[B-Greek] Diakonon in Romans 16:1

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Thu May 11 19:46:11 EDT 2006

On May 11, 2006, at 6:22 PM, Stephen C Atnip wrote:

> I was wondering if someone could explain to me the progression of the
> addition of the female article to the lexical form of diakonos and
> anthropos.  I notice in Davis Greek Grammar that the Lexical form of
> these two nouns contain only the masculine omicron as the accompanying
> article in the New Testament.  In Thayer's translation and  
> revision, and
> Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek, I notice that anthropos retains  
> only
> the masculine omicron as the article, but both Thayer and Mounce  
> add the
> feminine article eta to the word diakonos.  The Analytical Greek  
> Lexicon
> by Zondervan Press, Arndt and Gingrich, and Friberg's annotated Greek
> text (BibleWorks Hermeneutika ed. 3.5),  all add the feminine  
> article eta
> to the lexical forms of both anthropos and diakonos.
> The reason that this puzzles me has nothing whatsoever to do with  
> whether
> feminine gender individuals can be included under the meaning of
> anthropos and diakonos; rather after studying the 29 various  
> inflexions
> of diakonos  and the 550 various inflexions of the word anthropos  
> in the
> NT with accompanying articles, I could not find a single feminine  
> article
> ever modifying either of these two words, unless twn anthropwn is  
> to be
> arbitrarily assigned a feminine inflexion  (it is possible that I have
> overlooked something, and ask for help).  While I found the inflected
> form diakonon declined as feminine only one time (Romans 16:1) in the
> Friberg annotated text (per Bibleworks Hermeneutika) , and that  
> without
> the masculine or feminine article, I could not find even a single
> instance of any inflection of the stem anthropo ever given as  
> feminine.
> This is highly puzzling to me.
> Are Friberg et. al. trying to tell me that these words contain  
> people of
> both genders in the word?  If so, that is already in the definition of
> the word.  Why attack the integrity of the inflected forms and their
> modifying articles? Either diakono and/or anthropo are 2nd declension
> stems found to be modified only by second declension masculine  
> articles,
> or else produce a case of a 1st declension article modifying either of
> these two words in the NT.  If there are cases outside the NT,  
> while this
> may be beneficial to a further study of the word in Koine Greek, it  
> seems
> to me to belong to a another type of lexicon that addresses the  
> full set
> of words used during the time of the NT Greek that might shed further
> light on the subject.  But let the inflections stand with their actual
> articles in the subset of NT words.  While I am not even sure that  
> there
> is such a pairing of 1st declension articles with these two second
> declension words (diakono and anthropo) outside the NT, it would
> certainly be helpful to know that such did indeed exist, so that the
> authors are not just pulling something out of the air for whatever
> reason.  And finally, if such article pairing could be found, two
> questions immediately arise for Romans 16:1.  First, since there is no
> article there at all, why did Friberg and Zondervan see fit to give  
> the
> inflection a feminine gender in their works?  Second, if this is  
> indeed
> an aberration from the normal usage, and to be found in no other  
> place in
> the NT, are we to assume that Phoebe's diaconate is also an aberration
> from all the other places and usages found in the NT?
> A final note is in order.  I am well aware that there are 2nd  
> declension
> words requiring 1st declension inflected articles and vice versa.  But
> this appears never to be the case in the NT with the two words under
> consideration.

Perhaps in your learning of NT Greek you didn't learn about common- 
gender nouns, which may be either masculine or feminine just as there  
are adjectives of two terminations, one termination serving for both  
masculine and feminine and another for the neuter, e.g. AGAMOS,  
AGNAFOS, AGNWSTOS, or even the word for wilderness/desert that is  
very common in the gospels, ERHMOS, an adjective usually written as   
a substantive hH ERHMOS, probably with the noun GH normally  
understood. At any rate, ANQRWPOS and DIAKONOS are indeed common- 
gender nouns. What makes it clear in Romans 16:1 that DIAKONOS must  
be understood as feminine is the participle OUSAN that construes with  

I hope you're not arguing that word-usage in the GNT is somehow  
different from standard Greek usage outside of the GNT. That is a  
notion that has generally been laid to rest for the better part of a  

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Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad2 at mac.com
WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/

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