Why are Christians so concerned about sex?
March 11, 2014 8:29 AM   Subscribe

Why are Christians so concerned about sex?
When English interpretations of the New Testament talk about ‘sexual immorality’ they are really translating the Greek word porneia (πορνεία), it’s used almost every time the topic of sex comes up and often when talking about the worst sins in general. If you can really grok what Paul was talking about as he uses the root for the word over and over again (it appears 32 times in the New Testament) then the rest falls into place. Now porneia has always been translated into Latin as fornication, while being understood by many conservatives to just be a 1:1 stand in for ‘any sexual expression not between husband and wife’. However, Porneia in post-classical Corinthian Greek did not mean generic sexual sin, or even sex outside of marriage, at all exactly and neither did fornication in actual Latin. The truth, like in many things, is a little bit more complicated and a lot more interesting
TRIGGER WARNINGS AHEAD FOR DEPICTIONS OF SEXUAL EXPLOITATION IN CLASSICAL GREECE, ALSO AN NSFW VASE. (SFW version)

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posted by Blasdelb (3 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
This project was posted to MetaFilter by jaduncan on March 26, 2014: Why are Christians so concerned about sex?

Thanks Blasdelb, that's a good read. Do you know of any academic works that represent this view of Pauline attitudes about sex? I'd be very interested!
posted by vasi at 3:09 PM on March 11, 2014


As terrifying as that is, this is pretty original work. Over the last couple of decades there has been a lot of work from forward thinking Classics departments using feminist models to challenge older thinking about the Greeks and them being challenged by that older thinking in great pitched academic battles to create a much richer picture of Classical women from the pretty meager sources we have on them. However, none of them would touch Paul with a ten foot pole.

If you'd like a good academic work on porneia and what it could have possibly meant to Paul this is excellent and comes from a different perspective more focused on Hebrew, Porneia: The Making of a Christian Sexual Norm

If you'd like a broad introduction to how feminist theory has shaped Classical studies I'd recommend Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens is an awesome, interesting, and accessible - if sometimes comically erudite in a mefite-esque snarky kind of way - introduction to Classical Greek sexuality that is well cited and at least makes a solid sporting effort at being academically neutral. Alternatively, Prostitutes and Courtesans in the Ancient World (google preview with essay titles) is a well edited collection of scholarly essays on the topic from a variety of perspectives.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:35 AM on March 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


This is fascinating. Thank you for posting.
posted by lizifer at 4:02 PM on March 12, 2014


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