Re: Boswell (was Re: Lexicons)
On Tue, 13 Sep 1994, Stephen Carlson wrote:
> >Pornoi was a vague term in Koine just a "whore(-monger)" actually is in
> >English. My present conclusion would be that the New Testament seems to
> >use it for heterosexuals who cheat on their wives with prostitutes
> >(whoremongers), or more broadly, adulterers (in heterosexual
> This is odd. Although it might occasionally be used in reference to those
> cheating with their wives with prostitutes, this does fit under its broadest
> meaning of the sexually immoral. Even so, 'pornos' is applied to unmarried
> men [see Polycarp] and is distinguished from adultery [Hb13:4], so the
> conclusion that the 'pornoi' are simply a species of an adulterer is simply
The broad meaning of "sexually immoral" is useless for our discussion,
since what counts as sexually immoral is at issue.
"Adulterer/whoremonger" might be awkward, but it represents the words
semantic range in English terms. Polycarp is irrelevant: I assume you
realize unmarried men can commit adultery - by having sex with the wives
of men who ARE married.
> >> I am not unreasonable in stating that "pornos" itself can refer to male
> >> prostitutes. BAGD says Xenophon used it with this meaning. In addition,
> >> Boswell writes that "pornos" is one of the "common Attic words for male
> >> prostitute" [Boswell at 344 n.23.] Thus, it may well be the case that
> >> Paul is generally talking about prostitution with "pornoi."
The only thing missing from the use of pornos to mean "male prostitute"
is its use by an NT writer. Its use in meanings OTHER than "male
prostitutes", especially by Jesus, is damning to your argument. It *may*
be that then, as now, Jews believed that no good Jewish boy would do such
a thing, and so used the word for meanings more relevant to them: like
"whoremonger," which Jews of the time/place could hardly pretend did not
apply to their number.
> "Extramarital" assumes Paul is only addressing married men. Is Lv18:23
> only directed to extramarital bestiality?
I covered that one in B-Hebrew. The phrasing in that verse is completely
different from Lev. 18:22 and v.23 does not contain the context relating
itself on to marriage, unlike v.22. It may be however that v.23 *does*
refer only to marriage, which as I said, doesn't necessarily mean the
Hebrews thought it OK for unmarried people to commit bestiality; it may
merely mean that Lev. 18 is only a code about marriage problems, which is
very likely. If Lev. 18 were about sexuality in general, the absence of
the prohibition of sex between an unmarried man and unmarried
woman is very hard to explain.
> >Lev. 18:22, 20:13 only prohibit adultery with a man.
> This contention of yours has been thrashed out on B-GREEK and B-HEBREW and
> is very unconvincing.
If you have a good reason for considering my argument unconvincing,
please post it to B-Hebrew. I'm really open to taking my argument back
if it contains an real blunder. But not for far-fetched objections I've
already dealt with like 'is bestiality then forbidden only to married people?'
> Since there does not seem to be a law against Gentile prostitutes, per se,
> then how are they lawbreakers? Perhaps male prostitution violates the law
> against homosexual activity [Lv18:22 20:13], but that is an argument for
> the latter meaning for 'arsenokoites'.
There is no law against Gentiles *at all* (for reasons that should be
obvious - Gentiles didn't give a hoot about what Jewish law said about
them). But there is a law forbidding Jews to become male or female
temple prostitutes (in the LXX it looks more like a general prohibition
against becoming any kind of prostitute: Deut. 23:18-19). In Paul's time
it may have been exaggerated by the Pharisees and others to be a
prohibition against frequenting prostitutes as well.
I'll be getting to 1 Timothy. Its authenticity as Pauline has
already been put in doubt, but I'll assume it is his when I look at it.
> >I disagree with Boswell's analysis of the word, but I agree that it
> >refers to male prostitution (thought not necessarily active).
> I'm confused. 'Koite' refers to male prostitution???
Arsenokoitai=male prostitute. That's my tentative assumption, subject to
change at the first sight of contradicting evidence. The Thessalonican
Inscription (PA 9.686) seems to show the meaning later broadened to
"prostitute" in general, so that the word "male" had to be added to it.
> Sodom was destroyed for a multitude of sins, including inhospitality and
> homosexuality. To claim that it was destroyed for just one sin is an
> example of a fallacious disjunctive ("either-or") reasoning.
I have no idea of why it was destroyed. All I know is what other
Biblical and later Christian writers said about what their sin was. LOT
himself, in the GENESIS text gives his reason why he did not want the
Sodomites to rape his guests: not because the two visitors and the
crowd of Sodomites were all male, but because the visitors had taken
refuge under his roof. READ THE TEXT. The reason Lot offered his
daughters instead was not because they were female (heterosexual rape
would then be more moral?) but because his daughters were his property,
and he had a right to sacrifice them, even if it hurt him immensely;
sacrificing his guests would have ruined Lot's reputation even more.
Notice that the Sodomites included "young and old" - a real family town
without a lot of heterosexuality going on, obviously.
Unfortunately for Lot, the Sodomites were not just in the mood for
sex. They rejected Lot's daughters because they wanted to hurt the
foreign visitors, just like they threatened Lot himself for being a
foreigner. "Inhospitality" sounds like a weak crime, but comparing this
passage to Judges makes it clear that gang-rape-murder was a standard
expression of *xenophobia*, a fear/hatred of foreigners, male or female.
Not just "inhospitality" in the sense of forgetting your Miss Manners.
> I found Boswell's use of Ezekiel 16:48-49 to be facile. First, those verses
> establish that there were more sins than inhospitality going on (pride,
> gluttony, sloth). Second, Boswell ignores Eze16:50 ("and commited
> abomination before me"). Nowhere is inhospitality is described as an
> abomination, but homosexual activity is [Lv18:22 20:13]. Then, of course,
> Jude 7 indicates homosexual activity in Sodom.
Abomination was used by all the prophets almost *universally* to mean
*idolatry.* The idols were each individually called "abominations" and
worshipping them was called "abomination." Abraham was the first in his
family to be a monotheist, and Lot's close association with him may
reflect an agreement with his religious views. The cities of the plain,
on the other hand, were certainly pagan.
Boswell pointed out the problem with assuming Jude refers to
homosexuality (which is by no means obvious any way). Without even
resorting to apocrypha I could make the assumption that "strange flesh"
refers to angel flesh, not male flesh.
> Judges 19, similar in construction to the story of Sodom, tells of a Levite
> guest who offered up his own concubine to the men who wanted to "know" him.
> Inhospitality does not explain the Levite's response.
The Levite didn't have a guest. HE was the guest, with his wife, in the
city. That he sacrificed his wife to save himself, and that the
inhabitants were satisfied with torturing his wife to death all night
long outside his door, is no sign that the inhabitants were practicing
hospitality. The Levite presented the body parts of his wife to
the whole country as proof of how he was treated, and that started a war
of extermination against the inhospitable folks that only proves my point
that a custom had been violated. And that a man's WIFE had been killed
hardly proves that the war started over homosexual behavior.
> Huh? Paul is calling the 'arsenokoitai' lawbreakers in 1 Timothy. The
> 'arsenokoitai' are not lawbreakers merely for being pagan. Are the
> "murderers of fathers" [1Ti1:9] pagan by the same reasoning?
I will come to this, but for right now I'll say your translation of
"lawbreakers" is mistaken. "Anomos" here means "lawless" and refers to
those who do not have a law, or feel bound by a law. The law Paul has
in mind is the Jewish law, the law of Moses, so he would be referring to
pagans or irreligious Jews. Paul sets aside the "nomos" only for a
higher "dikaiosune" that lives up to the best expectations of the Mosaic
Law, but not in every petty detail (like kashrut); in fact, the Christian
righteousness is supposed to be superior, since its sense of the
obligations of love is more demanding.
> If this is "overwhelmingly decisive" evidence, I am not impressed. The
> fact that it is a rare term, euphemistic, apparantly coined within a small
> Christian community to allude to the Levitical prohibition readily explains
> why other Christian writers would use terms that were either more current
> or provocative. Furthermore, this word is used by Polycarp in relation to
> the lusts of young men, but appears in other places though without much
> context. This is hardly a good argument from silence.
Then if we can't argue from silence, let silence be silence. The meaning
of arsenoikoites will have to be decided from Paul's writings
themselves. Silence certainly doesn't argue in FAVOR of my/our position,
but it certainly DOES argue against yours: since you are trying to say
arsenokoites meant homosexual, you have to explain why no one talking
about homosexuals seemed to know about the word. A homophobe would
surely have used the word to reinforce their position with APOSTOLIC
authority from the mouth of Paul, IF they thought they could have. The
fact that they didn't is, as I said, damning to your argument.
> >The word Polycarp uses (which he borrows) for "lusts" is epithumiOn,
> >which could very much refer to monetary greed (e.g., in the LXX 10
> >Commandments, with epithum-). Young men might be tempted to become
> >prostitutes by offers of money or patronage made to them by older men.
> This is not borne out by Polycarp's explicit failure to invoke the covetous
> in quoting Paul but including three sexual sinners (pornoi, malakoi, and
Of these, only PORNOI necessarily refers to a probably non-mercantile
activity, as I show in my newest post. Obviously, sexual and monetary
greed can be compared to each other, metaphorically. Your repeated
allusion to the idea that Polycarp selected his terms from Paul's list
and fitted it to his concern for young men is not born out by the text.
First, Polycarp alludes to 1 Peter 2:11 in his passage:
POLYCARP: Kalon gar to anakoptesthai apo tOn epithumiOn en tOi kosmOi hoti
pasa epithumia kata tou pneumatos strateuetai, ...
1 PETER 2:11: ...apekhesthai tOn sarkikOn epithumiOn haitines
strateuontai kata tEs psukhEs.
Polycarp has mixed up Peter with Paul. His insertion of "en tOi kosmOi"
shows he was thinking of Paul's discussion of "pornois tou kosmou toutou"
in 1 Cor. 5:9. He mistakes "kata tEs psukhEs" - "against the soul" for
"kata tou pneumatos" - "against the spirit," quite different concepts.
Here goes his awkward meld with Paul:
POLYCARP: ...kai oute pornoi oute malakoi oute arsenokoitai basileian
theou klEronomEsousin, oute hoi poiountes ta atopa.
PAUL 1 Cor. 6:9 ff: ...oute pornoi oute eidOlolatrai oute moikhoi oute
malakoi oute arsenokoitai oute kleptai oute pleonektai ou methusoi ou
loidoroi oukh harpages basileian theou klEronomEsousin.
Note that Polycarp omits one sexual sinner the young men could have
become: moikhoi (by sex with the wives of men who WERE married). Even
though he mentions greed, he forgets "malakoi," "kelptai," "pleonektai,"
and "harpages." Even though he mentions impurity and defilement, he
forgets "eidOlolatrai." Then Polycarp adds a sinner not mentioned by
Paul, "hoi poiountes ta atopa."
The evidence is that the difference between Polycarp's list and Paul's is
that Polycarp was speaking vaguely and from memory, not that he carefully
tailored it to any purpose.
> No, that's seeking after *pleasures* against nature, desiring to
> "arsenokoitein." The behavior itself is viewed as unnatural.
I'll get to that when I get to Romans.
> > The Romans 1:27 passage clearly
> >indicates the people concerned "taking payment" ("antimisthian...
> >apolambanontes"): even if you interpret this as metaphorical, which
> >would be unnecessary, it would *still* indicate that the sin Paul had
> >in mind involved *idolaters* (Romans 1:23) and exchange of money
> >(Romans 1:27). This is exactly what one would expect from the
> >traditional law aimed *specifically* against pagan temple prostitutes.
> This is bizarre. Are they also "disobediant to parents" (v30) as well?
> It is an error to interpret a collective statement about a group of people
> as being applicable to every member.
I don't follow your objection here. Paul's point here is that turning
away from God caused idolatry, and that idolatrous reasoning led to
idolatrous actions and idolatrous immorality. He only turns to the Jews
later when he says that the Jews, too, have done some similar things
(ch. 2, if I remember, is where he does this) and have no right to condemn
the Gentiles for doing what Jews do, too. Paul judiciously omits a reference
to practicing prostitution from his accusations against Jews - he simply
accuses them of being adulterous, stealing, being disobedient to parents,
etc. (I forget his exact charges at the moment). I'm sure Paul wouldn't
have thought Jews were JUST as bad as Gentiles. After all, if nothing
else, by definition they weren't idolaters.