Eschatology vs. History: Luke 17:34-35. Gay Jesus?

Ronald W. Goetz

New Member
I feel like I've discovered a treasure buried in a field, and I'm having trouble finding people who recognize its value. Actually, I like the jigsaw puzzle analogy better.

Other primates have been working on this jigsaw puzzle for a long time. Around 2008 someone handed me an odd piece they'd found in the box lid. In all the other rooms it was in piles of red balloon pieces. But I realized it probably wasn't a balloon piece. I looked through my little box lid, and over the years I put a couple dozen puzzle pieces together. They look good. The problem is, it's a 25,000 piece puzzle.

Different groups of primates are working on their puzzles in different rooms. Many of them have been working on their puzzles for generations. And in some rooms they don't even use the same pieces! And everyone seems to have put the edge pieces together differently. I heard that a long time ago some primates took scissors to pieces to make them fit. How weird is that? Most primates won't believe it if you tell them their puzzle pieces were trimmed, but from a distance you don't notice.

There are some pretty old box lids floating around. Some of them look good, but others are a mystery. They're all pretty, but they're all handmade.

Okay, enough metaphor.

This is Luke 17:34-35 (KJV), used eschatologically by most Christians, although Dispensationalists use it to support the rapture idea.

I tell you, in that night,
Two men will be in one bed,
one will be taken, and the other left.
Two women will be grinding together,
one will be taken, and the other left.

Let me cut to the chase. These verses seem to be the only record of a legal verdict rendered by Philip the Tetrarch, son of Herod the Great. The founder of Rabbinic Judaism, R. Yohanan b. Zakkai, had put on trial two mixed-ethnicity same-sex couples in Bethsaida, but their case had to be appealed to Rome-approved regional ruler Philip. Philip recognized Rabbi Yohanan's authority to enforce Torah on Jews, but disallowed the rabbi's attempt to extend his authority to gentile sexual offenders.

There is evidence for the entire scenario in the Q Source, the Talmud and Josephus. I researched on and off for over ten years to be as thorough as possible. I published a longish summary on my blog ( and I recently published the title The Galilee Episode.

Somehow this record (Luke 17:34-35) of a Jewish imperial puppet protecting gay and lesbian gentiles against the expansive encroachment of a Torah-motivated Pharisee was preserved in the papers of the target community (gay and lesbian gentiles), which records became part of the original documents used in the Q Source.

To my knowledge, this evidence hasn't been recognized before, although the material is not new.

The following is not something I wrote about much in my book. I believe that the figure of Philip the Tetrarch influenced the creation of the New Testament Christ material. The "parousia" of Philip to judge disputes between his Bedouin tribal subjects, his practice of "tabernacling" in his domain with his select friends instead of requiring every kindred and every tribe to travel to him for dispute resolution, and the characteristic peace of his dominion (compared to Galilee and Judea), and his solution of the Jew-gentile division contributed essential elements to the evolving Christ doctrine.

It is not coincidental that the dominion of Philip the Tetrarch extended east from the northern edge of the Sea of Galilee to the west, the area now considered southern Syria. Shortly after Philip's death, the tetrarch's territory was officially renamed, "The Roman Province of Arabia." You may be aware that after his "Damascus Road Experience" the Apostle Paul reportedly spent three years in . . . Arabia. Not what we think of as Saudi Arabia, but the region previously ruled by Philip the Tetrarch. It is not coincidental that both Philip the Tetrarch and the Apostle Paul dealt with the conflict between Jews and gentiles, in similar ways, with both addressing the issue of submission to authority.

I've believed for a long time that Paul spent three years working out his new theology, which was quite a departure from Pharisaic Torah-enforcement. Little did I know.
Ronald, I'm very sorry your first post got stuck in our spam filter. I just discovered it while catching up on sys admin chores.

Here's another post from Ronald's blog, summarizing the conclusions:

I think Jesus may actually have been gay. [...] homophobia sparked the formation of the Jesus movement itself. Gays and lesbians were at the very beginning of the Jesus movement.
I would suggest, alternatively: perhaps bisexuality was quite popular among Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Parthian elites alike?
I would suggest, alternatively: perhaps bisexuality was quite popular among Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Parthian elites alike?
Since some of them married their siblings and even their children, that wouldn't surprise me, either. However, could "two men in one bed" refer in code to Jesus and his twin Judas Thomas (conceived at the same time in the same bed), one was "taken" to Rome and then to Chester, the other one eventually "left" for India? "Two women will be grinding together", Mary and Martha in the household of their brother Lazarus, Mary was "taken" by Jesus, but Martha was "left" serving at that time?
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Ron, this in interesting indeed.

I'm no expert at Greek, but it appears to me that the Greek is saying that a duo (δύο) will be in bed and one taken, and that another duo will be grinding (on each other or grinding grain?) and one of them taken. Have you addressed this, considering that I see the newer translations make this sexless? Or, are they hiding this?

The wider context of this passage in Luke is interesting to my recently renewed interest in asteroid / meteor impacts.

On our From Cleopatra to Christ thread we have discussed Ralph Ellis's argument about the encouragement to become a eunuch, as in like a Galli priest. The idea was apparently to transcend to a state of androgeny.

The other hint at such matters is from the supposed and controversial Secret Gospel of Mark.
Those are interesting suggestions, Jerry. Critical scholars have dated the Q Source to roughly mid- to late-first century CE. The Couples Material is in that earliest layer of documents. The traditions regarding Mary, Matthew, Thomas and India are considerably later.

One key connection here is to Philip the Tetrarch, who ruled what soon became the 'Roman Province of Arabia.' Besides the Couples Material being in Q, so is the Bethsaida/Sodom material in Luke 10.

Bethsaida was in the jurisdiction of Philip the Tetrarch, who raised Bethsaida to the status of Imperial Polis in (drum roll please) 30 CE.

The status elevation of Bethsaida was a big deal. After 30 CE anyone born in Bethsaida would have automatically been a Roman citizen, like Saul being born on Tarsus.

So in the upheaval of power arrangements in Bethsaida, the Pharisees wanted to set a precedent that would give them a political edge.

Yohanan b. Zakkai, a Pharisee and the eventual founder of Rabbinic Judaism after CE 70, continued his work. He targeted mixed-ethnicity same-sex couples for arrest in the city of Bethsaida.

He already had Torah jurisdiction over Jews. If he had charged a gay Jewish couple with sexual transgression, those charges would have been upheld by government authorities.

But Yohanan b. Zakkai wanted a precedent, a precedent of Torah jurisdiction over gentiles in a Roman jurisdiction. (That would have been a big deal. It would have been like a successful capital conviction in Michigan under Sharia Law.)

So Yohanan b. Zakkai brought two mixed-ethnicity same-sex couples to trial in Bethsaida before Philip the Tetrarch.

Now Philip's territory was unlike the jurisdictions of his brothers in one key way. Galilee and Judea were majority Jewish. "Arabia" was majority Bedouin Arab. I suspect that the Torah's demand for one Law for both Jew and resident aliens held sway in the other tetrarchies.

So, Philip the Tetrarch rendered a narrow decision. He did not rule on the acceptability of same-sex activity. What he ruled was that Jews were free to regulate themselves by their own laws (customs and traditions), but could not impose their laws on non-Jews.

"And he said, In that night,
Two men shall be in one bed;
One shall be seized and the other shall be left.
Two women shall be grinding together;
One shall be seized and the other left."
(Luke 17:34-45)
Richard, before I began exploring the Q Source, Talmud and Josephus I hug into Luke 17:34-35 as deeply as I could.

Yes, modern translators and translations have strategically and preemptively have desexualized the Luke passage as much as linguistically possible.

In verse 34 "men' have been eliminated, capitalizing on an element of ambiguity present in the text. In order to reduce "ambiguity' the women's grinding has been supplied a direct object. In translations subsequent to the 1973 NIV, the words mill, grain, flour and (!) corn have been supplied.

In their attempt to desexualize Luke 17:44-35, translators of all stripes have introduced ambiguity into verse 34 and introduced it into verse 35.

I detail this translational tendentiousness in my book and my blog.

I found myself in the ironic situation of preferring the King James reading over generally less difficult modern translations. This is what happens when you shift your concern from pastoral to history and accurate exegesis.

It is not coincidental that this focus on revising Luke 17:34-35 began in earnest with the proudly evangelical NIV in 1973.

The watershed moment in LGBT recent history was the Stonewall Uprising in 1970. Just remember 1970 and 1973 for your timeline.

The names Bruce Metzger and Mark Strauss come, key.editors of the RSV and the NIV respectively. They spearheaded the movement to eliminate gays and lesbians from the Bible.
Seeker, I approached this topic as narrowly as possible. My focus was Luke 17:34-35. So I first established that the couples were gay and lesbian.

Running across of the law enforcement agent (Yohanan b. Zakkai) responsible for the arrests and prosecution was serendipitous, but it led me to academic Jacob Neusner, who laid out what to him the reliable information about the Rabbi as opposed to the legendary.

Then I explored Philip the Tetrarch and the city of Bethsaida.

I was cautious about going beyond what the evidence would support. For example, I used to think that Yohanan b. Zakkai had launched a actual campaign against gays and lesbians, but I realized that the evidence in Luke 17 only supported a legal decision. I am certain that the Rabbi crusaded vigorously, but the evidence I have didn't address that.

So I didn't explore the nature of Jesus' sexuality based on the evidence I was looking at. It was only when I thought about Jesus' audience, and the likely magnitude of R. Yohanan's jurisdictional challenge, that I realized two things.

First, the audience. People directly affected by the ruling would be most likely to write it down, then preserve it. How it became part of the Q Source, I don't know.

Second, the magnitude of the conflict. The conflict and tension between ethnic groups, and between the occupied and the occupiers, was enormous. Virtually every Palestine was talking about this challenge in Bethsaida.

Anyone like the historical Jesus would have been talking about it. Newspaper sales would have skyrocketed, tweets would have blown off the roof--had they existed. The historical Jesus certainly talked about it.

Many people know what you will hear if you are arrested. ''You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an..."

If you were gay or lesbian, or a Pharisee, in Bethsaida in CE 30, you knew what this meant:

"Two men will be in one bed;
One shall be seized and the other left.
Two women will be grinding together,
One shall be seized and the.other left."
Yohanan ben Zakkai? Are you saying that he was involved in this matter in 30 CE and was also the guy who prophesied almost 40 years later that general Vespasian would soon be emperor - after being rolled out of a carpet in front of same in escaping from the siege of Jerusalem?

Of course, we believe that such gospel matters, or at least the major aspects, occurred decades later and were transposed by quill back into the 30's, the silent decade as Lena Einhorn puts it.

If we are talking about the same person then, YbZ is one who first zealously prosecutes behaviors against the Jewish law, and then becomes an agent for Rome. He sounds much like Saul/Paul and Josephus Flavius, and there is some suspicion here that all three characters are one person.

In any case, the wider context of your Luke 17 passage is regarding of the apocalyptic (catastrophic) coming of the kingdom, and I see little reason to justify the identification of the two dύοs as one sex or the other, as much as I support your cause.

The events of Noah and Lot were caused by asteroid impacts upon Cosmic Casino Earth. For Lot "fire and brimstone from heaven", and for Noah a tsunami flood caused by an impact in the Indian Ocean recently discovered, of which the day and time could not be known in advance to them.

I suppose that you could argue that, as today, such cataclysms were to be blamed upon heterodox sexual behaviors and such, but then why would God take one partner and not the other? Aren't we just talking about the randomness of such events, like a wild fire burns some houses and skips over others?

The Coming of the Kingdom
20And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. 22And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. 23And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them. 24For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. 25But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation. 26And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. 27They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. 28Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; 29But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. 30Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. 31In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. 32Remember Lot's wife. 33Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. 34I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. 35Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 36Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 37And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.
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Gay Jesus?

"The Galilee Episode" explains the Christian cover-up of gays and lesbians in Luke 17. The presence of homosexuals in Jesus' earliest following was too embarrassing and awkward for the scribes to work with, so two schools used two different approaches in their cover-ups.

Team Matthew went full on eschatology. Team Luke, on the other hand, went eschatology lite, but that was after one scribe flirted with the historical truth.

One scribe (I named him Gimel) composed the Pericope Eiusdem Sexus, or the Same-Sex Pericope (Luke 17:28-29, 34-35). Gimel wanted to emphasize that this incident was over homosexuality.

But some later scribes on team Luke disagreed on this strategy. They felt that historical realism didn't help their cause, so they peppered Gimel's text with distractor material, some of it very useful to preachers.

So there was a cover-up. Exactly what was going through the minds of these scribal teams, I don't know. But the figure of Philip the Tetrarch is present several times in Luke 17 (and Matthew 24).

In these chapters, the developing Jesus character looks an awful lot like the Tetrarch Philip.

Jesus was probably gay. To repeat Philip's legal ruling which affected gays and lesbians, either Jesus was gay, or members of his audience were.

Or, and this is beyond my figuring out right now, a summary of Philip's tenure was simply one of the pages in the Q Notebook.
Richard, I am personally certain that Yohanan b. Zakkai was the Jewish prosecutor who argued this case before Philip.

The Talmud abbreviates the eighteen-year Galilean record of YbZ to a deceptive summary in Shabbat.

YbZ has several explanations for executions, of pairs of creatures (a woman and the cow she approaches for sex being among them).

There is one Talmudic episode where Yohanan b. Zakkai is portrayed defending a double execution of an ox and its owner to a deliberately mis-named prince, Antigonus the Hegemon.

This prince is actually Philip the Tetrarch.

The disguised case they are discussing is the Luke 17 case.
Richard, Jerry, Seeker--thanks for patiently enduring my long posts. In terms of face to face conversations, it took me over four decades to appreciate, and learn how to, chat. Even now it is an acquired skill for me.
You should see some of our long posts. I'm still learning as well.

Speaking generally I believe that the Christian (as was the Judaic) corpus was the complex amalgamation of prior religio-mythic and historical elements, and as such, there is little reason to not believe that such as this matter could be included in the final product.

Obviously, the elite Romans, while indulging in such as bisexuality as did their Spartan heroes, had motivations to discourage the same amongst the masses. For one thing they were always short on the supply of Romans. Which was why Augustus Caesar originated what today we know as Christian Family Values in the first place.
they were always short on the supply of Romans. Which was why Augustus Caesar originated what today we know as Christian Family Values in the first place.
Especially, as even Augustus himself had (officially at least), only one biological child, a daughter.