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[XTalk] Re: Eunuchery for the sake of the kingdom of heaven

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  • Davies
    ... I once used to wonder ... not if this sort of thing was true, but whether evil gnostics and carpocratians said it was true. But now I m convinced that it
    Message 1 of 14 , Nov 6, 1999
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      >
      > >I'm not at all sure that he is EVER portrayed as not-celibate. At least
      > >not until our times when anything goes.

      > Nathan:

      > I had two things in mind when I said this. One is a gopel (of Adam, I
      > think, or perhaps Eve--I read about it a long time ago and haven't been
      > able to find it since) in which it is said that Jesus went up to a
      > mountain, had sex with Mary Magdeline, performed withdrawal, consumed his
      > own semen, and then consumed Mary's menstrual fluid. This, according to
      > the group authoring the gospel, was his institution of the Eucharist
      > (eating the body and drinking the blood--it's all really disgusting). As I
      > remember, this is a fairly old gospel (i.e., 2nd or 3rd century), but I'm
      > not sure of this.

      I once used to wonder ... not if this sort of thing was true, but whether
      evil gnostics and carpocratians said it was true. But now I'm convinced
      that it is Orthodox propagandizing and that nobody ever said if was so.
      There are all manner of books about Catholics and Mormons etc. that
      accuse them of vile things they never even thought of, and surely that
      also was a technique used way back when.

      > The other thing I had in mind is the fragment of the letter from Clement of
      > Alexandria wherein he introduces us to the Secret Gospel of Mark and talks
      > about the Carpocratians. Evidently, the Carpocratians inserted the phrase
      > "naked man lying with naked man" into the gospel, presumably to support
      > their own libertine practices.

      That "presumably" is naive. I myself would presume that their libertine
      practices were ascribed to them in order to denigrate them. Same as
      libertine practices were ascribed to nuns to denigrate them.

      Also it was
      "naked man with naked man" without the "lying" verb. It's you who
      introduce the "lying" part for reasons we dassn't speculate upon.

      Why
      you assume they were engaged in the telling of falsehoods escapes me.
      Bear in mind anyhow that Jesus was naked during the Last Supper and
      that Peter, in one of my favorite Scripture Passages, is out floating in
      his boat, buck naked, and, when he spies Jesus on the shore, puts
      on his clothes and jumps in the lake. The nudity theme in the gospels
      hasn't been carefully studied yet IMHO.

      Steve
    • Jeffrey B. Gibson
      ... Don t throw out the NAB just yet. PORNEIA is what is used GMatt as the equivalent of the Hebrew for something unseemly which, as the discussion between
      Message 2 of 14 , Nov 6, 1999
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        Nathan McGovern wrote:

        > Steve Davies wrote:
        >
        > >Incidentally, the translation "unlawful marriage" is an attempt by the
        > >Catholic
        > >to avoid allowing divorce for "adultery" to restrict it to things that
        > >allow for anullment. The proper English for the Gk "porneia" is "doing the
        > >nasty."
        >
        > Damn. That's what I get for using the New American Bible. Usually the
        > translation is pretty good, I think, but every so often they throw you for
        > a loop and pull something like this. I'm starting to think that there are
        > enough hints of secret Catholic "conspiracies" to create an X-Files
        > spin-off! <g>
        >

        Don't throw out the NAB just yet. PORNEIA is what is used GMatt as the equivalent
        of the Hebrew for "something unseemly" which, as the discussion between Hillel
        and Shammai on Deut 24 shows does not always have to have a sexual reference. In
        any case, what the translators of the NAB have done is assume that Matthew, in
        using EPI MH PORNEIA was here referring to marriages which were in violation of
        kinship bonds/consanguinuity, not adultery or even fornication -- a longstanding
        scholarly interpretation of the expression (see the literature cited in Heth and
        Wenham _Jesus and Divorce_). So "unlawful marriage" is not necessarily a bad
        translation of the expression.

        Yours,

        Jeffrey

        --
        Jeffrey B. Gibson
        7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
        Chicago, Illinois 60626
        e-mail jgibson000@...
      • Mahlon H. Smith
        ... Or perhaps because it was not until our times that scholars began to consider J really human and realized the social constraints on historical persons in
        Message 3 of 14 , Nov 6, 1999
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          Steve Davies wrote:

          >
          > I'm not at all sure that he is EVER portrayed as not-celibate. At least
          > not until our times when anything goes.
          >

          Or perhaps because it was not "until our times" that scholars began to
          consider J really human and realized the social constraints on
          historical persons in antiquity. The question is where in the NT is J
          actually portrayed as celibate, as if to marry or not was a social
          option for him?

          Paul did not seem to have positive info that J was celibate. Otherwise,
          his imitatio Christi soteriology would probably have led him mention it
          in 1 Cor. Instead he says this (1 Cor 7:25-28):

          "Now concerning virgins, I have *no* prescription (EPITAGH) from the
          Lord. But *I* give *my* opinion as one who by the Lord's mercy is
          trustworthy. *I* think that in view of the *present* distress it is well
          for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Don't seek to
          be free. Are you free from a wife? Don't seek marriage."

          Note 3 things in this passage:

          1. Paul claims no precedent from Jesus for his answer to the
          Corinthians' question regarding marriage. EPITAGH could be a dominical
          saying but, as is evident from his advice to the Corinthians regarding
          the Lord's supper, it could also be a reference to J's example. So Paul
          apparently had *no* information regarding the question -- What would
          Jesus say or do? Apparently the issue had never come up before.

          2. So forced to fall back on his own opinion, Paul considers his view of
          the *current* circumstances of his readers. Therefore, he makes no
          pretense to base his advice to remain unmarried on historical precedent.

          3. Paul's advise does *not* privilege celibacy but rather the status
          quo, which would mean celibacy only for those who were currently
          unmarried. In a world in which marriages were contracted by families
          while children were still young this would not have been taken as a
          prescription for general celibacy. And since he urges those who are
          married *not* to seek their independence, sexual celibacy cannot have
          been his concern. Rather, his advice is based solely on *his* opinion
          that *current* troubles did not favor the making of *new* marriage
          commitments. Since *he* viewed the time as "short" with the "form of
          this world passing away," he didn't see any sense into a social state
          designed to bring more children into "this world." So why get married,
          IF one was not already. On the other hand, he did not think that current
          conditions provided a pretext for voiding marriage vows. For on that, he
          did think he had a directive from the Lord [Jesus] (1 Cor 7:10-11).

          So Paul obviously considered marriage to be normal in "this world"
          --which was, after all, the world in which Jesus had lived "according to
          the flesh." And apparently he did not think that this fleshly Jesus who
          was born of woman under the law had himself provided any precedent for
          preferring celibacy to marriage.

          The gospels also are silent on Jesus' celibacy. So the idea that Jesus
          himself was celibate by choice or by circumstance is pure speculation
          based on silence. The high christology of the gospel writers --
          presenting Jesus as son of God or even God incarnate -- obviously
          precluded representing him as a sexual being whose personal status was
          conditioned by social conventions. And all the gospels remain Jewish
          enough to avoid portraying Jesus in a way that might lead to him being
          confused by Greek readers with a sexual god like Zeus. So one would not
          expect these writers to mention that Jesus had consummated a marriage
          even if he did.

          There are two good reasons marriage remains a historical possibility for
          HJ:

          1. The gospels only provide data for a rather brief period in J's adult
          life. Assuming that this covers a period when HJ was between 25 and 35
          years old & that he was a normal male reaching puberty about 12, there
          were at least 13 (or 23) of his adult years for which we have no
          information. A lot can happen in that time frame. Too much to take
          celibacy for granted.

          2. Celibacy was an exception in 1st c. Jewish culture, which took the
          biblical injunction to procreate as a religious & even theological
          obligation. Unless HJ was a known bastard or had been raised by the
          Essenes "among the palms" by the Dead Sea, it is likely that some
          marriage was arranged for him when quite young. If he refused to
          consummate it on reaching puberty, he probably would have been branded a
          rebellious son. For Jewish children generally did not have the option of
          annulling a parental decision. Of course, his bride-to-be could have
          died before the wedding. But in the absence of positive testimony to
          that effect, other historical scenarios are possible. His wife could
          have died in childbirth, or of any number of diseases, sometime before
          his baptism. Or she could have stayed home with the children while he
          went off to JB. Or she could have accompanied him during his itineracy,
          like Peter's wife (according to Paul) -- who BTW is also not mentioned
          in the gospels.

          But of all the possible scenarios regarding HJ's sexuality, life-long
          celibacy for a Jewish male in the 1st c. CE is the least historically
          probable. Even more so, given the testimony of Paul.

          Shalom!


          Mahlon

          --

          *********************

          Mahlon H. Smith, http://religion.rutgers.edu/mhsmith.html
          Associate Professor
          Department of Religion
          Rutgers University
          New Brunswick NJ

          Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus
          http://religion.rutgers.edu/iho/
        • Nathan McGovern
          ... Sorry about that. I just found the web page where I orignally read about the gospel of Eve--yes, it s definitely Eve--testified to by Epiphanius:
          Message 4 of 14 , Nov 6, 1999
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            Jim West wrote:

            >At 08:38 PM 11/6/99 -0800, you wrote:
            >>The proper English for the Gk "porneia" is "doing the
            >>>nasty."
            >
            >That must be the rendering of the Revised Titillation Version. Porneia
            >means "premarital sex"- and not the colloquial "doing the nasty"
            >
            >>
            >>I had two things in mind when I said this. One is a gopel (of Adam, I
            >>think, or perhaps Eve--I read about it a long time ago and haven't been
            >>able to find it since) in which it is said that Jesus went up to a
            >>mountain, had sex with Mary Magdeline, performed withdrawal, consumed his
            >>own semen, and then consumed Mary's menstrual fluid. This, according to
            >>the group authoring the gospel, was his institution of the Eucharist
            >>(eating the body and drinking the blood--it's all really disgusting). As I
            >>remember, this is a fairly old gospel (i.e., 2nd or 3rd century), but I'm
            >>not sure of this.
            >
            >Nathan, man, I just had dinner- get back downstairs to the office, read my
            >email, and here is this profoundly grotesque yuck....
            >
            >If you have a source for this please spill it (!) and if not, could ya maybe
            >wait to find the source before ya say it?

            Sorry about that. I just found the web page where I orignally read about
            the gospel of Eve--yes, it's definitely Eve--testified to by Epiphanius:
            http://members.aol.com/Heraklit1/gnostic.htm.
            As a disclaimer: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DO NOT GO TO THIS WEB SITE UNLESS
            YOU ARE PREPARED TO READ SOMETHING EXTREMELY DISGUSTING! Believe it or
            not, the part that I quoted (actually, I quoted it incorrectly--Jesus
            supposedly had sex not with Mary, but with a woman he took out of his side)
            is a bed of roses compared to the *really* nasty part.

            Side note: This gospel of Eve also includes an interesting parallel to the
            Hindu doctrine of the atman.

            Shalom,

            Nathan

            Nathan McGovern
            Franklin and Marshall College
            nm_mcgovern@...
          • Nathan McGovern
            ... Duly noted. I hadn t thought of that. ... An ex-nun once told me that she had heard a person claim that the reason that so many Catholic churches sponsor
            Message 5 of 14 , Nov 6, 1999
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              >>
              >> >I'm not at all sure that he is EVER portrayed as not-celibate. At least
              >> >not until our times when anything goes.
              >
              >> Nathan:
              >
              >> I had two things in mind when I said this. One is a gopel (of Adam, I
              >> think, or perhaps Eve--I read about it a long time ago and haven't been
              >> able to find it since) in which it is said that Jesus went up to a
              >> mountain, had sex with Mary Magdeline, performed withdrawal, consumed his
              >> own semen, and then consumed Mary's menstrual fluid. This, according to
              >> the group authoring the gospel, was his institution of the Eucharist
              >> (eating the body and drinking the blood--it's all really disgusting). As I
              >> remember, this is a fairly old gospel (i.e., 2nd or 3rd century), but I'm
              >> not sure of this.
              >
              >I once used to wonder ... not if this sort of thing was true, but whether
              >evil gnostics and carpocratians said it was true. But now I'm convinced
              >that it is Orthodox propagandizing and that nobody ever said if was so.
              >There are all manner of books about Catholics and Mormons etc. that
              >accuse them of vile things they never even thought of, and surely that
              >also was a technique used way back when.

              Duly noted. I hadn't thought of that.

              >
              >> The other thing I had in mind is the fragment of the letter from Clement of
              >> Alexandria wherein he introduces us to the Secret Gospel of Mark and talks
              >> about the Carpocratians. Evidently, the Carpocratians inserted the phrase
              >> "naked man lying with naked man" into the gospel, presumably to support
              >> their own libertine practices.
              >
              >That "presumably" is naive. I myself would presume that their libertine
              >practices were ascribed to them in order to denigrate them. Same as
              >libertine practices were ascribed to nuns to denigrate them.

              An ex-nun once told me that she had heard a person claim that the reason
              that so many Catholic churches sponsor orphanages is that nuns would have
              sex with priests in a secret underground passage connecting the convent to
              the rectory, and they needed a place to put all the babies. This is
              obviously not true, but many claims by young boys to having been raped by
              priests and brothers are sadly very true. So, you're right, the
              "presumably" is naive; we have no idea whether Clement was lying or telling
              the truth.

              >
              >Also it was
              >"naked man with naked man" without the "lying" verb. It's you who
              >introduce the "lying" part for reasons we dassn't speculate upon.

              I was working from memory (bad habit, but I thought the quote was short
              enough to remember accurately). Apparently, I conflated the actual text
              with Clement's intimation that the Carpocratians used the quote for the
              support of libertine practices.

              >
              >Why
              >you assume they were engaged in the telling of falsehoods escapes me.
              >Bear in mind anyhow that Jesus was naked during the Last Supper and
              >that Peter, in one of my favorite Scripture Passages, is out floating in
              >his boat, buck naked, and, when he spies Jesus on the shore, puts
              >on his clothes and jumps in the lake. The nudity theme in the gospels
              >hasn't been carefully studied yet IMHO.

              Interesting point. Which book/chapter/verse are you referring to in the
              former example.

              To touch back on the original subject of this thread, however, I think it
              much more plausible that Jesus was celibate, or at least that he preached
              celibacy. This would fit better with Jewish religious movements of the day
              (especially the Essenes, which share many--though not all--characteristics
              with early Christianity). That's why I wondered whether there is
              linguistic backing for a claim that Matt. 19:11-12 goes back to Jesus.

              Shalom,

              Nathan

              Nathan McGovern
              Franklin and Marshall College
              nm_mcgovern@...
            • Davies
              ... John where he takes off his garments and wraps a cloth around him. What was he wearing in the inbetween? Steve
              Message 6 of 14 , Nov 7, 1999
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                Nathan McGovern wrote:

                > >Bear in mind anyhow that Jesus was naked during the Last Supper and
                > >that Peter, in one of my favorite Scripture Passages, is out floating in
                > >his boat, buck naked, and, when he spies Jesus on the shore, puts
                > >on his clothes and jumps in the lake. The nudity theme in the gospels
                > >hasn't been carefully studied yet IMHO.
                >
                > Interesting point. Which book/chapter/verse are you referring to in the
                > former example.

                John where he takes off his garments and wraps a cloth around him.
                What was he wearing in the inbetween?

                Steve
              • Davies
                ... of the Hebrew for something unseemly How do you know this? How do you know what if any word in Hebrew Matthew had in mind? I concede that Jack Kilmon
                Message 7 of 14 , Nov 7, 1999
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                  "Jeffrey B. Gibson" wrote:

                  >Don't throw out the NAB just yet. PORNEIA is what is used GMatt as the >equivalent
                  of the Hebrew for "something unseemly"

                  How do you know this? How do you know what if any word in Hebrew
                  Matthew had in mind? I concede that Jack Kilmon knows these things but
                  you... how do you know?


                  > what the translators of the NAB have done is assume that Matthew, in
                  > using EPI MH PORNEIA was here referring to marriages which were in violation of
                  > kinship bonds/consanguinuity, not adultery or even fornication -- a longstanding
                  > scholarly interpretation of the expression (see the literature cited in Heth and
                  > Wenham _Jesus and Divorce_).

                  I says again, it's a longtime interp because of internal xian needs. For your
                  case you need 1st century koine examples that point to porneia being
                  properly translated this way.

                  Steve
                • Jeffrey B. Gibson
                  ... Because I had to work through not only the secondary literature on the subject but also the Josephan, DSS, Philonic, Mishnaic, and Talmudic texts on
                  Message 8 of 14 , Nov 7, 1999
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                    Davies wrote:

                    > "Jeffrey B. Gibson" wrote:
                    >
                    > >Don't throw out the NAB just yet. PORNEIA is what is used GMatt as the >equivalent
                    > of the Hebrew for "something unseemly"
                    >
                    > How do you know this? How do you know what if any word in Hebrew
                    > Matthew had in mind? I concede that Jack Kilmon knows these things but
                    > you... how do you know?
                    >

                    Because I had to work through not only the secondary literature on the subject but
                    also the Josephan, DSS, Philonic, Mishnaic, and Talmudic texts on Divorce, which like
                    Matt 19 all refer to Deut 24 and the notion of 'erwat dabar which that text allows as
                    the grounds for divorce, and who stood where and why on what that term was taken to
                    mean, when I wrote my chapter on the Divorce Question Testing in my thesis (and then
                    my book) on the Traditions of the Temptations of Jesus.

                    >
                    > > what the translators of the NAB have done is assume that Matthew, in
                    > > using EPI MH PORNEIA was here referring to marriages which were in violation of
                    > > kinship bonds/consanguinuity, not adultery or even fornication -- a longstanding
                    > > scholarly interpretation of the expression (see the literature cited in Heth and
                    > > Wenham _Jesus and Divorce_).
                    >
                    > I says again, it's a longtime interp because of internal xian needs. For your
                    > case you need 1st century koine examples that point to porneia being
                    > properly translated this way.
                    >

                    I recognize that. But logically, whether or not it is because of a need says nothing
                    about the interp's truth.

                    In any case, I did not say that **I** supported the contention -- only that it has had
                    its defenders, and good ones at that -- notably, J.A. Fitzmyer (see his "Matthean
                    Divorce Texts and Some New Palestinian Evidence", TS 37 [1976] 197-226). If I had to
                    guess why the NAB chose what they did to render PORNEIA, I'd lay even money that it was
                    because they found Fitzmyer's arguments convincing and not because they were
                    constrained by doctrine to do so.

                    Yours,

                    Jeffrey


                    --
                    Jeffrey B. Gibson
                    7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
                    Chicago, Illinois 60626
                    e-mail jgibson000@...
                  • Jim West
                    ... Your kidding right? He was wearing an undergarment under that tunic. To imply that he was prancing around as a nudie in some sort of exhibitionist way is
                    Message 9 of 14 , Nov 7, 1999
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                      At 06:36 PM 11/7/99 -0500, you wrote:
                      >
                      >
                      > John where he takes off his garments and wraps a cloth around him.
                      >What was he wearing in the inbetween?


                      Your kidding right? He was wearing an undergarment under that tunic. To
                      imply that he was prancing around as a nudie in some sort of exhibitionist
                      way is to give in to the crassest sort of grotesque popularizing titillation
                      imaginable. Soon I suppose you will tell us that he and the disciples were
                      all gay and that they had an orgy that night- all of course without the
                      least shred of textual or historical evidence.

                      That Jewish men of the first century wore undergarments is an established
                      fact. Where do you come up with this stuff Steve? Certainly not from
                      familiarity with the evidence.

                      Jim



                      ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

                      Jim West, ThD
                      jwest@...
                      http://web.infoave.net/~jwest
                    • Davies
                      ... Gee. No sooner do I take Jim West from the automatic delete file along with Christ Thomas than we get this. Back he goes. Bible says garments plural
                      Message 10 of 14 , Nov 8, 1999
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                        Jim West wrote:

                        > At 06:36 PM 11/7/99 -0500, you wrote:
                        > >
                        > >
                        > > John where he takes off his garments and wraps a cloth around him.
                        > >What was he wearing in the inbetween?
                        >
                        > Your kidding right? He was wearing an undergarment under that tunic. To
                        > imply that he was prancing around as a nudie in some sort of exhibitionist
                        > way is to give in to the crassest sort of grotesque popularizing titillation
                        > imaginable. Soon I suppose you will tell us that he and the disciples were
                        > all gay and that they had an orgy that night- all of course without the
                        > least shred of textual or historical evidence.
                        >
                        > That Jewish men of the first century wore undergarments is an established
                        > fact. Where do you come up with this stuff Steve? Certainly not from
                        > familiarity with the evidence.
                        >
                        > Jim

                        Gee. No sooner do I take Jim West from the "automatic delete" file along
                        with Christ Thomas than we get this. Back he goes.

                        Bible says "garments" plural were taken off. That would be more than
                        one. Outer and inner. Cf. GTh 22.

                        Steve
                      • Jeff Peterson
                        ... There s an interesting lexical question amid all the sensationalism on this thread. In English we talk about changing clothes, and we do this even we re
                        Message 11 of 14 , Nov 10, 1999
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                          At 5:35 PM -0500 11/8/99, Davies wrote:

                          >Bible says "garments" plural were taken off. That would be more than
                          >one. Outer and inner. Cf. GTh 22.

                          There's an interesting lexical question amid all the sensationalism on this
                          thread. In English we talk about changing "clothes," and we do this even
                          we're exchanging a jumpsuit for a night shirt; similarly, the term
                          "undergarments" might well refer only to a pair of briefs or boxers (more
                          plurals! -- because they have two openings for legs?) or to a corset or
                          teddy (or whatever you call those things ladies wear that combine bra and
                          panties). So was there such a usage in Greek? If so, then taking off one's
                          hIMATIA, ESQHMATA, OR AMFIBLHMATA wouldn't necessarily leave one in the
                          buff.

                          Answering this would take more time in BAGD and LSJ than I can spare
                          currently, so I'll content myself with being the gadfly -- though I cannot
                          hope to match Steve in that department!

                          Jeff

                          ------------------------------------
                          Jeffrey Peterson
                          Institute for Christian Studies
                          Austin, Texas, USA
                          ------------------------------------
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