Friday, August 1, 2014

The Bible does not condemn Homosexuality: Corinthians and Timothy

Arsenokoites (Strong # 733) and Malakos (Strong # 3120)

Here is the KJV rendering of 1 Corinthians 6:9&10 “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

How to translate two words that appear in the Greek of this passage is the final issue of my dissertation. The word rendered "effeminate" is Malakos. Malakos is used three other times in the Bible, but in none of those occasions as a title of some specific sin as it clearly is here, and they're certainly not sexual in nature. On those three (twice in Matthew 11:8 and Luke 7:25) occasions the KJV renders it "soft". Both passages Jesus is using it to describe people in royal courts who live decadent lifestyles.

The context here appears to be sexual in nature, following adulterers, but it can’t be known for certain, these two words, if they're sexual, end the sexual section, and are followed by economic sins. Instances of the use of Malakos in earlier secular literature are: Herodotus: Histories 7.153 & 13.51; Aristophanes: Wasps 1455, Plutus 488; Aristotle: Nichomachean Ethics 1150a:33; Plato: Republic 556c. Here it can have sexual connotations, but not homosexual. Aristotle says specifically that "Malakos" refers to unrestraint in respect to bodily pleasures. This kind of fits with Jesus linking it to decadence.  The Aristotle work in question does discus homosexual acts, but doesn't link Malakos to them.

But even the extent to which "effeminate" could be accurate, what calling a Man "effeminate" meant in Ancient Greeco-Roman culture was not exactly the same as today. For one thing, in Rome particularly, a man behaving effeminately for the sake of attracting a sexual partner was probably seeking women. Back then Men looked down on "girly men" like they do today, and that tended to include those men who had homosexual inclinations. And I know it's trendy to act like women being attracted to feminine looking men is some new fad inflicted on the modern world by Pop Boy Bands and Twilight, but it's really not. Adonis was a pretty boy in Greek mythology, not a muscular hairy perfect manifestation of masculinity like people want to in-part on the word today.

Traits the ancient Greeco-Romans considered "effeminate" included such behavior as bathing frequently, shaving, frequent dancing or laughing, wearing cologne, eating too much or wearing fine undergarments.  Again, all this backs up how Jesus linked Malakos to decadence.

If Paul had meant Crossdressers as people tend to take him to mean now days, he'd have probably used androgynes like  Philo did.

Arsenokoites is what’s rendered abusers of themselves with mankind. It appears elsewhere in scripture only once, another writing of Paul. 1 Timothy 1:10 “For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;” is the KJV rendering. The italics is how the word in question is rendered.  More modern Bible translations often render this word simply Homosexuals, Homosexual offenders, practicing homosexuals, or Sodomites.

In this case the KJV is less indisputably about simply Homosexuality then most more modern ones. Because it uses words like "Abusers" or "Defilers". Yes I know from the current standard conservative POV homosexuality is itself an Abuse or a Defileing. But that's not how you build doctrine.  It's interesting that King James himself was a Bisexual, but disapproved of "buggery", a British slang term for Anal intercourse.  (Those who deny King James was in any way Queer base their evidence solely on his love for his wife and that he disapproved of "buggery".)

The complication with this word is that Paul appears to have coined it himself. These two verses are the only known pre-second century examples of it being used at all. There were a number of Greek words for male-male Homosexual behavior Paul could have used, like erastês and erômenos, androkoitēs, paiderastia, catamite, arrenomixia, androbateo, androbates, arrenomanes, maiandro or ganymede.

A popular from of the traditional view is that Malakos means the passive partner and Arsenokotis the active partner.  However if that was Paul's intent he's have used erastês and erômenos.

Arsenokoites is a compound word, combining Arsen (which was already mentioned in the study on Romans 1), and the other is Koite (Strong # 2845) which literally means bed but can be an idiom for sex.  Compound words are not as easy to decipher as they look.   Lady-killer doesn't mean “Lady who kills” or “Killer of ladies”.

One interpretation is offered by Paul R. Johnson for “Second Stone” magazine titled “A New Look at Arsenokoitais” (1994 January/February issue). In this article he wrote:

“The Greek compound term arseno-koitais literally means ‘the male who has many beds’. The word arsen means ‘male’, the adjective o means ‘the’, and the term koitais is defined as ‘many beds’. Thus, the entire phrase means a male with multiple bed-partners; a promiscuous man. Everywhere that the word koitais is used in the plural in the Bible denotes promiscuity. However, when the same word is used in the singular form, the Bible gives approval because the singular denotes monogamy.”

Problem is I also disagree that The Bible only approves of absolute Monagamy.  And it's also in plural here because all the words listed are.

A common theory is that it derives from the Septuagint renderings of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. Where Zakar is translated Arsen and Mishkab is rendered Koite, and they are used right next to each other. I tend to reject the assumption that NT authors used the Septuagint, but it could likely have looked that way in any Greek rendering, including if Paul constructed one himself.  It is possible that Paul might have been referring to the same thing he addressed before in Romans, where he used the word Arsen. This view is the only option available really that uses Scripture to interpret Scripture. But the issue then is, what was Leviticus actually referring to? I addressed that and also Romans.

Some early Christian writings turn the word into a verb as arsenokoitia. None of the early uses of the word are apparently using it to mean homosexuals. And some contradict it, like John the Faster, Patriarch of Constantinople, around A.D. 575.

“One must also ask about the perplexing, beguiling , and shadowy sin of incest, of which there are not just one or two varieties but a great many very different ones. One type is committed with two sisters of the same father or mother (or both). [Jacob with Leah and Rachel]
Another involves a cousin; another the daughter of a cousin; another the wife of one's son; another the wife of one's brother. It is one thing with a mother-in-law or the sister of a mother-in-law, another with a stepmother or a father's concubine.
Some even do it with their own mothers, and others with foster sisters or goddaughters. In fact, many men even commit the sin of arsenokoitia with their wives.”
Seems not to imply inherently Homosexual. It's confusing frankly cause it isn't even clear if he's left the subject of Incest when he uses this word. I have my own separate study on incest restrictions in The Bible, which does not exactly agree with this commentary on the subject.

There was also found an old inscription in a house in Greece somewhere that says "Beware a male arsenokoite". So again, further evidence it was a sin women could commit with men as well as men could.

I believe the word is probably another reference to Temple Prostitution/sacred-marriage, or at most specifically Anal intercourse. Either way it’s certainly not a blanket condemnation of Homosexuality as a whole.

Around the year 2 B.C. Strabo (VIII,6,20) in his geographic/historical description of the town of Corinth wrote some remarks concerning female temple servants in the temple of Aphrodite in Corinth, which perhaps should be dated somewhere in the period 700-400 B.C.:[See Introduction in [Baladié]. The fragment is in Geographika VIII,6,20]

“The temple of Aphrodite was so rich that it employed more than a thousand hetairas,[The Greek εταίρα (hetaira) means literally: female companion, female mate.] whom both men and women had given to the goddess. Many people visisted the town on account of them, and thus these hetairas contributed to the riches of the town: for the ship captains frivolously spent their money there, hence the saying: ‘The voyage to Corinth is not for every man’. (The story goes of a hetaira being reproached by a woman for not loving her job and not touching wool,[One of the main tasks of these women was the processing of wool (source: [Radt,6], p. 484)] and answering her: ‘However you may behold me, yet in this short time I have already taken down three pieces’.)”
[The Greek text has here a blue pun which is hardly translatable. ιστός means: 1) (the standing posts of a) weaving loom (n.b.: ancient Greece initially knew the vertical loom); 2) mast; 3) (metonym.) woven tissue. καθει̃λον ιστους means then, firstly: taking down the woven web from the loom; secondly: lowering the mast. Thirdly the hint on ‘lowering’ some other kind of ‘mast’. (Sources: Greek dictionary, [Baladië], [Radt,2], [Radt,6].)]

The text in more than one way hints at the sexual business of those ladies. Remarks elsewhere of Strabo (XII,3,36: “women earning money with their bodies”) as well as Athenaeus (XIII,574: “in the lovely beds picking the fruits of the mildest bloom”) concerning this temple describe this character even more graphic.

In 464 B.C., a man named Xenophon, a citizen of Corinth who was an acclaimed runner and winner of pentathlon at the Olympic Games, dedicated one hundred young girls to the temple of the goddess as a sign of thanksgiving. We know this because of a hymn which Pindar was commissioned to write (fragment 122 Snell), celebrating "the very welcoming girls, servants of Peïtho and luxurious Corinth".[(French) Trans. Jean-Paul Savignac for les éditions La Différence, 1990.]

So Cornith was another ancient center of Temple Prostitution. None of these references confirm Males being used in the same purpose as we know happened with the Ancient Canaanites, but it still could have been likely. But again, maybe it's wrong even to assume the word Arsenokoitis refereed to men, though ending with an "s" in Greek is usually Grammatically Masculine, though some exceptions exist. Or it could be he's talking about the Men who are the clients of the Temple Prostitutes, or maybe both.

You may be thinking, "if you're saying it's so difficult to even know what this word means doesn't that hurt the idea of The Bible being inspired? Why would the Holy Spirit use a word he knew would be  obscure?"  Well that's why I somewhat support the theory of connecting it to Leviticus 18:22, that's the only approach that qualifies as using Scripture to Interpret Scripture, everything I've pointed out just helps back up my view that to Paul Leviticus 18:22 meant the same thing I argued it meant.

But we're not supposed to build Doctrine on Vice Lists (not moral doctrine), vice lists just say, so and so are sinners, but once your saved you're not longer considered whatever type of sinner you are, your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life, which means at the White Throne we're judged based on Christ's works not our own.  You may lose your rewards or inheritance from continuing in those sins, but not your Salvation.  So for that reason it doesn't matter too much how certain we are what these verses refer to.

I have read some attempts to justify why Paul needed to invent a word rather then just use ones that already existed while maintaining it's all Homosexual behavior.  Two of them are exact opposites.

One argued that the other terms are to broad (My whole objection to saying it condemns all same-sex affection is that that is too broad).  Many examples they say are about any non reproductive sex particularly Anal, but don't these same Christians also think of those as sins?  In arguing that Androkoites is too broad they assert "Andros can also mean Mankind/Humanity"  this plainly wrong, Anthropos is the Greek for Mankind/Humanity, Andros is frequently clearly used as the counterpart to Gune which means woman.  The Bible never uses Andros but it does use Anthropos in contexts clearly not meant to exclude women.  Even so that doesn't change that no idiot would think a condemnation of Androkoites was any sex with a human being.

Another argued that Androkoites is too specific.  That Andros means "adult male" and thus Androkoites excludes Pedastry.  Why wouldn't Paul just use more then one word and list Pedastry as a separate sin?

But if the motive for constructing Arsenokoites to to be broad in it's same-sex condemnation, then it means something that he still constructed a word that cannot include Lesbianism.  Maleness is quite inherent in it, if it was a sin that could be committed by a woman or with a woman, or that a woman could be the victim of (which is implied by some Extra-Biblical uses of it) they'd have to do it with or to a male, or be something a male does to or with them.

If The Holy Spirit wanted to create a Greek term equivalent to our Homosexual, the Homo part does in fact come from Koine Greek, Homios, which means "the same" or "likewise".  If Paul had constructed Homiokoites no one would have thought any other sameness was being forbidden to have sex with, most sex was between people of the same nation/tribe back then since the world wasn't as globalized yet, the exceptions were often scandalous.  And Christians are advised to only have relations with people of the same faith.

To others the comparison to androkoites is key.  If Androkoites means male same-sex acts, and Arsen is basically a synonym of Andros, then how can Arsenokoites mean something different?  Again constructing composite words is complicated, sometimes the entire reason when creating a new one to replace one word in an existing one with a synonym is to prevent confusion when something different is very much your intent.  Both words likely have something to do with males and beds/sex, but putting those two nouns together could have lots of meanings, and one meaning "male homosexual" was already covered.

Mostly they argue for it drawing on Levitcus to prove their point.  But that presumes what Leviticus is about is being interpreted correctly.  And to me how Arsneokoites was used by many post Paul authors shows the word certainly could have been about ritual anal sex, which is what I argued Leviticus 18:22 is about.

Some of the earliest extra-Biblical uses of the word are in Vice lists that are not of Sexual sins but of economic or exploitative sins.  In the second century Apocryphal Acts of John, John condemns a rich man of Ephesus.
You who delight in gold and ivory and jewels, do you see your loved (possessions) when night comes on? And you who give way to soft clothing, and then depart from life, will these things be useful in the place where you are going? And let the murderer know that the punishment he has earned awaits him in double measure after he leaves this (world). So also the poisoner, sorcerer, robber, swindler, and arsenokoités, the thief and all of this band. ...So, men of Ephesus, change your ways; for you know this also, that kings, rulers, tyrants, boasters, and warmongers shall go naked from this world and come to eternal misery and torment (section 36)
Sexual sins are denounced earlier in section 35, effectively a different list.

The two times Paul uses it are also next to Sins of an economic or exploitative nature, next to thieves in Corinthians and Manstealers in Timothy.  It could be some form of Sex-Slavery is in mind.  Which could overlap with forms of Temple Prostitution, since as I already showed some women were sold to Sex Goddess temples without their own consent.

It's also used in a similar fashion in the Jewish Sibylline Oracle 2.70-77.10.  This reference could work against the assumption Paul invented it, it's date of origin in uncertain but it's not Christian in origin, rather Hellenistic Judaism.  However most scholars agree it's under gone some Christian redaction.
Do not steal seeds. Whoever takes for himself is accursed (to generations of generations, to the scattering of life.
Do not arsenokoitein, do not betray information, do not murder.) Give one who has labored his wage. Do not oppress a poor man. Take heed of your speech. Keep a secret matter in your heart. (Make provision for orphans and widows and those in need.)
Do not be willing to act unjustly, and therefore do not give leave to one who is acting unjustly.
Nothing here is a sexual sin except disputably arsenokoitein  Another vice list in the same book is primarily about Sexual sins, 2.279-82.

Theophilus of Antioch in his treatise addressed to Autolychus, has a vice list that begins with sexual sins, then lists three economic or exploitative sins, then Arsenokoites, then more sins that are not sexual.  He does latter in the same work have another list listing it next to Sexual sins, but also next to  greed and idolatry.

Hippolytus of Rome used it in Refutation of All Heresies 5.26.22-23.  Hippolytus claims to be passing along a Gnostic myth about the seduction of Eve and Adam by the evil being Naas. Naas came to Eve, deceived her, and committed adultery with her. He then came to Adam and "possessed him like a boy (slave)." This is how, according to the myth, moicheia (adultery) and arsenokoitia came into the world.  The language about Naas's treatment of Adam, indeed, which could be read "taking or possessing him like a slave," could connote exploitation and even rape. The context allows a reading of arsenokoitia to imply the unjust and coercive use of another person sexually.

The third-century writer Bardesanes is quoted in Eusebius's Preparation for the Gospel 6.1 0.2 5.  Bardesanes is remarking that the peoples who live east of the Euphrates River take the charge of arsenokoitia very seriously: "From the Euphrates River all the way to the ocean in the East, a man who is derided as a murderer or thief will not be the least bit angry; but if he is derided as an arsenokoités, he will defend himself to the point of murder. [Among the Greeks, wise men who have lovers (ermenous echontes, males whom they love; "favorites") are not condemned]"

The text seems to have gone through some corruption in transmission. The sentence in brackets does not occur in the Syriac fragments of Bardesanes's text or in the other ancient authors who seem to know Bardesanes's account, leading Jacoby, the editor of the Greek fragments, to suggest that Eusebius himself supplied the comment.  (Ibid.; see also Die Pseudoklementinen II Rekognitionen in Rufius Übersetzung, rev. 1 ed. Bernard Rehm, earlier ed. Georg Strecker (Berlin: Akademie, 1994), , 284-87.)  Thus Eusebius's text would provide evidence only that he or other post-Constantine Christian scribes wanted to equate arsenokoités with Homosexuality.

Hippolytus and Eusebius are the oldest references that even come close to using it in a way that backs up viewing it as Homosexuality.  Hippolytus is recounting a Gnostic myth in a work dedicated to condemning the Gnostics, Augustinin sexual morality comes from Augustine's Gnostic background.  And Eusebius was a leader in the post Constantine agenda to reconcile Christianity with socially conservative Roman culture.

On the subject of the last issue I addressed at the end of the Romans study. Reading on in 1 Corinthians 6 it's clear that there where Christians saved out of every Sin being listed here.

And that is the end of my dissertation, I hope I have succeeded in opening minds and increasing knowledge of God’s Word.

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