The Gender of Pronouns

by A.E. Knoch

GREEK nouns are usually masculine or feminine, quite apart from personality or sex. Logos, word, is masculine; aleetheia, truth, is feminine. How little this means may be seen in the statement "Thy word is truth." The word "truth" can have only a formal gender. Yet the relative pronoun, in referring to these words, must be he and she. Our Lord is the Truth (feminine) and the Life (feminine). Shall we therefore refer to Him as She? That is one of the problems which perplexed the compiler of the sublinear in the Concordant Version. There are times when the literal is misleading. Let us suppose that John's account had opened with the word Truth in place of Word. Then our Lord would be continually referred to as She! Truth is always she, and word is always he--but not in English.

Few understand figures of speech. Our Lord is not literally a word. He is like a word, in that He conveys to our ears the thoughts of God. If He is called a word, however, we must refer to Him as It in English, to preserve the figure, just as the Greek calls Him She when He is the Truth. The pronoun must correspond with its noun grammatically in both languages, no matter what the actual gender may be. The same confusion has been introduced when speaking of God's spirit. The fact that it is referred to in a figure as he has been made the false foundation for one of the main items in the creed of Christendom. The plain evidence is ignored and a rule of English gender is ignorantly used to interpret the Greek, which is vastly different. Spirit is always it in Greek and English. When it is called a paraclete (masculine) it must be referred to grammatically as he. As a dove, the spirit is she (Matt.3:16).

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