About this blog

This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."


Jonathan and David

For many a year there has been quiet talk among biblical scholars about the nature of the relationship between David and Jonathan. In the 1960s, the now legendary and pseudonymous Allen Edwardes, wrote about it in his(her?) “Erotica Judaica.” This book was based on surprisingly, for 1967, advanced and open minded biblical scholarship. Since then Biblical and Near Eastern scholarship has continued to advance.
    Now it is becoming ever clearer that most of the Hebrew Bible was recorded and written in the late Persian and Hellenistic periods (as was also mentioned in the previous article on this blog about Greek speaking David). That brings to our attention close parallels between the stories of Jonathan and David and another classic heroic couple, Achilles and Patroclos, whose relationship is a pivotal plot in Iliad. The erotic nature of these couples is never really mentioned in the oldest renditions (Iliad and Bible) but can be easily inferred from the cultural context.
    While the exact nature and ordering of Achilles and Patroclos’ relationship has always puzzled both ancient and modern authors, there cannot be any hesitation about the ordering of Jonathan and David’s relationship. Jonathan clearly assumes the role of  ERASTES - a mature (bearded) man in full strength who acts as lover, mentor and protector. David, on the other hand fulfills the role of EROMENOS - a young (unshaven or clean shaven) man or a teen, a love-boy, a mentee and protégé.
    In classical Greece this relationship was called pederasty and over the centuries it rightly became denounced as a highly problematic and abusive love arrangement. Jonathan would today be in great trouble, considered immoral, and most likely also criminal. From our modern perspective the relationship of Jonathan and David is not problematic because of its homosexual nature, but because of the power difference and also the age difference.
    So here you have it. The Bible cannot serve us as a simplistic and literalistic moral compass, not because it is outdated and prudish, but because it is outdated and too wildly immoral (as is often the case - if only people payed attention!).
    True wisdom, joy and morality in life and faith are not born from the fundamentalistic, slavish, mechanical following of any rules, even those religious or divine, but from the existential grappling with difficult conundrums of everyday living and in the search for the deeply rational as well as emotional understanding. In this very quest the ancient biblical texts can serve us sometimes as sparing partners and sometimes as guides.

No comments: