The Holy Spirit in the Hebrew New Testament

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Gender is a highly important part of the grammar of many languages, and one must know a noun’s gender in order to use the correct form of its modifiers. Masculine, feminine and neuter genders exist in English, but the designations are usually intrinsically obvious. For example, mother, sister, aunt and cow are feminine, while father, brother, uncle and bull are masculine. Hebrew differs from English in that there is only masculine and feminine gender. Grammatically, nothing can be an "it" in Hebrew but always must be a "he" or a "she."

In this article, Dr. Ray Pritz, former head of the Bible Society in Israel, looks at another of the challenges faced by the Society’s translation committee in rendering the synoptic Gospels into modern Hebrew.

Gender is a highly important part of the grammar of many languages, and one must know a noun’s gender in order to use the correct form of its modifiers.

Masculine, feminine and neuter genders exist in English, but the designations are usually intrinsically obvious. For example, mother, sister, aunt and cow are feminine, while father, brother, uncle and bull are masculine. There are a few exceptions, and one may refer in English to a ship, a country or the moon as “she,” but it is more a matter of personification than rules of grammar. Hebrew differs from English in that there is only masculine and feminine gender. Grammatically, nothing can be an “it” in Hebrew, but always must be a “he” or a “she.”

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Ray Pritz

Ray Pritz

Ray Pritz writes and teaches study material at the Caspari Center for Biblical and Jewish Studies. He is the former director of the Bible Society in Israel. He is currently assigned to the Translations Department of the United Bible Societies preparing resource material for Bible…
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