In our Methodist tradition, we (wrongly) claim “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”
The research behind this story tells us: That does not appear to be true. We are lying to ourselves about what historical Biblical teaching actually said.
Before we get into it, and for those who are confused….there’s an old joke about a Catholic monk, buried deep in a library somewhere…
He comes across a passage in an ancient Greek manuscript and screams loudly such that everyone comes running…
“It says “CELEBRATE” not “celibate!””
That’s a funny joke. But it also gets at a REAL issue…and something that literally happens in this story.
The issue is the accuracy of modern Biblical translations.
Most layfolks (and many pastors) seem blissfully unaware that every English translation we use today is based on previous translations from more ancient texts.
At issue here: the Greek word “arsenokoitai.”
In many contemporary English Bible translations, it is translated “Homosexuality.”
But, for many years now, learned Greek scholars have shown that the word actually is often translated as “pederasty” not “homosexuality” in non-Biblical ancient Greek. (They document this by referencing other ancient Greek texts…non-Biblical texts…where the word is used).
Thus, they argue, translating the word as “homosexuality” is simply incorrect.
I have found this scholarship credible for about 20 years now.
But, now comes something even MORE compelling…something that confirms and provides copius data-points for this view.
It’s work by scholar Ed Oxford (Yes, that’s really his name…). This, as reported by the great folks at Forge.
Ed decided to ask:
“What did translators of OTHER non-English versions of the Bible believe about the word “arsenokoitai?”
In other words, when Europeans of hundreds of years ago translated THEIR Bibles, did they translate the word “homosexuality” or “pederasty?”
He’s been stunned to find…time and time again…they translate it “pederasty.”
So, everybody I know is against “pederasty.” And, apparently, you’ll be pleased to know, so is the Bible. And it’s a provable fact that pederasty is what the Bible meant in the passages that use this word.
Here’s a most salient quote from the story:
“For most of history, most European Bibles taught the tradition that these 4 verses were dealing with pederasty, not homosexuality. I am saddened when I see pastors and theologians cast aside the previous 2000 years of history. This is why I collect very old Bibles, lexicons, theological books and commentaries – most modern biblical commentaries adjusted to accommodate this mistranslation. It’s time for the truth to come out!”
Read the whole article here.