Your implied question is a good one, and translations do differ on this.
And I do agree with you that there is a difference in meaning. Consider
various translations of PARQENON at 7:36 ...
GNT EI DE TIS ASXHMONEIN EPI THN PARQENON AUTOU NOMIZEI
KJV But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin,
NIV If anyone thinks he is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to,
NAB But if any man thinks that he is acting unbecomingly toward his virgin
Moffatt "If any man considers that he is not behaving properly to the maid who
is his spiritual bride,
NEB "... partner in celibacy."
NRS If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his fiancee,
Darby "But if any one think that he behaves unseemly to his virginity,
NWT "But if anyone thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virginity,
How do we understand PARQENON here? Is it virgin? Virgin he is engaged to?
Virgin daughter? Fiancee? Spiritual Bride? Partner in celibacy? or Virginity?
Each view has its own difficulties.
I agree with you that v.38 GAMIZWN THN hEAUTOU PARQENON "give his virgin
in marriage" is literal word-for-word and I do not disagree with this
possibility grammatically. My preference for "give his virginity in
marriage" comes from considering the context, from what Paul was talking
"Virginity" is preferred by the "Emphatic Diaglott" footnote which says:
"Parthenos, commonly translated virgin, has been rendered as meaning
also a state of virginity or celibacy." Dr. G. R. Berry gives the
interlinear reading as follows: "behaves unseemly to virginity his."
This would mean that the "virgin" referred to is not that of some other
person, but is one's own virginity.
This was the short answer. If you are interested in the long answer
involving context, it follows here. I am not looking to necessarily
convince anyone, nor am I dogmatically against some renderings, but I
hope it at least explains why "virginity" is preferable to some.
Question: Why do Bible translations differ so much in 1 Cor. 7:38 PARQENON?
Here is one translation of vss. 36-38 that uses "virginity":
"But if anyone thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virginity, if that is
past the bloom of youth, and this is the way it should take place, let him do
what he wants; he does not sin. Let them marry. But if anyone stands settled in
his heart, having no necessity, but has authority over his own will and has made
this decision in his own heart, to keep his own virginity, he will do well.
Consequently he also that gives his virginity in marriage does well, but he that
does not give it in marriage will do better."-1 Cor. 7:36-38.
The above translations show the difficulty in understanding and conveying the
meaning of the Greek of this passage. The UBS4 reads: "EI DE TIS ASXHMONEIN EPI
THN PARQENON AUTOU NOMIZEI." According to Dr. A. Marshall's Interlinear: "But if
anyone to behave dishonourably toward the virgin of him thinks, . . . " The main
problem involves the phrase "THN PARQENON AUTOU." What did Paul mean? Bible
commentaries often bring up three possibilities, which are reflected in the
various renderings in many popular Bibles. Briefly considering these three views
will aid us to appreciate the point of this passage. [Please, if I missed a
view, forgive me, I did not wish to post a thesis]
One: Some say that these verses refer to a father's or guardian's authority to
give a girl in marriage or to forbid her marrying. To convey this idea, certain
translations add the word "daughter," as does the NASB. There are, though,
difficulties with this view. First, the passage nowhere actually speaks of a
daughter, father or guardian. Furthermore, 1 Cor 7:37 shows that what was in
question was a man's authority over his own will. So why should we conclude that
Paul recommended that a woman remain celibate just because her father was not
distracted because of sexual passion?
Two: Others feel that Paul was counseling a man about whether to marry his
fiancee or not. Hence, the RSV reads: "If any one thinks that he is not behaving
properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, . . . " The fact is,
though, that in the original text these verses do not mention a 'betrothed
woman' or "fiancee." Further, this approach puts all the emphasis on the man.
But does it seem consistent with Christianity that Paul would be concerned with
only the man, showing no interest at all in the needs and feelings of the woman?
Three: Yet others say that 1 Cor. 7:36-38 involves Christian couples who were
living together but celibately, who had renounced sex relations for spiritual
reasons. Hence, the translation by Moffatt says: "If any man considers that he
is not behaving properly to the maid who is his spiritual bride, . . . " And the
NEB speaks of his "partner in celibacy."
The difficulty with this third view is what the apostle advised earlier in 1
Corinthians 7. Paul had mentioned, in vss. 3-5, the possibility of a couple's
temporarily abstaining from sexual relations by mutual agreement. But he said
that later they should come together again so that they would not fall into
temptation. Also, if Paul was referring to married couples living celibately,
why would he recommend their marrying if passion suggested the need for that?
With the difficulties posed by these three views, is there another rendering
that conveys the proper sense?
As noted, the principal difficulty involves the phrase "THN PARQENON AUTOU." In
this regard, an Emphatic Diaglott footnote says: "Parthenos, commonly translated
virgin, has been rendered as meaning also a state of virginity or celibacy." Dr.
G. R. Berry gives the interlinear reading as follows: "behaves unseemly to
virginity his." This would mean that the "virgin" referred to is not that of
some other person, but is one's own virginity. Some English versions convey this
understanding. J. N. Darby's translation is: "But if any one think that he
behaves unseemly to his virginity, . . . let him do what he will, he does not
sin." (See also the Bible by J. B. Rotherham.) Such a rendering fits both the
Greek text and Paul's earlier words encouraging singleness.-1 Cor. 7:29-35.
So, at 1 Corinthians 7:36-38 Paul urges persons to consider their own needs. Is
one past the time when sexual interest first became strong? If so, and if he or
she still feels it would be better to marry, there is no sin in doing so. But
the Christian who is able to make room for singleness will have fewer
distractions and more freedom to serve the Lord.
But personally, I'm married....
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Date: Tue, 3 Dec 1996 13:11:18 -600 (CST)
From: Jeffrey Gibson <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: 1Cor 7:1 - Not to touch a woman....
Cc: Wes.Williams@twcable.com, firstname.lastname@example.org