Is this behavior a dismissal of the proscription of Leviticus 18:22?

[Jhn 13:23-25 NKJV] (23) Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. (24) Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke. (25) Then, leaning back on Jesus' breast, he said to Him, "Lord, who is it?"

Or does it imply that the only aspect of bromance that is forbidden by Torah the act of penetration?

[Lev 18:22 NKJV] (22) 'You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.

And does the Leviticus passage apply to women somehow? If not, on what basis did Paul vilify woman-woman sexual relations?


https://youtu.be/bPhgFvZPK-o https://www.quora.com/Why-does-Johns-Gospel-consistently-reference-the-disciple-whom-Jesus-loved/answer/Bill-Ross-22


2 Answers 2


The question in a sense has no answer because it contains an incorrect premise - that Jesus and John were 'cuddling'.

As Benson says,

"This phrase only expresses the then customary posture at meals, where the guests all leaned sideways on couches, and each was said to lie in the bosom of him who was placed next above him"


John was sitting to Jesus' right, so was the only apostle who would be leaning in such a way re Jesus.

Similarly, Ellicott says

"Each leaned on his left arm, leaving the right arm free. The feet were stretched out behind the guest on his right hand, and the back of the head reached near to the bosom of the guest on the left."

Similarly, Poole says

"hence he who sat before any, sat with his back towards him, but leaning towards the bosom of the other, which is here called a leaning on (that is, towards) his bosom, and laying on his breast; for it cannot be understood of such a sitting, or leaning, as to touch the other’s breast or bosom, for that would have hindered him upon whom the person so leaned from any use of his right hand to take his meat or drink"

So the English term 'cuddle' is inaccurate, and therefore the question is poorly formed. As to the underlying question of whether this text indicates a dismissal of Leviticus 18:22, however, the answer appears to be 'no'.

  • I've heard that explanation before but have never been able to find a primary source for it. I do have this recreation of a triclinium and it doesn't seem designed for that setup: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_and_dining_in_the_Roman_Empire#/… It seems one would have to go out of one's way to have intersection of a head and breast. And did the Jews eat like the Romans?
    – Ruminator
    Jul 3, 2020 at 17:39
  • According to the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, "The Jews had adopted the Persian, Greek, and Roman custom of reclining at meals, and had long since exchanged the original practice of standing at the Passover first for sitting and then for reclining." biblehub.com/commentaries/cambridge/john/13.htm Jul 3, 2020 at 17:49
  • One thing to keep in mind when speaking of the Passover is that since the destruction of the temple Circa 70 AD it has not been possible to keep Passover. The seder is in lieu of the Passover (as is the Eucharist). But if they were reclining at a triclinium, you see that the design and all leaning on their left elbow does not allow for head to chest. That requires a non-standard arrangement.
    – Ruminator
    Jul 3, 2020 at 17:55
  • Might be. Note both Benson and Poole say the 'leaning on' actually means 'towards'. Jul 3, 2020 at 18:10
  • Well if you find a primary source, I'm all ears.
    – Ruminator
    Jul 3, 2020 at 18:14

It is not the letter of the law that matters.

Matthew 5:28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman [or man] lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

2 Samuel 1:26 I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.

We should avoid reading something dirty in this because according to Jesus, it is sin. Keep your mind clean, brother. Sin is crouching at your door.

  • What do you understand "the disciple that Jesus loved" to mean if not that he was his "boyfriend"?
    – Ruminator
    Jul 2, 2020 at 19:03
  • 1
    @Ruminator - As everyone should be aware, Greek had six words for "love" including agape (principled love); philos (platonic friendship); storge (parent-child); eros (sexual attraction); etc. There was no element of sexuality in John's relationship with Jesus.
    – Dottard
    Jul 2, 2020 at 20:01
  • 1
    @Ruminator - no - they were not "cuddling" at all. We have had this discussion on another occasion. I do not see anything remotely sexual in this at all.
    – Dottard
    Jul 2, 2020 at 20:14
  • 1
    @Ruminator, As previously discussed, the 13 men were reclining at a low table, while propping themselves on their left elbow and feeding with the right hand. John happened to be in front of Jesus so if he rolled back slightly, he would be leaning on Jesus' breast. On this basis, there would have been lots of potential "leaning on breasts" if you want to press the point. But I do not.
    – Dottard
    Jul 2, 2020 at 20:39
  • 1
    @Ruminator - an honest reading of the text sees that the verb agapao has no intimate overtones whatever; and that there was no reference to a "spot" that John occupied. I am not being disingenuous; you are being suggestive.
    – Dottard
    Jul 2, 2020 at 21:53

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.