Re: the "malakoi" in 1 Cor 6.9
Wed, 18 Sep 1996 17:31:24 -0400

Juan originally inquired:
<<I have seen three interpretations of the "malakoi" in 1 Cor 6.9: (1) the
effeminate; (2) the "passive" partner in any homsexual relations, (3)
child prostitutes (or not prostitutes) in pederasty (without wider
reference to other homosexual action). >>


<<Can anyone cite passages where "malakos" is clarly either
"2" or "3"in specific contrast to the active homosexual partner (or adult
partner in pederasty) as "arsenekoites"?>>

and Greg Carey replied in part:

<< I'd also recommend Plato's SYMPOSIUM. While homoeroticism is assumed (and
debated) there, there's also a fear of demonstrating subordination (softness)

through one's behavior.>>

First to Juan:
There is also, among the Hibeh Papyri edited and
translated by Bernard P. Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt and published
by the Egypt Exploration Fund in 1906 a letter in which the services
of a musician referred to as ZHNOBION TON MALAKON are requested
(p. 201, letter from Demophon to Ptolemaeus). Deissman cited the
letter and commented on the use of MALAKOS

"The word is no doubt used in its secondary
(obscene) sense, as by St. Paul in 1 Cor. vi.
9. It is an allusion to the foul practices by
which the musician eked out his earnings."

Deissman also cited the vices found
written on counters used in an ancient game
that resembled checkers as being parallel to
the sins listed in various passages of the N.T.
Although cinaedus, corresponding to the Greek
ARSENOKOITHS, is found on the counters, there
is a second term referring to homosexuality,
patice (from pathicus, an adjective
corresponding to the English "pathic"; cf.
Catallus 16, line 2; cf. also the use of the
related patientia in Seneca, Natural Questions,
1, 16, 5, and patior, id. 1, 16, 7), which
parallels the Greek MALAKOS (LIGHT FROM THE
ANCIENT EAST, p. 316, n. 6).

This use of ARSENOKOITHS as well as MALAKOS suggests
your number (2) or (3), i.e. a homosexual activity to be
distinguished, either in meaning or scope, from ARSENOKOITHS

But to Greg and the rest, I have a question:
Some years ago, I came across the use of MALAKOS in Agathon's speech
in Plato's Symposium, 195, and thought I saw there double entendre: speakers
offering (what I believe to be depraved) glorifications of homosexuality,
pederasty. (Greg, I assume that's the passage to which your refer?)

I have never seen anyone else mention this interpretation of the passage,
I haven't read much in the way of commentary on Plato. I recently had
occasion to look again at that passage, and had some doubts- I wondered if I
had read to much into it?

Now, Greg, your comments seem to confirm what I thought I had seen.

******* I'd like to get some feedback from the rest of you, who may
be more familiar with Plato's Symposium than I. **********

And finally, with regard to 1 Cor. 6:9-10, this interpretation of MALAKOI
works well because then it, along with ARSENOKOITAI and MOIXOI, becomes a
subcategory of PORNOI. Then comparing the list of sins in 1 Cor. 5:10 with
those in 6:9-10, we see identical lists, only the list in chap. 6 has an
expanded description of activities included as fornication in Chp 5, just as
Chap 6 has an expanded description of "covetous". Then it is apparent that
Paul specifies those sins which had characterized some at Corinth in the
past: "And such were some of you" (6:11)

To be clear, the parallel I see is as follows:

fornicator, incl: fornicators
covetous, incl: thieves
idolator idolator
reviler reviler
drunkard drunkard
extortioner extortioner

Jeff Smelser