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Old 07-19-2001, 11:16 AM   #21
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Posted by La Pede
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What specifically do you find wrong with Boswell's exegesis? First of all, compared to fundamentalist explanations of some passages, I think he's right on par with them. Secondly, I think people are hard on Boswell because they don't understand his argument. Boswell's argument, about Romans specifically, is confusing because he assumes a homosexual/heterosexual dichotomy in the ancient world. In a sense, he plays by the conservatives' rules instead of questioning the whole idea that Paul even thought of sexuality in the same way we do. This causes his argument to seem unbelievable and far fetched.
Well I think you just explained my reaction to Boswell, R.I.P., quite well. What I find worrisome about Boswell is that his exegesis is far-fetched, but I think so for precisely the opposite reason that you give. I do not think he lines up with the conservatives at all, which doesn't make him wrong in the least, but rather that he posits a sexual milieu that seems contrived and in fact seems to propose that homosexuality as we know it today was unknown in the 1st century. I am perhaps guilty of dismissing the notion as absurd, but I believe I have dones so because what he posits is absurd.

My primary training has been in sociology and psychology. Theology was my third master's. What is really needed here is an anthropologist I suppose, because I came at this from the assumption that human sexual practice may be culturally conditioned, but sexual orientation may not. While I understand it is unproven, I lean strongly toward the notion that sexual orientation, if not how it is expressed, is highly if not fully innate. It seemed to me that Boswell was arguing that homosexuality as we have it today did not then exist, and while I am not an expert in classical Greek correspondence and writings, it seems to me that sex was then discussed in pretty much the same terms and varieties as we have today. The notion that since the first century we have discovered new ways to use our bodies that we hadn't thought of in the previous six million years...well it just seemed like Boswell was pleading for something that's silly on premise. I had figured out pretty much everything that could be done sexually with males and females before I turned 13, and I can't imagine the Greeks, Romans, Jews and Christians of the 1st century were somehow impaired in their inventiveness and curiosity. To me his argument boiled down to an assertion that Paul was assailing pederasts and prostitutes because gays and lesbians didn't exist then so he couldn't be talking about gays and lesbians. I don't buy it and his argument doesn't sell it.

I'm still not unpacked from moving, but I have opened one of the boxes that had some of my seminary stuff on this issue, including Richard B. Hays' response to Boswell's work which contains many of the same criticisms(Hyas is a Duke professor). The full text of Hays argument is in the Spring 1986 (vol 14.1) edition of the Journal of Religious Ethics. Only the abstracts appear to be available online. I will try to contact Hays to seek permission to post his entire 22 page analysis.
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Old 07-19-2001, 12:50 PM   #22
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Off-Topic, but the devile made me do it.

Muldoon lived alone in the Irish countryside with only a pet dog for company. One day the dog died, and Muldoon went to the parish
priest and asked. "Father, me dog is dead. Could ya' be sayin' a mass for the poor creature?"
Father Patrick replied, "I'm afraid not, we cannot have services for an animal in the church. But there is a new denomination down the lane, and there is no tellin' what they believe. Maybe they'll do something for the poor creature."
Muldoon said, "I'll go right away Father. Do ya' think 5,000 is enough to donate for the service?"
Father Patrick exclaimed, "Sweet Mary, Mother of Jesus... why didn't ya' tell me the dog was Catholic?!"
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Old 07-19-2001, 03:48 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ron Garrett:
<STRONG>Father Patrick exclaimed, "Sweet Mary, Mother of Jesus... why didn't ya' tell me the dog was Catholic?!"</STRONG>
ROTFLMFAO!!!!!

On topic: I, too, would be very interested to see the criticisms of Boswell's work. I recall reading it in college and getting sort of the same feeling, that he was really stretching (although I got those feelings regarding some of the discussion around historical context, rather than the biblical analysis). I also remember reading about some of the critiques, but never had a chance to read any of them.

Incidentally, on the same topic, has anyone read Robin Scroggs' The New Testament and Homosexuality? I'm not enough of a scholar to know, but his exegesis seems more conservative yet he arrives at some of the same conclusions.

Regards,

Bill Snedden
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Old 07-19-2001, 04:18 PM   #24
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"Let's rephrase, "A tendency toward Christianity does not necessarily lead to moral degradation in every area of life." But it did for me when I was one.
Perhaps I should have added a "rolleyes" to my original post!

To view a homosexual as totally morally corrupt is totally unreasonable - yet this would probably be the response of many Christians. However, I believe that all people are in some way far from morally perfect, hence my comment. The law seeks to prevent people from doing what they would often like to do in the secret place of their own hearts.

Perhaps I need to say that I am all too aware of what I am capable of thinking at times and I would apply the term 'morally degenerate' to myself.
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Old 07-20-2001, 08:00 AM   #25
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I read Scroggs right after he published. Campus Ministry at the Lutheran college I was working at used it as a discussion tool to try and open up the dialogue and minds of the campus community. My comment at the debate that resulted was that gay and lesbian students seeking spiritual fulfilment would be better off in Buddhism of Neo-Paganism since the plain truth is that Christianity has a centuries-long tradition of holy war on homosexuality, adn even if a sound rationale could be constructed to reinterpret the text, many would never accept the reinterpretation or homosexuality regardless.

In reading the book you'll see much of Scroggs'arguments come from Boswell's work and Scroggs himself admits he has no background as a Greek scholar. I'd go diretly to the Boswell work itself rather than get it secondhand in a book written for laity like Scroggs' book. If you're smart enough to be an infidel, you're smart enough to be studying the academic material directly.
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Old 07-20-2001, 12:15 PM   #26
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FYI for those interested there's a discussion on Sat at 7pm EST and Sun 8PM EST on FOx news dealing with the proposed constitutional amendment deining marriage as between and man and a woman. Perhaps we can also get an amendment defining religious fundamentalism as mental retardation.
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Old 07-20-2001, 12:35 PM   #27
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Garrett, the public opinion on homosexuality in biblical time was about like is today. The difference being the bible only tells one side of the story. As usual. So when you read the bible to get an honest opinion you get the bibles honest opinion. Gut it does not represent the views of all people living then. Would you go to the Vatican to get an opinion on homosexuality. If you want to go with the bible. The bible is against homosexuality and no one is going to change that. Try some less bias sources.
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Old 07-21-2001, 09:24 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally posted by Waning Moon Conrad:
<STRONG>I don't have an opinion on homosexuality, I don't feel the need to have an opinion.

I have an opinion on the bible though, it's merely a collection of myths, laws, prayers, assertions and opinions and nothing more.</STRONG>
Well Conrad, you are wrong on both counts.

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Old 07-23-2001, 09:15 AM   #29
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Les:

My interest in the Bible's opinion of homosexuality is purely for the purpose of debating the positions taken by those who give it any credence, which I as an atheist and humanist empahitically do not. The focus of this discussion and my aboe statements is specific to the Bible and homosexuality. I see this as no different than a discussion of Mein Kampf and Naziism. I think the study of comparative religion is not just philosophical masturbation, but rather an imperative for rational men and women who are the only defense angainst a superstitious horde that would make us all bow down to their idols.

The only interest I have in the sexual activity of consenting partners is that they have the freedom to do as they please with whomever is willing.
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Old 07-23-2001, 09:33 AM   #30
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And actually Conrad you are right on both counts.
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