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I Timothy 1:9-10 Serious Study

This passage is similar to I Cor 6:9 in that the word arsenokoites is again included in the vices listed. Paul is combating Christian teaching he considers heretical.

The list of vices seems connected in the order given, with pornoi, arsenokoitai and andrapodistai grouped together. So lets study what each of these words mean.

Pornoi in normal Greek usage means a male prostitute and appears many times in literature of the time pointing to either the male who sells himself, or the slave in the brothel house. (e.g. Demosthernes, Against Adrotion 73; idem, Epistle 4,; Aristophanes, Plutus, lines 153-157 etc

Hellenistic Jewish and early Christian usage, however, skews the apparent straightforward definition. The word does not appear in any Septuagint book except the post Old Testament Sirach 23:16-18. I does appear a few times in the New Testament.

The problem here is that the word in Sirach and in the New Testament seems to have a meaning broader than "male prostitute" and is usually taken by scholars to refer to sexual crimes in general. But this assumption may be due to lack of awareness of the prominence of the male prostitute in Greco-Roman society which may have misled some away from it's more narrow original usual meaning.

Within the text of 1 Tim there is no reason to assume it meant anything more than male prostitute. The juxtaposition of pornos with arsenokoites, however, should give pause before translating the word in a more general fashion. There is no reason why the same relationship between malakos and arsenokoites, that is, between the youth who is used and the adult who uses him, could not also pertain to the two words in 1 Timothy. Pornos may effectively function in relations to arsenokoites in precisely the same way as malakos does in 1 Corinthians.

This possibility is further supported by the third word: andropodistes. This word means "kidnapper" or "slave dealer". While in our culture these definitions carry differences in meaning, in the culture of the first century they would be synonymous. One reason a handsome boy or beautiful girl would be kidnapped is to provide slaves for brothel houses. Thus the kidnapper or slave dealer is the one responsible for the pornos, who is used by arsenokoites. Should "kidnapper" not be related to the preceding words in some fashion, it would be unique in this list, since all the other words have some connection with a previous or following word.

The three words would thus fit together and could be translated: "male prostitutes, males who lie with them, and slave dealers who procure them.

If we reflect on the Septuagint it makes sense. There is the injunction against arsenokoites (Lev 18,20), pornos (Deut 23:18), and the kidnapper (Exod 4:16; Deut 24:7). Since arsenokoites must be a Hellenistic Jewish coinage, and since the vice list here does not seem dependent on that in 1 Cor 6:9-10, it may indeed be likely that this list originated in the Hellenistic Jewish circles.

Therefore it may be concluded that the vice list in 1 Timothy may not be condemnatory of homosexuality in general, not even pederasty in general, but that specific form of pederasty which consists of the enslaving of boys for sexual purposes, and the use of these boys by adult males.


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