EDITOR’S NOTE: This text first appeared on-line at www.ftc.co. J. Alan Department serves as professor of Christian Ethics at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
KANSAS CITY – “The Bible contains hashish as a part of the worship of Yahweh!” Marijuana advocates usually repeat this declare in an effort to achieve leverage for the ethical permissibility of smoking pot. The declare is so unusual and peculiar, pastors, church leaders, and fogeys will be caught off guard and discover themselves ill-prepared to reply this little bit of hashish city legend. Does the Bible point out hashish as a part of worshipping the LORD? The quick reply is, “Completely not.” However understanding the origins of this declare and the confused arguments behind it could assist us to level our youngsters and younger adults in the direction of holiness.
The declare that hashish is talked about within the Bible originates within the work of Polish anthropologist Sula Benet (1903-1982) who earned a doctorate from the College of Warsaw, the place her thesis was titled, “Cannabis in Folks Customs and Beliefs.” She additionally earned a PhD at Columbia College in 1943 and went on to show at Hunter School in New York Metropolis. Lecturing in Warsaw in 1936, she first proposed the concept hashish is talked about within the Bible, an assertion she continued to repeat all through her tutorial profession. Fashionable hashish advocates who announce “Marijuana is within the Bible!” nearly at all times have Benet’s analysis in thoughts.
Why would Benet make such a declare? She arrives at this misguided conclusion by way of a really sloppy phrase research. In Exodus 30:23-24, God instructs Moses to make incense for worship and offers the components, saying, “Take the best spices: of liquid myrrh 500 shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as a lot, that’s, 250, and 250 of fragrant cane, and 500 of cassia, based on the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil.” The Hebrew phrase translated “fragrant cane” by the ESV in Exodus 30:23 is qaneh-bosem. Enjoying quick and unfastened with the background of different phrases in Sanskrit, Assyrian, Persian, and Arabic, Benet primarily claims the Hebrew time period qaneh-bosem sounds rather a lot just like the phrase hashish, and thus, “Voila! Hashish is within the Bible!”
Benet’s weird assertion will not be substantiated by the definitive Hebrew lexicon, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Previous Testomony, which says the time period qaneh-bosem is referring to a kind of balsam oil. Balsam merely refers to fragrant resins derived from sure vegetation, and never hashish.
Benet’s is the sloppiest type of analysis, connecting the Hebrew time period qaneh-bosem to hashish as a result of they remotely sound alike. She openly asserts, “In lots of historical languages, together with Hebrew, the foundation kan has a double which means—each hemp and reed.” This isn’t primarily based on any proof within the Hebrew itself, however from references to the same sounding phrase hashish used centuries later in Greek together with a lot later references from the Jerusalem Talmud. That is what D. A. Carson calls the fallacy of semantic anachronism: Benet is studying a later use of an analogous sounding phrase or phrases again into the which means as present in Exodus. Extra bluntly, Benet is profoundly unsuitable: Simply because phrases in two completely different languages occur to sound alike doesn’t essentially require them to have the identical which means. No lexicon helps Benet’s interpretation; fashionable commentaries don’t take her significantly.
Dangerous concepts used to help fashionable causes not often go away quietly. Benet’s careless phrase research was taken even additional by Canadian hashish advocate Chris Bennett who insists the identical cannabis-based components Benet says had been within the incense of the temple had been utilized by Jesus’ apostles. When Mark 6:13 says Jesus’ twelve apostles “had been anointing with oil many sick individuals and therapeutic them,” Bennett insists the apostles used a cannabis-based oil to heal individuals. Bennett then claims the early church adopted this mannequin and used cannabis-based merchandise to anoint the sick (James 5:14).
Bennett’s claims are full and utter nonsense and exhibit a basic lack of know-how of something intently associated to the historic background of the New Testomony. His argument is ever so weakly primarily based on Benet’s tutorial insanity. The Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testomony and Different Early Christian Literature, the definitive lexicon of New Testomony Greek, merely defines the phrase for oil in Mark 6:13 as “olive oil.” The oil utilized in Mark 6:13 and James 5:14 was definitely olive oil, and serves as a logo of the presence, grace, and energy of God. No lexicon mentions hashish as an interpretative possibility for the Greek phrase for oil. Bennett’s assertions have completely no traction with Greek students.
Refuting the absurd claims that hashish is the Bible offers us a possibility to show our church buildings methods to weigh the validity of sources utilized in ethical argumentation. Benet was an anthropologist, not a linguist. Although pro-marijuana web sites repeat her declare, the lexicons don’t. Chris Bennett will not be a Greek scholar, however somebody who needs marijuana legalized. Simply because an assertion in regards to the Bible is printed in a journal or will get repeated on a web site doesn’t imply the declare is legitimate. A sound precept of Biblical interpretation is that this: the textual content can not imply now what it didn’t imply then. Neither Exodus 30:23 nor Mark 6:13 referred to hashish then and the textual content doesn’t have hashish in thoughts now.