Bible Question:

Did porn or pornography come from the Greek word porneia?

Bible Answer:

The English word “porn” or pornography is not derived from the Greek word porneia. What follows is an explanation of the origin of “porn” or pornography.

Was Pornography Derived From Porneia?

Porneia Does Not Include

The word Greek word proneia includes prostitution, extramarital sexual intercourse, paedophilia, promiscuity, homosexuality, lesbianism, incest, premarital sex and bestiality, but not pornography. For more information please read, “What is the meaning of the Greek word porneia in the Bible?” The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defines pornography as,

The explicit description or exhibition of sexual subjects or activity in literature, painting, films, etc., in a manner intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic feelings; literature etc.[1]

That is, pornography includes more than the sexual activity show on movies, videos and television. It includes paintings and literature. But porneia refers to a sexual activity that occurs with some human or animal other than one’s spouse. That is, porneia is different than porn or pornography.

Etymology of Pornography

The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary states the English word for pornography comes from a different Greek word.

Origin from Greek pornographos (from porne prostate + grahein write). [2]

Once again we see that pornography was not derived from porneia, but from pornographos.

Conclusion:

The word porneia does not occur in the statement that Jesus made about a man looking at a woman and lusting after her in Matthew 5:27-28.

You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28 (NASB)

The Greek word for “lusts” in Mathew 5:28 is epithymeo and not porneia. Note that the sin of porneia cannot be committed while viewing pornography since it refers to sexual activity with someone else or with an animal. It should also be noted that porneia occurs in Matthew 5:30-32 where it is translated as “unchastity” in the NASB. In the ESV Bible it is translated as “sexual immorality.” It reveals the true meaning of porneia.

“It was said, ‘WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE’; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Matthew 5:31-32 (NASB)

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Matthew 5:31-32 (ESV)

 

References:

1. Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 6th Ed. 2007. vol 2., p. 2288.
2. Ibid.

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