Wednesday, 1 April 2015

The Queen James Bible

     The Queen James Version of the Bible (QJV) was published in 2012 as an alternative to English translations that allegedly promote “homophobic interpretations.” The QJV editors maintain that the original message of scripture actually says nothing about homosexuality, but due to “interpretive ambiguity” and traditional prejudices, so-called “anti-LGBT Bible interpretations” have proliferated and need to be modified or deleted. They further argue that the term “homosexuality” does not appear in any Bible translation prior to the 1946 Revised Standard Version, and only eight verses (among thousands!) have been interpreted in such a way as to unfairly condemn this lifestyle. Thus the QJV editors affirm: “We edited those eight verses in a way that makes homophobic interpretations impossible.”1
     To set the record straight (no pun intended), the fairly recent appearance of the word “homosexuality” in Bible translation is no indication that it wasn’t a biblical issue prior to the mid-20th century. The term does not appear in English Bibles before 1946 simply because it was not an English word until just a few decades earlier,2 and even then it took some time to come into common use. Regardless of the terminology employed, the concept is most certainly addressed in scripture. Following are the infamous “eight verses” as rendered in the QJV (with changes highlighted in bold type), along with the rationales for the changes and our responses.
     Genesis 19:5, And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may rape and humiliate them” (QJV). The editors contend that the story of Sodom and Gomorra is not about homosexuality at all but about bullying strangers and attempting to rape angels. While we agree that inhospitality and sexual violence were involved, men desiring to have intercourse with those perceived as other men cannot be so easily discounted, especially when additional biblical information is considered. Moreover, God had already determined to destroy the sinful city (Gen. 18:20; 19:13) before the inhospitable acts toward Lot's guests.
     Leviticus 18:22, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind in the temple of Molech: it is an abomination” (QJV). Leviticus 20:13, “If a man also lie with mankind in the temple of Molech, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them” (QJV).
     The first consideration here is the word “abomination.” According to the QJV editors, the underlying Hebrew term merely refers to something that is “ritually unclean” or “taboo” and is equivalent to the modern concept of “scandalous.” They reason that if it were inherently wrong for men to have sex with each other, it would have been called “sin” or a “violation of the law” rather than “abomination.” But this imaginative conjecture is impossible to apply consistently, as unlawful acts such as idolatry (Deut. 7:25-26; 13:12-14; 27:15; Isa. 41:23-24) and human sacrifice (Deut. 12:31; 18:9-10; 2 Kings 16:3; Jer. 32:35) are inherently sinful while also labeled “abominations.”
     The QJV editors then claim the context of Leviticus 18 indicates that the sin of v. 22 is limited to “having sex with male pagan temple prostitutes.” It is argued that in the long list of sexual offenses the topic switches in v. 20 to pagan idolatry, with Molech specifically named. The assumption is that sex with a male prostitute in a pagan temple is the intent of v. 22, thus the addition of the phrase “in the temple of Molech” is contextually justified. However, this reasoning does not fit chap. 20, where the discussion of Molech-worship (vv. 1-5) moves on to the issue of consulting mediums (v. 6), to cursing parents (v. 9), to a variety of sexual sins (vv. 10-21) including homosexuality (v. 13), to dietary laws (v. 25), and to sorcery (v. 27). Molech was worshiped with child sacrifice (Lev. 18:21; 20:1-5; Deut. 12:31; 2 Kings 23:10; Jer. 32:35), but there is no conclusive evidence that sex (adultery, incest, homosexuality) was part of the ancient ritual.3
     A form of the Hebrew noun ṯō·w·‘ê·ḇāh (“abomination”) occurs 117 times in the Old Testament and is applied to a variety of objectionable acts regarded as “loathsome,” “repugnant,” or “detestable” (Gen. 43:32; 46:34; Ex. 8:26; Psa. 88:8; Prov. 24:9; 29:27; et al.). It is not possible to confine all that God considers an “abomination” to pagan idolatry (e.g. Deut. 14:3; 17:1; 18:9-14; 22:5; 23:18; 24:4; 25:11-16; Prov. 3:32; 6:16-19; 8:7; 15:8; 16:12; 21:27; 26:25; Isa. 1:13; Mal. 2:11; et al.), particularly moral issues involving sexual activity (Lev. 18:22; 20:13 [cf. vv. 18-30]; Ezek. 22:11; 33:26).
     Romans 1:26, 27, “Their women did change their natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, left of the natural use of the woman, burned in ritual lust, one toward another; Men with men working that which is pagan and unseemly. For this cause God gave the idolators up unto vile affections, receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet” (QJV).
     Whether it is theological bias, scholarly ineptitude, eisegetical4 pretense, or a combination of all these, the QJV editors make the bizarre claim that “Romans 1 describes how a group of Christians left the church to practice idolatry …” From this baseless assertion, the tenuous conclusion is drawn that in v. 26 “women were ritually defiling themselves.” What does that mean? The editors admit: “We can’t be exactly sure what Paul meant by the natural use of a woman, but we can be pretty sure he wasn’t talking about lesbian sex.” Does that sound like an impartial reading of the text? While surmising that the “unnatural uses of their bodies” could refer to “pagan dancing,” the editors confess, “we really have no idea.” Nonetheless, they seem a little more confident in suggesting that the men who “burned in their lust for one another” in v. 27 were engaging in ritualistic sex as pagan worship. The sin, therefore, was not gay sex but “worshiping pagan idols instead of God.” Is this valid commentary? If the apostle Paul had wanted to condemn homosexual behavior, I honestly can’t imagine how he could have been any clearer. On the other hand, if someone wanted to justify homosexuality even if it meant twisting the scriptures, I don’t know how it could be any more blatant!
     1 Corinthians 6:9, 10,Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor morally weak, nor promiscuous, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (QJV).
     Seeing that the Greek malakoi (plural of malakos) essentially means “soft,” the QJV editors felt justified in their rendering, “morally weak.” However, this seems redundant in a list of specific sins that all stem from moral weakness, especially in the context of sexual sins. The word is listed after “adulterers” and precedes arsenokoitai, which the QJV editors have interpreted “promiscuous.” Their reasoning is that the term supposedly means a “male who has many beds.” While it is a combination of arsēn (“male”) and koitē (“bed”), the plural form applies to a plurality of offenders, just like the other nouns in this passage, not a plurality of beds! Further, it is linked to the previous malakoi, and NT Greek scholars responsible for major English versions of the Bible unanimously agree that both malakoi and arsenokoitai are sexual terms descriptive of homosexual behavior (ASV, ESV, ERV, HCSB, ISB, NASB, NIV, N/KJV, NRSV, etc.). Are we to believe that every one of these linguists (and each translation committee) has a homophobic agenda and has therefore been dishonest in the translation process? The word malakoi describes men who submit to dominant homosexual partners, and the compound  arsenokoitai applies to men who actively engage in sodomy.5
     1 Timothy 1:10, “For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine (QJV).
     The only explanation provided for this rendering is the following: “Given the context and theme of all our edits, we have changed ‘defile themselves with mankind’ to simply ‘defile themselves.’” For the record, the Greek word under consideration here is arsenokoitai that also occurs in 1 Cor. 6:9 (see comments above). Not only is the QJV inconsistent in its wording of these two passages, it has simply omitted a prepositional phrase from this verse that completely alters its meaning. The change does not accurately convey what the apostle Paul originally wrote, but it does fulfill the aim of the QJV to make “homophobic interpretations impossible.”
     Jude 7, Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after nonhuman flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire (QJV).
     Here the QJV editors explain: “Given our clarification of the story of Sodom, we chose to highlight the fact that the male mob in Sodom raped angels, which is ‘strange’ in that it is nonhuman.” First of all, the mob in Sodom did not rape anyone. Second, their intention was to have sex with “men” (Gen. 19:5). Jude describes them as having given themselves over to fornication (ekporneuō = ek [‘out of’] + porneuō [to ‘engage in illicit sex’]) and having pursued sarkos heteras (“strange/different flesh”). If God’s natural design for physical intimacy is within the confines of monogamous, heterosexual marriage (Gen. 1:27; 2:24; Matt. 19:4-6; 1 Cor. 7:2), then from the divine perspective anything else is necessarily strange/ different/ unnatural (Matt. 19:8-9; Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:15-20).
     The Queen James Version of the Bible is nothing more than a reprint of the 1769 edition of the King James Version of the Bible. The only modification is the removal of so-called “homophobic interpretations” in the eight verses listed above. Without the aid of modern technology, in the early 19th century Thomas Jefferson started with the same Bible and used a razor and glue to literally cut and paste sections of the New Testament to exclude the portions about Jesus with which he disagreed. How is this any different? The credentials of the QJV editors cannot be evaluated because the editors have chosen to remain anonymous. But their general estimation of God’s word is evident in their brazen charge that “the Bible is still filled with inequality and even contradiction,” plus their shameless efforts to alter the biblical text to suit their own agenda (cf. 2 Peter 3:16-17).
--Kevin L. Moore

     1 See “The Gay Bible,” <>; and “Editor’s Note,” <>. The editors state further: “Yes, things like Leviticus are horribly outdated, but that doesn’t stop people from citing them. We wanted our Bible bulletproof from the ones shooting the bullets.” Another gay-friendly Bible translation is The New Oxford Annotated Bible, <Link>.
     2 The word “homosexual,” from the Greek homos (“same”) and Latin sexus (“sex”), first appeared in 1869 in a pamphlet by German novelist Karl-Maria Kertbeny, in opposition to an anti-sodomy law. The expression was then employed by German psychiatrist Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing in his 1886 Psychopathia Sexualis: eine Klinisch-Forensische Studie (“Sexual Psychopathy: A Clinical-Forensic Study”), a reference work on sexual perversions. The terminology then entered the English-speaking world for the first time in 1892 when Krafft-Ebing’s book was translated into the English language. 
     3 So-called “sacred sex” is believed to have been practiced in the ancient cult of Ashtoreth (a.k.a. Astarte, Ishtar, Aphrodite, Venus). The idea of committing “harlotry” with Molech (Lev. 20:5) is metaphoric for spiritual infidelity (cf. v. 6; Jer. 3:9; Hos. 4:12; 5:4; 6:10; etc.)
     4 Eisegesis is reading one’s presuppositions into the biblical text, in contrast to exegesis, which means to draw out of the biblical text what the inspired writer intended to convey.
     5 The words arsēn (“male”) and koitē (“bed”) appear together six times in the LXX, the translation Paul extensively quotes in 1 Corinthians, four times referring to men lying with women (Num. 31:17, 18; Judg. 21:11, 12) and twice in reference to men lying with men (Lev. 18:22; 20:13). See also Lev. 15:18, 24; 18:20; 19:20; Num. 5:13, 20. Dionysius of Halicarnassus (ca. 60-7 BC), in his Roman Antiquities, describes a man named Aristodemus, who was called malakos or “effeminate,” and one reason for the nickname was the presumed effeminacy of his youth, allowing himself “to be treated as a woman” (7.2.4).

Related articles: Brayan Fischer's Jesus Talked About Homosexuality, Ben Giselbach's Why Did God Destroy Sodom?

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  1. Thanks for this Kevin. So frustrating to see the scriptures twisted so contemptuously. Appreciate your efforts in setting things straight (no pun intended either)

  2. Didn't Peter warn that people would "wrest the scriptures?" (Or was it Paul?) Just off the top of my head, I can't remember. But this whole idea is unsubstantiated and cannot be proven with scripture.

    1. It's the last passage cited in the article.