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Matthew Vines on "anti-gay" passages in the Bible


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Decided to poke through your "sources" for a laugh, australian. I think this is my favorite quote so far:

I cant find that line in my sources? Are you sure it was one of my sources? If so, which source? Thanks.

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OH NO you didn't...

Another sexual ethics statute can be found in 3 Gen. 18:19, where sexual intercourse with a woman during her menstrual period is prohibited. Both for this and for homosexual acts decreed the death penalty. Anyone who consistently wants to follow the sexual ethics provisions in the Old Testament should therefore insist on death penalty for both homosexual acts and sexual intercourse during menstruation. This occurs rarely, and then one should ask why. Do you put different values on different statements in the Bible?

There is no such passage as "3 Gen. 18:19", but yes the Old Testament does prohibit sex during menstruation. Jesus seemed to oppose the stoning that was prescribed in the Old Law (John 8:1-11). But does sex during menstruation remain a sin? Different Christians have reached different conclusions on this. Some claim that it does remain a sin, while others say that it was a ceremonial law about blood, and that the law no longer applies since Jesus blood was shed for all.

Anyway, please note my earlier point that whether homosexual sex is or is not a sin, does not rest on the Old Testament alone, since it is also portrayed as sin in the New Testament.

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There is no such passage as "3 Gen. 18:19", but yes the Old Testament does prohibit sex during menstruation. Jesus seemed to oppose the stoning that was prescribed in the Old Law (John 8:1-11). But does sex during menstruation remain a sin? Different Christians have reached different conclusions on this. Some claim that it does remain a sin, while others say that it was a ceremonial law about blood, and that the law no longer applies since Jesus blood was shed for all.

Anyway, please note my earlier point that whether homosexual sex is or is not a sin, does not rest on the Old Testament alone, since it is also portrayed as sin in the New Testament.

It's 3 Mos. 18:19 in my Swedish Bible. 'Google translate' translated the verse for me. (I don't read an English Bible.)

I also pointed out parts in the New Testament (it's possible the verses are wrongly named since I translated them directly), but you should know which verses I'm talking about.

What is the most important message in the Bible, to you? Is it the double commandment of love? Do you understand the double commandment of love? Then why do you instead focus on denying our neighbor to love? Isn't all love a reflection of God's love? If you disagree, then prove that you are right. So far, you haven't. Also, love does no harm to its neighbor/love does no wrong to others (Romans 13:10).

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Slavery: (2 Gen. 21:20-32, etc.). Higher biblical principles of charity, and the idea that all people are equal before God have superseded the literal reading of the Bible on this point. Why can you not see that the same should apply to homosexuality? Homosexual acts are condemned in a few places in the Bible - but in far fewer places than those who take slavery for granted as a God-given order. Here too, we should see to the higher principles that apply to us as Christians, don’t you think? Thus, if you refer to the Bible to condemn or prohibit homosexuality, logically you should be an advocate of slavery. If you are not, you should explain this discrepancy.

Well the New Testament does not command Christians to have slaves. Rather it presents slave-keeping as acceptable, but slave-trading to be sinful (1 Timothy 1:10) and the creating of slaves by force (Exodus 21:16) to also be sinful. The New Testament commands slave owners to treat slaves reasonably (Ephesians 6:9, Collosians 4:1). Such an approach to slavery is not the murderous and racist slavery often seen in recent centuries (http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-slavery.html). So yes a Bible literalist may be comfortable with keeping any slaves they already had, but acquiring any additional slaves seems to be sinful, as does treating them badly.

In the so-called "Holiness Code" (3 Gen. 18:22, 20:13) there are verses which forbid homosexuality. However, these verses are not about stable homosexual couples, such as we encounter today, but about a form of idolatry; namely temple prostitution. Homo- and for that matter, heterosexual acts were part of a fertility-rite in the Israelis' neighbors' idolatry/worshiping. Those acts were therefore forbidden, as were a whole host of other forms of idolatry, so that the Israelis would not be led into the wrong paths. In the same context we can also find that witchcraft and human sacrifices were prohibited.

3 Gen. 18:22, 20:13:

"And with a male thou shalt not lie down in a woman's bed; it is an abomination (18:22)."

"And a man who will lie down with a male in a woman’s bed, both of them have made an abomination; surely they will be put to death, their blood is on them (20:13)".

Well firstly, most Bibles do not word those verses to refer to a woman's bed, and neither are they generally referenced as “3 Gen.†Rather they tend to be considered to be from the book of Leviticus, and to be worded for example in the NIV; “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.â€

And what basis do we have to believe that those verses do not apply to “stable homosexual couplesâ€? The verses do not finish with an escape clause stating “.... unless you are a stable homosexual coupleâ€. Rather they seem to be a simple prohibition of male to male sex.

If you are saying that verse 22 is only applicable in the context of temple prostitution, are you saying the same is true of the other verses in the list? EG are you saying that verse 16 (“Do not have sexual relations with your brother’s wife") is not generally valid?

Since you mentioned 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:

In these verses there are two controversial Greek words: malakos and arsenokoites/arsenokoitai. … According to Dr. Ann Nyland, a Greek lexicographer, arsenokoites has been assumed to mean "homosexual" (2007, p. 11). However, the word does not mean "homosexual", and its range of meaning includes one who anally penetrates another (male or female), a rapist, a murderer, or an extortionist. When used in the meaning "anal penetrator", it does not apply exclusively to males as the receptors, as it was also used for female receptors.

Yes, the Greek word arsenokoites/arsenokoitai has historically been used by different people to mean different things at times. But Nyland seems to contradict herself here? She says it does not mean homosexual, but it can mean one man anally penetrating another man? Yes, she's right, male to male anal sex is one of the meanings. And based on what it says here: http://www.blogos.org/compellingtruth/h ... -bible.php

it seems to be a likely meaning of the 1 Corinthians 6 passage.

We can conclude that homosexuality was not a central question either for Jesus or for the first Christians, since homosexuality was not even mentioned in the teachings of Jesus. How should we interpret Jesus' silence on the issue? Well, I think that Jesus' public teaching that we should behave lovingly toward each other (Luke 10:27) should be applied also in the meeting with homosexuality (whether this meeting is "internal" or "external").

Well the topic of homosexual sex seems to have been important to St Paul, given that he clearly referred to it in Romans chapter 1, and probably elsewhere in his epistles. And the gendered aspect of Christian relationships also seems to have had some level of importance to Jesus, given that he referred to Adam and Eve's relationship while pointing to their genders as the relationship model for Christians (Matthew 19). But yes I think youre right, about it not being Jesus' top priority.

Youre right that the priority is love – Christians should love everyone, including homosexuals, and none of us are perfect.

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The New Testament commands slave owners to treat slaves reasonably (Ephesians 6:9, Collosians 4:1). Such an approach to slavery is not the murderous and racist slavery often seen in recent centuries (http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-slavery.html). So yes a Bible literalist may be comfortable with keeping any slaves they already had, but acquiring any additional slaves seems to be sinful, as does treating them badly.

How does keeping someone as a slave NOT mean treating them badly, by definition? Do YOU see slave-keeping as an acceptable practice today?

Well the topic of homosexual sex seems to have been important to St Paul, given that he clearly referred to it in Romans chapter 1, and probably elsewhere in his epistles.

Why does that matter in a modern society? I don't like Paul's misogyny, at the very least, and I feel that most of what he says is irrelevant. To what extent do Paul's opinions matter to you, and why do you find them credible?

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As someone who seems to have read a good bit about this issue, can you tell me why we should care what the bible says or what is/not a sin? Are you just having an intellectual wank about the beliefs of conservative christians or do you actually believe biblical laws should have relevance in a modern secular society?

Well it depends on whether the secular society is comprised of real Christians. As far as Im aware, Jesus never told Christians to impose Christian principles on non-Christians. Rather he described his followers should believe and do. EG dont steal, dont divorce, help the poor etc etc. So Christians should follow those policies or own up to not really being Christians. Im not on this forum to tell non-Christians how to live. But I do feel uneasy about people who call themselves Christians, advocating unchristian things.

It's not like homosexual lust is the only sin...all lust is a sin.

So true.

Many forms of sex between consenting adults are considered forbidden, while non-consensual sex is often given a pass.

I reckon all non-consensual sex is sin.

I'm also wondering about the justification for tossing out some of the OT laws based on the words of Jesus. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus claims that he has not come to change the old laws, not even one letter or stroke of a pen. When the bible contradicts itself, how do you decide which account to believe?

Often the Bible can appear to contradict itself, but if you Google the apparent contradiction, you often find it depends on how you look at the verses in question. But the Bible does cover changes to Biblical laws, eg in the Old Testament stoning was official policy, but then in John chapter 8 Jesus seems to say not to follow that policy. Generally Christians are supposed to be about following Christ, so if there are contradictions, Christians tend to follow the his policies in the New Testament rather than the more Jewish policies of the Old Testament. Yea, it's complicated.

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I can tell you the word "arsenokoitos" that Paul uses ONCE was not the traditional way to refer to male homosexuality as we understand it today in Koine Greek. Frankly, most Koine Greek scholars admit the word is ambiguous, refers only to men, and use the surrounding text for interpretation. Effie writes about this much more eloquently earlier in this thread.

I will leave this discussion with a parting shot to australian-First you'd better be able to back up your Greek if your going to use it in an arguement...

I think you will find that Paul used it at least twice; in 1 Cor 6 and in 1 Tim 1.

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Guest Anonymous
But I do feel uneasy about people who call themselves Christians, advocating unchristian things.

Why do you get to be the arbiter of what is unchristian? Where do you get off declaring that your interpretation is always the right one?

I reckon all non-consensual sex is sin.

I reckon the Bible doesn't agree with you - unless you think a captive woman who has had her family murdered will be overjoyed to have sex with their killer a month later.

Often the Bible can appear to contradict itself, but if you Google the apparent contradiction, you often find it depends on how you look at the verses in question. But the Bible does cover changes to Biblical laws, eg in the Old Testament stoning was official policy, but then in John chapter 8 Jesus seems to say not to follow that policy. Generally Christians are supposed to be about following Christ, so if there are contradictions, Christians tend to follow the his policies in the New Testament rather than the more Jewish policies of the Old Testament. Yea, it's complicated.

Care to explain the numbers contradictions presented herein? It's hard to see how looking at the verses in question can explain why one number is given in one place, and another one somewhere else.

RB3g6mXLEKk

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So, in ancient Greece, the most signifigant type of relationship two males had was called pederastia. Yes, it means exactly what you think it does, in this case the relationship between an adult man and a boy who had just hit puberty (teenager). This was done in the upper classes of society and the men acted as both mentors and lovers. .... Ancient Greeks did not have a concept of sexual orientation, only sexual behavior. Two adult men could also form a relationship, and this was refered to as homofilofilia, "love of the same friend". These two terms do not apply to womens' relationship at all in Ancient Greece.

The big difference with our understanding of homosexuality vs homofilfilia is that Greeks actually thought the second was strictly carnal, was counterproductive to reaching the higher understandings of love (agape), and put a lot of emphasis on the dominant/submissive. … It was into this culture that Paul was trying to introduce the concepts of sexual purity and faithfulness/sexual relations only within the context of marriage. ...

Rachel, Leviticus can definitely be said to forbid two men having sex, and Paul may have been alluding to it, but as other people have pointed out, these positions were not developed in a vacuum. If you are living in the ancient world, anal sex was used to humiliate soldiers and fighters who lost battles. … Today we understand homosexuality as an orientation. People express their love and bond this way. There is no reason to still apply these verses as if homosexuality was equal to battlefied humiliation in modern society. ...

So, quote #1: In Greece men could be in a relationship where they are carnal lovers, and it was this culture into which Paul was speaking.

In quote #2, Paul was not speaking about male lovers because the Greek culture perceived such things to be about humiliation.

These sorts of contradictions and inconsistencies are typical in pro-gay theology.

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Guest Anonymous

I cant find that line in my sources? Are you sure it was one of my sources? If so, which source? Thanks.

You linked to this page: bible.org/article/homosexual-theology

The quote in question is under the heading "God made me Gay," Part 1

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I think you will find that Paul used it at least twice; in 1 Cor 6 and in 1 Tim 1.

You are right, Paul uses the word twice. However, he also never defines the word. I find it interesting that the early writings of the Jews, The Sibylline Oracles, uses the word in context with stealing, lying, and murder... not homosexuality. Most of the uses of Arsenokoites are in references to Paul's writing without providing a definition or extra context. Please do your own research instead of letting your brain be controlled by a false translation.

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One thing I have always wondered-it talks about men having sex with other men....but is woman on woman okay in Christianity?

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What is the most important message in the Bible, to you? Is it the double commandment of love? Do you understand the double commandment of love? Then why do you instead focus on denying our neighbor to love? Isn't all love a reflection of God's love? If you disagree, then prove that you are right. So far, you haven't. Also, love does no harm to its neighbor/love does no wrong to others (Romans 13:10).

Mark 12:28-30 "One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?â€

“The most important one,†answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these.â€

Jesus seems to say the most important is to love God. Then in John 5:3 it says "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments". And his commandments include prohibitions against gay sex.

Yes, as per Mark 12:28-30 (quoted above), it's also important to love your neighbour. I do not deny our neighbour love. Love is good, irrespective of gender! It is sex that we disagree about, not love.

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How does keeping someone as a slave NOT mean treating them badly, by definition? Do YOU see slave-keeping as an acceptable practice today?

Well to some degree you have a good point. And no I dont feel comfortable with slave-keeping. But still, treating people badly can vary by degree. This is now going beyond my knowledge, but Ive heard that some people voluntarily became bond slaves. They may have done this if they were bankrupt. In return apparently they received food, shelter and a job, but they lost their freedom. If such slavery was entered into voluntarily, perhaps the slave owner was actually helping them out? At the other end of the bad-treatment scale, you have physical punishment, depravation of good food & sleep etc.

Why does that matter in a modern society? I don't like Paul's misogyny, at the very least, and I feel that most of what he says is irrelevant. To what extent do Paul's opinions matter to you, and why do you find them credible?

Well Im pointing out what the Bible teaches. Whether the Bible is relevant in a modern society, is determined by whether the members of that society are Christians. If you dont want to follow the Bible, then we are each addressing this from entirely different angles.

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Guest Anonymous
I do not deny our neighbour love. Love is good, irrespective of gender! It is sex that we disagree about, not love.

So if two gay men love one another, live together, hug, kiss, raise children, cook dinner together every night, and grow old together, but never have sex, you are totally cool with that? Where's the sex line that they can't cross? Are hand jobs sex? What about oral? Is it only anal sex that's a problem?

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Why do you get to be the arbiter of what is unchristian? Where do you get off declaring that your interpretation is always the right one?

Good point. But there are others who disagree with me on this forum, who equally declare that their interpretation is the right one.

I reckon the Bible doesn't agree with you - unless you think a captive woman who has had her family murdered will be overjoyed to have sex with their killer a month later.

I dont think the Bible teaches that a captive woman who has had her family murdered will be overjoyed to have sex with their killer a month later?

Care to explain the numbers contradictions presented herein? It's hard to see how looking at the verses in question can explain why one number is given in one place, and another one somewhere else.

Im not confident that this forum will allow me to provide a reply that long? But yes, I agree that there are some contradictions in the Bible, although not as many as some people claim.

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Australian, I see you are back, and I feel some responsibility to chime in, as the OP of the thread, and, as someone who was moved by Vines' passion.

But I have very little urge to get into the "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" level with discussions of biblical text -- it really is pretty meaningless to me. So I am grateful to those who have stepped in to discuss this.

However, despite not being a Christian scholar, I can speak to this:

Well firstly, most Bibles do not word those verses to refer to a woman's bed, and neither are they generally referenced as “3 Gen.†Rather they tend to be considered to be from the book of Leviticus, and to be worded for example in the NIV; “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.â€

You're right -- the word "bed" is not in there.

But be fair -- neither is anything about sex. A word-for-word translation of the Hebrew for Lev. 18:20 would be:

"And this remember, do not recline, reclines with a woman, obscene it is."

Here are all the translations of the root for תִשְ×כַּב I could find: lie, lie down, recline, repose.

×œÖ¹× ×ªÖ´×©Ö°×כַּב seems to always be translated as "don't recline with a man," not just "don't recline," in discussions of the verse. But, if I was in the park with a Hebrew-speaking man who was about to lie down on a freshly-painted bench, I think

×œÖ¹× ×ªÖ´×©Ö°×כַּב would warn him not to do it, even though there was no other man around!

Of course, without the implication of lying with another man, and doing something intimate, I grant you that the verse doesn't make much sense, or fit with the long list of "don't do the following things that involve being naked" that the rest of the chapter seems to be about:

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0318.htm

Lev. 20:13 seems clearer. The word-for-word, ignoring grammar, translation is something like:

and a man who lies with - male (or as remembered) lies with a woman - obscenity made​​, both put to death, their blood is in them.

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0320.htm

Better Hebrew scholars than I am, please feel free to speak up.

Again, it is all meaningless to me -- I don't need to interpret any words from the Bible in a way that fits what my heart tells me is decent, kind and loving.

But it was something I felt I could contribute to the conversation.

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So if two gay men love one another, live together, hug, kiss, raise children, cook dinner together every night, and grow old together, but never have sex, you are totally cool with that? Where's the sex line that they can't cross? Are hand jobs sex? What about oral? Is it only anal sex that's a problem?

Yea living together doesnt seem to violate any Biblical principles I can think of. As far as I can tell from what the Bible says, it only gets sinful if there are erotic elements, including hand jobs, oral sex and erotic kissing is probably off limits too.

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Guest Anonymous
Good point. But there are others who disagree with me on this forum, who equally declare that their interpretation is the right one.

When I see them at it, I will have a go at them too. Stating "I interpret it this way" is no problem for me. Saying "if you don't interpret it the way I do you are unchristian because I say so" is a big problem.

I dont think the Bible teaches that a captive woman who has had her family murdered will be overjoyed to have sex with their killer a month later?

No, it doesn't say the woman will be happy about it, but it says a man is allowed to do it.

Deuteronomy 21:10-14

10 “When you go out to battle against your enemies, and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands and you take them away captive, 11 and see among the captives a beautiful woman, and have a desire for her and would take her as a wife for yourself, 12 then you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave her head and [a]trim her nails. 13 She shall also remove the clothes of her captivity and shall remain in your house, and mourn her father and mother a full month; and after that you may go in to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. 14 It shall be, if you are not pleased with her, then you shall let her go [c]wherever she wishes; but you shall certainly not sell her for money, you shall not [d]mistreat her, because you have humbled her.

Im not confident that this forum will allow me to provide a reply that long? But yes, I agree that there are some contradictions in the Bible, although not as many as some people claim.

I'm not sure how you can reconcile admitting that the Bible has contradictions and then trying to follow it literally. Again, your personal life is your business. You said that you don't aim to enforce Christianity on those who are not Christian, I'm with you there. But you also seem to want to boot the people that you disagree with out of Christianity which uh, never ever ends well.

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So consensual sex between two men that love each other = bad.

Enslaving someone = good

If you really love someone as you love yourself, you would help them out without having them become your slave. You would say, "Oh, you're bankrupt, here, you can work for me, I'll pay you/provide food/housing and you are free to leave/quit whenever you want." You don't force someone to choose between their family starving to death or slavery.

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I think you will find that Paul used it at least twice; in 1 Cor 6 and in 1 Tim 1.

We are still left with the issue that the word was NOT used to described various forms of male-on-male sex in the ancient Greek world. The words they used are known because so much written documentation survives that pre dates Paul. We don't know where this word originally came from, what practices it covers, and why Paul uses it. Male-on-male sex in the ancient Greek world is mostly pederasty. The Greeks believed that being a submissive in a sexual relationship was degrading. So I'm asking, what does male-on-male sex in that world have to do with two people of the same sex in a commited relationship today?

Jesus said nothing about homosexual marriage, or homosexuality period. Paul thought marriage was the lesser option to remaining celibate, and we are going to use him as the definitive source on MARRIAGE?

I'm a Christian, and I firmly believe the Bible has no place in civil law. None. You don't get to define what is and isn't unchristian for me, and you certainly do not get to impose your interpretation through legislation.

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Guest Anonymous

Yea living together doesnt seem to violate any Biblical principles I can think of. As far as I can tell from what the Bible says, it only gets sinful if there are erotic elements, including hand jobs, oral sex and erotic kissing is probably off limits too.

Oh please. The Bible doesn't say anything about "erotic kissing." You are free lancing. You're totally entitled to your opinion, but don't act like this stuff is spelled out because it isn't.

I don't personally have the energy to be so concerned with other people's sexy times. A sexually active gay couple who volunteer and care for the poor and love each other are upholding the message of Jesus a thousand times more than a rich heterosexual couple who go to church every Sunday and only donate to the building fund in my opinion. Which is my interpretation, and I'm not pulling a No True Scotsman on you if you disagree with me, which you obviously do.

Anyway, I don't think you have the obligation to visit forums cleaning up internet heresy like some people here saying gay people can be Christians. But if you simply must, as a new hobby, I suggest you take up telling people who overeat (gluttons!) that they can't be Christians either.

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Well it depends on whether the secular society is comprised of real Christians. As far as Im aware, Jesus never told Christians to impose Christian principles on non-Christians. Rather he described his followers should believe and do. EG dont steal, dont divorce, help the poor etc etc. So Christians should follow those policies or own up to not really being Christians. Im not on this forum to tell non-Christians how to live. But I do feel uneasy about people who call themselves Christians, advocating unchristian things.

Thank you for answering the questions put to you. Good luck with all that? :?

You are right that we are approaching this from different places. I don't care what some fictionalized characters in an old book written by bronze-age philosophers with a clear political agenda have to say about sex and relationships. I hope that kind of thinking continues to go extinct.

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