Has Homosexual Always Been in the Bible?

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!”

Indeed.

Read the whole article here.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of Kessler Park UMC United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. Previously, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas for seventeen years. Eric loves to write on topics of spirituality, social justice, music/art and politics. The entries on this blog reflect that diversity of interests. His passion for social justice goes beyond mere words. He’s been arrested at the White House, defending immigrants and “The Dreamers,” and he’s officiated at same sex weddings in his churches, in defiance of what some believe is Methodist teaching. Eric is an avid blogger and published author, and 2017 recipient of the prestigeous Kuchling Humanitarian Award from Dallas’ Black Tie Dinner. (Human Rights Campaign) Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He’s a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named “best judge” by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County, and is currently the longest service district judge in that district. She was re-elected for a fourth term in 2018. They have the world’s best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. Find links to Eric’s music-related websites, at the top of this site’s navigation menu.

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