Words of a Fether

Opinions on Faith and Life

Curiouser and Curiouser

Here is 2 John 1:1a in several standard Bible translations:

The bolded words above are translated from the Greek word kuria. If you look it up in Strong’s and look at all uses of it, here is what you see:
2959 Kuria koo-ree’-ah feminine of kurioV - kurios 2962; Cyria, a Christian woman:--lady.

2960 kuriakos koo-ree-ak-os’ from kurioV - kurios 2962; belonging to the Lord (Jehovah or Jesus):--Lord’s.

2961 kurieuo ko-ree-yoo’-o from kurioV - kurios 2962; to rule:--have dominion over, lord, be lord of, exercise lordship over.

2962 kurios koo’-ree-os from kuros (supremacy); supreme in authority, i.e. (as noun) controller; by implication, Master (as a respectful title):-- God, Lord, master, Sir.

2963 kuriotes koo-ree-ot’-ace from kurioV - kurios 2962; mastery, i.e. (concretely and collectively) rulers:--dominion, government.

2964 kuroo koo-ro’-o from the same as kurioV - kurios 2962; to make authoritative, i.e. ratify:--confirm.

I don’t know about you, but there’s something fishy about that first one. For some odd reason, it only gets special treatment if it is in the feminine form. All other uses speak of lordship, mastery, control, dominion, and government. But somehow, only one is treated either as a woman’s name as in the YLT (or simply transliterated because the truth is too hard to bear!) or is translated “lady”.


The only 2 places in the entire NT where we see the English word “lady” are here in 2 John (vs. 1 and 5). What does anyone base this on? Where is the justification for getting the meaning “lady” out of the base word “lord” (unless hedging by claiming “lady” is in the sense of “lords and ladies”-- hardly modern or common useage!)?

It can’t be --gasp!-- gender bias, can it?? I don’t care how many translations do this or how long they’ve been at it, they have to justify their special treatment of this word from what is known about Greek words in the first century.

Seriously, if anyone out there knows where to find the scholarship that supports kuria to mean “lady” to first century Greeks, I’d be most interested in seeing it.

ADDED LATER: The usual commentaries seem split on this, and they argue against each other’s position. There is also one that argues against John’s likelihood of addressing anyone as “master” by virtue of Jesus being called “the Master”, but I find the logic in that very weak. After all, believers are called “holy ones” and so is Jesus, and some believers are called “masters” (e.g. Eph. 6:5). Again, we turn to Occam’s Razor in the midst of many theories, and the simplest interpretation is that John is addressing a woman who has leadership of a community of believers (“children”).

If John is just writing to a family he knows, why did he not address it to the man? And why was this letter considered holy scripture and preserved with all the other scriptures? The simplest view would be that since the early believers considered it holy scripture, then it must concern the community of believers at large, making this woman the leader of that group.

Posted 2008-06-01 under Other, Bible Text, bias, translation, lord, kuria