Re: Phusei, Phusik-, Phusis
Gregory Jordan referred to Paul's phrasing in Rom 1:26,27 "ten physiken
chresin" and rendered it "the uncustomary-natural customary". I should
have thought the phrase is better rendered "the customary/natural
usage/use", referring to the sexual behavior respectively of females and
males in the passage as forsaking ordinarily-observed sexual matings
(heterosexual) and indulging in same-sex behavior instead.
Physis in Greek usage only sometimes approaches what moderns often
mean by "nature"--i.e., something biologically-based. Actually, more
often than not, seems to me, ancient Greek usage of physis includes
reference to a wider variety of phenomena we would perhaps classify as
"custom," or such. Case in point, Rom 2:14 and 2:27 use physis in
references to gentiles who "do not have the law by nature" (or, as many
comentators prefer, gentiles who "by nature doe the things of the law"),
and (2:27) "the by physis uncircumcised". In both cases, I suggest
gentiles are gentiles because the law of Moses and the practice of
circumsion are not components in their "physis", which we would probably
call their "culture". One isn't born circumcised--one is circumcised by
being born within a culture (or sub-culture) that practices circumcision.
Likewise, in 1 Cor 11:14, the "physis" that's supposed to show you
that men shouldn't wear long hair is likely what we would call "culture"
or "received custom" as practiced in Paul's "civilized" world of the Roman
Larry Hurtado, Religion, Univ. of Manitoba