He certainly can't be referring to the role/job of a eunuch (your "chamberlain") if he is saying from birth, right?
Right. Nonetheless, both εὐνοῦχοι and chamberlains seem to have similar etymologies. εὐνῆς + ἔχειν, or something like bed + keeper. (At any rate, the English rendering I like of Greek Esther isn't one that Dr. Karen Jobes has for her NET Septuagint version. Rather, chamberlains is the translation of Sir Lancelot Brenton, starting in the first chapter - after he's used the transliteration "eunuch" earlier in the preliminary stuff.)
Unless. Matthew's Jesus were letting the Greek words play; let me play with the ESV:
10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”
11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given.
12 For there are 'marriage-bed security guards,' chamberlains if you will, who have been so from birth;
and there are 'bed keepers' who have been made 'keepers of the bed' by men,
and there are 'security guards of the bed' who have made themselves 'bed security guards' for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.
Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”
It is sort of funny to be that literal, that extremely etymological, that very functional here for Jesus and his disciples, as one would be in contexts such as is in Greek Esther where castrated men guard the harem of virgins and concubines and wives, for the male King. And yet the Rabbi and his opponents and the Rabbi and his learners are all talking about marriage of a woman to a man. How would Greek readers of Matthew read it much differently? If they'd read the Septuagint also, or had heard it, it wouldn't be only Esther. It would also be Ecclesiasticus (aka Sirach), whose Greek warns again lust of the virgin maids by the chamberlains, by those who were guarding them for the bed of the uncastrated male taking the virgin. Matthew has Jesus quoting from Sirach in Chapter 11 already, doesn't he?
Thanks for saying, "Definitely worthy of further reflection and research!" We're reading at such a rapid pace every day, it's hard to notice everything, much more difficult to take time to form a comment. But this one really does seem to beg for us to pause. To reflect. To investigate.
Sorry to go on so long.
What about the translation sexless? Or what about "without sexual capacity"?
That's how classics scholar Richmond Lattimore translates what Jesus says. And it's how Greek New Testament scholar Clarence Jordan translates what Jesus says here. The emphasis gets put on the gender and the sex of the body of the once-male individual. I'm using once-male in the sense that Aristotle uses it when he explicates about those who become εὐνοῦχοι.
Edited by jkgayle, 22 February 2018 - 03:37 PM.