Re: AGAMOS in 1Cor. 7

From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Thu Oct 02 1997 - 07:05:56 EDT

At 12:09 AM 10/2/97 -0400, David L. Moore wrote:
>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.

Is there any evidence that AGAMOS clearly implies whether someone has been
previously married? To me, "unmarried" seems to make sense, and it is also
the translation Louw & Nida prefer.

In verses 8-9, Paul tells the widows and AGAMOIS that it is good for them to
remain single, but that it is better to marry than to burn. In verses 10-11,
Paul says that the wife should not separate from her husband, but if she
does, she is to remain AGAMOS or else reconcile herself to her husband;
likewise, the husband is not to divorce his wife.

We can use the "unmarried" to translate both verses in English, and if we
do, the implication in verses 10-11 is clear: the wife was married before
she left her husband. In verses 8-9, the instructions given to the AGAMOIS
allow them to marry, so it seems that if you say only that someone is
AGAMOS, people might generally assume that the person has not yet been married.

> 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.

Did you see anything on Perseus that would rule out the meaning "unmarried"
or "single", without unambiguously specifying whether the person had been


Jonathan Robie
POET Software, 3207 Gibson Road, Durham, N.C., 27703

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