Man = men only or all people?

While listening to today’s Gospel, I couldn’t help taking a special notice at the last phrase. After Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish, we are told that those in the crowd numbered about “five thousand men, not counting women and children.”

This tells me that the New Testament writers used the term “men” to mean all people, not just males. (If they really meant just males, there would be no sense in adding the qualification about not counting women and children.)

I mention this for those of you who might encounter folks who refuse to say the full phrase “for us men and our salvation” in the Nicene Creed (even numerous priests won’t say that word “men”). Offer this example from chapter 14 of Matthew to show that it is not sexist language, but a term that really includes everyone. Any thoughts?

man: a human being of either sex; a person

originally the word “man” just meant meant a person “wer” an “wif” meaning man and woman respectively, but from the 13th century “wer” gradually became replaced by “man”. English hasn’t really lost the definition of “man” meaning “person”.

Of course men=men not women and children. Only men counted. That has been throughout history till the 19/20 th century.

Is it sexist? Seen from a 21st century view. But they were not on the 21st century and their social structure was different.

In this era, men would have comprised most (almost all) of the audience. Women and children were not schooled in the Jewish Faith, and would not have attended such a gathering of a Jewish teacher unless they all happened to be passing through the region (as a family) and the husband decided to check out the local sensation, and brought his wife and children along (where else would they go?).

I don’t think we can draw any real conclusions from this aspect of this reading.

Modern Catholic Dictionary:

MAN. Latin homo, a human being, as distinct from vir, a male person. The term homo has no perfect English equivalent, but it is part of the Church’s official vocabulary and occurs in every major document of the Catholic Church. A living substance, composed of a material body that dies and a spiritual soul that is immortal. Creature made by God to his image and likeness, to praise, reverence, and serve him in this life and thereby attain the eternal possession of God in the life to come. In philosophical terms, “man” is a rational animal, and collectively is the human species or the human race. (Etym. Anglo-Saxon man, a person.)

I agree. My point was to supply another simple piece of evidence to throw at those who insist on “inclusive” language for our Liturgy.

David, I think we can draw a conclusion: the use of “men” in this passage would have included women and children, had the exclusionary clause been omitted. Perhaps the total number would have only been 5,007 “men,” but the Bible doesn’t use words needlessly. Certainly this isn’t a bulletproof idea that extends to all uses of the term, but as mentioned, it’s a good Bible verse to serve as a quick retort to those who wish to cast Catholics liturgical language as chauvinist.

Pretty much all Indo-European languages have the distinction between “human being” and “male adult”. Pretty much all Indo-European languages have expressions which include both sexes in a male plural (like Latin “filii”, which means “sons” but also “children including both sons and daughters”). It’s very common in colloquial English today for women to refer to groups of other women as “you guys”, certainly without intending any bow to masculine dominance!

But all languages are constantly in the process of enlarging the reach of some expressions and narrowing the focus of others. Making different ranges of expression intelligible between two different languages and across time is always going to have some difficulties involved. Even in Douay-Rheims, you will see many different Latin, Greek, and Hebrew expressions being represented by just “man” or “men”. This may give you a false idea of the text; your comments seem to show that.

So the first question you should ask, if you’re concerned about sexual plurals vs neutral plurals vs collective nouns, is what the original language said and meant. Learning Greek or learning Hebrew is not impossible for you. Feel free to take a course. (You will probably want to back up learning NT Greek with learning Aramaic, to understand underlying expressions that Jesus may have used.)

If you want a quick and dirty look at sexual plurals without learning the languages (very apt to give you wrong ideas, but understandable if you want to check out a specific verse), you will find explicit commentaries out there which refer to the exact words being used in the original. But if you don’t know the languages well, you may not know who is feeding you a line of BS and who is being accurate. There are many axes being ground in scripture studies.

If you are not interested in going out and learning this, you probably aren’t all that concerned with sexual plurals. You should figure out what is really bothering you.

Seriously, someone honestly is ignorant of this fact?

Hey there,this is Frankyh,glad to join this forum and glad to meet you here,I look forward to getting some inspiration and getting to know all of you. Rift Gold

The main difference between Matthew 14 and the Nicene Creed is that Matthew uses the word andres (“men” as in ‘male adults’) while the Creed in Greek has anthrōpous (“men” as in ‘human beings’ in general). The Latin also preserves the distinction: virorum and hómines, respectively.

Mintaka – I didn’t know that my opening post made it sound like I am “bothered” by anything. And you apparently misread my comments to say that I have false ideas about the text. All I did was offer a Bible verse for those of us engaged in armchair apologetics to use if the topic of “men” comes up in discussion with others.

Ignatius – surely you’re not surprised to learn that there are folks out there who hear the word “men” at Mass and dislike it! (And the weird part is that often it is priests.) I’m pretty sure that these misguided folks know the historical use of the term to include all people, but liberals are constantly wringing their hands with self-guilt, and they are trying to effect changes in our Church to downplay the male terminology.

A number of years back i heard a priest reading the Gospel passage about the General Judgement. He was so determined to use “inclusive” language that he said:
Depart from Me with your curse upon you, into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the Devil and THE angels. (Matt. 25:41.) :blush:

The scripture reading confirms the sexism at large in those days -its amazing we still exclude the women and children by often referring to it as the feeding of the five thousand. The sexism has been challenged by Christ and the Spirit though and we’re beginning to see things more clearly. Christ accepted women and children in a way that was incredible as DavidFilmer rightly points out. I don’t say “men” at the creed because in modern English it means men exclusively- I think you’ve got to be bit daft to desire inclusivity as the thread-starter does and persist in using the term “men”. Let your yes be yes and your no no.

Newmo … I agree that there was inherent sexism in the ancient culture. But do you realize that “men” is part of the Creed not just because of an old tradition but for a more logical reason? (It’s not to make women feel left out.) Almost everyone knows that it means all people, but it’s also meant to be a parallel with the other statement we profess in the same Creed which says “…He was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.” To avoid saying “us men and our salvation” loses that verbal parallelism that ties our Savior to us His creatures.

Also, there’s no need to call me daft. Stick to the topic without belittling individuals. Wouldn’t that be practicing the charity that Jesus taught us?

Question: In whose modern English?
Answer: In the “modern English” of the radical feminists!
Its been a case of tell some people a lie often enough, and eventually theyll believe it. The corrosive poison injected into shallow-thinking Western society by those revolutionaries and their toadies has inflicted indescribable damage, including a loss of respect for Womanhood. And that`s the biggest tragedy!:mad:

My dictionary has a definition of “man” as a person

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let us make** man in our image, after our likeness; …" 1:27 So God created man **in his own image, in the image of God he created him; **male and female **he created them.

I don’t recall anyone ever having a problem understanding that “men” could mean all people – until feminists started their thing. I find the substitute words used (eg. people, human race, …) to be colder, so to speak - more technical rather than personal. Feminists are so vehemently anti-male that I’m always surprised they haven’t coined new words for “woman” and “female” and “human”.

Youre dead right about words being colder and more technical. You could say biological. Thanks to these individuals who hate men, but who want to be like men, very warm and human words like "ladies" and "gentlemen" have been banished from the language. Now its “females” and “males”.
The dignity and beauty and “softness” of Womanhood have been the worst casualties.
The collapse of respect for Woman is tragic. :mad:

Feminists are so vehemently anti-male that I’m always surprised they haven’t coined new words for “woman” and “female” and “human”.

You shouldn`t have brought that up! :smiley:
Back in the 1970s, there was talk of changing the word “person” to “per offspring”. Another suggestion was to say “peep”; so a manhole would become a “peephole”. Presumably, a little bowman would become a little “bowpeep”!
Ad nauseum.
Now they say “humankind” (shudder!): imagine if it were "hu per offspring kind’! :eek:
Instead of speaking about history, a lot of RFs say: “HERstory”!
They spell “women” differently (“wimmin”?)
One lot in England decided to get rid of their surnames (because they were from their fathers): they used their second Christian name instead… i think that was it. :shrug:
In one generation, the English language has been made clumsy, mangled.

The RFs are certifiable!
In a lot of cases, that`s probably at least partly due to their spiritual state…

End of rave…


“you being daft”

“you” doesn’t always mean “you” as in you personally

I could have said “one” and then you wouldn’t have put yourself centre frame and become offended.

Why didn’t I say “one”? Because that language is no longer serviceable.


Here’s what you wrote:
“I think you’ve got to be bit daft to desire inclusivity as the thread-starter does…”

Since I was the thread starter, it doesn’t take a genius to see that you were applying that adjective to me (and others who defend the broad usage of “men”). :rolleyes:

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