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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Nakedness

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NAKEDNESS (γυμνότης).—Oriental dress is generally a draping of the figure in one or more continuous gowns or cloaks. The clothing may be drawn to the body by the waist-band or sash, but the tendency is to avoid as far as possible any exact shaping and rigid fastening of the costume, as such close adaptation to the figure is considered both immodest and undecorative, and in a warm climate would cause friction and perspiration (Ezekiel 44:18). With Orientals, to a greater extent than in the West, out-door dress carries a meaning of investiture and embellishment, with a consciousness of self-appreciation and an expectation of comment. This is partly because in the daytime, in the retirement of the family, they undress more than is customary in the West. In the OT, the garments that were continually put on and off, as one went out and returned to the house, were called suits of apparel or exchange (Judges 17:10, Isaiah 3:22). The cotton or linen gown worn beneath these is the permanent under-garment, and any one wearing only this is conventionally said to be naked or unclothed. In this loose costume—a long robe reaching to the feet—members of the family, both male and female, attend to their active household duties, or enjoy the passive luxury of the unoccupied hour. It is, however, unbecoming to receive visitors in such undress, and hence the impropriety of entering without due announcement and permission received, or of looking down from the flat roof of the house into a neighbour’s enclosure. The linen cloth mentioned in Mark 14:51-52 was a substitute for the ordinary under-garment. The solitary fisherman when diving from the side of the Lake of Galilee after his cast-net usually divests himself of all clothing. The same is frequently done in summer weather when fishermen haul the drag-net into the boat (John 21:7), or a loincloth is worn, as in the case of the tanner and potter at their work.

Nakedness thus means: (1) the state of undress permitted in Oriental family life, and preferred as an adaptation to the climate; (2) insufficiency, amounting sometimes to complete want, of clothing, involving discomfort and suffering in the case of the poor and destitute (Matthew 25:36, Romans 8:35, 2 Corinthians 11:27); (3) the nudity connected with immodest behaviour (Exodus 20:26), or inflicted as a humiliation on prisoners of war (Isaiah 20:4); and (4) in a metaphorical sense, unnatural and shameless disloyalty to God (Ezekiel 23:29, Revelation 3:18).

G. M. Mackie.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Nakedness'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/n/nakedness.html. 1906-1918.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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