[b-greek] RE: arsenokoiths

From: Stevens, Charles C (Charles.Stevens@unisys.com)
Date: Mon Sep 25 2000 - 18:41:44 EDT

On 25 September 2000 at 10:01AM, Jim West suggested, for ARSENOKOITAI at 1
Cor 6:9 and 1 Tim 1:10:

<<Since it is linked with the word malakoV in this context, a word which
merely means "soft", perhaps the best possible rendering is something like
"soft men who lie in bed" or "soft men who lie around all day in bed".>>

While I agree that the traditional rendering of this word is at best
suspect, I can't really bring myself to support the conflation of
"ARSENOKOITAI" and "MALAKOI" in this manner into a *single* item in this

KLEPTAI ...". This list looks structurally something like "Neither <a> nor
<b> nor <c> ... nor <i> nor <j> ...", and such a rendering as Jim proposes,
ISTM, requires a closer grammatical relationship between *one* set of two
sequential items, in the list of entries whose grammatical construction is
identical, than for any of the other adjacent pairs. MALAKOI doesn't serve
to "modify" ARSENOKOITAI (or vice versa) in this list any more than MEQUSOI
modifies PLEONEKTAI or LOIDOROI in the same list.

I believe rather that whatever it is that ARSENOKOITAI can be considered to
be doing is more likely to be *independent* of whatever it is that MALAKOI
can be considered to be doing. Generally, ISTM that the size of this list
-- ten entries -- and the fact that all ten entries are constructed
identically -- indicate that the *order* of the entries is only marginally
material, and that there is no particular *hierarchy* among the entries in
the list.Thus, I do not see the basic intent of the list to be changed if
OUDE ARSENOKOITAI is moved, for example, to follow OUDE KLEPTAI or to
precede OUDE MOIXOI. Your rendering requires such a relationship, and I
don't see that the grammatical layout of vv. 9-10 will support it.


<<In translating unusual Greek words the translator must give diligent
attention to the context. Anything less will simply ensnare the translator
in a gross misunderstanding and in the end will likewise mislead the reader
with sometimes horrible results.>>

I agree, and I also agree that I find the traditional translation
inadequately supported. The rendering that strikes me as the most likely is
one that rails against those (MALAKOI) who attach themselves to older men
well-established in the community for the purposes of patronage in exchange
for sexual favor, and the older men (ARSENOKOITAI) who exploit them sexually
in exchange for providing the patronage.

At least one commentary I've seen (I think it was the notes in an edition of
the "New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Psalms", but I'm not
altogether certain) seems to agree with that as the most likely
interpretation for these two rare terms.

Thus, while ARSENOKOITAI and MALAKOI may condemn both aspects of a single
practice that could aptly be termed "pederasty" in its strict sense, I
remain unconvinced that the passages in question should be presumed to
explicitly condemn homosexual activity in any broader sense (upon which
subject in the New Testament only Romans 1 seems to me to touch more
explicitly and with opprobrium).

There have been several threads on this subject in the past; for example, in
March 2000 ("ARSENOKOITHS/ARRENOKOITHS" and in October 1998 "The Greek
word(s) for "homosexual?". There are almost certainly more that at least
touch on this topic in the archives.

        -Chuck Stevens

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