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The derivation of that word in St Paul’s list

03 October 2014


From Dr Christopher Shell

Sir, - When the Revd Professor Chris Cook (Comment, 19 September) writes that the term arsenokoitēs (1 Corinthians 6.9, 1 Timothy 1.10) is imprecise, he does not write as a New Testament specialist.

First, the word is a compound of two very common, general, and unambiguous terms ("lie with" and "male"). Second, these two terms precisely echo the Septuagint of Leviticus 18.22, 20.13. Third, there is not space in a short vice-list to mention obscure or recondite vices, only general ones. Fourth, the evidence elsewhere from Paul (Romans 1) shows that he would be likely to make such an inclusion in one of his vice-lists. Fifth, given all of the above, no alternative view to the obvious one has been able to command significant assent.

As for the fact that the term is not evidenced before, Paul (not for the only time) makes a one-word coinage because he is giving a list of one-word terms.

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