Pharmakeia in Galatians 5:20. What does it mean?

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Postby TheSupremeVirtue » Sat Mar 24, 2007 10:59 am

Hm. Here's something you might not consider.

Egyptians combined meditation with the use of drugs.

Could they not have done the mind altering state with a combination of the drug use as well as the meditation?

They did cast spells or see visions with the magic leaves, accroding to TBN. :D :D
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Postby tunis » Sat Mar 24, 2007 9:04 pm

Satyr wrote:Φαρμακο in Greek means medicine or it can even mean poison.


Brief, but good post. I have a request for anyone who is using "Greek letters" on this thread. If you choose to use Greek letters could you, please, also use the corresponding "Roman letters" that we use in the English language. Most people reading this probably don't know the Greek script. For example, Φαρμακο is pronounced "pharmako". Also, depending on what technology someone is using, the Greek letters might show up as a bunch of question marks, or something. So, if you wish to use Greek letters could you write it like this:

Pharmako (Φαρμακο) in Greek means medicine or it can even mean poison.


Thanks.
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Postby tunis » Sat Mar 31, 2007 9:31 pm

When trying to discover the definition of a word or what the author of a text had intended to mean there is an error people fall into called eisegesis;


"Eisegesis refers to the practice of reading into a text the meaning which one wants to get out of it."

~handbook of biblical criticism~


The following excerpts are from some church websites. They are an example of reading 20th century drug prohibition into the bible. In other words, they are an example of eisegesis:

The use of drugs is also included in the word sorcery. It comes from the Greek word pharmakeia.

In Galatians 5:19-21 is the mention of sorcery. In other words the ones who use drugs.

God clearly states that 'Pharmakeia' (the use of drugs) is a sin in Galatians 5:19-20


The idea that the word pharmakeia in Galatians 5:20 means "illicit drug use" seems to have been popularized beginning in the late 1960s. I don't think we will find very many explanations like this of the word pharmakeia prior to the 1960s.
Last edited by tunis on Sat Nov 08, 2008 11:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby tunis » Sat Mar 31, 2007 9:36 pm

Let's go back to the 16th century and see what Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reformation, had to say about the word under consideration. In his 1519 lecture on Galatians 5:20 Luther stated:


"According to Jerome sorcery is called the poisonous art; for the Greek word 'pharmakon' means poison or medicament. Hence a sorceress is called poisonous. Therefore the apostle is referring to magicians, wizards, enchanters, and any others who, by means of compacts with devils, deceive their neighbors, harm them, and steal from them."

(Luthers Works, Vol 27)


In Luther's 1535 lecture on sorcery from Galatians 5:20 he talks about witches casting spells upon cattle and crops being damaged by hailstorms caused by their sorcery (Luthers Works, Vol 27). Luthers commentaries on Galatians sound nothing like the Galatian commentaries that have been sold in Christian book stores in recent years. Luther makes no mention of hemp, or opium, or even the mushroom.
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Postby tunis » Sat Mar 31, 2007 9:44 pm

Lets move ahead from Luthers time to the late 19th century and look at 2 bible concordances:

1) Analytical Concordance to the Bible
by Robert Young (1822-1888)

2) Exhaustive Concordance to the Bible
by James Strong (1822-1894)

Strongs Concordance is the most popular. I compared the definition of "pharmakeia" in my Strong's and Young's concordances, published before 1990, to editions published in the 1880s. There the same.

Let's do a bible word study. We're going to look up the word sorcery (witchcraft in KJV) in Galatians 5:20. Strong's concordance refers us to:


5331. pharmakeia: medication (pharmacy), i.e. (by extension) magic - sorcery, witchcraft.

Strongs Exhaustive Concordance to the Bible


So now we get the impression that Paul means "drugs" in Galatians 5:20. Apparently Strongs bible concordance is the primary source of commentary material that tells us pharmakeia means drugs.

Let's continue with our word study. We will now look up the word "sorceries" in Isaiah 47:9. Strong's concordance refers us to:


3785. keshaph; from 3784; magic- sorcery, witchcraft.

3784. kashaph. to whisper a spell, i.e. to enchant or practice magic- sorcerer

Strongs Exhaustive Concordance to the Bible


So, according to Strong's concordance, sorcery in Isaiah 47:9 doesn't mean "pharmacy or medication" like it does in Galatians 5:20. So, the word kashaph doesn't give us the impression of drugs like pharmakeia does. Why not? It's the same word! When they translated the Hebrew bible into Greek in the 2nd century B.C. they used the word "pharmakeia" in Isaiah 47: 9.

I am of the opinion that James Strong and others, who published bible concordances in the late 19th century read their social-political opinions into their concordance definition of words having the root "pharma". In late 19th century England and America there was a church movement to suppress the opium trade, complaints about unlabled patent medicines as well as an alcohol prohibition movement. How much James Strong and other late 19th century publishers of bible concordances were influenced by the events of their day is debatable. But they obviously had some bias for cherry picking the word "pharmacy" instead of, say "poison" for their definition of pharmakeia. And why a differant definition for the same word in the Old Testament?

I looked at a Hebrew-English Lexicon of the Old Testament published 1854 which defines both the Hebrew word 'keshaph" and the Greek "pharmakos". It makes no mention of drugs.
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Postby tunis » Sat Mar 31, 2007 9:58 pm

Let's go back to the first century and consult a contemporary of Paul named Philo. The Forward to C.D. Yonge's English translation of "The Works of Philo" states:

"Philo of Alexandria lived from about 20 B.C to about A.D. 50. He is one of the most important Jewish authors of the Second Temple period and was a contemporary of both Jesus and Paul."

Philo also wrote in Greek. Since Philo was a contemporary of Paul, and also a Jew who wrote in Greek, we can therefore discover some of the usages of Greek words having the root pharma, including pharmakeia, because he used them in his writings, which were written about the same time as Paul's letter's. The following are excerpts from "The Works of Philo".

(93) But there are others also of the greatest wickedness...being sorcerers (magoi) and poisoners (pharmakeutai)...

(94) Moses commands that poisoners (pharmakeutas) and sorceresses (pharmakidas) shall not be allowed to live...

(94) ...but of those who plot against one secretly, and who disquise their attacks by the concealed approaches of poison (pharmakeia)...

(95) And again, besides this, he who openly slays a man with a sword...can only kill a few persons at a time; but if one mixes and compounds deadly poison (pharmakois) with food, may destroy innumerable companies at once...

(102) And I imagine that the lawgiver, having a regard to all these circumstances, would not permit the punishments due to poisoners (pharmakeuton) to be postponed...

(104) This may be sufficient to say on the present occasion concerning poisoners (pharmakeuton)...

From: "The Works of Philo", chapter titled "The Special Laws 3", section 93-104.


Sections 83 thru 143 has the subtitle "The Law Concerning Murderers". In other words, the entire context is about laws against "homicide". Words having the root pharma, as in pharmakeia, listed in the above quotes are translated as "poisoners", as in someone commiting murder with poison instead of a sword. That is proved by the context. In this chapter Philo is most certainly talking about "homicide". He is not talking about medicine, wine, opium or cannabis. Perhaps Paul also meant poisoners in Galatians.
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Re: Pharmakeia in Galatians 5:20. What does it mean?

Postby 10-Planets » Sun Apr 01, 2007 5:43 am

What would Paul have meant by the word "pharmakeia" which most English versions translate as "sorcery"?


If in fact sorcery is the correct translation, then it means to try to defy God with magic, and in a sense become your own God or; To rely on and trust solely in yourself and try to claim the powers of God.


:evilfun:
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Re: Pharmakeia in Galatians 5:20. What does it mean?

Postby my real name » Sun Apr 01, 2007 7:10 am

tunis wrote:What would Paul have meant by the word "pharmakeia" which most English versions translate as "sorcery"?

What say ye Christians and scholars. What would the word "pharmakeia" have meant to a first century Christian, Jew or Pagan?


My new testament greek concordance gives only the meanings "witchcraft" or "sorcery" ("idolatries, witchcraft, hatred") -- which makes me think it might have been related to making potions as a root meaning.

But whatever it meant, it must be pretty serious as it is also used in Revelations 9:21 ("nor of their sorceries, nor of their") and 18:23 ("for by their sorceries were all the nations").
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Re: Pharmakeia in Galatians 5:20. What does it mean?

Postby my real name » Sun Apr 01, 2007 7:32 am

10-Planets wrote:If in fact sorcery is the correct translation, then it means to try to defy God with magic, and in a sense become your own God or; To rely on and trust solely in yourself and try to claim the powers of God.


Just to note, some spiritual directors say to act as if everything depended on you and to pray as if everything depended on God.

Also, God lives, contemplates, loves, and these actions are in us by His grace,
and we thankfully claim our powers as descendant from the powers of God, our Father in heaven.

Just some quibbles with your phrasing. Welcome to the ILP boards. :)

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Postby tunis » Mon Jun 11, 2007 1:09 am

Josephus Flavius was a historian and a commanding officer of the Galilean Jewish forces in the war against Rome, A.D 66-70. He was born about A.D.37 and died about A.D.101. His Hebrew name was Joseph ben Mattathias. He was educated in a rabbinic school in Jerusalem. His two most famous works are "The Jewish War" and "The Antiquities of the Jews". Josephus, a contemporary of Paul, wrote in Greek. Let's see how Josephus used the word under consideration:


And as Malichus was now in greater fear than ever of Antipater, he sought to put him out of the way, and with money persuaded Hycanus' butler...to kill Antipater by poisoning (pharmako).

[Josephus Flavius, "The Antiquities of the Jews" 14.11.4]



Cleopatra had poisoned (pharmakois) her brother, because she knew he was to be king of Egypt...

[Josephus Flavius, "The Antiquities of the Jews" 15.4.1]



They said that Pheroras supped with his wife the day before he fell sick, and that a certain potion (pharmakon) was brought him in such a sort of food he was not used to eat; but that when he had eaten he died of it; that this potion (pharmakon) was brought out of Arabia by a woman, under the pretense as a love potion, for that was it's name, but in reality to kill Pheroras; for the Arabian women are skillful in making such poisons (pharmakistotatai)...

Antipater had prepared a deadly potion (pharmakon) and given it to Pheroras...

Antiphilus, one of Antipater's friends brought that potion (pharmakon) out of Egypt...

...the potion (pharmakon) was brought out of Egypt by Antiphilus...

...by persuading me to have a murderous intention to him, and procuring a potion (pharmakon) to serve that purpose.

[Josephus Flavius, "The Antiquities of the Jews" 17.4]


There is little doubt that Josephus is referring to poisoning, as in political assassination, in the above quotes from his "Antiquities of the Jews" which was written about the same time as Galatians and Revelation. It is, therefore, very probable that this was what was meant by the words pharmakeia and pharmakos in Galatians 5:20 and Revelation 9:21, 18:23, 21:8 and 22:15.

Josephus and Philo were contemporaries of Paul. All three of them visited Jerusalem when the temple still stood. They could have met face to face, Philo being Paul's elder and Josephus his younger. All three were educated in the Torah and also wrote in Greek. Let's see how Philo and Josephus understood Exodus 22:18:


You shall not permit a sorceress (Hebrew=kashaph, Greek=pharmakous) to live.

Exodus 22:18




Let no Israelite keep any poison (pharmakon) that may cause death or any other harm; if one be caught with it, let him be put to death, and suffer the same fate that he would have inflicted on the intended victims of the poison (pharmakon).

[Joephus Flavius, "The Antiquities of the Jews" 4.8.34]



Moses commands that poisoners (pharmakeutas) and sorceresses (pharmakidas) shall not be allowed to
live...

[Philo: "Special Laws 3", sec 94]


So, Philo and Josephus understood "pharmakous" in Exodus 22:18 to mean "poisoner", as in committing murder with poison. It is very probable that this was what was meant in Galatians and Revelation.

I had stated above that the Strongs, and other bible concordance's and lexicons, published in the late 19th century and afterward are misleading on the definition of pharmakeia and pharmakos. It is quite obvious from reading these sections in Philo and Josephus that they mean "poisoning", as in intentional homicide by using a poison. One can also find this in Platos Laws (book 11).

One could excuse a novice bible student for making the error of thinking the word sorcery (pharmakeia) in Galatians and Revelation means smoking pot or maybe Walgreens. But those who edited and published the bible concordances and lexicons, such as Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, are without excuse. They knew better. A concordance or lexicon carries more weight than just mere opinion. I am not bad mouthing bible concordances and lexicons in general. Indeed, I have found most of them to be very useful in doing word studies. But by defining pharmakeia and pharmakos as "enchantment with drugs" is either poor scholarship or downright dishonest.

The sections here quoted in Greek from Philo, Josepus and Plato can be found in the "Loeb Classical Library" which contains the Greek classics with Greek and English on opposite pages. They can be found in any academic library, larger public libraries, and probably on line.
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Postby my real name » Mon Jun 11, 2007 4:31 am

tunis wrote:So, Philo and Josephus understood "pharmakous" in Exodus 22:18 to mean "poisoner", as in committing murder with poison. It is very probable that this was what was meant in Galatians and Revelation.


I wrote:But whatever it meant, it must be pretty serious as it is also used in Revelations 9:21 ("nor of their sorceries, nor of their") and 18:23 ("for by their sorceries were all the nations").


How do you explain these quotes from the book of Revelation?
In the first one it mentions murderers and sorceries (and fornications and theft) as if they were separate things.
In the second, the sorceries are said to cause deception.
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Re: Pharmakeia in Galatians 5:20. What does it mean?

Postby Ace » Mon Jun 11, 2007 8:55 am

tunis wrote:I have a question for any Christian who reads the bible, as well as any non-christian who has at least some rudimentary knowledge of the Greek language. What does Paul mean by "sorcery" in Galatians 5:20? The Greek word is "pharmakeia". Here is the verse:

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, SORCERY (pharmakeia), enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:18-21


What would Paul have meant by the word "pharmakeia" which most English versions translate as "sorcery"?

What say ye Christians and scholars. What would the word "pharmakeia" have meant to a first century Christian, Jew or Pagan?


These are all carnal vices and have no spiritual attribute to them. Pharmaciys deal with the physical and one tied closely to sorcery in the O.T. see Israels captivity into Babylon, for example.
Paul is saying , seek the spiritual things ( fruits of the spirit ) available and leave the carnal thing to the unbeiving world to deal with.
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Re: Pharmakeia in Galatians 5:20. What does it mean?

Postby Ashley22 » Sun Mar 30, 2008 1:10 am

So all nations were decieved by murder by poisoning? :-?
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Re: Pharmakeia in Galatians 5:20. What does it mean?

Postby tunis » Sun Mar 30, 2008 3:03 am

tunis wrote:So, Philo and Josephus understood "pharmakous" in Exodus 22:18 to mean "poisoner", as in committing murder with poison. It is very probable that this was what was meant in Galatians and Revelation.


my real name wrote:But whatever it meant, it must be pretty serious as it is also used in Revelations 9:21 ("nor of their sorceries, nor of their") and 18:23 ("for by their sorceries were all the nations").

How do you explain these quotes from the book of Revelation?
In the first one it mentions murderers and sorceries (and fornications and theft) as if they were separate things.
In the second, the sorceries are said to cause deception.


I have not seen "my real name" for awhile, but I have an answer as to where the word pharmakeia appears in the same context with assassinations in other ancient literature. I here cite Polybius, a Greek historian who lived from about 205 to 123 B.C.

"Crimes committed in Italy which require a public investigation, such as treason, conspiracy, poisoning (pharmakeia), and assassination (dolophonias), are under the jurisdiction of the senate."

~Polybius, the Histories: Book 6.13.4~


If one looks at this section from Polybius in the "Loeb Classic" you'll find that the word pharmakeia is spelled exactly the same as in Galatians 5.

Also, Revelation 18:23 says "By pharmakeia were misled all the nations". The ancient historical records such as Josephus, Dio's Roman History, and others state that many powerful political leaders gained power by poisoning (pharmakeia) their rivals.

Ashley22 wrote:So all nations were decieved by murder by poisoning?


If you read my post's above where I quote Josephus and Philo from the Loeb Classics, which have the Greek word beside the English, you should begin to discover how the word was used by the ancient writers. However, I don't want to get into a different subject on this thread such as "what does the book of Revelation mean" if that's what you were getting at.
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Re: Pharmakeia in Galatians 5:20. What does it mean?

Postby krypto » Thu Jul 07, 2011 5:02 pm

Let's forget about all the language nonsense for a minute as you'll never be 100% sure of your translation when there are many others with many other versions...

...Ask yourself: would an all powerful, loving God create illnesses for which he would provide no cure??? I am so sick of people trying to argue that things that grow naturally like cannabis and peyote are evil sorcery, Moses clearly stated that God gave us all seed bearing plants on the face of the whole earth.

Furthermore could extraction of singular chemical compounds mixed with other chemical compounds then synthesized (completely unnaturally), patented, and sold for profit despite the fact that many of them clearly kill people and have to later be removed from market not be deception or "sorcery" of some kind??? especially when most of these "cures" do not even help to make people any healthier but try to magically make symptoms of further reaching illnesses go away?!!!?

--don't respond, this will be my only post, but really, think about it.
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