Posted by: mattcolvin | May 24, 2013

“But as it is, they are holy”


I have blogged in the past about David Daube’s slicing of the Gordian knot that is 1 Corinthians 7. (See here and here for the old posts.)

One of the lingering questions about Daube’s interpretation was, “Is there any evidence that ‘your children are holy’ can mean ‘Your children are legitimate’?”

Now I find N.T. Wright adducing 4QMMT as a parallel for 1 Corinthians 7:14:

MMT B75f.: לארשי שדוק בותכשמ שדק [ערז ינ]ב המהו םעה ךותב הסענה תונוזה. The lacuna leaves some doubt as to the meaning: I follow Wise, Abegg and Cook (‘concerning the fornication which has been done in the midst of the people, their children are holy. As it is written, Israel is holy’), and García Martínez (‘and concerning the forni-cations carried out in the midst of the people: they are members of the congregation of perfect holiness, as it is writ-ten, “Holy is Israel”’), against Qimron and Strugnell (who paraphrase the key passage as ‘[this practise exists] de-spite their being sons of holy seed’). For Paul cf. 1 Corinthians 7.14: ἡγίασται γὰρ ὁ ἄπιστος ἐν τῇ γυναικὶ καὶ ἡγίασται ἡ γυνὴ ἡ ἄπιστος ἐν τῷ ἀδελφῷ· ἐπεὶ ἄρα τὰ τέκνα ὑµῶν ἀκάθαρτά ἐστιν, νῦν δὲ ἅγιά ἐστιν. This parallel may perhaps even strengthen the case for the translation (and meaning) which I have followed: literally, ‘they are sons of the holy seed, as it is written, Israel is holy’.

This does not strengthen my and Daube’s case, but it is a worthwhile piece of evidence, and I reproduce it here for my readers who have followed this topic. I continue to think that Daube’s interpretation is generally correct, and I hold out for further corroboration from Jewish sources.


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