Re: Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life

Jonathan Robie (
Sun, 03 Nov 1996 22:50:57 -0500

At 08:44 PM 11/3/96 -0600, Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>At 5:01 PM -0600 11/3/96, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>>However, I notice that most translations use "lust" to translate EPIQUMIA,
>>which seems to suggest sexual desire. Looking through BAGD, the little
>>Kittel, Louw & Nida, and Vines, I don't see any reason to see this as
>>primarily sexual desire. Am I missing something here?
>Interesting point. I'd like to contribute two observations here which may
>or may not be relevant.
>(1) I don't have the LXX text handy with me here at home, but I think that
>the 10th commandment reads MH EPIQUMHSEIS ... (If I misremember this,
>ignore what follows!).

Thanks, Carl, this is really helpful! Here is the quote:

Exod 20:17 (LXX) ouk epiqumhseis thn gunaika tou plhsion sou
ouk epiqumhseis thn oikian tou plhsion sou
oute ton agron autou
oute ton paida autou
oute thn paidiskhn autou
oute tou boos autou
oute tou upozugiou autou
oute pantos kthnous autou
oute osa tw plhsion sou estin

This is especially interesting since I would expect most people in the NT period
would be quite familiar with the 10 commandments, and the use of EPIQUMIA would
probably remind them of this.

Incidentally, my English and German translations start with the neighbor's
listing the neighbor's wife second. I was getting ready to suggest that this may
be another indication that the meaning of epiqumhseis is not primarily
sexual, but
then I noticed that the Septuagint lists them in the opposite order.

I wish I could read Hebrew--I assume that the Hebrew texts list the house first.

>I was very impressed by Martin Buber's comment on
>the 10th commandment: he said it was the foundation for all the other
>commandments regarding interpersonal relationships--that the others were
>concrete prohibitions of particular acts but this one warned against the
>very underlying attitude of envy of one's neighbor that makes it possible
>for one to carry out those concrete acts. In this regard--if indeed the
>verb in question in the LXX is EPIQUMEW--EPIQUMIA goes far beyond anything

Yes, I definitely agree, and this gives a nice list of many of the things
that it can encompass.

>(2) In Plato's tri-partite psychology as set forth especially in the
>_Republic_, there is NOUS at the top of the psychic hierarchy with a
>capacity to discern what is in the best interest of the whole self...
>Now I realize that EPIQUMIA in the Platonic sense cannot be quite
>equivalent to what John in 1 John is
>talking about, but I don't think it's altogether alien either, and it
>appears to be consistent with what you've found in Louw & Nida, etc. In
>sum, I think you're right to want to extend the sense of EPIQUMIA beyond
>the sexual and perhaps, while not excluding the sexual, not making it the
>core sense of the word either.

Any idea what part of the Republic I should look to for that? How hard is Plato
to read?


Jonathan Robie
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