Saturday, August 26, 2006

Libertines in the Bible

I made an interesting discovery the other day. The word "libertine" actually occurs in the Bible:

Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.
Acts 6:9, KJV

Interesting as this may be, the use of the word libertine in this verse does not refer to the sexual sense of the word, but rather to "freed slave" I know that the Bible uses very different words to express the concept of a sexual libertine, as the word was not used in that sense until the Renaissance.

Easton's Bible Dictionary, under the entry for "libertine" states:

found only Acts 6:9, one who once had been a slave, but who had been set at liberty, or the child of such a person. In this case the name probably denotes those descendants of Jews who had been carried captives to Rome as prisoners of war by Pompey and other Roman generals in the Syrian wars, and had afterwards been liberated. In A.D. 19 these manumitted Jews were banished from Rome. Many of them found their way to Jerusalem, and there established a synagogue.

Nevertheless, the root word for both meanings of libertine is the same and I very much like to think of myself as having been freed from the bonds of our society's repressed sexual rules and regulations.


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