Re: AGAMOS in 1 Cor. 7

From: David L. Moore (
Date: Thu Oct 09 1997 - 23:03:40 EDT

At 01:28 PM 10/9/97 -0400, Jim West wrote:
>At 11:36 AM 10/9/97 -0400, you wrote:
>of marriage and divorce.
>> I still maintain that the meaning of AGAMOS has not been
>>definitively established in 1Cor. 7:8, 32 and 34, although some evidence
>>points to a meaning of "previously, but not presently married." My concern
>>is that we should proceed cautiously and not jump to conclusions on this
>>matter that affects how we view the bond of marriage.
>>David L. Moore
>On what basis would you draw such an anology? Are you suggesting that the
>alpha privative connotes something like you suggest? If so, then what do
>you do with a-theist? Once they had a god, but now they don't? What about
>the other alpha privatives?
>The alpha privative serves the same function in Greek that "un" serves in
>english. Thus agamos means "un-married".

        Despite the alpha privative (or a privative) as a fairly well known
construction, words must be defined by their usage. I am not aware of any
instance of AGAMOS in a classical author in which it means anything but
"never married." If anyone knows of one, I'd be glad to hear of it. The
Koine, however, both in Paul (1Cor. 7:11) and in at least one of the papyri
(M&M, s.v. AGAMOS), can be shown to employ AGAMOS in the sense of
"previously, but not presently married." Paul may be distinguishing between
the AGAMOUS and the XHRAS in 1Cor. 7:8 and between the AGAMOUS and the
PARQENOUS in v. 34. Is he or isn't he? If he is, there is a fair chance
AGAMOS means previously but not presently married in both of these as well
and also in v. 32. If, on the other hand, XHRA and PARQENOS are used in vv.
8 and 34 simply as subsets of AGOMOS, then the word may simply mean
"(generically) unmarried."


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