Gender of TO PNEUMA

Brand, Andrew andrew.brand at
Fri Nov 19 06:21:31 EST 1999

Another first post here..........

My name is Andrew Brand. I live in Kingston (10 miles outside London),
England. I did Classical Greek to O-level at school (O-levels were the
public exams taken at about 16 years old). After university I did a one year
evening class in NT Greek using Wenham. That was in 1992, but an MBA then
took up too much time to do much Greek. I've recently started teaching
myself, (I'm very rusty indeed) using Mounce's excellent Basics of Biblical

I'd like to ask a question about the gender used to translate TO PNEUMA. Why
do English translations use 'he' for the pronoun referring to the Holy
Spirit, rather than 'it'? 

Thank you 

-----Original Message-----
From: Jim West [mailto:jwest at]
Sent: 18 November 1999 22:27
To: Biblical Greek
Cc: b-greek at
Subject: Re: Paraclete (and spelling of transliterated proper names)

At 10:57 AM 11/19/99 +1300, you wrote:

>While I agree that *paraclete* is not a proper name, I guess those of us
>use it as such do so because we feel that any translation (comforter,
>advocate, helper) would confuse the meaning in some references, or
>an unhelpful meaning.  In some cases *he* (if I may use the term where
>may be more appropriate at times) is a reminder and teacher (14.25ff;
>16.12-14), at other times a comforter (14.15ff), and at other times a
>witness (15.26, 27), while at other times an accuser (16.8-11), or a
>"replacement" (14.15ff).  Thus the allocation of one or the other terms may
>be misleading.  He is after all hO PARAKLHTOS in several of the texts.

It almost functions like the word "baptism" etc., because it is never
translated either- it is always merely transliterated and anglicized (so
that those who have differing views of the means of "immersion" aren't
offended I suppose).  So it is not wrong, in my view, to consider Paraclete
a "proper name".

>A wider question of translation (Joe, this one is for you too), is it
>helpful to translate the word in different ways (as Steve seems to indicate
>that the Eastern churches do) depending on the context?

Context is everything in translation- of course it must be taken into
account else the various shades of meaning that a word has will be obscured,
and worst, ignored.



Jim West, ThD
jwest at

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