Re: Lev. 18:22 (LXX)
On Wed, 7 Sep 1994 Dvdmoore@aol.com wrote:
> It is sometimes difficult to know why the biblical text expresses something
> one way rather than another. Apparently, the writers employed their language
> with an almost complete lack of concern for twentieth-century exegetes who
> would have to puzzle over their idiomatic expressions more than three
> millenia hence. :) Seriously, the Hebrew writers of the OT have an affinity
> for idiomatic and forceful, energetic modes of expression. Especially when
> speaking of matters related to sex, euphemism and idiomatic speech is the
> rule rather than the exception. So it is not appropriate to say that if they
> had wanted to say this or that, they would have spoken more directly.
The entire Hebrew language is highly metaphorical by English (or Greek)
standards. On the other hand, it is our own language which makes us see
their "metaphors" and idioms as indirect. Leviticus does not shy away
from open discussions of ejaculations of semen and menstrual blood: it is
the dainty translators who hide under an inappropriate English rendering
of a root meaning of the original; for example, talking about "seed" and
"flow." Perhaps English speakers would be too abashed to call Christ the
"sperm of David", but not because they have picked up their prudery from
anything in the Scriptures.
> You may find it "much easier to assume that the English translators inserted
> their own cultural differences, including a different and special bigotry,
> when they set about translating this passage." But that really does not seem
> to be the case. If GUNH were to be translated "wife" here as you suggest the
> dilema would arise of whose wife the text is referring to - the wife of the
> man addressed in Lev. 18:22 or the wife of the man with whom he lies. In
> such a case, the meaning of the passage would be equivocal and undefined.
> And only the addition of a second-person genitive pronoun (in case of its
> referring to the wife of the man addressed) or the third-person genitive
> pronoun (in case of the wife of the man with whom he lies) would clarify
> enough to make such a construction intelligible. If, of course, the
> reference is general, then we are back to what is really the only logical
> interpretation of this passage - a general prohibition to lying with a man as
> one might lie with a woman.
I find your argument here desperate and sophistical. Obviously adultery
is wrong no matter which party is married, or both. But if you think the
absence of articles or possessive pronouns is problematic, look no
further than Leviticus 18:18:
Gunaika epi alelphE autEs ou lEmpsEi antizElon apokalupsai tEn
asxEmosunEn autEs epi' autEi eti zOsEs autEs.
Or in Hebrew (BHS3): V'issha el-akhotah lo tikkakh litsror l'gallot
ervatah aleyha b'khayyeyha.
The KJV translates: "Neither shalt thou take a wife [or, one wife to
another] to her sister, to vex *her*, to uncover her nakedness, beside the
other in her life *time*."
The NIV translates: "Do not take your wife's sister as a rival wife and
have sexual relations with her while your wife is living."
The NAB-Catholic translates: "While your wife is still living, you shall
not marry her sister as her rival; for thus you would disgrace your first
Notice all these English translations render *plain old GUNE* as "wife",
usually with possessive pronouns not in the original: "your wife." Then
suddenly in Lev. 18:22 *plain old GUNE* suddenly becomes the universal
woman. If you'll notice, this verse assumes the listener/reader is a male
polygamist. This is one more reason a definite article or possessive
pronoun would not be employed: there was not one woman who was "the" wife
or "his" wife: there were many wives.
> About your implication of bias and bigotry in those who translate this
> passage as I have: well, I try not to come to the text with a preconceived
> idea of what it ought to say. Frankly, I have been amazed at some of the
> interpretations I have recently seen given to passages dealing with
> homosexual practice. In my opinion, there is a consistent thought pattern
> behind interpretations that avoid the conclusion that the Bible calls
> homosexual activity sinful. The thinking goes something like this:
> Some people are naturally inclined to a sexual interest in people
> of their own sex. Since they are naturally inclined to this, it
> cannot be bad. Therefore the Bible, in its references to
> homosexual practice, must not be qualifying it as sin.
Thank you for dodging close reading of Scripture and logical argument by
trying to question my motives for rereading the text. I do not find this
an example of how you "come to the text with[out] a preconceived idea of
what it ought to say." I think you are desperately trying to make the
Bible say what you want it to say, regardless of what it really says.
> I believe such reasoning is flawed. Every one of us has natural inclinations
> to activities the Bible calls sinful. Some are especially tempted in one
> area, others in another. But just as the adulterer cannot justify his sinful
> actions by saying that he has a stronger sex drive than other men, the
> homosexual is not justified by arguments based on a homosexual nature or on
> homosexual attraction.
Then I assume you cannot justify heterosexuality by the fact that you
have a heterosexual nature. What assumptions make you assume that
heterosexual nature expresses itself only in sinless behavior, and that
homosexual nature expresses itself only in sinful behavior? You have
improved on ad hominem only by rising to circular reasoning.
> You imply that I am biased against people involved in homosexuality. I
> respond that I see them as I see others involved in sin - with the same kinds
> of problems that sin brings and with the same hope of freedom and redemption
> from sin through faith in Christ. If I were to acceed to incorrect exegesis
> so as to not burden certain persons with the Bible's condemnation of their
> homosexual lifestyle, I would be doing them an injustice. I would be
> shutting the door for them to the way out of sin. I don't want to do that;
> Christ opened the door to forgiveness and salvation by His death on the
> cross. That door should not be closed to anyone.
> David Moore
I never asked you to "acceed to incorrect exegesis." In fact, I'm asking
you to acceed to correct exegesis, for reasons that should be obvious:
homosexuals are being unjustly accused of sin, and Christian leaders are
bearing them false testimony and helping to provide a false religious
support for the non-religious social bias against gays. Every
street-thug who beats up faggots agrees with you that homosexuals are
evil: but is it because of Leviticus 18:22?