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I find it really interesting and sad that we do not have a respectful female term. I think the probable cause is the over emphasis of political correctness and feminism. While we need to be sensitive of women's issues (sexism, harassment, pay discrepancy) we cannot go so far the other way that our language is treated as automatically pejorative.

Too bad we don't have a feminine form of the word "friend."

Thank you for writing this. it definitely causes us to realize the difficulty of the translator. i have a few thoughts on this as I read through, While in statement form, please know these are thoughts that end with, "What do you think?" So, with that caveat, here it is.

What may seem pejorative to a translator may not to many readers. Maybe it could be best to let the reader wrestle with certain passages like those noted above?

I would personally prefer to keep the difficulties and let the reader do the research. If translators have a tough time with it, maybe put a number by the word and give the sense in the margin or the study bible notes.

In addition, maybe Jesus did say children, and there is a cultural context we are unaware of at this point? Or, could He be speaking sarcastically?

Thanks for writing this. It gives us more good thoughts on which to ruminate.

Bonus points for referencing the Goonies! :)

I've always liked "My lady" in this situation. It kind of calls up the chivalric language of old. And, it's generic enough to use with a perfect stranger, but loving and genteel enough to use with your own mother.

Just my $0.02.

I lament the fact "woman" is seen as pejorative. Are they not women? I call my wife "woman" all the time. She takes no offense; she calls me "man". I've had one human female (can't call her a woman, it's offensive) become irritated when I called my wife "woman". She claimed I was demeaning and belittling her. Is this person ashamed of being a woman? Should my wife be ashamed of being a woman? No, she is woman: bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.

When Evangelicals cater to such political correctness we only give ammo to the enemy to exploit our scriptures to turn a skeptical eye towards our God.

What about "woman dear" or "dear lady"?

or just plain: "My dear"?

huh... perhaps I'm in denial, but "woman" doesn't sound pejorative to me.

People who react negatively to "ma'am," "lady," "dear lady" or "dear woman" are hypersensitive and need to get over it. A Bible translation cannot and should not try to please everyone, especially modern everyones with their many sensibilities. The Bible does not exist to make us feel good about ourselves. And we do have perfectly good words with which to address women -- it's not the fault of the words that modern society abuses them.

Often it is not so much the word as the tone. In this day, woman is often spoken with an inflection that designates her as inferior. Lady is even worse. The real problem is a culture that does not respect women, so no matter what you call them, it would be disrespectful. I have heard a husband call his wife "woman" and the way he said it conveyed the idea that she was less--substantially less--than he.

I'm interested to know - are there the same difficulties in translating ανηρ?

I would like to add to this conversation that I am a woman and that to my ear in English "woman, you're healed" or "Woman, what concern is that to you?" DOES sound a little demeaning. Equally, if my husband said, "Woman grab me a beer" (which is usually how we overhear this) then again, I would be offended. If he said, "Darling, could you grab me water while you're in the other room?" then I would not be offended and be happy to do what he asked.

I would like the individuals who said that these women are "oversensitive" or that feminism or political correctness has overrun evangelicals: Do you, by your insensitivity wish to turn people off from the love and truth of the Gospel? Do you wish to be a stumbling block for people's faith? How are YOU--I'm going to make an assumption and say MEN--threatened by sensitivity to the needs of Gospel listeners? Was Christ sensitive to the needs of all his disciples, both men and women?

I think so. Just as it is possible for some to be overrun by feminist concerns, there are many people in evangelical circles who hurt the cause of Christ our Lord by their insensitive sexism. I would ask you very respectfully, please think about how your writing comes off in comments or in person. Christ said the world would know we were his disciples by our love for one another.

I will be honest. Some of these comments did not make me feel loved and affirmed by other believers.

Thank you Dr. Mounce for your writing. I do see God's love in your words. And I'm happy to say, I will be using some of your books in my Intro to Greek this summer. Blessings.

In that society to say woman was not a sin. Women back then had a better understanding of their God given duties and a God fearing women understood her place in the chain of command. Nowadays it's all backwards, as most everything else is in these days of the falling away. We all should seek to serve God and not ourselves. The scripture also reads that the time will come when they will not recieve sound doctrine. That time is now. We live in the times when preachers tailor sermons to please people and fit in with conservative society, which is a liberal society compared to early Church doctrine and practice. I hope to see the very last days when the whole world will be shaken and the two witnesses preach
sound doctrine.

I always try to treat women with kindness and respect. If occasionaly I say to my wife, "Hey Woman", she knows I mean that in an innocent way. It is a way of showing her respect. She is a woman. If Jesus calls any woman, woman, that is His buisness cause he is God. Can't we respect that? In scripture doesn't he address men as man or son of man on some occasions? God can call me anything he wants too and I'll be perfectly pleased and happy that he even spoke to me at all. His Word is life and spirit and oh so good!

The question here isn't societal shift away from Biblical values, but rather coming up with the best way to express Jesus's kind, respectful greeting of a woman.

I think comments about how people get hypersensitive over this issue are missing the point. Take Mounce's example of his wife Robin's desire not to be called ma'am / madam. Sure, that might not line up with your culture, but the issue at stake here is not that Robin is failing to "understand [her] God-given duties" or "her place in the chain of command" or that she's wanting scripture to make her feel good about herself - it's that she doesn't want her husband to talk about her the same way he'd talk about a prostitute! That's a legitimate concern.

We can't dismiss this by saying "well, our culture has gone to seed" or "we have perfectly good words and it's not our fault that people assign to them meanings that we do not intend." If this were the case we'd still call a donkey a a-- and dung s---.

Recognizing that, in our culture, most people would consider it abrupt to turn to your waitress and say "Woman, I'd like a sandwich" isn't giving in to political correctness. It's smart translation to try to come up with a word that accurately expresses the meaning behind the Greek term.

My observations are too long for the comment list, so I have put them in my own blog post at http://gptsrabbi.blogspot.com/2013/04/thoughts-on-bible-translation-prompted.html

I think the proper English rendering is readily available, though you're convinced otherwise for quite personal reasons. 1st, adopt a pleasant US Southern accent. 2nd, render γύναι as "ma'am." As soon as I saw the word/problem you posed I thought of this. And wondered why I never thought of this before.

It is a direct, and respectful, but not personal, form of addressing a female. The male equivalent is "sir." It's quite refreshing to be addressed as sir or ma'am, to my wife's and my Northeastern ears.

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