Does παρθενος mean "virgin" in Greek?

28 Sep

και προσεσχεν τη ψυχη δινας της θυγατρος ιακωβ και ηγαπησεν την παρθενον και ελαλησεν κατα την διανοιαν της παρθενου αυτη

μετάφραση μου – translation

His heart was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her

– Gen. 34:3

According to the LXX, Genesis 34:3 also defeats the claim that παρθενος (parthenos) is used exclusivly for “a virgin”. Dinah, who was raped by Shechem, is referred to as a παρθενος after being raped, which is contrary to the claim on the exclusivity of παρθενος for identifying “a virgin”

Quite possibly, the meaning of the word changed. The LXX, at least the Torah portion of it, was composed because the Greek king Ptolemy II Philadelphus, who reigned 285–246 BCE, wanted to read Hebrew scriptures. So in the span of about 400 years, the meaning of the word παρθενος might have changed from simply a young woman (like Dinah) to mean specifically “virgin” in Matthew’s lifetime.

1 Comment

Posted by on September 28, 2009 in gospel of matthew, isaiah 7:14, parthenos, virgin


One response to “Does παρθενος mean "virgin" in Greek?

  1. Tom Dawkes

    June 14, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Cf. the Oxford English Dictionary “Both maid and maiden, from the earliest records onwards, seem to have had the competing senses of ‘young female’ and ‘virgin (of any age)’. Because of this ambiguity, they have tended to be replaced in the sense ‘young female’ by words such as girl and periphrastic uses such as young lady and young woman. Consequently, both words have generally been more commonly used in the sense of ‘virgin’: maid now principally in the compound old maid n., maiden in a large number of compound and adjectival uses. A third major sense ‘servant’ was also taken over from maiden by maid, in which it has had greater currency, partly perhaps because of the large number of compounds such as chambermaid n., housemaid n., and nursemaid n.” For the double sense of “young person vs. slave/servant” cf. Latin 'puer' and the recent use of 'boy' in English to refer to black males in an inferior position.

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