might unearth new data regarding the meaning of ἀνήρ. However, the data has always been available. The TNIV translation committee is on solid ground when they choose to translate ἀνήρ as ‘people’ where context suggest a gender-neutral meaning.

It appears that Dr. Grudem has not checked the quotations and examples provided in the lexicon. Therefore, I believe that he is not aware that ἀνήρ has as its second meaning in the Liddell-Scott lexicon ‘man’ generic and that for over a century ἀνήρ in this use has been translated as ‘people’, ‘mankind and ‘race of men’.

I hope that this will stand as a dispassionate and articulate presentation of the gender-neutral meaning of ἀνήρ. On the basis of this research, I continue to seek the dismantling of the Statement of Concern against the TNIV. (Poythress & Grudem. 2000)

I have against this statement that it presents innaccurate material, it has caused considerable pain to the translators of the TNIV, and it diverts the energy of Christians from more profitable pursuits. I submit this paper in the interests of clearing up the meaning of ἀνήρ once and for all. This article does not represent any new material. However, I am not aware of whether anyone has yet presented this material in this form.


Homer. The Odyssey with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, PH.D. in two volumes. Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 1919.

Homer. The Iliad with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, Ph.D. in two volumes. Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 1924.

Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White. Homeric Hymns. Cambridge, MA.,Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1914.

Liddell, Henry George. Robert Scott. A Greek-English Lexicon. revised and augmented throughout by. Sir Henry Stuart Jones. with the assistance of. Roderick McKenzie. Oxford. Clarendon Press. 1940.

Pindar. Odes. 1990.

Poythress, Vern & Wayne Grudem. The Gender-Neutral Bible Controversy: Muting the Masculinity of God’s Words. Broadman and Holman Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee. 2000.

Note: This post is an extensive rewrite of an earlier post yesterday and has been slightly edited.

Authentein and Grudem

I have more or less avoided discussing authenteo – to have/exercise/assume authority in 1 Tim. 2:12 up until now. I hadn’t read the entire list of 82 examples cited in the appendix to Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth. 2004. But now I have! It was a rainy day.

So, two things.

First, what does Grudem say about authenteo in the main text of his book?

Second, what do the footnotes to his appendix say?

He suggests in the main text that authenteo is ‘approximately synonymous’ with exousiazo/exousia echo – ‘to have authority’ and that we know what it means,

    There is a verb exousiazo which means “to have the right of control, have the right/power for something or over someone,” but it is not very common in the New Testament either, since it is used only four times (Luke 22:25; 1 Corinthians 6:12, 7:4 [twice]).

    The noun exousia is quite common (102 times in the New Testament), but I see no reason why Paul had to be limited to using only common words or why anyone should say he should have used a noun in this verse. Nor can I see any reason why he should not be able to use words that were approximately synonymous, but had different nuances of meaning. There may have been nuances of exousia that he wanted to avoid, or nuances of authenteo that he wanted to include, but it is difficult for us to say what those might be.

    In any case, the verb he did use means “to have authority over,”and that meaning now, in the light of much scholarly research, is established beyond reasonable doubt. (Page 322)

He quotes Scott Baldwin, who says regarding authenteo,

    In analysing this material it becomes evident that the one unifying concept is that of authority. (page 675)

One gets the impression from this that the meaning for authenteo is established beyond reasonable doubt. However, Kostenberger disagrees,

    At the heart of the book [Women the the Church. 1995] were the two chapters devoted to lexical and semantic analysis. In the former, the likelihood was suggested that “exercise authority” (Grk. authentein) carries a neutral or positive connotation, but owing to the scarcity of the term in ancient literature (the only NT occurrence is 1 Tim. 2:12; found only twice preceding the NT in extrabiblical literature) no firm conclusions could be reached on the basis of lexical study alone.

So what is the evidence which Köstenberger admits is not decisive?

Of the 82 examples which Baldwin found and Grudem included in the appendix to his book, only two preceded Paul’s epistle. The other examples followed the writing of the epistle by at least one century. They can be excluded as evidence.

So what are the two examples which might give evidence for the meaning of authenteo?

Here is the first,

    [1st cent. BC] Philodemus, Rhetorica {ref: 133.14}, “those in authority” {ptc}
    Text: Philodemus Philodemi: Volumina Rhetorica, vol. ed. S. Sudhaus (Leipzig, 1896), 133.
    Translation: Hubbell, “The Rhetoric of Philodemus,”Transactions of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences 23 (1920): 306

    “To tell the truth the rhetors do a great deal of harm to many people, and incur the enmity of powerful rulers, whereas philosophers gain the friendship of public men by helping them out of their trouble. Ought we not to consider that men who incur the enmity of those in authority are villains, and hated by both gods and men?”

This sounds pretty solid – until you read the footnotes, that is. In Grudem’s words,

    Several issues bear on this perplexing text. First, while it is true that Philodemus produced elegant but indecent love epigrams … even a cursory review of this prose work shows that it is serious treatise in seven books concerning the nature and effect of rhetors and rhetoric. … The assertion of C.C. Kroeger that the word here must have an erotic sense because it was “penned by the rhetorician and obscene epigrammatist” is apposite.

Well, maybe so. It was written by an author known for his obscene writings. Grudem is not disputing that, but he asserts that in this case it doesn’t matter. Okay, maybe it doesn’t. But what about this? Grudem continues,

    Second, the text as given is a reconstruction by Sudhaus. It is entirely possible that authentein could be read as authentaisin, the Old Attic plural of authentes, in which case, it is a noun and not a verbal form at all. [cognate nouns were disallowed from this study. note by S. M.]

    Third, it should be remembered that Hubbell is not giving a precise translation but a paraphrase. … (page 679)

As if this wasn’t problematic enough, Linda Belleville (Belleville. page 215) gives evidence that in this case, Grudem quoted Baldwin, who quoted Knight who misunderstood Hubbell. Knight thought that authenteo was the word for ‘those in authority’ in this passage, but it was actually the word for ‘powerful rulers’. In fact, neither Baldwin or Grudem went to the text to check this out. So Grudem wrongly refers to this passage as providing the meaning of ‘those in authority’ for authenteo.

That it the first piece of evidence. What about the second?

    [27 BC] BGU 1208 {ref: line 38}
    Text: F. Schubart et al., eds. Äegyptische Irkunden aus den königlichen Museen zu Berlin, vol. 4 (Berlin: Weidmannsche, 1912), 351

    Translation: John R. Werner, Wycliffe Bible Translators, International Linguistics Center, Dallas, Tex. letter as quoted by George W. Knight III “ΑΥΘΕΝΤΕΩ in Reference to Women in 1 Timothy 2:12,” NTS 30 (1984): 143-57.

    “I exercised authority over him, and he consented to provide for Calatytis the Boatman on terms of full fare, within the hour.” (page 680)

Here we see the translation provided on request to Knight who had set out to prove the meaning of “exercise authority” for this word. What does Grudem say in the footnote?

    The translation of this text is disputed. G. W. Knight, 145, gives Werner’s translation here. … P. B. Payne … implies that the translation of D. Peterson is superior, “When I had prevailed upon him to provide, … This passage is about a hostile relationship, his action is called ‘insolence’ in the text.” It is difficult to evaluate the strength of Payne’s argument. … However, the meaning of “compel” does seem appropriate. (page 680)

I won’t hide from you the fact that I have left out various lexicon citations that Grudem believes support his interpretation. However, I have quoted his conclusion in all honesty. “The meaning of ‘compel’ does seem appropriate.” I am dealing with examples only. We don’t have conclusive lexical evidence outside of these examples.

Are these two examples Grudem’s only contemporary evidence? Yes, they are. That is why Köstenberger admits that no firm conclusions could be reached on the basis of lexical study alone. He uses other internal linguistic evidence – syntactic, not lexical.

However, when Grudem quotes Baldwin saying,

    In analysing this material it becomes evident that the one unifying concept is that of authority. (page 675)

he gives the impression that Baldwin’s evidence is relevant to the discussion. It is not. Grudem does supply Köstenberger’s linguistic evidence, but I want to make one thing entirely clear. In spite of all the studies undertaken to prove the clear lexical meaning of the verb authenteo at the time of Paul’s writing, we do not have sufficient evidence to acertain its lexical meaning in any unambiguous manner.

So how is it that Grudem had this to say about the TNIV?

    To take one example: in 1 Timothy 2:12 the TNIV adopts a highly suspect and novel translation that gives the egalitarian side everything they have wanted for years in a Bible translation. It reads, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man”. If churches adopt this translation, the debate over women’s roles in the church will be over, because women pastors and elders can just say, “I’m not assuming authority on my own initiative; it was given to me by the other pastors and elders.”
    Therefore any woman could be a pastor or elder so long as she does not take it upon herself to “assume authority.” Then in the footnotes to 1 Timothy 2:12 the TNIV also introduces so many alternative translations that the verse will just seem confusing and impossible to understand.

I suggest that the TNIV is being very correct to provide the footnotes which they do. The ESV has none here. I suggest that the TNIV is in line with the evidence provided in the footnotes to the appendix in Grudem’s book, Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth. The TNIV is also in line with the KJV.

Why does Grudem, a translator of the ESV, offer public gratuitous negative opinions on the TNIV? I don’t know. The more I look at the TNIV the more I realize that the footnotes alone make it an excellent choice in a Bible translation.


Belleville, Linda. Teaching and Usurping Authority: 1 Tim. 2:11-15 in Discovering Biblical Equality. Pierce and Groothuis.

Grudem, Wayne. Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth

Köstenberger, Andreas. 1 Timothy 2:12 – Once more.

Kruse Kronicle. DBE: Chapter 12 – Teaching and Usurping Authority: 1 Timothy 2:11-15

Scholer, David. The Evangelical Debate over Biblical “Headship”

I would like to add that I am expecially uncomfortable when I read the blogs of otherwise intelligent people who gave Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth a good review. It was called scholarly partly because of the inclusion of some of this irrelevant or innacurate appendix material. Imagine, if you can, that there are women who have reined in their gifts on the basis of this book!