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Source: (consider it) Thread: Kerygmania: David and Jonathan
mdijon
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# 8520

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quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink:
what pieces of text can you point to that explicitly support your contention that they were solely platonic friends ?

Aren't you asking for proof of a negative here?

It seems to me that the platonic friendship default is because there are no widely recognised, clearly described homosexual relationships in the OT. And fair evidence that homosexual activity was regarded as wicked and aberrant in the OT.

Hence if Jonathan and David are lovers, it would be remarkable - and I would think would normally draw some further comment in the account we have.

The fact that it is only to be inferred means either that it wasn't there... or that the writer wanted to communicate it but couldn't do so openly and so laid a trail of breadcrumbs for us.

The latter seems unlikely to me, but I guess possible. Maybe there are other possibilities I've left out.

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

Posts: 12277 | From: UK | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged
ken
Ship's Roundhead
# 2460

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If there is one thing that stands out about the Book of Samuel it is that it doesn't hold back from saying bad things abut kings. David is explicitly accused of a great many other sins and crimes and bits of bad behaviour. If the writer had meant us to understand some sort of homosexual relationship between David and Jonathan it would probably be explicit.

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Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

Posts: 39579 | From: London | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Doublethink.
Ship's Foolwise Unperson
# 1984

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quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink:
what pieces of text can you point to that explicitly support your contention that they were solely platonic friends ?

Aren't you asking for proof of a negative here?

It seems to me that the platonic friendship default is because there are no widely recognised, clearly described homosexual relationships in the OT. And fair evidence that homosexual activity was regarded as wicked and aberrant in the OT.

Hence if Jonathan and David are lovers, it would be remarkable - and I would think would normally draw some further comment in the account we have.

The fact that it is only to be inferred means either that it wasn't there... or that the writer wanted to communicate it but couldn't do so openly and so laid a trail of breadcrumbs for us.

The latter seems unlikely to me, but I guess possible. Maybe there are other possibilities I've left out.

I feel I am asking the same level of proof that people ask for, for the assertion of a homosexual relationship. On how many occasions is Jonathan referred to as David's friend, or David is referred to as Jonathan's friend ?

I agree that it would be remarkable if it were a homosexual relatioinship - but do you not think that rather lot of time and prominence is in fact given to their relationship ?

As to the evidence that homosexual behaviour was regarded as aberrant and wicked - specifically what evidence are you referring to ?

AFAIK there is a prohibition against anal sex, (which has been argued as a being part of a list of specific prohibitions of religious practices to a pagan God) and that is about it for the OT.

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All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

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Freddy
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# 365

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quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink:
As to the evidence that homosexual behaviour was regarded as aberrant and wicked - specifically what evidence are you referring to ?

Given that the answer to this merits its own section in Wikipedia, I think that we all know the controversies surrounding it. Why beat a dead horse?

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"Consequently nothing is of greater importance to a person than knowing what the truth is." Swedenborg

Posts: 12845 | From: Bryn Athyn | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Doublethink.
Ship's Foolwise Unperson
# 1984

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I suppose my point is, that if you are going to insist on textual support and not being able to extrapolate and people being literal in their discussion of sex - and there being no such thing as a gay identity - you need something more than: there is a prohibition against anal sex.

I am not suggesting that David & Jonathan had anal sex. I am suggesting their relationship may have been sexual. I am suggesting the very prominence given to their relationship, was because it was unusual. And I am suggesting that there is no more textual support for that being a platonic friendship than a sexual relationship.

To me, mdjon's context argument reads as: this extended description of a close relationship between two men, which is really unusual in its details and prominence in the bible - can't be homosexual because that would have been really unusual and we would expect prominent comment. I think the story *is* prominent comment.

[ 02. January 2013, 21:27: Message edited by: Doublethink ]

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All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

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mdijon
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# 8520

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quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink:
To me, mdjon's context argument reads as: this extended description of a close relationship between two men, which is really unusual in its details and prominence in the bible - can't be homosexual because that would have been really unusual and we would expect prominent comment. I think the story *is* prominent comment.

I think it reads more like; this extended description of close relationship is unlikely to have been thought of as homosexual in the mind of the narrator unless they explicitly say so, since homosexuality seems to have been taboo.

I'm not saying it can't have been, I'm justifying the default state of saying "wasn't homosexual" without proof.

It may be that the narrator is trying to tell us explicitly that it was a homosexual relationship - but doing it with breadcrumbs for reasons we might speculate about. Another possibility is that the relationship was homosexual, but the narrator didn't realise it was.

But initially I was just responding to the "challenge to prove it wasn't homosexual" argument. (Not, in my mind, by actually proving it wasn't, but by arguing that the challenge wasn't a reasonable one).

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

Posts: 12277 | From: UK | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged
Doublethink.
Ship's Foolwise Unperson
# 1984

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I think you are conflating anal sex and homosexuality. I think that the bible is primarily concerned with penetrative sex, or situations where the failure of penetration causes a problem (eg Onan being a bad brother). I don't think we can necessarily package non-penetrative sex-acts up in the same mental box.

I believe anal sex was probably banned, partly because of pagan rite issues, but mainly for hygiene reasons in a desert with restricted access to water + no anti-septics / anti-biotics + and possibly some confused fear about distortion of the birth process (re-interpreted to faith laws). Who knows what sense they would have made of a condition like rectal prolapse ?

But I suspect that like many highly gender segregated societies, same-sex non-penetrative sexual behaviour was probably unremarked because it was considered unimportant.

In other words, I dispute your default context.

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All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

Posts: 19219 | From: Erehwon | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged
mdijon
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# 8520

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I think your first paragraph is fair enough. That does appear to be the focus.

I dispute your second paragraph in that I think there is not good evidence that anal sex is especially prone to infection in a way that vaginal sex isn't, that if anyone was going to get worried about rectal prolapse you'd think they would worry more about uterine prolapse which is incredibly common in societies without medical intervention in delivery, and I think there is no good evidence that the Torah has much logic in terms of the prohibitions anyway. But there are too many tangents there and I think they don't matter to the discussion here.

I am no expert on middle-eastern culture, and certainly not on ancient middle-eastern culture, but I am not aware of any culture where same-sex behaviour is unremarked on (indeed not sure about any culture where sex of any sort goes unremarked on?) and it seems very unlikely to me that in ancient Israel same sex behaviour went unremarked on.

I can believe that a lot of same sex attraction may go unremarked on, and may be expressed in very repressed and limited ways because of cultural restrictions. And that may well be in the account we are reading. But that's a different kind of world.

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

Posts: 12277 | From: UK | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged
Doublethink.
Ship's Foolwise Unperson
# 1984

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Many societies have gone centuries or even millennia without bothering to regulate same-sex sexual behaviour between women. No penetration, no possibility of illegitimate children - no major concerns.

Perhaps I should say, 'unrecorded in public documents' rather than 'unremarked'.

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All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. George Orwell

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Freddy
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# 365

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quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink:
I think you are conflating anal sex and homosexuality.

I think you didn't read my wikipedia link. There is abundant biblical evidence on your precise point. The fact that it is disputed is the reason that this is a dead horse.

I doubt that you will bring it back to life here.

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"Consequently nothing is of greater importance to a person than knowing what the truth is." Swedenborg

Posts: 12845 | From: Bryn Athyn | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Ricardus
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# 8757

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quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink:
I think you are conflating anal sex and homosexuality. I think that the bible is primarily concerned with penetrative sex, or situations where the failure of penetration causes a problem (eg Onan being a bad brother). I don't think we can necessarily package non-penetrative sex-acts up in the same mental box.

AIUI rabbinical texts always interpreted the clobber texts to include things like interfemoral sex (between the thighs), which was the preferred form of homosexual sex in the Greek world.

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Then the dog ran before, and coming as if he had brought the news, shewed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail. -- Tobit 11:9 (Douai-Rheims)

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mdijon
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# 8520

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quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink:
Many societies have gone centuries or even millennia without bothering to regulate same-sex sexual behaviour between women

I would suggest more often in a "does not compute, we don't recognize that this happens, what are you talking about" sort of way than in a "doesn't hurt anyone does it, utilitarian ethics are the way forward" sort of way.

And since this relationship is in fact a) documented and b) between men, then I would also suggest we're in a different balliwick.

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mdijon nojidm uoɿıqɯ ɯqıɿou
ɯqıɿou uoɿıqɯ nojidm mdijon

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Kelly Alves

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# 2522

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quote:
Originally posted by mdijon:
I would suggest more often in a "does not compute, we don't recognize that this happens, what are you talking about" sort of way than in a "doesn't hurt anyone does it, utilitarian ethics are the way forward" sort of way.


I would offer(with complete seriousness) it happened in a more "Doesn't hurt anyone, keeps the 16 wives in the harem from complaining about lack of attention" sort of way.

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I cannot expect people to believe “
Jesus loves me, this I know” of they don’t believe “Kelly loves me, this I know.”
Kelly Alves, somewhere around 2003.

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fletcher christian

Mutinous Seadog
# 13919

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posted by Dt:
quote:

I agree that it would be remarkable if it were a homosexual relatioinship....

I'd actually debate that I think. It's fairly clear that David was quite driven by sex and would get it wherever he could, sometimes going to rather extreme lengths to do so. If the text announced clearly that David had a sexual relationship with Jonathan I can't say it would leave me surprised, and I can understand why it might leave it unclear in the text. Do we really know that it didn't go through edits?

On the other hand, there is an element of reading into a text from our own context and I think there is a strong likelihood that this is what we are doing to this text. In our Western culture of exaggerated machismo the idea of a man loving a man and freely expressing that without everyone automatically assuming they are at it out the bike sheds, is somewhat unheard of. If anything, it highlights our somewhat pathetic attitudes to friendship and expressions of love and the peculiar idea that love cannot be separated from sex. It obsession and repression rolled into one.

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'God is love insaturable, love impossible to describe'
Staretz Silouan

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Moo

Ship's tough old bird
# 107

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quote:
Originally posted by Nigel M:
With regard to the first rule, a Hebrew word in use in a context (including not just the co-text, but also the social and worldview setting surrounding it) carries a range of meaning – a semantic domain – that rarely carries over nicely into the corresponding word chosen by a translator.
{snip}
. There is also a second risk: that the translated word carries its own semantic domain that unwittingly is imported into the text by a reader. I know I've banged on about this before, but the English word 'love' is notoriously prone to this danger. It carries a welter of meanings in English that are not carried by the equivalent Hebrew word. Equally, there are connotations associated by the Hebrew word that are missed by 'love', e.g., covenant loyalties. It follows that just because the Hebrew text is translated 'Jonathan loved David' it does not of itself mean 'Jonathan had a sexual relationship with David.'

I think Nigel's point has been overlooked. The fact that a certain Hebrew word is translated as 'love' does not mean that all meanings of the English word can be applied, and it does mean that the Hebrew has some meanings that the English does not.

Abstract nouns in one language frequently have no exact correspondent in another. This is what makes translation so difficult. It is also why people should bear in mind that, when they read a translated document without extensive notes and commentary, they are not getting the whole correct picture.

Moo

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Nigel M
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# 11256

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quote:
Originally posted by Doublethink:
Is there something in the sentence structure / cases or whatever - that led translators to think that gadal referred to weeping? ... is there anything in the structure of the sentence that tells us definitively to what the verb refers? Or is the translator having to make an informed guess?

I've been thinking on and off about this – helped by Hart's following reply (“In a nut shell, it's because the construction is hiphil. If it meant that David became great, that would be qal; if he made (part of) himself great, niphal; if he made something else great, hiphil.”)

The link back to the weeping alone doesn't feel quite right, because the preceding phrases in the verse are presented as corresponding – virtually parallel in form: “They missed each his friend, and they wept-over each his friend.” I would have thought, given this, that if the final phrase does indeed link back, that it should be to both kissing and weeping, not just the one.

Another thought has been bugging me, however. The last phrase in the verse presents us with the preposition 'ad ('until'), followed by the proper noun 'David', then the verb: a hiphil conjugation of the common (Qal) verbal form of gadal, a stative (static in situation, rather than dynamic – carrying an action over) verb. The nearest English equivalent of this verb sometimes used in translation has been 'to magnify', because we do not possess a verbal from of the adjective 'great' (i.e., no verb 'to great').

This requires an adaptation when translating into English. For example, whereas Hebrew can express the form “David kinged”, in English we have to modify this to allow for the fact that we do not possess a verbal form 'to king' and make use of something like “David was made king” or “David became king.”

Similarly with “David was made great.” Something that is active voice in Hebrew begins to look suspiciously passive in voice in English. So with the hiphil conjugation of the Hebrew verb gadal in 1 Sam. 20:41. We could translate this with causative force (a feature of hiphil forms) to read perhaps “David caused to do great things” in synonymous force with “David became powerful.”

It occurred to me that this might be a reference to his later achievements as king when he made a name for himself across the region. In English the construction sounds clumsy so we might adapt the whole phrase to read “...until David became great / powerful.” In other words, he mourned the loss of Jonathan right through to the time he became established as a strong king.

There is one possible tie in here with the later episode in 2 Sam. 9 when David fulfils his covenant loyalty to Jonathan (by then dead) by providing for Jonathan's son.

However there is another possibility. I did a search for this verb in the same construction throughout the Hebrew bible. There are 15 occurrences (plus 5 others not in the 3rd person masculine singular). One of those occurrences is in 1 Sam. 12:24 - “...fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. Look at the great things he has done for you!” The English “great...he has done” translates the one Hebrew verb. It doesn't seem right on context to assume this may be read, “Look at the massive erections he caused you to have!”

Other occurrences are at Isa. 28:29 (“The Lord...causes great wisdom”), Jer. 48:26 and 42 (“Against the Lord Moab has caused greatness (magnified itself?)”), Joel 2:20 and 21 (“The Lord has caused great things”), Ps. 55:13 (“It is not one who hates me who 'is causing great' (acting arrogantly?) against me”), Ps. 126:2 and 3 (“The Lord caused great things”) Lam. 1:9 (“My enemy 'is causing great' (boasting?)”), Dan. 8:4, 8 and 11 (“It acted arrogantly”). It seems that when used of God as subject the verb in this conjugation has a positive sense, but when used of others (humans or animals) is carries a more negative connotation.

Seen in this light, the phrase in 1 Sam. 20:41 might be referring to David's continuing mourning of his loss, but that this mourning lasted only up to (until) the point he became too powerful – too arrogant – to remember. This might also tie in to the later tale of David's less positive moments as king.

I am not 100% sold on the 'king' option (positive or negative); it just falls into the “it may fit” category, but hopefully with more linguistic evidence in support.

Posts: 2826 | From: London, UK | Registered: Apr 2006  |  IP: Logged
Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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quote:
Originally posted by Nigel M:
I did a search for this verb in the same construction throughout the Hebrew bible. There are 15 occurrences . . . One of those occurrences is in 1 Sam. 12:24 - “...fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. Look at the great things he has done for you!” The English “great...he has done” translates the one Hebrew verb. It doesn't seem right on context to assume this may be read, “Look at the massive erections he caused you to have!”

Spitting coffee over the keyboard...

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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mousethief

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# 953

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quote:
Originally posted by Nigel M:
I did a search for this verb in the same construction throughout the Hebrew bible. There are 15 occurrences . . . One of those occurrences is in 1 Sam. 12:24 - “...fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. Look at the great things he has done for you!” The English “great...he has done” translates the one Hebrew verb. It doesn't seem right on context to assume this may be read, “Look at the massive erections he caused you to have!”

That would certainly count as a great thing in my book!

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This is the last sig I'll ever write for you...

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