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Old 01-06-2001, 02:13 AM   #1
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Exclamation Matthew 19:12: Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven

This famous verse comes after Jesus Christ's forbidding divorce except in the case of adultery, and is presumably some sort of explanation.

It is something like:

There are eunuchs who were born that way, there are eunuchs who had been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let whoever can accept this teaching, accept it.

In some translations, "eunuchs" is turned into "those who cannot marry"; I believe that to be a bowdlerization.

Here is the original Greek (URL:
http://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/~fish...in/gnt?id=0119
), and I'll do an ASCII transcription (theta = th, phi = ph, chi = kh,
eta = ee, omega = oo, upsilon = u):

eisin gar eunoukhoi hoitines ek koilias meetros egenneetheesan houtoos, kai eisin eunoukhoi hoitines eunoukhistheesan hupo toon anthroopoon, kai eisin eunoukhoi hoitines eunoukhisan heautous dia teen basileian toon ouranoon. ho dunamenos khoorein khooreitoo.

You don't have to know any Greek to recognize "eunoukh-"; this is where the English word "eunuch" ultimately comes from.

The next question is what it is supposed to mean - that one ought to consider neutering oneself for Jesus?
 
Old 01-06-2001, 06:42 AM   #2
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The Heaven's Gate bunch evidently did.
 
Old 01-06-2001, 10:02 AM   #3
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Talking

Snipity-do-dah!

Seriously, this verse is used to justify celibacy for Catholic priests. Of course, the verse is probably meant to apply to all Christians. Of course, if it were, there would be a lot fewer Christians . . .
 
Old 01-06-2001, 10:23 AM   #4
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I am no expert but I would guess that it is a leftover from the Gnostics. They were much like the Shakers in that they did not allow marriage or sex.
 
Old 01-07-2001, 08:58 AM   #5
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by lpetrich:
The next question is what it is supposed to mean - that one ought to consider neutering oneself for Jesus?</font>
An early church father named Origen certainly thought so. And he did just that: castrated himself.

It was kind of popular back then, and was starting to get out of hand enough to where the church finally had to issue an edict or something of sorts to stop this practice. They realized it wasn't as much of a challenge if one had their nuts cut. Besides, I can see also where this practice would have reduced their numbers which the church would have not wanted either.

John

 
Old 01-08-2001, 08:45 AM   #6
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While I don't disagree that the word should be translated eunuchs, you tripped on the etymology fallacy. Basically because meanings of words change through time and often origins may be forgotten to the popular mind, words in English may or may not be within the semantic field of an ancient usage. We use many words in direct contradiction to the origin of the word. Naive for example used to mean nice. Today it has a bad connotation to it. Good studies to perform are diachronic and synchronic. That is word use through time and at a particular slice of time.

To the issue though, anyone who is married can readily tell of it's frequent problems. Jesus is simply saying, if you aren't compelled to be married, spare yourself the trouble. Don't marry because everyone does it. Also, Jesus makes it abundantly clear that this is dependent upon the individual and not to be an enforced rule. The shortage of Catholic priests is becoming worse. Also there are NT examples of ministers who ministered while married. But for those who have greater will power than the rest of us in controlling our hormones, celibacy allows greater devotion to God and/or any other activity.


[This message has been edited by Josephus (edited January 08, 2001).]

[This message has been edited by Josephus (edited January 08, 2001).]
 
Old 01-09-2001, 12:27 AM   #7
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I sugges that Josephus do the studies he calls for of the word "eunuch"; the last I saw of that word, it had not been known for big semantic shifts.

And if that was meant metaphorically, that represents poor taste in metaphors.

Furthermore, that verse talks about being made a eunuch by others; that is very consistent with the literal meaning (*cut*. *cut*, and one has been made a eunuch), but it's harder to picture for someone who simply cannot marry.

Finally, it seems to me that this is saying something like "if you don't want to be locked into a marriage, you may want to consider neutering yourself."
 
Old 01-10-2001, 11:17 PM   #8
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I don't know of any shifts either, and I would concur that it is to be eunuch, based on the same things that you mentioned. It seemed like your first posting relied on similar roots for verification. Alone this is shaky support for a truly valid conclusion. All I meant was don't support yourself on this. Your reply to my post had better support against the translation you were debunking. Sorry if I through a curve ball.

I think I see your question a little better now. The statements of Jesus about those born that way, made by others, and made that way themselves for God, seems much more like an observation of current practices, and not "necessarily" prescriptions though we are entertaining the possibility thereof. His statement after this is about acceptance. This must be interpreted in light of His previous statement that not all can accept and only those who have been given it can accept it. The logical conclusion would therefore be acceptability is a sign of "it" being given, and conversely those who have it should accept "it". In writing this I have just thought that we may have stumbled on Jewish poetic chiasm?
A B
B' A'
Hmmmmmmmmmm..........
 
 

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