Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Protestantism  and Holy Bible


The definition of the word "Gynai" (Woman)

From the book "Εvangelicals against the Gospel" by D. Panagopoulos


"...Jesus said unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come..."  (John 2:4)

( Greek λέγει αυτή ο Ιησούς· τι εμοί και σοι, γύναι;  ούπω ήκει η ώρα μου.)


[...] But then, they switch over to the word "Woman" (Greek: gynai, "γύναι" - pron. yee-neh) exclusively in the passage describing the wedding at Cana and they of course do not realize that this is their tombstone and a victory for the Holy Mother Theotokos and Orthodoxy.

And the question is posed: Do you find it difficult dear sirs to interpret the words: "What have I to do with you"? (τι εμοί και σοι) Well, let us help you, and tell you that it is interpreted as: "How does it concern me?" "What do I care?" "What business is it of mine?"

Yes, that is the inference, and not the belittling of the Theotokos. Besides, the pursuant passages and Christ's finally heeding Her request (in spite of His statement that "My time is not yet come" - οὔπω ἥκει ἡ ὥρα μου), are proof of Her authority and the Lord's respect towards Her.

Because, if He was supposedly being disrespectful towards Her with those words, He would not have changed His plans and performed that miracle.  The fact that He did change His plans and performed the miracle (of turning the water into wine) only proves the depth of His respect for Her.

The word "Woman" is not an insult or a word with a simplistic meaning; because, when He said "Woman, behold your son" (γύναι, ίδε ο υιός σου - John 19:26) while on the Cross, He was certainly not insulting or belittling Her.

Even to the ancients, the word "gynai" was equivalent to the contemporary term "madam" and in fact the expression "honorable madam".

When writing to his beloved Cleopatra, Augustus says: "Take courage, woman, and be of good demeanour".  Likewise, Homer and Sophocles use the word "gynai" with an honorific inference.

Even the "gynai" with which the Lord had addressed the woman of Samaria (...λέγει αυτή ο Ιησούς· γύναι, πίστευσόν μοι... - John 4:21) and the "gynai, why do you weep?' that He said to Mary Magdalene (...λέγει αυτή ο Ιησούς· γύναι, τι κλαίεις; - John 20:15) both prove the honorific significance of the word.  Otherwise, woe betide if we were to admit that after His Resurrection, the Lord had spoken in an insulting manner to Mary Magdalene!

With the word "gynai", the Lord not only honored His Most Holy Mother; He also taught the Judeans and others of His Godhood:

Because the Lord used to preach with statements like: "I am the living bread, which has descended from heaven" (εγώ ειμι ο άρτος ο ζων, ο εκ του ουρανού καταβάς - John 6:51); "I am the resurrection and the life" (...εγώ ειμι η ανάστασις και η ζωή - John 11:25); "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life" (...εγώ ειμι η οδός και η αλήθεια και η ζωή - John 14:6) and because the Judeans used to say: "Isn't he the son of the carpenter? Isn't his mother's name Mariam....?" (ουχ ούτος εστιν ο του τέκτονος υιός; ουχί η μήτηρ αυτού λέγεται Μαριὰμ; - Matth.13:55, Mark 6:3), this would have caused a certain confusion.

That is why the Lord did not address Her with the title of "Mother" and also why He didn't respond to Her request: because then He would be confirming the shallow thoughts that the Judeans had of Him, and they would have said: "How can you be the bread of life that descended from heaven, if that is your mother - whom you address as 'Mother' and whose requests you obey?"

So, it was in order to avert such suspicions that He had to speak in that way. Therefore, the careless "Evangelicals" should be more careful...


Translation:  K.N.

Article published in English on: 13-3-2010.

Last update: 13-3-2010.