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View Diary: Wrong: Jesus did speak about homosexuality (291 comments)

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  •  The question is (55+ / 0-)

    what did "eunuch" mean in the first century of the common era?

    It's very likely that there were some subtleties of meaning there we will never, ever recover.  

    That means it's problematic to assert that the passage is talking about homosexuals, asexuals, castrated men, or any category we have without a huge caveat of "we are guessing."  Some guesses will be more educated than others, but I haven't seen one person here actually do an independent investigation of the term in Greek, in Greek sources from the first century.

    I don't think it's wrong to explore the ways in which there are parallels between eunuchs and gay people today, but that requires giving up the Fundamentalist and scientific dream of a zero-sum answer to historical questions.

    If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

    by dirkster42 on Sun May 13, 2012 at 10:32:44 AM PDT

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    •  I won an argument on the David-Jonathan story (20+ / 0-)

      with a fundamenatlist on these grounds...

      The ancient Hebrew word for love is ahava or ahav.

      The word is inclusive, I believe, of all forms of love from what we call erotic and sexual passion to Abraham's love for Issace to Issac's love of deer meat.

      Therefore, we really don't know what it meant for David loved Jonathan and vice versa...it could have been as a brother, as a lover...it may have had an erotic component and it may not have.

      Getting back to the word ennuch, I recall seeing a study here and there of the use of the word in the Roman world and I know that it was used for the devotees of the goddess Cybele

      •  One nit ... (14+ / 0-)

        David doesn't love anyone.

        Everyone, everyone, loves David.

        Not sure what's history and what's propaganda there (I'm sure it's some combination), but the text never says that David loved Jonathan.

        Interestingly, Greek does differentiate between different kinds of love, but the Septuagint uses agape to describe both Michal's love for David (and they get married) and Jonathan's love for David (and they make a covenant), so you can't use the fact that the Greek uses the "friendly" kind of love as opposed to the "erotic" kind of love to argue much, because the "friendly" kind of love gets Michal a husband.

        David and Jonathan are actually a terrible model of gay relationships.  If they slept together, it's because David used sex relentlessly to exert power over the house of Saul, and ultimately to destroy it.  Not what I want my boyfriend (should I ever find one) to do to me, or vice versa.

        If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

        by dirkster42 on Sun May 13, 2012 at 11:27:26 AM PDT

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      •  A tiny point... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cedwyn

        If eunich only refered to the followers of Cybele...would they be considered "born thus"?

        oddgirlart.wordpress.com

        by kjoftherock on Sun May 13, 2012 at 01:02:52 PM PDT

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      •  I barely know any Hebrew at all (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril

        but one thing I remember from my studies is that Hebrew verbs can be inflected (if that's the term) in many different ways. The same root verb (ahav) can be used to express different kinds of love, depending on the specific form that's used.

        I'm sure that Biblical and Talmudic scholars have been all over this one (err, so to speak) many times, so I'll leave it to others who've studied the original Hebrew to provide an interpretation.

        Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

        by Nowhere Man on Sun May 13, 2012 at 02:45:40 PM PDT

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    •  Jesus spoke Aramaic.. and used the word Saris here (9+ / 0-)

      Not anything to do with  homosexual or heterosexual.. it means holy man or one who guards the bed.. or even a peson of faith in religion.

      "Obama, the change that leads to indefinite detention and the abrogation of the Constitution! Yes He Can!"

      by hangingchad on Sun May 13, 2012 at 11:13:21 AM PDT

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      •  As far as I know (5+ / 0-)

        the only language the gospels were written in was Greek.  So all reports of what Jesus said were written in Greek.  I don;t know how you can determine Jesus used any Aramaic word based on the gospels, which listed what he said and were all written in another language.

        "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

        by Steven D on Sun May 13, 2012 at 12:22:08 PM PDT

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        •  Aramaic was the language of the day spoken (7+ / 0-)

          by Jesus and the people around him. The Greek scriptures were written years later.

          But I don't know what hangingchad means by "here" so I don't know what s/he means.

          The comment upthread about David relentlessly using sex to destroy the house of Saul seems a bit labored to me (no pun intended). I wrote my senior thesis on the covenant Jonathan formed with David. The scripture only tells us it was formed, not what it was. My theory was that they formed a covenant that the tribe of Benjamin would be spared in later days, and that the house of Jonathan and the House of David would be made one.

          In the days of the Babylonian exile, the tribe of Benjamin did indeed survive along with Judah.

          I have no idea what bearing this might have, if any, on the types of love sanctioned in the scriptures, but the stories of David and Jonathan on the one hand, and Naomi and Ruth on the other, seem to indicate that God favors lifelong commitment in same sex friendships.

          And even though it all went wrong I'll stand before the Lord of Song with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah! -Leonard Cohen .................@laurenreichelt

          by TheFatLadySings on Sun May 13, 2012 at 01:33:04 PM PDT

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          •  Please note the subjunctive, "if...." (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Chitown Kev, mapamp, walkshills

            What is indisputable is that David takes over the House of Saul, and uses underhanded and violent ways to do it.  You can't read anything about David and Jonathan apart from that basic fact in the narrative (again what's history and what's propaganda is a thorny task to undo).

            David definitely marries Saul's daughter, and then in response to her objection to him dancing naked, he, or the narrator, condemns her to infertility.  In that case, issues of sexuality and politics aren't separate.  Certain.

            Saul "takes" David - a term that often, not always, refers to sexual activity.  Uncertain.

            After Saul's death, David marries a woman named Ahinoam - the only other woman we know from the text is Saul's wife Ahinoam.  Are these two women or one woman?  Uncertain.

            The farewell between David and Jonathan includes the phallic imagery of shooting arrows, and the text says that David and Jonathan kissed each other "until David made large."  The text does not say what David made large.  In my experience, there's one thing I can count on to enlarge when I'm kissing a man, but Rashi and rabbinic commentators supply the missing term with "voice," leading to translations such as "David cried louder."  Uncertain.

            If the three uncertain terms align in a certain way, then the idea that David uses sex to dominate the House of Saul is obvious and not labored.  If the three terms don't align, then the interpretation doesn't hold.  In this case, I would argue that the text is ambiguous enough to say that excluding either interpretation is arbitrary and forces a level of certainty on our interpretation that we just don't have.

            If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

            by dirkster42 on Sun May 13, 2012 at 02:41:22 PM PDT

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        •  The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Dag Hammadi (0+ / 0-)

          library are both written in Aramaic, predating the Greek translations.

          Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

          by FarWestGirl on Sun May 13, 2012 at 07:01:07 PM PDT

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          •  is that the same as the Nag Hammadi library? (0+ / 0-)

            I read that those texts were written in Coptic. Also, AFAIK, the Dead Sea scrolls didn't include the gospels, except for possibly a small fragment.

            "Okay, until next time. Keep sending me your questions, and I will make fun of you... I mean, answer them." - Strong Bad

            by AaronInSanDiego on Sun May 13, 2012 at 11:41:28 PM PDT

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            •  Yes, sorry, didn't Google for spelling. The (0+ / 0-)

              Essene Gospels of Peace were taken from the Dead Sea Scrolls, most of which were in Aramaic, some in paleo-Hebrew and a few in Greek. The scrolls are a mixture of Old Testament and assorted writings. Before they were catalogued and released online, there was very little translated, very few people were allowed access. The Nag Hammadi library is apparently considered a Coptic translation of older Greek writings.

              Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

              by FarWestGirl on Tue May 15, 2012 at 01:47:13 PM PDT

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    •  Original text Likely Aramaic (11+ / 0-)

      I find this diary's arguments no matter how well intended ridiculous. You can not have a linguistic argument without examining the original text and make a case for what was meant at that time. The original text of Mathew was likely Aramaic which was then translated into Greek and then Latin before it made it into English. There are many different translations, parts of which were altered for political/religious reasons and parts of which were simply incorrectly translated.

      I find Biblical arguments only interesting as a window into a different time and place and not as something that should be used to set modern policy. However, if one wants to engage in  Biblical analysis for the purpose of determining the author's original intent, you have to start with the source material, not a modern English translation.
       

    •  Undescended testicles? (7+ / 0-)

      Could, “For there are eunuchs who are born thus from their mothers womb..." refer to males with undescended testicles?

      http://www.mayoclinic.com/...

      I doubt it myself, but since we're debating the meaning of some 2000 year old language, twice translated, we should probably cast the net pretty wide.

      We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

      by david78209 on Sun May 13, 2012 at 02:35:08 PM PDT

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    •  Wikipedia on eunuch (0+ / 0-)

      You will be surprised.

      Root of Job Loss: Low capital gains (tax incentive) for stock market casino compared to real businesses that produces Jobs. Great Business idea A Dept Store that sells only made in america goods

      by timber on Sun May 13, 2012 at 04:31:15 PM PDT

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    •  Pretty much what it means now (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dirkster42, happymisanthropy

      Someone whose testes had been removed, or possibly had been absent from birth. There are no subtleties of meaning in that particular word in Greek. It had one, and only one, meaning in the sources: and a transferred sense that meant exactly the same thing, applied to a different situation. In short, there is no legitimate way for the diarist to make the argument s/he's trying to make.

    •  We are not getting past (0+ / 0-)

      our current religious difficulties with dueling Bible quotes, definitions, musty doctrine. We are at a point in history where we understand homosexually itself (not sexual exploitation & abuse, another matter) is not inherently contrary to the spirit of the Gospel nor does it damage or refute Gospel Truth: That Jesus is Christ. Our efforts still should be primarily focused on civil rights reform & marriage equality. I care what the Methodists do. But it doesn't mean squat in New York & Massachusetts unless you're a Methodist.

      "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

      by DJ Rix on Sun May 13, 2012 at 08:19:34 PM PDT

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