Gender of diakonos?


#1

Is the gender of the Greek word “diakonos” neutral?

A Protestant raised this point with me recently. I tried to confirm their assertion of gender neutrality through the “goog”, but I couldn’t get that confirmation. I am not bothered by the answer one way or the other, but I’d just like to know for my own edification.


#2

I don’t know, but remember that grammatical gender can be a quirky thing and in any case it would predate the Christian use of the word. Whatever the answer to your question is it may be misguided to read too much into it. Remember especially that this is a matter of grammar, nothing more. We English-speakers can easily forget that since our language does not have grammatical gender in the same way.


#3

There were female deacons in the early Church. They were used for limited, non-liturgical purposes with women and children.


#4

This is true, as far as I know, but should not be interpreted in the sense of women being elevated to the same position as male deacons (even if with different duties then assigned to them). Remember that the early Church was not bound by the assumptions feminism has brought to gender roles. It was not assumed that because a man and a woman had a similar or identical title that the position they held was at all equivalent.


#5

According to Strong’s Greek Concordance, διάκονος is feminine and διάκονοῦis masculine. But I’m not entirely sure I’m reading it correctly. biblehub.com/greek/1249.htm


#6

It seems that there is a great deal of info on that site. But, I have no idea how to make heads or tails of the material. I wasn’t able to tease out the Greek words the way you did. I didn’t see διάκονοῦis used in the interlinear section of bible references - but I could also misunderstand what I was seeing. That would be easy for me to do.


#7

From the little bit that I can grasp, your link seems to state that διάκονος is the noun in the accusative, with the ending οῦ corresponding to the genitive, ὁ and ἡ being the masculine and the feminine articles, respectively.


#8

According to Thayer’s, diakonos is a 2nd-declension noun that can be either masculine or feminine, depending on the person being referred to. Normally Greek 2nd-declension nouns ending in -os are masculine, but there are a few exceptions derived from usage. Parthenos (virgin) is one of those exceptions.


#9

I suppose it’s overly simplified to say that diakonos is gender neutral - but once it is said that it can go either way, that means something similar. Thanks for the explanation.


#10

Actually, it doesn’t mean something similar. Greek doesn’t have a “neutral” gender; it has a neuter gender. Greek neuter 2nd-declension nouns end in -on in the nominative.


#11

OK, thanks. I very much appreciate knowing that!!!


#12

Oops, user DaveBj made me realise that diakonos is actually the nominative, not the acusative. Sorry, I’m not a scholar :blush:


#13

You’re welcome. Any time.

'Sawright. I’m not a scholar either, just a language geek :stuck_out_tongue:


#14

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.