[b-greek] Re: arsenokoiths

From: Paul Schmehl (baldeagl@airmail.net)
Date: Mon Sep 25 2000 - 23:03:34 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jim West" <jwest@highland.net>
To: "Biblical Greek" <b-greek@franklin.oit.unc.edu>
Cc: <biblical-studies@egroups.com>
Sent: Monday, September 25, 2000 12:00 PM
Subject: [b-greek] arsenokoiths

I did an extensive study into this particular word several years ago.
I read all the articles I could find about it, purchased several books
(including Boswell's) on the subject, and used the TLG (at that time I
believe it was "C") to locate every use of it in Greek (97 in all, if
I recall correctly.)

> Neither context will
> allow us the standard rendering of "homosexual" for arsenokoithV.

This, of course, assumes that homosexual behavior was not considered a
vice at the time Paul wrote. Considering the nature and prevelance of
homosexual contact during the time and in the areas where Paul wrote,
that's quite an assumption.

> In
> Corinthians it should rather be rendered like "soft men who lie in
bed" or
> "soft men who lie around all day in bed" while in Timothy "male
> is more appropriate. In translating unusual Greek words the
translator must
> give diligent attention to the context. Anything less will simply
> the translator in a gross misunderstanding and in the end will
> mislead the reader with sometimes horrible results.

The word ARSENOKOITHS *appears* to have been coined by Paul. Either
he coined it, or it was just coming into common usage at the time he
wrote, and he used the word because he was aware of it. In modern
Greek, it means "homosexual".

After reading all the commentary, I remain unconvinced of the
arguments (similar to what you have advanced here) for a different
understanding of the word. If you look at the compounding of words in
Greek, it was very common to compound a noun with a verb. That
appears to be the case here. ARSEN is a noun which refers to the male
in his sexual nature (primarily as the opposite of female), and KOITES
is the verb "to bed". Paul uses it euphemistically in Romans 9:10 and
13:13, so there is evidence that the word was used that way even back
then. (Even today we say, "I want to go to bed with you" when we mean
a sexual encounter. Similar phrases such as, "I'd like to bed her" or
"Did you go to bed with her?" are familiar in our culture.)

This would argue for a word that carried the sense of "man-bedder" or
"male-bedder". I think the argument for "lazy men" is weak at best.
The argument for male prostitutes is stronger (because man or
male-bedder is ambiguous without a context), but unconvincing to me.
Considering the strong condemnation of homosexual behavior in Romans
1, I think the context of Paul's usage is clear.

Personally, I think it's an unresolvable problem that's not worth

Paul Schmehl baldeagl@airmail.net

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