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Question
Please what was the meaning of εὐνοῦχος in Matthew 19:12? Who were εὐνοῦχος? Thanks!

Answer
Hello,

in ancient Greek the εὐνοῦχοι (nominative plural of the masculine noun εὐνοῦχος, 2nd declension) were castrated men employed to guard  women and act as chamberlains.

The noun εὐνοῦχος, literally “bedroom guard”, derives in fact from  the expression “ὁ τὴν εὐνὴν ἔχων “  literally meaning “the one who keeps the marriage-bed safe”.

For example, we find this term in  Herodotus, Histories, book 3, chapter 130; in Aristophanes, Acharnians  117; in Xenophon, Cyropaedia, book 7,chapter 5, section 60, and in some other authors.

As for what we read in Matthew 19:12 (εἰσὶν γὰρ εὐνοῦχοι οἵτινες ἐκ κοιλίας μητρὸς ἐγεννήθησαν οὕτως, καὶ εἰσὶν εὐνοῦχοι οἵτινες εὐνουχίσθησαν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, καὶ εἰσὶν εὐνοῦχοι οἵτινες εὐνούχισαν ἑαυτοὺς διὰ τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν. ὁ δυνάμενος χωρεῖν χωρείτω), it seems that, when talking about  the  εὐνοῦχοι in a context where he is also talking about husbands and wives (see Matthew 19:3 and the following  paragraphs before Matthew 19:12), Matthew wants to say that “some people are eunuchs because they are born that way, others have been made eunuchs by men, and others have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven”, just to  mean that some people who are not eunuchs act however as they are really eunuchs and renounce marriage because of the reign of the heavens.

To conclude, though I’m not an expert in Biblical hermeneutics, I think that the ancient Greek term εὐνοῦχοι is just used by Matthew to indicate someone who acts as an eunuch because he renounces marriage.

Best regards,

Maria  

Greek

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Maria

Expertise

I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning ANCIENT GREEK. So, do not ask me please questions regarding MODERN GREEK as it is different from Ancient Greek either in spelling/meaning or in pronunciation.

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Over 25 years teaching experience.

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I received my Ph.D in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy) and my thesis was about ancient Greek drama (Aeschylus).

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