neuter en in John 10; 30

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at
Sun Jan 17 16:40:22 EST 1999

At 4:03 PM +0005 1/17/99, Joseph Garnier wrote:
>It is often assumed the en (one) in John 10: 30 means spirit, or essence
>among the churches I have been to.  If this were so, wouldn't it be
>feminine?  The normal way to translate a neuter without a substantive
>attached seems to be as a thing, but this is distasteful to me as we are
>here summing up the father's relation to Jesus.  Can you tell me if there
>are any neuter substantives that are personal without being human?  Is it
>better to leave it as one, and leave it open for the misinterpretation of
>those who profess to understand the universe, or pick some word not because
>it indicates what this one is, but because it shows what it is not.  I have
>searched the archives and find this subject lacking.  If you already
>resolved this I apologize.

In my opinion the question is based upon a certain degree of
misunderstanding of the nature of gender in Greek. A neuter substantive
that is personal without being human? Grammatical gender in itself has
nothing to do with personality; it is a category on which agreements of
noun, adjective, and pronoun are based but which doesn't in itself have any
necessary relationship to sexual gender of nouns. And in relationship to
PNEUMA in Greek, it should be noted that the fact that the noun is neuter
and must taken an adjective or a pronoun that is neuter to agree with it
doesn't really say anything one way or the other about whether "spirit" is

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649
cwconrad at OR cconrad at

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