Friday, October 05, 2012

Arsenokoités - ἀρσενοκοίτης - Responding to Dale Martin #1

In this brief section I will offer critical comments on the meaning and usage of ἀρσενοκοίτης (and cognates), as well as a critical interaction with the proposal of Dale Martin.

1. Lexical Definitions

The first place to begin any serious investigation of biblical texts, is with the original languages. This raises several questions of interpretation and nuance in understanding the semantic range of particular words under consideration. When faced with the complexities of New Testament linguistic investigation, the student of these scriptures has several standard tools which have been tested through decades of scholarship and remain the standard and primary reference tools for scholars. These resources are periodically updated to keep up to date with the latest in scholarship, and they also represent a wide variety of ideological views, thus eliminating biased approaches. The quickest way to identity linguistic ambiguity in a given word, is to see the semantic range given by the various lexicons and dictionaries.

If there was ambiguity with the word ἀρσενοκοίτης, we would see this ambiguity reflected in the definitions offered by the following representative lexicons and dictionaries.

• BDAG, “A male who engages in sexual activity with a person of his own sex.”

• Louw-Nida, “Male partner in homosexual intercourse – ‘homosexual.’”

• Balz & Schneider, “Referring to a male who engages in sexual activity with men or boys.”

• NIDNTT, “male homosexual, pederast, sodomite.”

• LSJ, “lying with men, N.T.”

• Gingrich, “one who engages in same-sex activity, sodomite, pederast.”

There is no ambiguity mentioned in any of the lexicons above, and these are the standard tools for academic lexical, philogical and semantic analysis. The only lexicon to offer any semantic range beyond that of same-sex activity, is Louw-Nida which suggests that, “It is possible that ἀρσενοκοίτης in certain contexts refers to the active male partner in homosexual intercourse in contrast with μαλακός, the passive male partner (88.281).”  Note, it says that it is possible, not that it always works like this.  Bruce Winter has provided a substantial argument for this position in 1 Cor. 6:9 [See B. W. Winter, After Paul Left Corinth]. 

Next we'll offer a critique of Martin's appeal to the etymological fallacy. 

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