German: Knabenschänder usage in 1500s


New Member
Luther's Bible uses the German word knabenschander to translate arsenokoitai in 1 Cor. 9:6. By 1798 the word was not limited to 'boy molester' but included Sodomite and buggerer in addition to perderast.
Ebers, John (1798). The New and Complete Dictionary of the German and English Languages, Composed Chiefly after the German Dictionaries of Mr. Adulung & of Mr. Schwan. Vol. II. Brietkopf and Haertel.

This is the earliest definition I can find, but 1798 is a long way from 1522. Does anyone know of other usages of knabenschander closer to Luther's time that would help establish the semantic range? Luther's aim was to write in the German vernacular and he was glad that German did not have words for some of the homosexual behavior he witnessed in Rome. Also, male same-sex behavior in Germany in Luther's time was not limited to pederasty (Sodomy in Reformation Germany and Switzerland, 1400-1600 (The Chicago Series on Sexuality, History, and Society) [Puff, Helmut]). These facts makes me question whether or not the root word definition, boy molester defining knabenschander, is what Luther meant.
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  • berndf

    German (Germany)
    Moderator note

    Spelling corrected in thread title. The correct spelling is Knabenschänder and not knabenschander. The text of the question itself has been left unchanged.

    The historical spelling in the Luther Bible of 1534 (the first complete edition), First Corinthians 6:9 is knabenschender.

    Source Die erste Epistel Sanct Pauli/ An die Corinthern.
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    German (Germany)
    The oldest attestation (spelled knabnschender) mentioned in Grimm's is from Erasmus Albertus around the time Luther translated the Bible. Printed in Satiren und Pasquille aus der Reformationszeit, volume 1 by Oscar Schade, p.45.

    This is the second edition of 1863: und pasquille aus der reformationszeit, erster band&pg=RA4-PA45#v=onepage&q=knabenschender&f=false

    There is no hint with respect to an extended meaning beyond pederast.

    Grimm defines
    Knabenschänder as sodomita, παιδεραστής,
    Knabenschänderei as paederastia and
    knabenschänderisch as παιδεραστικός.

    It seems to me that at least Grimm doesn't see a big difference between sodomist and pederast. It might well be that the semantic difference wasn't payed attention to. All of these words describe unnatural sexual practices and that might well have been the only thing that counted.
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