AGAMOS in 1Cor. 7

From: David L. Moore (
Date: Thu Oct 02 1997 - 00:09:09 EDT

        I'm wondering about AGAMOS in 1Cor. 7; in v. 11 it refers to a woman
separated from her husband, in V. 34, it is paired with PARQENOS but
apparently not as a full synonymn (cf. v. 28). In v. 8 f. similar counsel
is given to the AGAMOIS and widows that if they find it difficult to remain
sexually continent, they should marry.

        One might infer there is an implication in Paul's use of the word
AGAMOS of having been married but presently being in an unmarried state.
The citations above from 1Cor. 7 suggest it. Also, the first of the
citations s.v. AGAMOS in Moulton and Milligan appears to express this
scenario: EF' hON XRONON AGAM[OS ES]TIN (from a 2nd-Century AD papyrus).

        When I checked out the references for AGAMOS at Perseus, however,
the meaning of the word was invariably "never married" - in some authors,
very explicitly so. Even Plutarch, from the Koine period, used AGAMOS in
this way.

        Is it possible that Paul used the word in a different sense than the
classical authors, or might there be a specific Koine meaning of AGAMOS that
we don't find in Plutarch because of classical literary influence?

David L. Moore
Miami, Florida, USA
Southeastern Spanish District of the A/G Dept. of Education
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