Saturday, March 25, 2006

Pot in the Bible?

In answer to a question from Michael Gilleland:

1. There is no credible evidence that the etymology of cannabis (Latin "hemp") is connected to Hebrew קנה בשם qeneh bosem (Exodus 30:23), literally "reed of sweet spice."

2. The best guess as to the identity of qeneh bosem, an ingredient in the incense used in the tabernacle, is that it was lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus). (See the entry in Immanuel Löw's Flora der Juden, 1924-34.) Nobody knows for sure.

3. There is no evidence that Jesus used cannabis, marijuana, hemp, lemon grass, qeneh bosem, kalamos euodes (the Greek translation of qeneh bosem), or any compound of spices or incense in the process of healing, contrary to recent sensationalistic claims.

4. The only mentions of kalamos in the New Testament (Matt 11:7; 12:20; 27:29-30, 48; Mark 15:19, 36; Luke 7:24; 3 John 1:13; Rev 11:1; 21:15-16) are in the meaning "reed" or "pen." Kannabis is not mentioned in the NT.

5. The only unmistakable reference to Cannabis sativa that I can find in Hebrew or Aramaic are some obscure vocabulary items in Syriac: qanpa (obviously a loan from kannabis) and tanuma. (Courtesy of the Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon.) These words are not used in the Peshitta (Syriac Bible). Qanpa is used in the late Syriac Ahiqar texts to refer to "ropes of hemp" (tunbei de-qanpa). They were weaving it, not smoking it. (Later: Sorry, I overlooked the Hebrew word qanbes — again a clear loan from kannabis and not the other way around — found in the Mishnah to mean "hemp." Again in the contexts in which it appears [Kilaim 2:5; 5:8; 9:1,7; Negaim 11:2], it refers to a material for making clothing or other household objects, not an ingredient of incense or healing.]

6. QED: Neither British tabloids nor Wikipedia are reliable sources of information.

17 comments:

Tim said...

So, "Ralph", does this mean that a trip to Wikipedia is needed to correct the entry? Or do biblical scholars just leave it to the amateurs to propagate their missunderstandings?

EMC said...

"It is better to light one candle than to fix Wikipedia." — Diogenes

That's my philosophy.

mym said...

The Grauniad is not a tabloid...

The Grinder said...

Nice post. How welcomed to hear something definitive. h

EMC said...

OK, then make that British newspapers.

Nobody Stop Me said...

Heres a good idea - if Wikipedia says something you don't like, just say its not true!

You can still be a Christian if you smokle cannabis or not, the bible doesn't say you can't.

Shai said...

Thanks for this well-written, interesting and professional étude. This is what I call "hardcore philology" :)

Chris Riley said...

"You can still be a Christian if you smokle cannabis or not, the bible doesn't say you can't."

Yeah but you know deep down it's not what God intended us to do with the herb. So technically it may not be wrong but you know it really is. (but who am I to judge, smoke up Johnny).

The article on The Guardian is not based on any facts that I can see presented in the article. Of course any fact would be coming from man as a translation of history and we all know man screws everything up. My own belief is that half of what is written in the bible is not correct. I say this again, what do I know and who am I to judge.
I'll leave you with this wisdom from the movie Dazed and Confuzed and the character played by Matthew McConaughey

Wooderson: Say, man, you got a joint?
Mitch: No, not on me, man.
Wooderson: It'd be a lot cooler if you diid.

remember kids, drugs are bad, but so is everthing if not done in moderation. Take it slow.

Derek the Ænglican said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I edited the Wiki entry to more closely follow the scholarship above, because it seems a bit silly to leave obviously wrong entries sitting around where people might believe them.

R

BIGADRED said...
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Anonymous said...

What should be pleasing to a true Christian is to get closer to his/her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Jessica.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I preach the word, and study the bible, daily. And the word is good.

Dan Sevigny said...

I am sick and tired of hearing people try to justify DRUG ABUSE by quoting and mangling the texts within the bible. These people should live right, or be okay with the fact that they are wrong.

Just my two cents.

Dan from EMC Ideas Medical