‘Amen’ is not gendered, and ‘A-woman’ is nonsense, Hebrew scholar says

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) leads the opening prayer for the U.S. House of Representatives Jan. 3. Credit: CSPAN

Washington D.C., Jan 4, 2021 / 05:21 pm (CNA).- The word “amen” is not a gendered word and the term “a-women” is entirely made up, a professor of theology who specializes in Hebrew told CNA, after a prayer in the U.S. Congress used the fake word.

On Sunday, January 3, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) led the opening prayer for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Cleaver, an ordained Methodist pastor who served for 37 years as the senior pastor of St. James United Methodist Church in Kansas City, Missouri, ended his prayer asking for peace in the legislative chamber, “in the name of the monotheistic God, Brahma, and God known by many names by many different faiths. Amen and a-women.”

“Brahma” is the Hindu creator deity. There are members of the legislature who belong to Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and Unitarian Universalist faiths.

While the word “amen” ends in “men,” like “repairmen” or “handymen,” it is not in reference to a gender, Dr. John Bergsma of the Franciscan University of Steubenville said to CNA on Monday. Bergsma has taught four undergraduate courses on Hebrew, as well as a summer intensive on the language.

“‘Amen’ is a Hebrew word whose root meaning is ‘truth,’” Bergsma explained to CNA. “Already in ancient times, the Israelites used the term ‘amen’ in solemn ceremonies to express consent to the truth of what was said, meaning, ‘it is true’ or ‘so be it,’ depending on context.”

In Hebrew, said Bergsma, the word for man is ‘adam’ or ‘ish,’ and is unrelated to the word “amen.”

“In fact, the Hebrew pronunciation is ‘ah-MAIN,’ rhyming with ‘train,’ and doesn’t sound like ‘men,’” he said. “It is a verbal form, not a noun.”

The use of “amen” in Christian liturgical and prayerful context, said Bergsma, “expresses complete consent and faith in what is being said or done, as when we approach the Eucharist and say ‘amen’ to the minister’s statement, ‘The Body of Christ’.”

“At the end of prayer, ‘amen” expresses our solemn consent to what has been said in prayer, affirming that we have been truthful and expressing faith in God’s truthfulness and trustworthiness,” he said.

As for Cleaver’s use of “a-women” in Sunday’s prayer?

“‘A-women’ is wordplay for comical or political effect in English,” said Bergsma. “Strictly speaking, it is a nonsensical mashup of syllables from different languages.”


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3 Comments

  1. This guy is supposed to be an ordained minister? I think he must have gotten his certificate out of a crackerjack box. The Congressman’s use of the meaningless word “Awoman” is yet another example of the radical and absurd twisting of language and reality coming from the left.Its broad level of disrespect also makes it an obvious attack on religion, as does the hodge-podge number of “deities” he addressed in his incoherent “prayer”. That he could have so little respect for Congress that he would use that body as a comedy parody platform is proof of common sense disappearing from public discourse. The question is, why is this behavior tolerated?The US does not have an official religion. But in reality it is clearly a nation where the overwhelming majority identify as Christian. Tolerance does not mean we must accept abuse of our sacred beliefs nor must we pretend belief in “spaghetti monsters” are legitimately equal to the beliefs of the majority. Christians must see these attacks for what they REALLY are, an undermining of the Christian underpinnings of the nation. And they must stop meekly turning the other cheek, before our religion is driven from the public square, declared evil white western oppression (as has been suggested recently), and driven underground as it is in China. It is possible to “tolerance” yourself into oblivion.

  2. This is the sort of nonsense we can look forward to for the next four years. “Mother” and “father” are now verboten along with who knows what else our betters now consider unenlightened.

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