Homosexuality, Science, and the 'Plain Sense' of Scripture

By David L. Balch | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
Same-Sex Eros:
Paul and the Greco-Roman Tradition

WILLIAM R. SCHOEDEL

The historical contextualizing of our theme inevitably suggests a relativization of the views of Paul and other early Christians about same-sex eros. This is particularly true when arguments strike us as obsolete in the light of later knowledge or experience. At the same time, some points associated with the criticism of same-sex eros still elicit serious attention, and our discussion must also try to show why this is so.

The background to Paul's comments on same-sex eros will be set by focusing on discussions in three ancient authors who share a negative view of such practices — Plato, Philo, and Clement of Alexandria. This will provide a reasonably suitable framework for the relevant philosophical, medical, and popular elements involved.

It remains unclear how much of this tradition actually lies in the background of Paul's attack on same-sex eros in Romans. I shall argue, however, that Paul's first letter to the Corinthians reveals habits of thought on related issues that help us make judgments on this matter. The conclusion will be that Paul was familiar with many of the features of the tradition and that his views reflect whatever strengths or weaknesses may be assigned to such arguments.

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