Gender of TO PNEUMA

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Fri Nov 19 12:22:42 EST 1999


At 10:41 AM -0600 11/19/99, Joe A. Friberg wrote:
> . . .
>In Greek (and other languages), however, there was/is not complete disregard
>for correspondence of grammatical gender to sex and personal
>characteristics.  The use of 'he' in reference to the Spirit finds as its
>precedence John's use of various masc. pronouns in reference to PNEUMA in Jn
>16.13-14, and the masculine appelation hO PARAKLHTOS along with masc.
>pronouns in Jn 15.26, 16.7-8.  In this context, it may be that the masculine
>usage is prompted by the masc. PARAKLHTOS (esp. evident in 15.26, 16.7-8),
>but it is definitely interesting that the masculine is permitted to prevail
>even when the proximity is quite removed (16.13-14).  Further, it would seem
>that John could have coined a neuter *PARAKLHTO if he wanted to be
>consistent with the standard neut. reference to the Spirit.  It would seem
>(without pressing the point too strenuously) that John used the masc.
>because his context was bringing out the personal aspects of TO PNEUMA/hO
>PARAKLHTOS.

While I would not want to be so dogmatic on this matter as to insist that
Joe's interpretation of these texts to imply masculine gender for the
Spirit in John's gospel is wrong, I would certainly (respectfully) argue
that there is no necessity for interpreting these texts as he suggests and
good reasons for interpreting them otherwise. In John 16:13-14, the use of
the masculine pronoun EKEINOS and of the reflexive hEAUTOU (which could be
either masculine or neuter, but I agree it should be understood as
masculine) is not with reference to any preceding appearance of PNEUMA;
rather 16:7 announces hO PARAKLHTOS and I think one ought to understand
every masculine pronoun in the next several verses (AUTON in 7, EKEINOS in
8 and 13, hEAUTOU in 13, EKEINOS in 14. EKEINOS in verse
13 is glossed with the appositive, TO PNEUMA THS ALHQEIAS, but the
masculine pronoun EKEINOS nevertheless is still in agreement with the
preceding PARAKLHTOS. That same glossing of hO PARAKLHTOS with the
appositive, TO PNEUMA THS ALHQEIAS, appears in 15:26 and is immediately
followed by the neuter sg. acc. relative pronoun hO\ in a relative clause
describing the Father's future sending of the Spirit. In sum, there's
nothing in the Johannine text that requires one to understand John is
indicating masculine gender for TO PNEUMA; one may reasonably say that hO
PARAKLHTOS has masculine gender and is referenced by masculine pronouns,
but the grammatical gender of hO PARAKLHTOS implies nothing about the
gender of the Spirit itself. On the other hand, I would be willing to
assent to the view that use of hO PARAKLHTOS indicates intimate immediacy
of the Spirit, personhood, if one wants to understand it that way--but not
that it must indicate a distinct gender. I'd say, furthermore, that we have
to understand PARAKLHTOS as a substantive, not simply a verbal adjective in
this instance, and that the masculine substantive was already present in
Greek (see the citation from LSJ below). One might imagine a neuter form
"TO PARAKLHTON" (not PARAKLHTO), but I think the reason we don't see that
in John's gospel is that the masculine substantive hO PARAKLHTOS was
already in existence.

LSJ (from Perseus): PARAKLHTOS,ON, called to one's aid, in a court of
justice : as Subst., legal assistant, advocate, Dem. 19.1, Lycurg. Fr.102,
etc.
2. summoned, DOULOI D.C.46.20, cf. BGU601.12 (ii A.D.).
II. intercessor, Ph.2.520 : hence in ti= Ph. NT, PARAKLHTOS, of the Holy
Spirit, Ev.Jo.14.16, cf. 1 Ep.Jo.2.1.


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 artsci.wustl.edu 
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