Friday, October 22, 2010

Margaret Davies on Prostitution and the Bible

Google Books really is a splendid resource, and it is getting to the satge now that undergraduate students can probably find enough information on it to not have to read any real book at all for assignments.  Margaret Davies has a chapter in The Bible in Human Society called "On Prostitution" (pp225-49) and it is that piece of work that I knew I would find soon after submitting my thesis that I would have loved to be able to interact with in my thesis.  But such is life!  Only the first part of the essay is visible via Google Books, but there is enough in there to still be a very worthwhile read.  I was very interested that for a feminist biblical scholar she seemed intent on interpreting the biblical evidence in the worst possible way.  This may reflect my own personal bias but I think there is something extraordinary about the Bible in its historical context that means that its message seems to be more contrast than correspondence with the misogyny of the world around it and should be interpreted accordingly.  Her all too brief but very interesting treatment of 1 Cor 6:12-20 (p240) fits in well with my own thesis.

She also briefly touches on Dio Chrysostom's treatment of prostitution (p242) and gives him credit for trying to marshall public opinion against the exploitation of prostitutes in the 2nd century while the Christians did no such thing.  To which I would respond, 1) the Christians were in no position to do any such thing, and 2) my own analysis of Chrysostom's argument does not put him in such a noble light although Davies' statement is essentially true, her failure to even refer to the particular passage of Chrysostom's (it would be Discourse 7:133-37) suggests she may not have read it herself yet.

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