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Maybe Jesus DOES Talk about “Homosexuality”?

In my recent post I pointed out that Jesus said nothing – nada! – about same sex relations in any of his surviving teachings.   One blog member pointed out a post on a different blog by New Testament scholar Scot McKnight arguing that there are there passages in the Gospels where in fact Jesus *may* have been referring to homosexuality, in condemnatory terms.  I thought, HUH?  THAT’s interesting!  I better look.  So I did.   I don’t think there’s any way this is right, but you can decide for yourself.

This will take two posts.  I’ll cite the the passages, then Scot’s assessment of them (which I summarize), and my response.

Several things to say at the outset.   I have known Scott (not well, but a bit) for many years.  He is a bona fide scholar of the New Testament, a well-trained and careful interpreter of the text.  He is also a committed evangelical Christian, and an interesting one: a few years ago he “converted” (or at least moved on or over) to join the Episcopal church, but still maintains his evangelical views and commitments.  For years he was a professor at North Park Theologial seminary; now he is at Northern Seminary, also in Chicago.  He has published a number of books, principally on the Jesus and the Gospels.

He and I don’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of things when it comes to these topics, but we’re not light-years apart and we are both pretty much playing the same game.  I do think his personal theological commitments occasionally leads him to see things in the text that are probably not there.  But he probably thinks the same thing of me.

The post where he discusses the matter is here:  https://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2015/04/06/did-jesus-talk-about-homosexuality/?fbclid=IwAR1zS38fRp–SbQOe6gfYavNJBWik6BWkWCeL7Qm-XyDsgNCiOKL0utbuJ4   You can read it yourself to make sure I’m summarizing it correctly.

Scot agrees that Jesus says nothing *explicit* about homosexuality.  But he does think that there are three passages that *may* be referring to it, one of which he is pretty sure does.  He is basing some of this on the work on the Bible and homosexuality by James Loader, who thinks the Bible does condemn it BUT does not agree with that condemnation himself.  I’m not sure what Scot’s own views are (just because I haven’t looked into it).

So here are two of the passages. ….

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Jesus and Sexual Immorality
Is the Bible Inspired by God? Guest Post by Evangelical Apologist Mike Licona

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Comments

  1. Avatar
    mjordan20149  November 22, 2019

    I wonder if Matthew 19:12 might have any bearing on this discussion thread. To me, Jesus seems to be saying that human sexuality is a bit more complicated than the binary notion of male and female….

    • Bart
      Bart  November 22, 2019

      I don’t think he’s talking about sexuality. He’s talking about testicular health.

  2. Avatar
    fishician  November 22, 2019

    Do you think in the Mark 9 passage Jesus is specifically referring to children? I’ve always assumed it referred to anyone who was humble enough to follow Jesus. Earlier in the chapter Jesus uses a word more specific for a child, rather than “little one.” Either way, I think using these passages in reference to homosexuality is quite a big stretch.

    • Bart
      Bart  November 22, 2019

      No, I’m not convinced he is, but I decided not to complicate the matter.

      • Avatar
        RorscHaK  November 26, 2019

        Was Jesus specifically referring to giving false teachings (as I assume what ‘stumbling block’ means)? If that is the case, then perhaps limiting it to children doesn’t make too much sense.

        Or was the “stumbling block” a more general term for harm?

        • Bart
          Bart  November 26, 2019

          I kind of doubt it, since he refers specifically to sins invovling hands, feet, and eyes (not tongues)

          • Avatar
            RorscHaK  November 26, 2019

            I’m a bit confused, is Mark 9:43 connected to Mark 9:42? I can’t see any obvious connections here, is there something that’s lost in translation?

          • Bart
            Bart  November 27, 2019

            It’s possible to see a connection if you work hard enough (you shouldn’t do anything to make someone else sin); but it’s also possible that these aer two separate sayings from two different contexts placed next to one another by the author.

  3. Avatar
    flshrP  November 22, 2019

    I’m becoming more and more convinced that bending and twisting the plain meaning of biblical text into meanings that fit your personal agenda puts that person on the road to insanity. These apologists already have driven themselves half mad by inability to come to grips with the basic, primal human fear–fear of non-existence. They grasp for any type of religious fantasy that they convince themselves will allow them to cheat death by believing in a fictitious invisible, immaterial, immortal human soul and an equally fictitious eternal afterlife of pleasure. Human life is limited both in spatial extent and in temporal duration. To believe otherwise is to indulge in magical thinking.

  4. Avatar
    PBS  November 22, 2019

    I think you’ve successfully rebutted McKnight, Bart. Thanks for the conversation.

    But here are some reasons why I think the general argument of “Jesus never spoke about homosexuality” is not persuasive:

    1. Does Jesus have to actually & literally say “Concerning homosexuality, I say such and such…” for us to know His opinion of the subject? After all, he never spoke directly to the subject of rape but none would argue that we therefore can’t know his will in the matter. As a pre-New Covenant Torah observing Jew, it would quite a stretch to argue that Jesus disagreed with and/or didn’t abide by Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13.

    2. Jesus is recorded as stating that He came “to fulfill the Law” in Matthew 5:17 (the “Law” here essentially = the Old Covenant, which forbade homosexual behavior).

    3. Some may push back at #2 by asking “What about other OT laws? Why don’t Christians continue to observe them? I’ll oversimplify by dividing the OT laws into “3 Cs”. Jesus fulfilled the first “C,” (Ceremonial laws) rendering them “obsolete” (Heb. 8:13) since as Messiah He fulfilled the law in Himself / His deeds (i.e. the cross). Thus the ritual sacrifices, categories of clean & unclean, sabbath observance and oddities of what to eat or not or mixing fabrics, etc., are obsolete. The Civic laws pertained only to ancient Israel and are therefore also obsolete. But the Conduct laws persist since they have to do with morals, all of which are summed up in the New Covenant’s command to love one’s neighbor. Engaging with person in what Jesus’ putative scriptures consider sinful (more on that to follow in the follow up post) would not be to love that person.

    • Bart
      Bart  November 22, 2019

      1. I don’t know of any instance wehre Jesus *implies* anything about homosexuality in any of his words. so if he doesn’t mention it and doesn’t imply it, then no, I don’t think he talked about it. 2. That isn’t what people mean when they talk about Jesus speaking of homosexuality. no one, for example would say “Jesus talked about first-century fabric making industries” because he indicated that the law had to be fulfilled. 3. I’m not sure where you’re seeing jesus say that some laws are obsolete and others aren’t. That may be an important inference from your reading of the Gospels, but Jesus never says any of that. And the issue I was trying to address was what Jesus talks about.

      • Avatar
        PBS  November 23, 2019

        The obsolescence of the Old Covenant and its laws seems pretty clear in Jesus’ movement:
        A) Jesus explained how the OC pointed to Him and how He “fulfilled” it (Mt. 5:17) in Himself (this would include the whole of the OC Law, which included commands about sex).
        B) He seems to be saying the same thing in Luke 24:27 – “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself”)
        C) He ushered in the New Covenant in the upper room, which by default rendered the OC finished. Though the first Jewish Christians surely observed the OC laws during the time of Jesus, this was a transitional period. Once the Acts 2 Day of Pentecost hit, the time of the OC & its laws were finished. The NC was now in play and its only two commands as given by Jesus were to love God and neighbor. Thus the only thing from the OC that survived and/or remained was its general moral expectations, summed up in the two greatest commandments.
        Appreciate you Bart and the dialogue!

    • Avatar
      Fernando Peregrin Gutierrez  November 23, 2019

      [PBS] Some may push back at # 2 by asking “What about other OT laws? Why don’t Christians continue to observe them? I’ll oversimplify by dividing the OT laws into “3 Cs”.
      ————————————————– –
      [F.P.]
      Of course you oversimplify.
      The division of OT laws into three large groups, forgets something fundamental: that Judaism is an orthopraxis and not an orthodoxy. You cannot separate by categories of divine mandates without taking into account this fundamental principle of Judaism.
      ———————————————

       [PBS] Jesus fulfilled the first “C,” (Ceremonial laws) rendering them “obsolete” (Heb. 8:13) since as Messiah He fulfilled the law in Himself / His deeds (i.e. the cross). Thus the ritual sacrifices, categories of clean & unclean, sabbath observance and oddities of what to eat or not or mixing fabrics, etc., are obsolete.
      _________________________________
      [F. P.]
      You have to have a portentous imagination and a very limited knowledge of the OT to say that “Jesus fulfilled the Ceremonial laws”.
      Paul talks about “new” and “first one” covenants.
      What “first covenant” he refers to in Heb. 8:13 Students of the Bible hold wildly differing opinions as to how many major covenants exist (or did exist) between God and humanity, with numbers ranging from one to at least twelve.
      The whole list of “Ceremonial laws” that you write down is an invention of yours, isn’t it?
      __________________________

      [PBS] The Civic laws pertained only to ancient Israel and are therefore also obsolete.
      _________________________
      [F. P.] Civic laws appears in Judaism, historically, in the Jewish diaspora, halakha and served many Jewish communities as an enforceable avenue of law – both civil and religious, since no differentiation exists in classical Judaism. Since the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah) and Jewish emancipation, some have come to view the halakha as less binding in day-to-day life, as it relies on rabbinic interpretation, as opposed to the pure, written words recorded in the Hebrew Bible.
      Again, your theory of the three “Cs” has failed you.
      ———————————————

      [PBS] But the Conduct laws persist since they have to do with morals, all of which are summed up in the New Covenant’s command to love one’s neighbor. Engaging with person in what Jesus ’putative scriptures consider sinful (more on that to follow in the follow up post) would not be to love that person.
      ————————————
      [F.P.]
      Please, what are the Conducts law in the Bible but the sum of all divine mandates, including ceremonial and civic laws (which, by the way, did not exist)?
      Again, another of your three “Cs” that falls to the ground. Sorry.

      • Avatar
        PBS  November 25, 2019

        Thanks for the responses FP.
        You wrote: [F.P.]
        Of course you oversimplify.
        The division of OT laws into three large groups, forgets something fundamental: that Judaism is an orthopraxis and not an orthodoxy. You cannot separate by categories of divine mandates without taking into account this fundamental principle of Judaism.
        _______________
        Regarding Judaism, surely you are correct. Thanks for the reminder. But we’re discussing Jesus and the Christianity that followed, not Judaism. Other than 7th Day Adventists, Hebrew Roots folks and other minority denominations on the extreme periphery, mainstream Christianity has followed the teachings of Jesus & his apostles in keeping (again, speaking in general), the Conduct (morality) of the OC / two greatest commandments and have modeled an orthopraxy of viewing the Ceremonial & Civic laws as fulfilled in Christ and/or as obsolete.
        _______________
        [F. P.] wrote:
        You have to have a portentous imagination and a very limited knowledge of the OT to say that “Jesus fulfilled the Ceremonial laws”.
        _______________
        My wife would probably agree with your assessment of me😁. But I’m guessing ad hominem responses are beneath you.

        From a Christian understanding of the whole Bible, the Messiah the OT promised and the NT declares has come (and fulfilled the essence of the OT/OC), seems undeniable:

        -Mt 7:18-19 (Jesus ends law-boundaries of clean & unclean food; Paul later expands this to all things at Col. 2).

        -Lk 24:27 & 44 (The OT is about Jesus; “everything written about me in the law [& whole OT] must be fulfilled”).

        -Jn 4:21 & 23 (the physical temple obsolete).

        -Rom 10:4 (“Christ is the end of the law”).

        -1 Cor. 1:20 (“every one of God’s promises (from the OT) is ‘Yes’ in Christ).

        -Gal 3:23-25 (the OT “tutor” was in play “until Christ came”).

        -Heb 9:12, et. al. (Christ’s sacrifice is “once for all,” hence the OC sac. sys. is over).

        Many, many more examples could be cited and, I suspect you know this. How is this (again, from a mainstream historical Christian understanding of the Bible), not clear?

        Part 2 to follow….

      • Avatar
        PBS  November 25, 2019

        F.P. wrote: [F. P.] Civic laws appears in Judaism, historically, in the Jewish diaspora, halakha and served many Jewish communities as an enforceable avenue of law – both civil and religious, since no differentiation exists in classical Judaism. Since the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah) and Jewish emancipation, some have come to view the halakha as less binding in day-to-day life, as it relies on rabbinic interpretation, as opposed to the pure, written words recorded in the Hebrew Bible.
        Again, your theory of the three “Cs” has failed you.
        _______________
        Regarding the history of Judaism, you’ve nailed it here. Nice summary. My point here would, therefore, be quite defeated if Judaism was the subject. But, again, we’re talking about the Jesus movement and its subsequent Christianity that broke away from Judaism.
        _______________
        F.P. wrote: Paul talks about “new” and “first one” covenants.
        What “first covenant” he refers to in Heb. 8:13 Students of the Bible hold wildly differing opinions as to how many major covenants exist (or did exist) between God and humanity, with numbers ranging from one to at least twelve.
        _______________
        I’m referring to mainstream view of the New Covenant (established by Jesus in the upper room and advanced by the disciples, apostles and Church) that the history of Christian orthopraxy reveals has been practiced for 2000 years.
        _______________
        F.P. wrote: The whole list of “Ceremonial laws” that you write down is an invention of yours, isn’t it?
        _______________
        While I’d like to take credit for the symmetry of “3 Cs,” it’s probably not original to me.😁

        Thanks F.P. and, if you’re done here, have wonderful Thanksgiving!

    • Avatar
      dougly  November 30, 2019

      For the word of god this seems to me to be a mountain of hard work that it seems such a serious stretch to mean homosexuality….an omniscient omnipotent god wouldnt make interpretation so difficult. Applying meaning where none really exists is a problem here it seems. Even educated humans know the simpler the better.

      • Avatar
        PBS  December 1, 2019

        While I think your line of “applying meaning where none really exists” overstates the situation considerably (or understates meaning that does exist), I concede that your point about “an omniscient omnipotent god wouldn’t make interpretation so difficult” is quite strong. Christian Smith successfully makes this point too in his book “The Bible Made Impossible” (a refutation of biblicism).

  5. Avatar
    PBS  November 22, 2019

    Continuing:

    3. Jesus also seems to set the boundaries for acceptable marriage in Matthew 19:4-6. It’s male-female only. While God allowed polygamy in the OT, it was a concession and never the ideal (single mothers couldn’t survive on their own). And, critically, is was still male-female.

    4. Jesus said in Matthew 15:19-20 that “fornication” (= all sex acts outside the marriage between and man & woman) “defiles” those who participate in it. Therefore, homosexual acts are fornication in His view.

    5. If the Christian view of Jesus is correct that He is one of the persons of the Trinity, then it follows that He is one of the persons of the Godhead who inspired the writing of the whole Bible. Therefore, Jesus is the Author of the whole Bible. The OT & NT consider homosexual acts sinful.

    6. Finally, if the traditional view that Jesus commissioned the apostolic writers of the NT is correct, then we have Jesus’ scripture writers stating His view that homosexual acts are sinful (Rom. 1:26-27, 1 Cor. 6:9-11, 1 Tim. 1:9-11).

    • Bart
      Bart  November 22, 2019

      Yes, if you want to appeal to your personal theological views as evidence, then you can make a case that Jesus was opposed to homosexuality. If you want to look at what he actually says, however, I don’t see it. (And no, I don’t thnk that *is* what Jesus is dong in Matthew 19:4-6. He’s answering a specific question about husbands and wives, not making a pronouncemebnt about sexuality)

      • Avatar
        ShonaG  November 23, 2019

        If Jesus saying if you commit homosexual acts with another its adultery – means that homosexuality is wrong by that reasoning so would heterosexuality be wrong. Also there is the issue of what marriage is, not the ceremony and state recognised institution, it basically having sex with somebody in which case you can commit adultery by actually marrying as St Augustus puts it. In which case it is not adultery for a man to have sex with a man but for a man to have sex with a man and then marry a woman he commits adultery with the woman.

      • Avatar
        PBS  November 23, 2019

        Thanks for the response. I’m not exactly sure what you mean by saying that I am making an “appeal to [my] theological views as evidence.” My case is simply one of citing biblical texts about which Jesus is recorded as viewing as authoritative coupled with what the Bible as a whole says about Jesus. But no matter. As for the literal & actual words of Jesus in the Bible as we have it, then yes, your point prevails. But since what people actually want to know is what Jesus’ opinion of homosexuality was, is your tact not just an example of missing the forest for the trees? As Gary’s post resoundingly makes clear, we can be pretty sure what Jesus thought about the matter–and that, ultimately is what matters. No?

        • Bart
          Bart  November 24, 2019

          It may be what matters to you, yes. But the question we’re debating is whether the Bible — and thus Jesus in the Bible — condemns homosexual relations. The answer is no. It is a very tricky matter to embrace social policies ont he basis of what we think the man Jesus himself must have thought. Any modern Amrican who starts digging deeply into *that* question, will find him/herself condemned up and down the line. Jesus would have flat out *condemned* what most of us strive and live for.

          • Avatar
            PBS  November 25, 2019

            While I’m still not persuaded by your argument that neither the Bible nor the Jesus in it would approve of homosexual behavior (or regard it as inconsequential), I hope you’ll develop your view more at length (a book?). And your line of “Jesus would have flat out *condemned* what most of us strive and live for” is quite convicting and is surely spot on! Thanks. But by making this point, you have to assume that you have actual access to the words of Jesus (or, as in this discussion, enough epistemic traction for your view to be reasonable). I think we have enough to view as reasonable the Bible & Jesus’ view of homosexual behavior and your gem of a line.

          • Bart
            Bart  November 25, 2019

            I don’t think I’ve ever indicated that Jesus would approve of homosexual behavior (did I? I didn’t mean to!)

          • Avatar
            PBS  November 27, 2019

            (Replying to: Bart November 25, 2019
            I don’t think I’ve ever indicated that Jesus would approve of homosexual behavior (did I? I didn’t mean to!)–for some reason that post or yours didn’t provide “reply” option).

            Thanks for correcting me. No, you didn’t say Jesus approved of homosexual behavior. Not knowing you well enough to know your motive or intent here, I won’t guess. But would you agree that for some, even many, that, at the very least, their motive & intent with this subject is to establish tacit approval for such behavior by adding a “Jesus is silent on the matter” point to their over all argument? And as we’ve seem in this thread, the matter is not that simple.

          • Bart
            Bart  November 29, 2019

            Maybe, I’m not sure. The main thing is that Xns frequently condemn homosexuatlity because “that’s what the Bible says.” And I’m arguing in fact it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, then there have to be other grounds for an opinion.

      • Avatar
        PBS  November 23, 2019

        Regarding Matthew 19, husbands & wives and sexuality, I see your point more clearly now. Thanks. Still, I don’t think we can ever fully divorce (no pun intended) sexuality from the topic of husbands & wives. Sexuality is fundamental to whole enterprise; it’s the main thing!

        • Bart
          Bart  November 24, 2019

          I’d say we can, since there are lots of issues of sexuality that have no relation to heterosexual marriage.

    • Avatar
      jhbaker731  November 24, 2019

      To PBS Weren’t they still practicing polygamy in Jesus’ time. The verse from Paul refers to deacons when he says “husband of one wife”. Otherwise he wouldn’t have to say it. My point being…polygamy was still accepted yet no one condemned it. Just asking… enjoyed reading your post. I like to keep an open mind on everything.

      • Avatar
        PBS  November 27, 2019

        Yes, polygamy was still practiced in Jesus’ time (& still today–even among some Christians). But it’s never been the ideal or intention of God (Gen. 2; Mat. 19). It’s a necessary concession in primitive cultures for two basic reasons: 1) As I’ve witnessed personally, single adult women, with or without children, don’t survive long in “the bush” (rural / wilderness settings) as is said in Africa. They succumb to the elements or beasts or are abused & killed by evil men and/or trafficked to death. 2) But if taken in by a brother in law (OT concession) or another man, the woman likely survives and her children may claim family land holdings when they reach adulthood. Thus the family name endures and (the widow’s children anyway), avoid permanent lowered social status as “step children” forever. But an admitted weakness to my view is that in light of how important “(one) male & (one) female are ‘from the beginning'” appears to be, God’s providential guidance of His followers to firmly establish this ideal has taken a long time (& still needs to take hold in many places).

  6. Avatar
    Gary  November 22, 2019

    Jesus was a devout first century Jew. His ministry was to Jews, not to Greeks and Romans. Jesus didn’t need to preach about homosexuality because every Jew on the planet knew that the Law of Moses condemned this practice and forbade it (for men, at least). There is no evidence of gays or anyone else attempting to legitimize this lifestyle in Jewish culture, so why would Jesus bother to discuss this issue? I will bet that this is why Jesus never says anything explicit about homosexuality. His silence was neither a condemnation nor an endorsement of homosexuality. How many Christian pastors preach on the sin of pedophilia? Any? Probably rarely, if ever. But their silence on this issue is not because they condone this (sick) behavior but because it is not a perceived issue in their community.

    I think gays and those who oppose homosexual relationships should stop trying to involve Jesus in this debate. We can be near certain that as a devout first century Jew Jesus opposed homosexuality.

    • Bart
      Bart  November 22, 2019

      I’m not asking how the historical man Jesus would have viewed same-sex relations. I’m asking if he ever talks about it in the Bible. My original point was that there are lots of things he would have condemned in our world, if there had ever been a recored of him being asked. But that doesn’t mean that his words can be used to condemn them, if he never spoke any words about them.

      • Pattycake1974
        Pattycake1974  November 23, 2019

        I’m not asking how the historical man Jesus would have viewed same-sex relations. I’m asking if he ever talks about it in the Bible. My original point was that there are lots of things he would have condemned in our world, if there had ever been a recored of him being asked. But that doesn’t mean that his words can be used to condemn them, if he never spoke any words about them.“

        In Mark 7:22, Jesus said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

        Licentiousness means sexually unrestrained/lewdness/depravity/perverse. Paul uses the term in Romans, Galatians, and 2 Corinthians. It’s also mentioned in Ephesians, 1&2 Peter and Jude. 2 Peter and Jude both use the term when discussing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. In the first century, many Jews believed homosexuality to be part of the reason for its destruction. Philo, Josephus, Jubilees, 2 Enoch, Testament of Naphtali….either directly state it or infer it. At least one of the texts says that Sodom had a problem with men using young males sexually. It wasn’t just men that surrounded Lot’s house, it says young males surrounded it too. Almost the exact same story is in Judges with the men being called perverse.

        When Jesus spoke of licentiousness, what did his audience think he meant by that? He already listed fornication and adultery, so licentiousness must have meant something else. We can’t say that licentiousness didn’t mean homosexual relations.

        I also don’t see why a question about divorce doesn’t mean we can’t make inferences from his answer that aren’t directly related to the question. His answer gives us insight into his thinking process and belief system.

        On another note, this post is completely wacky.

        • Bart
          Bart  November 24, 2019

          Wacky???

          My view is that you can’t know what Jesus in teh Gospels may have meant by “licentiousness” without seen how the word was actually used at the time, and what it covered. See today’s post.

      • Avatar
        ShonaG  November 23, 2019

        There were and still are people who believe Jesus was homosexual, Sir Francis Drake and Marlowe are supposed to have insinuated he had a homosexual affair with John the beloved. Da Vinci doesn’t state it but it is probably the reason he paints him effeminately in the last supper.

  7. Liam Foley
    Liam Foley  November 22, 2019

    For myself this is a clear example of placing ones agenda onto the text when it’s clearly not there. Plus, wasn’t Jesus pretty clear what he taught were sins? Don’t you think if Jesus was condemning homosexuality he’d be more direct and clear about it?

    • Bart
      Bart  November 22, 2019

      The problem of course is that we have no idea what he talked about most of the time.

      • Rick
        Rick  November 22, 2019

        Professor. Perhaps I am overly skeptical by currently rereading Jesus Before the Gospels; but, do we have any reason to think the passages being argued about, or something like them, went back to the historical Jesus lips?

        • Rick
          Rick  November 23, 2019

          Pardon the above post. I missed your answer to Gary – which to paraphrase is we’re talking about whatever Jesus was in the mind of the story teller or gospel author and what that … narrative Jesus said in the cited passages? Like discussing what Carton’ final meaning was at the end of Dickens “Tale of…”

        • Bart
          Bart  November 24, 2019

          Ah, that’s a completely different — and extremely important — question. But oddly enough the debate we’re having here is whether the *Bible* condemns homosexual relations, not whether the historical *Jesus* did. See what I mean? I better post on this distinction.

  8. Avatar
    veritas  November 22, 2019

    I think the Greek word you are referring to is,malakos.I myself do not think those verses refer to Jesus speaking of homosexuality at all as you have pointed out.Paul in 1Cor.6;9 and 1Tim.1;8-10 is definitely speaking that language more clearly.In my view,Jesus,in his own words, did make a list that may appear comprehensive in Matt.15;18-20.And even there I see no mention of homosexuality (by Jesus’s words)I think this is an attempt by staunch believers to marginalize homosexuality and condemn it.I think the whole concept of homosexuality being condemned,if I were to defend believers,is based on creation itself.There would be no increased life(population growth)without the two created beings.This is not an attempt to demonize homosexuals,it is an explanation that I have heard over the years attending churches,on how fundamentalists rationalize their belief.

  9. Avatar
    Steefen  November 22, 2019

    I just searched to see if you, Dr. Ehrman, wrote any posts about Jesus and Solomon and did not find anything. I searched “Jesus and Solomon”.

    QUESTION:
    Have you written about Jesus and Solomon or Jesus or the gospel writers referencing Solomon?

    Reference A: Solomon and Jesus on Mules
    Jn 12:13-14 The people shouted Hosanna … King of Israel. Then at v14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it.
    1 Kgs 1:29 -35 where David is dying and he gives instructions for Solomon to be mounted upon a mule and then be designated ruler of Israel and Judah.
    Reference B:God, ready to destroy his kingdoms in the Promised Land/Holy Land
    The Parable of the Wicked Tenants and Jesus Laments over Jerusalem (Luke 19: 41-44)
    1 Kgs 9: 6-9 God tells Solomon if you and/or your people turn away from me I will cut off Israel
    1 Kgs 11:11-13 God divides the United Kingdom of Solomon

    = = =

    • Bart
      Bart  November 22, 2019

      No, I’ve never written about that. Solomon, of coruse, is not a major figure referenced in the NT.

      • Avatar
        Steefen  November 24, 2019

        Bart
        No, I’ve never written about that. Solomon, of course, is not a major figure referenced in the NT.

        Steefen
        Well, I’ll make a third NT reference.
        1. Solomon on a mule after being granted David’s successor; Jesus on mule symbolizing being granted a kingdom.
        2. God foretells taking down Solomon’s kingdom; God foretells taking down Jesus’s kingdom.
        3. Solomon is wise (1 Kings 4:30) . Jesus is not only greater than Jonah but greater in wisdom than Solomon (Mt 12: 41-42)

        1. Maybe if Jesus did not ride in on a mule, the message of his symbolism would not have given his enemies substance for claiming he not only talked about a kingdom but he made a symbolic public display that he should be king

        2. God told Jesus that there was tribulation and suffering to occur in the Judean territory of the Roman Empire, something for which the patron empire of Judea would be gravely concerned.

        3. Jesus’s reference to Solomon announced his wisdom was great and worthy of acceptance. That wisdom also included #1 (kingdom of God granted to the Son of Man first person and successor third person).

        Take away Solomon, you lose the political threat of Jesus and crucifixion as consequence of him being a political threat, you lose Jesus foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem and the third-person Son of Man, and you lose the claim that the teachings of Jesus are more valuable than the wisdom of Solomon.

        Solomon is foundational in the gospels for these reasons, yes?

        • Bart
          Bart  November 25, 2019

          My sense is that first century Jews who thought that someone had ridden on a donkey or that they had made a prediction would not automatically think that he was therefore a figure like Solomon.

  10. Barfo
    Barfo  November 22, 2019

    All I have to say is that Scott is sure reaching for it with his interpretations.

    • Barfo
      Barfo  November 24, 2019

      It’s 11/24/19 @0835 hours and still “awaiting moderation.”

      • Bart
        Bart  November 26, 2019

        I’m afraid you’ll just need to get used to haveing to wait a day or so for comments to be posted. There’s only one of me.

  11. Avatar
    godspell  November 22, 2019

    Bart, does the first passage, in your opinion, refer literally to small children? (Did Jesus really have a lot of followers who were 10 or younger?)

    I thought it did when I was younger, but now I think it’s a reference to people who have what Jesus considers the right mindset–adults, young perhaps, but with innocent hearts, which he believes necessary to enter the Kingdom. And people like that often have a hard time in life–in any time, any place. Life has a tendency to harden you, and people will put stumbling blocks in your way, more or less because they can.

    We’re all supposed to become like children, as Jesus sees it–in a positive sense. There are some negative senses in which one can remain childlike into adulthood, as we all should know. Jesus is talking more about what Wordsworth meant in his poem about the rainbow (which was certainly inspired by his reading of the gospels).

    https://poets.org/poem/my-heart-leaps

    Sex is one thing that can harm people, rob them of their innocence, if it happens the wrong way (as it does, frequently), but the sin is not harming the body, but the soul.

    I would assume in Palestine, like everywhere else, there were those who went out of their way to corrupt innocence, but I agree the reference is not to same sex relations. If Jesus had meant to condemn those specifically, he would have done so, and his words would have been preserved. Judaism was not particularly tolerant of such relations, and there would have been nothing unusual about an itinerant rabbi speaking against them. In this case, his silence on the matter is deafening. Jesus was not terribly concerned with consensual sexual behavior. Could it be a problem? Yes. Is it usually the main problem, the primary cause of failing to achieve the right state of being to reach the Kingdom? Not as he sees it. Or we’d hear a lot more about it from him.

    • Bart
      Bart  November 24, 2019

      Yes, I agree. I don’t think he’s actually talking about children.

  12. Avatar
    Hon Wai  November 22, 2019

    What do you think of Robert Gagnon’s “The Bible and homosexual practice: texts and hermeneutics (2001)”? He aims to establish that the Bible contains a unanimous witness defining same-sex intercourse as sin, and that attempts to classify as irrelevant for our contemporary context the Bible’s rejection of same-sex intercourse fail to do justice to the biblical texts.
    It is endorsed by same big names in scholarship – James Barr, John Barton, Jerome Murphy-O’Connor: “This is a brilliant original and highly important work, displaying meticulous biblical scholarship”; “No Christian concerned with homosexuality can afford to ignore this book. Agree with the conclusions or not, it presents a meticulous scholarly account of biblical and post-biblical traditions about same-sex relationships”; “Gagnon’s incisive logic, prudent judgment, and exhaustive research should make this book a dominant voice in the contemporary debate.”

    I don’t see anything morally wrong with homosexuality. But I think some liberal scholars bend over backwards with biblical exegesis for political reasons. It seems to me more honest to say the Bible expressed views which are homophobic in light of modern moral standards and norms.

    • Bart
      Bart  November 24, 2019

      The colleagues I have who are actually experts in this area almost all think it borders on homophobic.

  13. Avatar
    brenmcg  November 22, 2019

    If writer A says
    “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you … Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you measure, it will be measured to you.”

    and writer B says
    “with the measure you measure, it will be measured to you and will be added to you” ἐν ᾧ μέτρῳ μετρεῖτε μετρηθήσεται ὑμῖν καὶ προστεθήσεται ὑμῖν

    cant we say that writer B has taken two parts from writer A and stitched them together in a way which makes no sense?

    • Bart
      Bart  November 24, 2019

      Yes, that would be an option. One has to choose an option and argue why it is better than the others, when looked at without prejudice about the outcome.

      • Avatar
        brenmcg  November 24, 2019

        The ‘measure you use’ is related to weights and measures, however you measure the debt of others that will be used to measure your debt. It makes no sense to say more will be added on to it (its not necessarily a good thing).

        Being as objective as we can hasn’t writer B misunderstood the meaning of this phrase and don’t we see both parts of writer B’s verse being used correctly by writer A in what’s more likely to be their original place and meaning.

        • Bart
          Bart  November 25, 2019

          I’m not sure why you think that would be an objective opinion. Opinions are not objective.

          • Avatar
            brenmcg  November 26, 2019

            But you can try to make them as objective as possible. If you ask a parent to judge a drawing by a child you’ll get a more objective opinion if you dont say its by their own child.

            Do you think when he adds ‘this will be added to you’ the writer has misunderstood the meaning of ‘the measure you use to measure will be measured to you’?

          • Bart
            Bart  November 26, 2019

            But there are no objective criteria by which to judge aesthetics. there are established principles that are generally agreed on in some cultures, but those are agreed on categories, not objective criteria. There are no such thing as objective aesthetics.

            I’m not sure what the meaning of it would have been exactly, so I can’t say if it’s been misunderstood or not.

          • Avatar
            brenmcg  November 26, 2019

            Its not just aesthetics though, its whether the phrase makes any sense. We can also check what Luke thinks its.

            If he is copying Mark he’ll have seen the phrase Luke 8:18 and decided not only to remove it from its place but to split it up and use the two pieces separately, exactly as Matthew used them. Luke 6:38 and Luke 12:31.

            The conclusion should then be that Luke also sees a problem with Mark’s construction, and that the best explanation for these two phrases being forced together in Mark is their close proximity in Matthew.

  14. Avatar
    timcfix  November 22, 2019

    Lev 23: 1 puts and end to any eunuch being part of ‘the assembly’. So if Mark 9: 42-48 is not the answer, what is?

    • Bart
      Bart  November 24, 2019

      I’m not sure what you’re asking. Jesus in mark 9 doesn’t talk about chopping off a testicle if it causes someone to sin.

      • Avatar
        RorscHaK  November 26, 2019

        Dr. Ehrman, do you think Matthew 19:12 contradicts Levictus 23? In Lev, eunuchs were supposed to be excluded from the assembly of God, yet somehow Jesus said there were people who became eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom?
        Apparently, in the Jesus movement, some people could…make themselves eunuchs for a good purpose, while such an act would probably be considered abominable in Judaism (eunuchs were excluded, let alone self-made ones)

        Am I missing something obvious?

        • Bart
          Bart  November 26, 2019

          Leviticus is talking about who is allowed into the Temple. Menstruating women, for example, were not. Jesus is talking about something else, who will in the age to come will enter into God’s kingdom.

  15. Avatar
    crucker  November 22, 2019

    Are you familiar with Dale Martin’s article “Arsenokoités and Malakos: Meanings and Consequences”? If so, is there anything within in that you would disagree with?

    https://www.cedarvilleout.org/assets/Arsenokoites-and-Malakos-9a48377772f00bc3ae3f5f814e7c3cc69094107928bd273ba72eea6ed622adf7.pdf

    • Bart
      Bart  November 24, 2019

      Yes indeed: I’ll be dealing with the issue in a later post.

  16. Avatar
    jkdoyle  November 23, 2019

    Bart,

    I just happened to be reading Adam Kirsch’s Daf Yomi daily Talmud reading post this evening, and I had read your post earlier in the day. There were some interesting (and somewhat humorous) parallels from the Talmudic literature regarding the cutting off of hands and (potential) sexual sin, not related to homosexuality but related to (forbidden) male emissions:

    https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-and-religion/294325/emission-standards-daf-yomi-285

    Thanks for the posts,
    Jimmy

  17. Avatar
    ShonaG  November 23, 2019

    Isn’t it possible that actually the opposite is true, that by turning children from God he means calling them unnatural, unwanted and excluding them because of their sexuality. How many evangelicals have turned their children from God by saying God hates them and what they do?

  18. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  November 23, 2019

    I do not have the scholarly expertise necessary to analyze Dr. McKnight’s argument, but I do have a first, beginning question:

    Namely, why didn’t Jesus just address this issue clearly and explicitly? If He had, it sure would have saved us a lot of divisive arguments. There are several possible answers and how we answer this question could tell us a lot. Here are some possible answers:

    1. Homosexuality was not a concept at the time of Jesus having been first formulated as a concept by the physician Krafft-Ebing in 1886. Hence, Jesus did not know it was an issue because He did not know homosexuality existed.

    2. Jesus did not think the issue was that ethically important and thought that people are free to make their own decision about this issue. Hence, He did not say anything clearly about it.

    3. Jesus, even though He was God knowing all things, somehow did not predict that this issue was going to be so divisive.

    4. Jesus was not God and, hence, did not know that this issue was going to be so divisive.

    There are probably other answers as well, but I think the least likely analysis is that Jesus presented His view on this very important issue in an unclear, clandestine way.

  19. Avatar
    RayC  November 23, 2019

    Bart, if Jesus states ““Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished”, as he does in Matthew 5:17-18, wouldn’t that constitute a statement against homosexuality based on what is in Leviticus? I know you wrote in a reply above that is not what people use to argue that Jesus condemned homosexuality. But why is it not a valid argument on its own, aside from whatever other arguments are made? It seems pretty clear if not one letter, or even a stroke of a letter, is not to be abolished. This is not a theological argument nor does it require belief, just using what Jesus said about the Jewish Law.

    • Bart
      Bart  November 24, 2019

      My point about that is that it means that not only will homosexuals be excluded from the kingdom, but so will we, because we wear sweaters that are of mixed fabric. Does anyone think that? Is that what Jesus meant, do you think? Or that Jesus genuinely believed we should execute our children if they are disobedient to us? Or…. pick your law!

    • Barfo
      Barfo  November 24, 2019

      You must also consider the mind-set of the author of Matthew; a very fundamental Jewish writer who could memorialize his beliefs. Paul appears to tone it down a bit in Galatians 3:21-23…..possibly.

  20. Avatar
    AstaKask  November 24, 2019

    Just signed up for another year!

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