Lost in Translation / Know Your Terms

Folks who would use the Bible as a method of attacking homosexuality really need to consider the facts. For one thing, the Bible as it is today, whether it be the King James Version or New International Version or Standard Revised and so on… is the results of decades upon decades of translation, transliteration, and transcription from the original Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, and other dialects of the Ancient Middle East into the vernacular of the time and places in which the translations were published.

Second, these books of the Bible are written records of stories passed over centuries through the oral tradition. Stories that were told thousands of years ago about events that occurred anywhere from decades to centuries AFTER the events occurred. And these stories were recorded on the written papyrus or page when the modern concept of homosexuality, let alone the English word, “homosexuality” had not even been considered.

Thirdly, taking the original words and terms from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek and translating them into English does not guarantee that the original words and terms will maintain their same meanings and definitions. Changing the definition of ancient terms and words to suit contemporary biases and prejudices or cultural preferences is not translating with accuracy, it is merely injecting substitutions to enable and encourage bias or preference without regard for the original intentions of the original authors.

It is important to note that the word, “homosexual” is itself a hybrid word invented in 1869 by Dr. Karoly Benkert, who combined a Greek prefix–“homo” meaning same, with Latin “sexual.” The word had not even come to use in the United States until 1880!

The concept of what a homosexual is, was not present in the Bible or in the times in which the stories and events within the Bible occurred.

Where in the Bible you might find the word homosexual used incorrectly:

The Hebrew word “Kedah” means temple prostitute and is sometimes inaccurately translated at “sodomite” or “homosexual.” 

In 1 Corinthians, “sodomite” or “homosexual” are sometimes used, but they are incorrect translations of the Greek “malakos” which means something closer to “effeminate” or the Greek practice of “pederasty”, which is the cultural Ancient Greek custom of older men having sex with boys– and is not consensual gay sex between peers.

1 Corinthians also refers in Greek to “arsenokaitai”, which appears nowhere else in the Bible or in Greek writings about homoerotic sexuality, but probably means “male prostitute.”

Some English translations of Jude, verse 7 sometimes refers to “homosexual” flesh that the Sodomites pursued.  This is an inaccurate translation of “hetera sarx” which means, literally, “strange flesh” — to describe the flesh of the angels who were sent by God to evaluate Sodom and Gomorrah.

In Timothy 1:9-10, translators sometimes use “homosexual” for the original Greek words, “pornoi”, “arsenokoitai”, and “andrapodistai”, words respectively meaning “male prostitutes”, “males who hire male prostitutes” or the “slave dealers” who procure them.

(Thanks to http://www.ourspiritnow.org for this information)

Our Spirits Now — Article — Homosexuality in the Bible?





About Rachel Conlin McLeod

Transgender activist, Christian at First Baptist Church in Willimantic, Connecticut. B.A. in History and Social Sciences, B.A. in Sociology Freelance writer, tutor, research assistant Loves hockey, ballet, women's gymnastics, and Bible studies.
This entry was posted in 1 Timothy, 1&2 Corinthians, Homosexuality in the Bible, Jude. Bookmark the permalink.

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