Religion and Sexuality – The Gay Bible

I was surprised when I saw this come across my feeds:

The Queen James Bible

“Sounds kind of interesting” I thought, so I went for a more in-depth look.

The Queen James Bible seeks to resolve interpretive ambiguity in the Bible as it pertains to homosexuality: We edited those eight verses in a way that makes homophobic interpretations impossible

“Edited”?  Well that’s a curious one… I don’t believe for a second that there aren’t editors for various translations of the Bible, but this pricked my ears… Why isn’t this a re-translation – even if only of those eight verses?

So, naturally I go to see who thinks this Bible is The Real Deal…  And find that there is no earthly author and no translator who has put their name to the Queen James Edition.

So they started with the King James, for a few reasons that make varying degrees of sense, and they changed:

  • Genesis 19:5
  • Leviticus 18:22
  • Leviticus 20:13
  • Romans 1:26-1:27
  • 1 Corinthians 6:9
  • 1 Timothy 1:10
  • and Jude 1:7
I have opinions on all of these verse changes, and since you’re my readers, I guess you want to know what they are.
You can see the reasoning (Which I’ve read and used in this article) here.
Disclaimer: I am not a biblical scholar, but I am willing to stand by my opinions with my real name – more than the editors of the QJV are willing to do at the moment.

Genesis 19:5

KJV: 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 know them.”

QJV: 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.”

This is one of the edits that I don’t mind.  It follows the prevailing opinion on the interpretation of the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, and is consistent with the word “know” in this context.  I don’t think this really alters the base meaning of the text, just disambiguates it.

Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13

Leviticus 18:22

KJV: Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.

QJV: Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind in the temple of Molech: it is an abomination

Leviticus 20:13

KJV: If a man also lie with mankind, 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: 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.

The words added in both verses are “in the temple of Molech”.  I do not disagree with the interpretation that is put forward as “support” for this edit.  It sounds plausible, in fact.  My issue is that it creates a whole limiting clause which did not exist in the original text, for the sake of a bible whose potentially homophobic statements are edited out. If you’re going to limit the “lie with mankind” clause, make it clear. “Thou shalt not lie with temple prostitutes as he lieth with a woman” would have the same effect.  Their entire justification for both changes only references the context of Lev 18:22, not 20:13 at all. The closest verse with reference to Molech is verse 5, and has a stanza-break statement between them in vv 7 and 8 – “(7) Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy, for I am the LORD your God. (8) And ye shall keep my statutes and do them: I am the LORD which sanctify you” Verses 10 through 22 are all about sexual sins such as incest, adultery, and beastiality.  I do not believe the “In the temple of Molech” qualifier can be legitimately applied here.  This interpretation information would have been better applied as a footnote, leaving the original text intact.

Romans 1:26-27

KJV: (26) For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against their nature: (27) And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.

QJV: (26) Their women did change the 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; (27) 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 recompense of their error which was meet.

(Emphasis mine)

Given Paul’s past suggestions that wives are for the weak, and sex equally so, I don’t know that I put much stock in his opinions on the subject.  This is claimed as the QJV’s crowning glory.  Like the Leviticus 18:22 changes, I think this is possibly how we should interpret the verses, but it should be as a footnote, rather than altering the text, unless there is a legitimate translation reason that these words be included (i.e. it comes to light that the Hebrews used a particular word to imply non-Jewish acts where acts within judaism were referred to differently.

Corinthians 6:9

KJV: Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

QJV: 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,

This change actually does relate to a translation issue. in these verses, “Effeminate” is translated from Greek “malakoi” which means “soft” – both physically such as fabric, or morally soft, undisciplined, decadent, easily influenced.  Traits that were (wrongly) attributed to women at the time. 

And “abusers of themselves with mankind”? it’s a really interesting one.  I’m led to believe that the greek word “Arsenokoitais” has been used exclusively by Paul in his writings, and has not been seen outside of the Pauline letters.  I’m not so sure about their “The man who has many beds” definition, but have heard many potential translators talking about arsenokoitais being those who use male child temple prostitutes (yeuchh!).  I think “fornicators” and “adulterers” has “promiscuous” covered, so I think they’d have been better putting “those who use temple prostitutes”

1 Timothy 1:10

KJV: For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;

QJV: 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;

I don’t necessarily mind this, I’d suggest that they mean “the perverted”, “the promiscuous” or perhaps, “those that defile themselves with man or woman” since there seemed to be a clear sex message there.  The omission of the second person element loses the meaning of promiscuity that I think the verse implies.

Jude 1:7

KJV: Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

QJV: Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, 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.

I think the justification for this change highlights that these are people without biblical understanding.  The male mob in Sodom did not rape the angels, because Lot offered them his daughters instead. (Part of how we know that this wasn’t a roving band of homo’s, since that wouldn’t have helped if they were) The angels stuck the mob in Sodom blind so that they couldn’t find the doorway. That said, the mob were pursuing flesh which was strange in that it was “angelic” rather than in the sense of being of the same gender as them.  I think the QJV could have kept some of the poetry of the KJV by using the term “angelic”… but non-human seems fine if clunky.

The Verdict

I like the idea of a less ambiguous, less homophobic bible, and I like the poetry of the King James Version.  But this whole thing from start to finish seems a bit strange.  From “Editing” rather than “Translating” (which just makes me draw parallels with “Revisionist History”), to adding and removing words to alter meaning, to the clumsy slip-up for their Jude justification. (Again, the change is fine, but the justification shows a disturbing lack of understanding.) 

Get a translator on side, put a publisher’s name, a translator’s name, and the names of your editors on the book purchasing page. (Putting “God” as author and “Jesus Christ” as contributor is cutesy and sickening, frankly)

My big concern is that people think they can just edit out the bad rather than taking the time to build a proper translation, even if just for the verses they have a problem with.  The QJV will be attacked on the grounds that it’s an alteration to the Word of God rather than a retranslation.  Sadly, I think there are verses in the Bible which are outright homophobic, but there are better ways to interpret them than editing.  I lean heavily to footnotes giving interpretive assistance, rebuttals, context, history etc, rather than rewriting passages to suit the agenda.

 

In brief: Good idea;  Poor Execution.

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