Can a man commit 'Greek passage' with his wife?

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats


Citation Stats


In Classical and Hellenistic Greek, apart from use by Jewish and Christian authors, 'Greek passage' meant "prostitution." Different words from the same word group (built on 'Greek passage'-) all had something to do with prostitution. 'Greek passage' denoted a female prostitute, while 'Greek passage' referred to a male prostitute who might be paid for sex with a man or a woman. 'Greek passage' referred to a brothel, and some form of the verb 'Greek passage' referred to one prostituting oneself or someone else. 'Greek passage' referred to a pimp. Somewhere along the way, a group of words that in Greek and Latin seem to have originally referred simply to prostitution became in English a word referring, in most people's usage, to any sexual intercourse outside the bonds of marriage. But is that all that Paul or other New Testament writers mean when they condemn or warn against 'Greek passage' In other words, does 'Greek passage' when used by a New Testament writer refer only to "extramarital sex" between a man and a woman, or does it include other activities also? This article suggests that the answer varies depending on whom you ask.






Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Wheeler-Reed, D, JW Knust and DB Martin (2018). Can a man commit 'Greek passage' with his wife?. Journal of Biblical Literature, 137(2). pp. 383–398. 10.15699/jbl.1372.2018.345030 Retrieved from

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.



Jennifer Wright Knust

Professor of Religious Studies

Jennifer Knust is a scholar of religion who specializes in early Christian history and the religions of the ancient Mediterranean. Author of To Cast the First Stone: The Transmission of a Gospel Story(with Tommy Wasserman, Princeton 2018), Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions about Sex and Desire (HarperONE 2011), and Abandoned to Lust: Sexual Slander and Ancient Christianity (Columbia 2005), she studies early Christian texts, their contexts, and their receptions from multiple angles, with a particular focus on rhetoric and gendered discourse. Her numerous articles, book chapters, and edited books address the materiality of texts, the intersection of Christian practices with other ancient religions, and the ethics of interpretation in ancient as well as contemporary contexts. 

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.