Re: A word on "parthenos"

From: Stephen C. Carlson (
Date: Wed Nov 13 1996 - 09:05:57 EST

I've had a request to cross-post the following message I wrote for the
b-hebrew list, so here it is. Its topic discusses whether "parthenos"
must mean "virgin." It does not -- at least in the older dialects.

As for "parthenos" having a masculine reading ("male virgin"), the only
support for it cited in the LSJ is in Revelation, though there must be
others. BAGD was a bit unclear, but I think it cited it other places in
Greek literature. Foreign analogues include the use of Latin VIRGO to
describe John the Apostle in the Monarchian prologue, and, of course,
modern English, where "virgin" can be applied to men.

Stephen Carlson wrote:
>I looked at the online LSJ and the second entry for "parthenos" (the
>translation of `almah in Is7:14, by the way) states:
> "of unmarried women who are not virgins.."
>I checked the four citations, and that is pretty clear. Two of them
>use "parthenos" to refer to a woman who has already borne a child:
> Homer, Iliad 2.514 "Actor, son of ... Astyoche, the honored maiden"
> Aristophanes Clouds 530, about a "parthenos" who exposed her baby.
>The other two reference are to young women who slept with a man (though
>in Pindar's example quite a few men):
> Pindar, Pythian 3.34
> Sophocles, Trachiniae 1219 of Iole (1220) who slept with Heracles (1225).
>There's even an instance in the LXX of "parthenos" being used on a
>woman who is clearly not a virgin -- that is, Dinah (Gn34:3) right
>after her rape (v2).
>More grist for the mill,
>Stephen Carlson

Stephen C. Carlson                   : Poetry speaks of aspirations,              : and songs chant the words. :               -- Shujing 2.35

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