Dr. David Hutchison, Associate Professor of New Testament at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Houston campus recently gave a presentation related to a paper that he had presented at the 2015 Evangelical Theological Society meeting entitled, “Translating Porneia: Implications for Divorce, Pornography, and Homosexuality.”
The presentation surveyed the uses of porneia in the New Testament, Septuagint, Apocrypha, Deas Sea Scrolls, and Pseudepigrapha. These references suggest that porneia and its cognates should be understood as referring to all unlawful sexual intercourse or immoral sex but not more broadly to all forms of sexual immorality (e.g., lust). Or in other words, porneia is a smaller subset of sexual immorality.
A number of English translations were also examined. Hutchison noted that, “English translations from Tyndale to the 1901 ASV regularly translated porneia “fornication. In the 20th century, translations began to render the term more diversely, frequently using the broader concept of “sexual immorality.”
It was a helpful presentation and I hope that it will be published in some format in the near future.