Original Research

Androcentric language in 1 Thessalonians and its implications for South African women today

E.M. Cornelius
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 34, No 3 | a602 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v34i3.602 | © 2000 E.M. Cornelius | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 August 2000 | Published: 15 August 2000

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E.M. Cornelius, School for Biblical Sciences and Biblical Languages, Potchefstroom University for CHO, South Africa

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The focus of this article is the use of androcentric language in 1 Thessalonians. The questions asked in this regard are: does the author of 1 Thessalonians use sexist-exclusive language, thus gender-specific language or does he use gender-inclusive language as used within a patriarchal culture? And what are the implications of this situation for South African women today? In order to answer these questions, the background of ancient authors’ use of androcentric language is given as seen from a socio-historical point of view. Then the use of androcentric language by the author of 1 Thessalonians is evaluated. Against this background and in the light of this evaluation, the implications of this kind of language in 1 Thessalonians for contemporary South African women are discussed. It is found that Paul’s use of androcentric language in 1 Thessalonians is possibly a result of the prescriptions of the roles of a patriarchal culture and that the church needs to reconsider its prescriptions of the roles of women in the church. The question to be answered is whether the church prescribes the roles of women in church because of a Biblical view of women or because of its negligence to let God’s Word speak to women in societies. In the light of a changed attitude towards women in our modern society, translators of the New Testament need to consider a fresh interpretation and translation of 1 Thessalonians (and the rest of the New Testament) in which women are addressed and considered to be an active part of God’s church.


1 Thessalonians; Androcentric; Language; Rhetorical Criticism; Women


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