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

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 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 10 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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