Ten Reasons: The naming of the human race

The fourth reason he gives to prove headship existed before the fall is:
The naming of the human race: God named the human “Man” not “Woman.”

As I discussed yesterday, by the rules of Naming Mythology – only the namer has authority over the named. In this circumstance, God has authority over the human race. It does not mean that male gets headship over the female because of the name that God chose to refer to both of them by; particularly because the name for the human race is Adam – meaning humanity. Adam is the equivalent of a guy named Guy, and the woman is a guy, too.

He goes on to point out the gender-specific nature of the word ‘man’ saying that even though ‘man’ includes woman, the obvious male overtones suggest that only men (male) are given the leadership role over men (female). I wonder if he would enjoy the parallel dimension where God named humanity “woman” and only women (female) may be leaders over women (male.) Would that give a hint of male/female headship in either scenario? Were it so, then it seems rather odd that God would hire Deborah to sit as the judge over Israel and intermediary between Him and his people if he thinks that only men may be leaders. Now in most cases, when Deborah is brought up, it’s with this context: “When God wants to punish people, he gives them bad leaders. In the Bible it says that he will put women and children over them. So when Deborah was chosen to lead, it was because not one suitable man could be found anywhere in the entire nation to be the leader. Why even the chief of army was a wimp who wouldn’t go to war without Deborah.” Such a string of logic is resulted by borrowing something for Isaiah, which is after Deborah’s time and interpreting Judges through that lens. The problem is that Judges alone doesn’t support that assertion. When David was chosen to be the the king, God chose to look not to his gender, but to his heart. Assuming that he was following the same pattern he had in Judges, then Deborah had the heart of a leader, too. Her gender did not disqualify her from judging over Israel for forty years.

We also have to consider a fault of the English language here, in that it uses man to refer to men (male gender) and to refer to men (in general, the human race that includes everyone, regardless of gender.) The Hebrew word used is or equivalent for humanity. There were other words that consistently referred to and were used of the male gender and other words that consistently referred to and were used of the female gender – this wasn’t one of them. The argument that because humanity is called ‘Adam’ whispers male headship is like saying because humanity is called ‘humanity’ it whispers male headship. It’s a weak argument in both languages. The woman was just as much adam as the man was, and the man was just as much adam as the woman was.

Even other languages use two different words for ‘humanity’ and ‘man’ – ‘hombre’ and ‘varón’, respectively in Spanish. While yes, ‘hombre’ is also the word for ‘man’, it’s in this use generic referring to humanity. With languages like Spanish, even male words can refer an include women: ‘padres’ can refer to one’s parents both mother and father or it can mean multiple fathers, ‘hermanos’ can refer to brothers and sisters or it can mean multiple brothers, ‘abuelos’ can refer to one’s grandparents both a grandmother and a grandfather or it can mean multiple grandfathers. Few would assume that because there are padres, hermanos, and abuelos, only the male members of those groups of men and women are allowed to be leaders. The German also uses distinct words for humanity (der Mensch), man (der Weißen), and woman (das Weib) – which is interesting because English is considered a Germanic language; between the time our ancestors knew a version of German and developed English, English co-opted the use of ‘man.’ Yet In the English, even knowing that ‘men’ can refer to ‘men and women’ or ‘multiple men’, somehow it entitles only male members of society to be leaders. It’s an idea the secular world doesn’t accept but the sacred world enshrines and idolizes. Just because the English doesn’t make a clear distinction, it’s not proof of male headship before the fall.

Even in our times, the use of ‘men’ and ‘man’ to refer to humanity in general is on the way out – the Oxford English dictionary says:
Traditionally, the word man has been used to refer not only to adult males but also to human beings in general, regardless of sex. There is a historical explanation for this: in Old English, the principal sense of man was ‘a human being,’ and the words wer and wif were used to refer specifically to ‘a male person’ and ‘a female person,’ respectively. Subsequently, man replaced wer as the normal term for ‘a male person,’ but at the same time the older sense ‘a human being’ remained in use. In the second half of the 20th century, the generic use of man to refer to ‘human beings in general’ (as in reptiles were here long before man appeared on the earth) became problematic; the use is now often regarded as sexist or old-fashioned. In some contexts, terms such as the human race or humankind may be used instead of man or mankind. Certain fixed phrases and sayings, such as time and tide wait for no man can be easily rephrased (e.g., time and tide wait for no one). Alternatives for other related terms exist as well: the noun manpower, for example, can usually be replaced with staff or crew, and in most cases, the verbal form to man can be expressed as to staff or to operate.”

So to sum it all up, just because the English co-opted the general word ‘man’ with the specific male gendered ‘man’, it doesn’t justify headship based on the original language that used three different words: ha’adam (human beings / humanity), ish (male, man), ishshah (female/woman, man). For the author’s argument to even exist, ha’adam and ish would have to be the exact same word. But they’re not – and they don’t prove headship.


5 thoughts on “Ten Reasons: The naming of the human race

    1. Considering that he was on the oversight team for the ESV translation that he’s using, it’s translator bias of the translation and it’s interpretation. His tendency to point to outside factors such as the original readers suggests he will look outside of the Bible to find what he wants to read into it.


  1. Wasn’t the ESV the one that had like a hundred people on the translation team, and they were all male? So much for valuing the thoughts and opinions of the female majority of the church.


    1. Of course they value the input of women – just not in things like translation, writing study notes or introductions to each book, or being editors – but women can cater meetings, keep spaces tidy and organized, and that sort of thing.


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