Has “Homosexual” Always Been In The Bible?

Has “Homosexual” Always Been In The Bible?

[Originally published on forgeonline.com]

THE WORD ARSENOKOITAI SHOWS UP IN TWO DIFFERENT VERSES IN THE BIBLE, BUT IT WAS NOT TRANSLATED TO MEAN HOMOSEXUAL UNTIL 1946.

WE GOT TO SIT DOWN WITH ED OXFORD AT HIS HOME IN LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA AND TALK ABOUT THIS QUESTION.

 

Q: YOU HAVE BEEN PART OF A RESEARCH TEAM THAT IS SEEKING TO UNDERSTAND HOW THE DECISION WAS MADE TO PUT THE WORD ‘HOMOSEXUAL’ IN THE BIBLE. IS THAT TRUE?

Ed: Yes. It first showed up in the RSV translation. So before figuring out why they decided to use that word in the RSV translation (which is outlined in my upcoming book with Kathy Baldock, Forging a Sacred Weapon: How the Bible Became Anti-Gay), I wanted to see how other cultures and translations treated the same verses when they were translated during the Reformation 500 years ago. So, I started collecting old Bibles in French, German, Irish, Gaelic, Czechoslovakian, Polish… you name it. Now I’ve got most European major languages that I’ve collected over time. Anyway, I had a German friend come back to town and I asked if he could help me with some passages in one of my German Bibles from the 1800s. So, we went to Leviticus 18:22 and he’s translating it for me word for word. In the English where it says “Man shall not lie with man, for it is an abomination,” the German version says “Man shall not lie with young boys as he does with women, for it is an abomination.” I said, “What?! Are you sure?” He said, “Yes!” Then we went to Leviticus 20:13 — same thing, “Young boys.” So we went to 1 Corinthians to see how they translated arsenokoitai (original Greek word) and instead of homosexuals, it said, “Boy molesters will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

I then grabbed my facsimile copy of Martin Luther’s original German translation from 1534. My friend is reading through it for me and he says, “Ed, this says the same thing!” They use the word knabenschander. Knaben is boy, schander is molester.  This word “boy molesters” carried through the next several centuries of German Bible translations. Knabenschander is also in 1 Timothy 1:10.

So, the interesting thing is, I asked if they ever changed the word arsenokoitai to homosexual in modern translations. So, my friend found it and told me, “The first time homosexual appears in a German translation is 1983.” To me, that was a little suspect because of what was happening in culture in the 1970s. Also, because the Germans were the ones who created the word homosexual in 1862, they had all the history, research, and understanding to change it if they saw fit; however, they did not change it until 1983. If anyone was going to put the word in the Bible, the Germans should have been the first to do it!

As I was talking with my friends, I said, “I wonder why not until 1983? Was their influence from America?” So, we had our German connection look into it again and it turns out that the company, Biblica, who owns the NIV version, paid for this 1983 German version. Thus, it was Americans who paid for it! In 1983, Germany didn’t have enough of a Christian population to warrant the cost of a new Bible translation, because it’s not cheap. So, an American company paid for it and influenced the decision, resulting in the word homosexual entering the German Bible for the first time in history. So, I say, I think there is a “gay agenda” after all!

I also have a 1674 Swedish version and an 1830 Norwegian version of the Bible. I asked one of my friends, who was attending Fuller seminary and is fluent in both Swedish and Norwegian, to look at these verses for me. So, we met at a coffee shop in Pasadena with my old Bibles. (She didn’t really know why I was asking.) Just like reading an old English Bible, it’s not easy to read. The letters are a little bit funky, the spelling is a little bit different. So, she’s going through it carefully, and then her face comes up, “Do you know what this says?!” and I said, “No! That’s why you are here!” She said, “It says boy abusers, boy molesters.” And, in fact, in the Norwegian version, she pointed out, that if you were to line up boys of different ages and say which group of these boys is this referring to, it would be the 8-12-year-old group. That was how the linguistics were working and it was obviously referring to pederasty, not homosexuality!

So, then I started thinking that of 4 of the 6 clobber passages, all these nations and translations were referring to pederasty, and not what we would call homosexuality today.

 

Q: HOW DID THE TRANSLATION TEAMS WORK?

Ed: Well, they didn’t operate out of a vacuum when they translated something. They used data available to them from very old libraries. Last week at the Huntington Library, I found a Lexicon from 1483. I looked up arsenokoitai and it gave the Latin equivalent, paedico and praedico. If you look those up, it means pederasty, or knabenschander, (boy molester, in German.) 1483 is the time Martin Luther was born, so when he was running for his life, translating the Bible and carrying his books, he would have used such a Lexicon. It was the Lexicon of his time. This Lexicon used information from the previous 1000 years, including data passed down from the Church Fathers.

 

Q: SO THERE IS HISTORICAL TRADITION TO SHOW THAT THESE VERSES AREN’T RELATING TO HOMOSEXUALITY?

Ed: Yes.  Sometimes I’m frustrated when I talk to pastors today and they say, “Well I believe the historical tradition surrounding these verses.” My response is, “Which Bible do you use? Oh, you mean the past 50 years of tradition. My Bible is 500 years old.” The ignorance on their part and the arrogance on their part, “2000 years of history!” It just doesn’t line up. The truth needs to come out. Please don’t talk to me about history when you don’t even know history. That’s why I’m collecting these Bibles, to show the truth of history.

 

YES! MY BROTHER, WHO IS A PASTOR, ALSO TOLD ME THE SAME THING: THAT EVERY SECTOR OF THE CHURCH HAS SEEN SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIPS AS SINFUL FOR 2,000 YEARS. BUT THE MORE I READ AND STUDY THOUGH, THE MORE I JUST DON’T SEE THIS BEING TRUE.

 

Q: WHAT WAS USED BEFORE HOMOSEXUAL SHOWED UP IN THE RSV VERSION?

Ed: King James Version triumphed the land and they used the phrase, “Abusers of themselves with mankind” for arsenokoitai. If you asked people during that time, no one really wanted to tackle it. So that’s why I’m collecting Bibles, Biblical commentaries and lexicons, in order to show how theologians proceed these passages.

 

Q: IN YOUR OPINION, HOW WOULD THE CHURCH BE DIFFERENT IF THE RSV DIDN’T CHANGE ARESENKOITAI AND MALAKOI TO HOMOESEXUAL IN 1946?

Ed: In my opinion, if the RSV did not use the word homosexual in first Corinthians 6:9, and instead would have spent years in proper research to understand homosexuality and to really dig into the historical contextualization, I think translators would have ended up with a more accurate translation of  the abusive nature intended by this word. I think we could have avoided the horrible damage that was done from pulpits all across America, and ultimately other parts of the world.

 

Q: AND DO YOU THINK YOUR LIFE WOULD HAVE GONE DIFFERENTLY AS A RESULT?

Ed: Yes, absolutely! I think my life would have been starkly different if the translation would have been translated with the accurate historical contextualization – especially within my own family, since they rely so heavily on the English translation and put a lot of faith in the translators for the final product in English. Since they haven’t studied Greek or Hebrew, they have no concept of challenging a translation, and any potential errors that may have occurred during translation. Therefore, they are unable to think beyond the English translation in front of them.

 

Q: BASED ON YOUR RESEARCH, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR LGBTQ CHRISTIANS TODAY?

Ed: My advice to LGBTQ Christians today would be three things:

1.) As difficult as it may be, try to extend grace and patience to the Church. The vast majority of pastors in America have not done their due diligence on this topic, so we can’t expect them to be any further along than they are currently. In the same way that God has extended grace and patience with us when we sin, we need to extend grace and patience toward others regarding their error on this topic.  Bitterness will only manage to create further damage.

2.) Seek out other LGBTQ Christians who have already done their due diligence on this topic and reached a point of peace between their sexuality and God. We can learn a lot from others who are a little further up the trail.

3.) Often remind yourself that this mess is not caused by God, but instead is the result of people who have been entrusted with free will.

Ed Oxford is a gay Christian, a graduate of Talbot School of Theology, and a researcher in how the Bible has been weaponized against LGBTQ people. His first book written with Kathy Baldock, Forging a Sacred Weapon: How the Bible Became Anti-Gay, will be released in 2020.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Previous How Gay Dads Shut Down Ignorant Parenting Stereotypes
Next A Nigerian Straight Man Has a Question He Needs An Urgent Answer To

About author

You might also like

Series (Non-Fiction) 22 Comments

Waka Pass Diaries (The Hidden Condom)

January 7 It’s interesting what age and experience can change, the more you acquire them. I met an ex-lover today. After a long and very sexless holiday, imagine my absolute

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Editor's Desk 13 Comments

Deola’s Corner: Another Week Of TV (Edition 5)

DISCLAIMER: The following article contains spoilers from TV Shows of the past week. So if you haven’t SEEN the episodes of the week, and you detest spoilers, then I suggest

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

13 Comments

  1. Bloom
    June 16, 08:42 Reply

    I can’t wait for the book to come out!

      • Temi
        June 19, 16:08 Reply

        E go hot 🔥 This is just similar to the case of Èsù in the Bible when Bishop Ajayi Crowther translated it to Satan till date it’s causing havoc. Just because you don’t have an idea of something or because you already have your own personal problem with it doesn’t mean you bastardize it. I remember interviewing a sàngó worshipper and he clearly disagreed with the fact that the Satan in the Bible is different from the god Èsú to the extent that they have a day set aside to educate and make people aware of this.

  2. Sage Philip
    June 16, 09:25 Reply

    And just like that the royal family just indirectly dodged a bullet.

  3. Black Dynasty
    June 16, 10:52 Reply

    Amen to this finally coming out! I knew this in 2016/2017 during research on reconciliation of my belief in God with what the word says. I saw quite a few translations which were gotten wrong including this!

    Another which might be of interest to you is one of the 10 commandments. The literal translation is “Honour mother and father”, the “Thy” was added somewhere in the 14th of 15th century and completely changed the meaning.
    The commandment is directed at the parents to honour that position given to them and not referring to the children (we know some kids get monsters as parents).

    You might be amazed at just how much of the bible has been wrongly translated on purpose to suit the church’s agenda, not to mention the number of books missing. Lol let’s not even get into the version of the bible given to slaves and those who were colonised.

    • Pink Panther
      June 17, 04:27 Reply

      Wow. Just wow. I find myself reeling at this knowledge that man deliberately propangadized the Bible.

  4. BRYAN PETERS
    June 16, 11:19 Reply

    Wow. Interesting. I’d really love to read this book.

  5. Peace
    June 16, 13:02 Reply

    I’m so saving this article. Errm Pinky biko when the book comes out let us know. I Need it.

  6. Bee
    June 16, 14:05 Reply

    El. Oh. El. Ho ho ho. Lee Mao.

  7. Fred
    June 16, 15:02 Reply

    Interesting
    But I’d still like to see Romans 1 verses 26 & 27 well exegeted. And there’s the problem of Catholic doctrine/teaching that homosexuality is a sin; dealing with both would go a long way.
    Kirk Franklin was right after all.

    Also, I wonder how American (homophobic) pastors would react to this “divine revelation”.

    • Magiccharlie
      June 18, 14:53 Reply

      Just the Catholic doctrine? I had no idea other churches now preach/teach otherwise.

  8. Griffin
    June 16, 21:59 Reply

    Just like Black Dynasty said, a lot of verses or scriptures have been compromised by the church. There is a popular scripture that talks about prayer and fasting, Matthew 17:21. It’s absent in NIV and Amplified quoted it but it’s in italics. Anything in Italics in Amplified is was added and not in original text. Amplified stated it too that the verse is not present in some manuscripts.

    In addition, the A and E in YAHWEH were added by translators or writers. Traditionally, the Israelites only wrote YHWH because they were too scared to write the name of God. So original manuscripts contained YHWH. But He is faithful, he answers still.

    The Bible was not written in chapters and verses. That was men’s doing. If you look at the message translation, it can group a lot of verses together to explain the original context as much as they can. Many just lift a verse, capitalize on it to put many in bondage without reading preceding verses and those after to understand what it meant and to whom it was addressed to.

    Many years ago, when I was still having issues with women covering hair in church. I always didn’t like the hypocrisy, when you are at work and you pray does God not answer your prayers without your hair covered. 1Cor11, In research into other translations, I discovered it was more about angelic submission. Is it the one that women should shut up and not speak know church. Too many wrong things being preached and many preachers will just lift a verse to put people in bondage.

  9. Celio
    June 17, 06:55 Reply

    This write up is very correct. As a good Christian we believe the bible is perfect, because it is the message and word of God. It contains no error.
    However there is difference between words of God and text, the compilers and translator wrote according to their ability.
    Reasons or instances that could have caused why boy molester as been changed to homosexual in the bible.
    1. Heresy: this is a delibrate attempt to introduce force writings into the bible, which is very common during translations.
    2. Educational level of the translators, the level of knowledge of the translator could have think boy molester and homosexuality are same thing, so far it is man to man
    3. Lack of separation of words in the original greek language
    4. Attempt to conflict 2 different writings in one manuscript
    5. Attempt to modernise, some bible translation as changed pallet to bed and so many things, meanwhile there is nothing like bed when the bible was written. So this too must be the reason for the change

Leave a Reply