Thank you for all that you are doing for me,
Give me the wit to know what I am doing,
My favourite translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 is from The Message.
Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom.
Translating the vice lists in Paul’s letters is hard. Even if we know exactly what a particular word means in the context of the 1st Century (and we often don’t) it isn’t clear how to understand a 1st Century sin in a 21st Century context. For practical purposes, the vice lists shouldn’t be understood as lists of specific prohibitions, but rather as general guidelines on how to behave. I think The Message translates this vice list perfectly. It covers the general meanings of the terms, and it is in harmony with the types of behaviour that mean we do qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom.
I think my least favourite translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 is the New King James translation:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
Neither homosexuals nor sodomites will inherit the kingdom of God? I’m not sure I know what the difference between a homosexual and a sodomite is…
For more about the translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, see Same-Sex Relationships: 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy, and Same-Sex Relationships: 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy Revisited.
A few years ago I read the novel Ender’s Game. It is a good, if somewhat odd, book about a child soldier in the year 2070.
There is a movie based on the book, which is currently on general release in the UK. I’m not going to see the movie.
Why? Because Orson Scott Card, the author of Ender’s Game, is a homophobe. He isn’t just a run-of-the-mill homophobe either. He’s quite an extreme one. Up until recently he was on the board of the National Organisation for Marriage, a US body that opposes same-sex marriage, and he has said that same-sex marriage marks the end of democracy in America.
Even though it turns out that the money that Orson Scott Card will make from the film will not be affected by the number of people who see the film, I’m still not going to see it. My reasons for not seeing the film are not primarily economic. I don’t want to see the film because I don’t want to be associated with Orson Scott Card and his deeply offensive views, even indirectly by seeing a film based on one of his books.
Miley Cyrus’ performance at the recent MTV awards has been criticised because of its suggestive nature. The Sun, a major British newspaper had this to say:
Miley’s Performance may well go down in history as the moment pop became too porn.
Put your clothes back on ladies, and learn to sing.
The Sun, 27 August 2013, page 7, Northern Irish Edition
The Sun helpfully illustrated their article with a picture of Miley during her act.
However, The Sun is still The Sun, and today’s paper had a photo of topless woman on page three. This photo wasn’t connected with any news story, and just had a small amount of accompanying text, advertising their website and iPad app where additional, similar, images were available.
Surely if Miley Cirus’ performance was ’too porn’ then The Sun’s Page 3 is also ’too porn’? The Sun can’t have it both ways. It should either condemn Miley Cirus and stop its Page Three photographs, or it should support Miley Cirus for expressing herself in the same way as its models do. Personally I think The Sun should lead the way by moving into the 21st Century and leaving Page 3 in history. Until then, The Sun can proudly report that it has a D’oh! Level in hypocrisy to go with the one it has in sexism.
— SerotoninJunkie (@serotoninjunkie) August 27, 2013
I have read your article, and if I could sum up your thesis in one sentence, it would be, “1 Cor. 6:9-10 is vague and we cannot know with any confidence what it means; thus it is irrelevant to us.” It appears you are effectively marginalizing the Apostle Paul’s teachings on morality.
This is not an accurate summary of my position. The words malakos and arsenokoites, which are used in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, are essentially impossible to translate. We cannot know what they mean. This does not mean that they are irrelevant to us, and I am certainly not marginalising Paul’s teachings. In the paper I look at Christ’s teachings as well, and use them to understand how Paul and Christ teach us to behave.
Furthermore, you’ve read a meaning of arsenokoites from the 6th century back into Paul’s writings. The interval of time is not much less than that between ourselves and Geoffrey Chaucer! The alleged dearth of data from the first and second centuries does not make this anachronism any more reasonable.
I haven’t done this. The oldest use of arsenokoites where we can use the context to deduce the meaning is from the Sixth Century. I made it clear in the paper that the meaning of words can and does change with time. Depending on John the Faster for an understanding of what Paul meant when he used arsenokoites is most certainly overstating the case. It is worth repeating what I said in the article: if we confine ourselves to extant documents from the first and second centuries, we do not have enough evidence to do anything other than guess what arsenokoites means.
The dearth of data from the First and Second Centuries is not alleged. In the paper I referred to a list of all known references to arsenokoites and related words. It is clear from that list that there is no useful data about the meaning of arsenokoites from the first and second centuries.
Furthermore, how can you enter into an extensive discussion of the meaning of NT Greek words without making reference to a standard lexicon (such as BDAG)?
My paper was based on primary sources – the actual extant uses of arsenokoites from antiquity. Lexicons are secondary sources, and are merely distillations of primary sources. They cannot contain any information that was not present in the primary sources themselves.