Re: Rev 2:20 - "the adultery of eating food"

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Mon Sep 29 1997 - 15:46:05 EDT

At 1:50 PM -0500 9/29/97, wrote:
>This may seem elementary, but I suppose the answer may lay (lie?) in the mind
>of the translating committee who were probably asking something like: Was
>Jezebel teaching and enticing the Thyatiran Christians to actual (physical)
>sexually immoral acts along with eating that which had been offered at the
>altar of some other god, or to metaphorical (spiritual) adultery (congress
>with gods other than the true God) by teaching and enticing them to eat that
>which had been offered at the altar of some other god? As I recall from my
>(long ago) NT Greek classes, KAI can be used to join two concepts which
>really belong together (see BAG sub KAI I, d). Perhaps the committee felt
>that Christians would not be enticed so far as to actually join themselves
>ritually/sexually with priestesses/prostitutes in the temples of other gods,
>but that they might be enticed to disregard the first clause of the First
>Jerusalem Council's edict (Acts 15:29) APEXESQAI EIDWLOQUTWN, which might
>clearly be seen as spiritual adultery, especially by those among them that
>were less mature. This reminds me of Paul's statement that he would never eat
>meat again rather than cause a weaker brother to stumble and fall because of
>his (Paul's) exercise of Christian liberty.
>Anyway, I'm thinking that the translators took PORNEUSAI KAI FAGEIN
>EIDWLOQUTA as an example of hendiadys and translated it as they did. I don't
>know that I agree with that assessment, but it seems to be a legitimate

I think that this answer is right on target with its supposition that
PORNEUSAI KAI FAGEIN EIDWLOQUTA is indeed a hendiadys. In terms of Larry
Kruper's question, the KAI in this instance is quite clearly a conjunction
rather than an adverb. The problem does not really lie in the Greek text at
all but in the imagery of the words. My guess here is that PORNEUSAI has
nothing to do with committing immoral sexual acts but rather is a cipher
taken from the OT prophetic image exploited by Hosea more than any other,
although it recurs in later prophets and ultimately is a major figure in
Revelation in both its negative and positve feminine images: the Great
Whore of Babylon and the Church/City of God as Bride of Christ. Hosea had
constructed the elaborate metaphor of Israel's apostasy from Yahweh as an
abandonment of Israel's true wife and going to commit adultery with the
Baal cults--which is to say that prostitution is a symbol of apostasy and
idolatry. And here FAGEIN EIDWLOQUTA is, I believe, similarly a reference
to idolatry in general rather than a reference to the specific sin of
eating foods sacrificed to idols. And finally, to carry that one step
further, the two phrases, PORNEUSAI and FAGEIN EIDWLOQUTA, are interpreted
to be alternative phrases meaning the same thing. That's what the JB
translators have evidently interpreted it to be, an instance of hendiadys,
the rhetorical usage of two terms together to refer to a single idea.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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