Luxury & Withcrafts

Started by ·, January 14, 2023, 11:06:34 PM

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Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects, envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

Manifesta sunt autem opera carnis, quae sunt fornicatio, immunditia, impudicitia, luxuria, idolorum servitus, veneficia, inimicitiae, contentiones, aemulationes, irae, rixae, dissensiones, sectae,  invidiae, homicidia, ebrietates, comessationes, et his similia, quae praedico vobis, sicut praedixi : quoniam qui talia agunt, regnum Dei non consequentur. (Galatians 5:19-21)

The Early Modern English translation of this list can be misleading to modern readers. But the list was written in Koine and it would be much clearer what each work was to the original readers. The Latin is likewise direct. There are two in the list which may be severely misunderstood:

  • Luxury (luxuria) means lust.
  • Witchcrafts (veneficia) means abortion.

Luxury refers to lust because that is what the word meant at the time. The specificity of the word changed over time, in Latin and in English. We witness extreme examples of this in our own time, so it should be easy to understand. The words lust and luxury can vary in their meaning even in their own times, and they are short ways to refer to inordinate or disordered desire for venereal pleasure. The list starts out with several references to immodesty and lustful acts, as it is a list of specific works of the flesh.

Why does witchcrafts refer to abortion? Veneficia means poisonings and it is a translation of the Greek φαρμακεία (farmakeía), which is the source of the word pharmacy in English. The method used was poison, abortifacient substances. The singular use of the word in the context is referring to this. I do not know whether witchcrafts would have been understood so specifically at the time of that translation, but it is probable that if people wanted to kill, they would not go to anyone who focused on healing the sick and first doing no (intentional) harm.

Any drug is poisonous depending on the dosage: that is why we have Poison Control. It would be a mistake to interpret this to refer to drugs in general or to link it to the pharmaceutical industry in general because of the root words. Poison is (usually) in the dosage, not the substance, and in the intention of the user. We use the word drug this way too: both positive and negative.

Scripture translations and the original languages if studied are full of examples of these sorts of things. But we do not rely on personal understanding of all the words of Scripture to learn what they teach. It takes far more than literacy in one's native language to really study it. And we certainly do not rely on personal interpretation of scripture. (2 Peter 1:20-21) Curious inquiries and lack of proper appreciation for the Sacred Science can lead to grave errors as well as confusion. The words have not changed and there are ample resources for understanding. And it is not necessary to personally understand it all. It is simple to accept that we simply lack the knowledge needed, and it could be quite simple as a historical context that is now lacking. If we needed to know, the Church would have clearly taught it.