Correspondence with the International Bible Society of New York, on the New International Version

My first approach to IBS was in early 2000. There was an immediate welcome for my submission, which at this stage I had indicated solely as some serious constructive criticism of the NIV translation.

In early April 2000 I sent off the submission (undated - my error) to IBS, which is set out immediately below. As the main body is very like that of the Watchtower submission (and slightly inferior to it in quality as I was still learning) you can go straight to the Recommendations made to those responsible for the translation of the NIV.

I received a welcoming reply from the Translations Group dated 24 April,

A gracious reply dated 29 April was then received from Rev Professor John H Stek, Chairman of the Translation Committee.

My glad response went off 4 May 2000.


 

Prof. John Stek;  Chairman, Committee on Bible Translation

International Bible Society

 

Dear Professor Stek

I recently contacted the IBS because, while I consider the NIV for the most part to be a good translation, there are parts about which  I am concerned.  I should perhaps first introduce myself.

I am a trained and accredited local preacher in the evangelical tradition, and a member of District Synod. Since my conversion in 1954, I have studied the Bible diligently, in various English versions and, as study requires, in the original languages. It is precious to me, and I endeavour to study with the utmost integrity. The Bible has informed my life and my marriage of 44 years; it is 'daily bread' in our home, and I have read it through several times.

As well as studying the Bible prayerfully and with great care, I also study;

*analytically, - using analytical concordances, dictionaries and other references,

*contextually  ie Biblical context, comparison and cross-referencing; making use of     knowledge of the culture, religious ideas, thinking and world-view etc of the writers, as well as the history and culture of the societies to whom the writers were referring.

My scientific background enables objective study, and I try hard to work with correct information as my experience is that incorrect information/assumptions lead to wrong conclusions/results.

I take great care in Bible study, because I have seen the damage done by literalism and misuse, not only within our wider family, but in community  - apartheid; cult suicides etc as well as such evils as the Inquisition and slavery. More recently I (who am not gay, nor is my wife or any of my family) have come to understand the major part the current translations of the Bible play in the condemnation, oppression, beatings and murders of homosexuals.

The responsibility for much of this damage falls on prejudiced bigots, who find in scripture what they want, but the oppression and maltreatment of homosexuals is, I believe, one for which the translation community bears a heavy responsibility. So my concern in writing to you is the quality of the NIV (esp the Study Bible) of those Biblical texts (and associated study notes) used by others to damage homosexuals, including those (and we know many) who love the Lord Jesus.

The translation community, taken together, has sadly shown considerable confusion and some inaccuracy in the various popular translations, as you will see. This is probably due to traditional perceptions of the people and the issue, which inevitably influences translation. I appreciate the difficulty - it was not until the Lord challenged my wife and I to find out for ourselves, (which we did thro meeting, gaining the confidence of and learning from the people themselves, and others who understand them), that we have come to anything like the  knowledge required to enable us to study and understand the scriptures on this matter. We now have 7 years experience of sharing with such people, and as a result have amassed much knowledge on the issue.

                                                                                                                                                          The story of how we came to be led by the Lord to a ministry of 'support, affirmation and Christian love for homosexuals, Christians especially', is found in my booklet 'RELUCTANT JOURNEY' a copy of which I enclose. It is now in its 3rd print, and is recommended reading for Ordinands in Training at some colleges. Written to be easily read while containing the essential information, it is necessarily short, but does set out the essence of what we had learned up to 1996, as well as the essence of the Bible study. Since that time I have continued to study and this letter contains more material, especially, but not only, on Gen 19, 1 Cor 6 and 1 Tim 1.

An important stage leading to my change of heart was going back to the Bible prayerfully and carefully on this issue, asking of it this question 'If there are people who are made that way and have no choice in their sexuality, and if they are capable of loving, faithful, committed relationships with their (same-sex) beloved, what has the Bible to say about that?'.

And I did so using the following definition, as I found that the word 'homosexuality' was being used as a catch-all; "True homosexuals are like heterosexuals in all respects except when attracted or falling in love, then it is with another of the same gender, usually another homosexual".  While same-sex sexual expression in its various forms is quite un-natural to us, it is as natural to a true homosexual as opposite-sex sexual expression in its various forms is to us.

I stress that my Bible study is/was primarily concerned with those who live in loving, faithful, same-sex partnerships, many of whom have sought God's blessing on their union. There are of course many homosexuals who live celibate lives, including some living with their partner.

Thus defined above, neither heterosexuals involved in same-sex acts, nor bisexuals (who are attracted to both genders), are 'homosexuals', although there is a homosexual side to the nature of bisexuals. There is also a very small number of others who are confused about their sexuality, usually resulting from child sexual-abuse. My Bible study, based on the above premises (which we later found to be true to the experience of those we met, and supported by professional opinion), led to repentance, following which the Lord called us to our ministry. And it is the Lord who has led me to write to you and others of the principal Bible Societies.

In the seven (7) years of our ministry, we have seen at first hand the confusion, distress, depression and despair of homosexual christians who, finding they are different and among those condemned by church and society, have tried everything to change. Prayer, counselling, deliverance ministry, nothing changed, and they found that they had to accept themselves as they were. Any need for counselling arises from their 'given difference' and, because of this, the prejudice and bigotry with which they are treated, usually supported by Biblical quotation, even from the unchurched.

When I began to seriously study this issue, I read the Bible thro for reference and context. Then I struggled prayerfully and carefully over several months with those texts that I later found from our new-found homosexual Christian friends were those that were used by others to condemn them.

That, and subsequent study, based now on 7 years experience of homosexual Christians, serves to show me that the translation concerned with this issue is confused and wrong. Indeed we recently received a message that the National Council of Churches of Christ, USA has members of its translation committee who now wish to 're-evaluate for clarification, and possible re-translation the five Biblical passages often cited in discussions of homosexuality, as those passages have no relation to the modern concept of homosexuality'.  When re-reading the Bible following my challenge, I felt that this was the case, but as I had no firm evidence for it, I continued to study the texts/passages as in this letter.

But this is all background to the study, which I offer as evidence of the need for further consideration of the translation of those texts that are used to condemn even those homosexuals who are responsible and loving - of God and their partner. Such condemnation and rejection is both unchristian and wicked, and it is invariably 'backed' by Biblical quotation!

I proceed to the study summary, apologising for the length of this letter, which is unavoidable.

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GENESIS 13:13 and 19:1-11

This is a story that has done inestimable damage to the image of homosexuals. The NIV together with GNB, JB, LB all contribute to that by incorrectly inserting in v.5 words like 'rape', 'have sex' 'abuse' - words not found in the Hebrew and for which there is no Biblical foundation, thus;

a) While we know from Gen 13:13 that these were wicked men, we are NOT told in the story;

  1. what form their wickedness took, OR

  2. who these men were (other than 'men of Sodom') who were going to attack Lot's messengers.    There is no foundation in the story or in any other Biblical evidence that these were all homosexuals, OR that the intended offence was same-sex rape. Indeed the reverse is true!                 People often misconstrue the Hebrew 'yada' (know) as indicative of sexual intercourse. But 'yada'occurs around 700 times in scripture, translated as 'know', nearly always in the sense we use 'know'. It is used only 13 times when it means sexual intercourse, and it is always made clear by an accompanying statement eg 'Abraham knew Sarah his wife, and she conceived and had a son'. Such a clarification does not occur in v.5.

b) Why was Lot not raped when he went out to them, if this is a story about same-sex rape? This is incontrovertible evidence that this story is not about same-sex rape per se.

c) Why when offering his daughters, does Lot specify that they are virgins?  If they were being offered simply as sexual playthings, virginity did not matter. Indeed they would not have been so after the first encounter. So his statement about their virginity was significant!

d) Even if Lot was offering his daughters as sexual playthings, it cannot be reliably inferred that this was to prevent a sexual attack - he could just have well have done so for reasons of diversion from physical violence to, or murder of, his guests.

e) Much more likely, (knowing Lot's background, see f. below) is that he recognised that the gods of Sodom had to be appeased by sacrifice of some kind. Human sacrifice was common then, and a female must be a 'virgin'. An alternative reason was to appease the local gods by offering his        daughters as shrine prostitutes, which also initially required 'virginity' - this would show that Lot was 'nodding' his recognition and offering appeasement to that god.

e) Lot was a man of obscene wealth and different culture, who brought his god, Jahweh, into the territory of other gods who would (be considered by the men of Sodom to) be displeased. Now he was abusing that privilege by entertaining his god's messengers. Furthermore 'Lot sat at the gate' ie he was an elder of Sodom and thus 'judged', or helped judge cases. Verse 9 'Get out of our way...this fellow came here as an alien, (foreigner), and now wants to play the judge!' gives some clues to the reasons for the attack, not uncommon reasons given by xenophobes.

f) Not only is it NOT made clear that the story in Gen 19 is about homosexuals and same-sex rape, but we are told elsewhere something quite different. Most references in the Bible to the sin of Sodom do not specify what that sin was, but some do. The sins of Sodom;

 1. according to Isaiah 1:10ff, were idolatrous worship, and injustice.

 2. according to Ezekiel 16:48-50, were pride, stubborn-ness and injustice.

 3. according to Jesus Matt 10:11-15; 11:23,24; Mark 6:11; Luke 10:10-12; 17:26-30 were inhospitality, unbelief and unpreparedness.

Thus  neither our Saviour, nor these great prophets, interpreted the story, (and thus the sin) of Sodom according to present tradition! This for me is of the greatest significance. It means that Christians who translate and/or interpret it traditionally, are doing so at variance with their Lord and in spite of the Biblical evidence!

Also of significance is the story in Judges 19, in which the criminals are clearly identified, and in which the woman offered is raped and killed by the Benjamites. This story is, in some ways, very similar to that of Sodom. But why are homosexuals, who are NOT identified in the Sodom story, condemned, while Benjamites who are identified as the offenders are never mentioned. The reason is not hard to find - prejudice and bigotry.

LEV 18:22 (and 20:13)

It is vital to recognise that this is the *only reference to same-sex activity in the Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible) that when read literally as translated, stands alone in its application.  On such inspection it does not seem to be associated with other OT references to male shrine prostitution, (although the New American Standard Bible claimed literal translation ie "you shall not lie with a male as those (plural) who lie with a female (singular))" strongly suggests 'men who lay with (presumably to have sex with) male prostitutes'.     *NOTE: Lev 20:13 is the same as Lev 18:22, but with the addition of the penalty for the offence

That this is a unique reference in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible is most significant, as these were the scriptures of Jesus, the apostles including Paul, and the early church. The NT Canon was not agreed for many years, and these scriptures together with the Gospels informed the New Testament writings, including those of Paul.

Importantly, a single reference on a matter of such moral importance is entirely atypical of these scriptures. God does not say 'I will say this only once'. Consider the sexual sins of adultery, prostitution, fornication etc which are not only condemned many times, but became part of the spiritual imagery of unfaithfulness of Israel toward God. There are 100s of references to heterosexual sexual sin.

So what is this single reference about? In order to find out I did the following;

1. Comparing the writings of the law in Exodus/Leviticus, with those in the copy of the law, (Deuteronomy) I found in Deuteronomy the law comparable to that in Lev 18:22. The only law in Deuteronomy about same-sex acts is Deut 23:17,18 and concerns shrine prostitution.

2. Examination of the Hebrew words translated 'abomination' or 'God hates that', and an analysis of their use, gave me the following;

 a. 'shequets' which relates to food regulations in Lev 11;

 b. 'shiqquts' which relates to unacceptable and unworthy worship of God and desecration of the Temple;

 c. 'toe'bah' is the Hebrew word used for 'abomination' and is used almost exclusively of idolatrous worship, statutes and practices. Where 'abomination' is used in the references in Deuteronomy, 1 and 2 Kings to condemn shrine prostitution, 'toe'bah' is the word used. And 'toe'bah' is the word used in Lev 18:22 and 20:13.

3. The context of Lev 18:22 and 20:13 is of the idolatrous fertility religion and statutes of Egypt and Canaan, (Lev 18:3; 24-30; and Lev 20:23).

4. The history of Israel is concerned primarily with how their kings dealt with idolatrous worship.  Kings were judged in their history not by greatness in battle or extending 'empire', but whether they rid the land of 'the high places', ie idolatrous worship, including fertility rites.

5. Thus the whole thing is of a piece; and this all points to the Leviticus references being about shrine prostitution, just as all the other references to same-sex sin in the Hebrew scriptures.

6. It speaks volumes that there are no references to same-sex sin other than shrine prostitution, in the Decalogue, (Exodus or Deut); the associated Books of the Covenant; the Blessings and Cursings of Moses; the Great Prophets; or the Gospels. The 'truly great' books are silent on the matter, and there is but one doubtful reference which, when analysed, points to same-sex acts associated with idolatrous worship, ie shrine prostitution.

Thus, there is no condemnation of loving, faithful same-sex relationships in the scriptures of Jesus and the early church; only of same-sex abuses like prostitution, which may have been committed by any man. This should be reflected in the NIV, its references and study notes.

In particular, references to 'homosexuals' should be used with the greatest care, as we know that the present concept of 'homosexual' was not defined until the 1890s. Thus the writers of both Old  and New Testaments could not be writing with this same concept in mind, and to use the word in this way will mislead the reader. Also 'shrine prostitute' does not equal 'homosexual' in the writings, and footnotes should make this clear.

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NEW TESTAMENT

GOSPELS

It is significant that there is no sign of condemnation of loving, faithful same-sex relationships in the gospels either! The 'Living Word' is silent, although not on heterosexual sin! I think there is enough evidence from his welcome to those on the margins of society, eg Luke 15:1-7, that Jesus would welcome responsible men 'who were born that way', (see next para) as in Luke 7:1-10.

Matthew 19:12 - Jesus is the one person in the Bible that seems not to be ignorant on the matter in question - he speaks in this verse of  different reasons why men do not marry ie are eunuchs - 'some because they were born that way, others because men made them that way, and others who do not marry for the sake of the Kingdom'. In this, Jesus refers without condemnation seemingly to those who would today refer to themselves as 'homosexual' .

Luke 7:1-10  This story of the 'healing of the Centurion's servant' is, from a consideration of  culture and language, almost certainly about a loving homosexual relationship.

Slaves in Roman culture were simply 'possessions' who were sexually abused at the whim of master or mistress, unless they were 'loved', as this servant was. It was said in Roman society that a man's 'sexual preference' could be seen by the gender of his (favourite) slaves. Centurions often took a 'love slave' with them when on a difficult tour of duty, (as was Israel).

When the language of the story is examined, the centurion when first engaging Jesus in conversation refers to his servant as 'doulos' or 'servant'.  Later as he relaxes in his conversation with Jesus, he speaks of his servant as 'entimos' or 'precious/beloved' - most unusual for a member of a brutal society with its cruel games, its cruel form of execution ie crucifixion, and its sadistic and hedonistic sexual practices. Finally, he refers to his servant as 'pais' or 'son/child'.  In his society, to refer in such terms to someone who was not family, was one way of saying 'lover'.

While it cannot be certain, the language of the story agrees with cultural considerations to suggest that here was a loving, homosexual relationship. And there is no condemnation from Jesus, only commendation of the centurion's faith.

SO WHY DOES THE TONE CHANGE WITH PAUL?

Paul saw on his travels the corruption that idolatrous fertility worship brought to societies. It was practised widely by farming communities around the Mediterranean, who saw the fertility rituals as a 'sympathetic waking up' of the gods to make fertile the fields and flocks.

For example, on Cyprus, no young woman could marry until she had served in the Temple of Aphrodite and been selected, with payment to the temple, for sexual intercourse. And at the annual 'Aphrodisia' festival, all eligible women in the area had to serve when 'pilgrims' came from around the Mediterranean to take part in the sexual liturgy. These practices were common to many lands bordering the Mediterranean, the scene of Paul's travels.

Such practices corrupted societies. And in the same way that the prophets of Israel fought to keep  idolatrous worship and its disgusting practices out, so did Paul fight this in relation to the early churches. He saw the degradation, particularly bad in places like Rome, which Tacitus described as 'the common sewer into which everything infamous and abominable flows like a torrent from all quarters of the world' - the price paid for being influenced by the nations it had subdued.

Romans were a brutal people, who worshipped various gods, and had their 'vicious games' and initiations (sometimes brutal and sexual) and festivals, which were at times orgiastic. Their forms of 'marriage' allowed the paterfamilias to find his sexual satisfaction where he wished. It was no business of his 'wife'who was there to care for the home, and bear the free-born children. He had power of life and death over his family, and 'freedom' where to find sexual satisfaction.

 

ROMANS 1:18-32

Just as the Deuteronomic history of Israel was based on a cyclic pattern, so Paul saw a pattern in the way that societies were brought low by idolatry. Romans 1:18-32 is a 3-part argument setting out Paul's thinking on how humanity goes wrong. The immorality of Rome is its backdrop.

The argument goes;

a) summarising vv18-22 - Humankind rejects the plain truth about the Creator God, even though          the evidence of God's work is plain for all to see.

b) summarising vv23-25 - Then humankind turns to idolatry, exchanging the truth of God for a lie;       and the glory of God for images resembling humans and beasts; idolatrous images of their gods.

c) summarising vv26-32 - Consequently humankind no longer acknowledges God, and becomes           debased in life, with passions perverted, and filled with every kind of wickedness.

This is about what happens when people refuse to acknowledge the living God and turn to idol worship - Paul was certain, because he had seen it! The argument hinges around vv 23-26 which latter verse starts 'because of this ....'. Every kind of immorality was practised in Rome, including prostitution (male and female), pederasty, adultery, incest etc. It was epitomised by the Empress Agrippina serving in a brothel out of lust. People were dissatisfied with expression of their natural sexuality, and were turning to, what for them were, unnatural sexual acts.

This picture painted by Paul has no relevance to the loving, christian people we know, whether homosexual or heterosexual. Paul is not addressing the true love of homosexual or heterosexual people, but the depravity resulting from idolatry.

Those who tear a verse or two out of context here to condemn all homosexuals and all same-sex relationships, especially those who are Christians in loving faithful relationships which honour God and each other, are sadly abusing the scriptures. See eg Romans 8:30-34, and 1 Jn 4:11-13.

 

1 CORINTHIANS 6:9

 As Paul inveighs against against various wrongdoers in vv7-9, he includes 4 Greek words to identify those guilty of sexual immorality;

a) pornoi - 'male whoremongers'; (porne = harlot)

b) moichoi - 'male adulterers'.

But Paul uses two other words that are often used to condemn homosexuals;

c) malakoi - 'soft men', in this context the passive partner in abusive same-sex acts,

and

d) arsenokoitai - Paul was referring directly back to Lev 20:13 '.. koimethe meta arsenos koiten gunaikos...' and from the Lev. study thus means 'men who lay with male shrine prostitutes'.

But how are these words translated? In the versions I possess they are translated as follows;

1. 'pornoi' is variously translated as 'sexually immoral'(NIV- right ballpark, but could mean many things); 'people who are immoral'(GNB- can mean many things); 'people of immoral lives' (JB- can mean many things); 'fornicators' (NRSV- good); 'the immoral' (RSV- can mean many things); 'those who live immoral lives' (LB- can mean many things).

Confusion can be seen even with this relatively simple word, with its root 'porne' meaning harlot.

2. 'moichoi' is consistently translated 'adulterers'.

But confusion reigns when 'malakoi' and 'arsenokoitai' are translated.

3. 'malakoi' is translated as 'male prostitutes' (NIV, NRSV- good);  'sexual perverts' (RSV- can mean many things); 'homosexuals' (LB- clear but wrong); 'homosexual perverts' (GNB- those homosexuals who are perverted?); 'catamites' (JB- utterly wrong and wicked); 'effeminate' (KJV- just silly).

It gives the impression of a man who thinks if he shoots with a blunderbuss is bound to hit something! The JB translation is very wrong, for it is stating in effect that 'sexually-abused children are wicked and will not inherit the Kingdom of God'.

4. 'arsenokoitai' is variously translated as 'homosexual offenders' (NIV- what offence?); 'sexual perverts'(RSV- can mean many things); 'homosexuals' (LB- wrong); 'sodomites' (NRSV, JB - right ballpark, wrong context); 'homosexual perverts' (GNB- in what way?).

When the meaning of 'arsenokoitai' derived from Lev 20:13, is 'men laying (presumably having same-sex intercourse) with male shrine prostitutes', these translations are not only confusing but wrong. Again it gives the impression of the blunderbuss.

'Homosexual' and 'sodomite' (which many equate, usually incorrectly, see NOTE below**) are the only two clearly defined meanings, but they are wrong. 'Sodomite' when used in the immoral sense, (but not the loving sense) is close, although it has to be remembered that male temple prostitution was for both men part of the  religious liturgy  - as for the rest, what do they mean?  From men and women with skills of language and expression, one expects far better. More seriously, the  translations of 'malakoi' and 'arsenokoitai' give reason to those who oppress and damage homosexuals.

** NOTE: A sodomite may be either homosexual or heterosexual; a homosexual may or may not be a sodomite. The term 'sodomite' is always used pejoratively; thus it is wrong to use it of those in faithful, loving, committed partnership, which is not condemned in scripture.

Indeed, the justification for faithful, committed homosexual loving partnerships is that God gives to many in such partnerships His Spirit, seen in the Spirit's fruit. If God ......(see Acts 10:esp v44ff).

Corinth was a wicked, sexually immoral place like Rome, to whom it owed allegiance, and whose influence overshadowed Corinth. To behave like a 'Corinthian' was to be debauched; the Temple of Aphrodite left its mark on this port city, where people were away from home influences, and anything went. Same-sex, as well as opposite-sex prostitution was rife, and the 'malakoi' and 'arsenokoitai' were common in Corinth.

But Biblical translators do not seem to properly appreciate either the cultural background or the meaning of 'malakoi' and 'arsenokoitai'.

 

1 TIMOTHY 1:10

The same confusion reigns with the translation of key words in this letter of Paul's.

He was writing to Timothy who was at Ephesus, the city of the Temple of Diana, or Artemis,  another fertility goddess, who influenced society there; Ephesus was also the main Roman city of Anantolia. So all the same influences were found as in Rome and Corinth. And the same sexual immorality born of idolatry.

This time, Paul, (according to the Nestle text),  used only two Greek words ie 'pornois' and 'arsenokoitai' to describe opposite-sex and same-sex sexual immorality respectively;

a) 'pornois' - the word with the same root as in the letter to Corinth. Translators give us; 'adulterers' (NIV- too restricted); 'whoremongers' (KJV - correct);'immoral persons' (RSV- can mean many things);'all who are immoral and impure' (LB- can mean many things); 'fornicators' (NRSV- fair); 'the immoral' (GNB- can mean many things); 'immoral with women' (JB - not quite, it needs 'sexually' before 'immoral').

Again there is still something of the blunderbuss about these, taking them together. How are people who have to rely on these translations meant to deal with the variations, most of which do not help?

b) 'arsenokoitais' - whose root meaning we know from Leviticus 20:13. Translators give us; 'sodomites' (RSV, NRSV);'homosexuals' (LB); 'perverts' (NIV); 'abusers of themselves with mankind' (KJV); 'sexual perverts' (GNB); 'immoral with boys or men' (JB).

These translations are no better than those of the Corinthian letter - confusing and largely wrong or irrelevant! They are highly dangerous translations as far as homosexual people are concerned.

The translation community is letting its readership down badly. It clearly does not understand the people or the issue as it comes to do its work on these texts, and seems not to have discerned that Leviticus 18:22; 20:13 inform both 1 Cor 6:9 and 1 Tim 1:10, although NIV does link these by X-reference, but has failed to determine the core meaning of 'arsenokitais' from Leviticus.

PAUL'S OTHER LETTERS

The final point of interest is that neither Paul, nor any other NT writer used 'malakoi' or 'arsenokoitai' again. Paul inveighed against sexual immorality in his every letter, and if 'arsenokoitai' were a universal condemnation of homosexuals, Paul would have used this word in every letter. That he did not, shows that those who claim the Leviticus reference as a universal condemnation of homosexual acts are wrong.

The most sensible conclusion is that there was a particular problem at Corinth and Ephesus, ie male prostitution associated with the temple, for which he used the word 'arsenokoitai' drawn from Leviticus.  For Rome he gave a graphic description of the things troubling him; but in none of these is there any indication that he includes loving, faithful homosexual relationships.

 

OTHER WRITERS

JUDE v7

The NIV Jude 7 translation of 'sarkos' is highly questionable, bearing in mind

   (a)how Jesus, Isaiah and Ezekiel saw the sin of Sodom, which differs from the NIV translation

   (b)the several ways that this Greek word is used throughout the Septuagint and Greek NT.  Taking account of (a) and (b), the NIV translation of that part of the verse which reads 'sexual immorality and perversion' is more likely to be correct if it were translated in a spiritual sense, rather than the phyical sense your translators have chosen.

 

CONCLUSIONS

I have shown by study and analysis;

a) that there is no condemnation of loving, faithful homosexual relationships in the Bible.

b) that translators have not only brought considerable confusion to the translation of those texts traditionally thought to condemn all homosexuals and the expression of their sexuality, but have translated key passages and words in a way that is dangerous to homosexuals. This strongly suggests a need for translators to better understand the people, the issue and the Biblical context and linkages that operate for the texts dealing with same-sex immorality in the Bible.

The present translations, including NIV, give ignorant, bigoted people a Biblical weapon to ill-treat homosexuals, although they have no relevance to the lives of responsible homosexuals, and especially those who are faithful Christians who live in love with God and others according to the teaching of Christ, and to whom God has given His Spirit.

In this, translators bear a heavy responsibility, and the matter should be corrected without delay, indicating clearly the position by re-translation and suitable footnotes (as appropriate).

SOME RECOMMENDED CHANGES TO NIV TRANSLATION

While the X-references to texts and notes re 'shrine prostitutes' in both the centre column and page footer in the NIV Study Notes Version are helpful, the following items need attention;

1. Homosexuality has at least two definitions, and as understood today includes faithful, loving, committed partnership, which is neither mentioned nor condemned in scripture. This should be recognised if reference to homosexuality must be made, and notes added to help readers.

2. That part of Gen 19 v5  in the NIV, ie 'that we can have sex with them', should be deleted together with the associated page footnote, neither of which has any Biblical foundation.

3. A suitable footnote is needed relating to Gen 19 making clear by cross-reference to Jesus and the great prophets that the 'popular' interpretation of the story of Sodom is wrong, and has nothing to do with homosexuals/ity.

4. Any X-references from and to Sodom and 'homosexuals/ity' should be deleted throughout; for example, the Lev 18:22 centre page and page footnote text references, and the Romans 1:27,  1 Cor 6:9, 2 Pet 2:10  and Jude 7 page footnote text references, and any others that exist.

5. Footnotes added to Lev 18:22 and 20:13 to indicate their context ie shrine prostitution.

6. A footnote added to Romans 1:18-32 to indicate the correct context ie moral corruption as the result of idolatry.

7. The Greek 'arsenokoitai' in 1 Cor 6 and 1 Tim 1 translated according to their correct context, and ensuring that they no longer create potential danger for homosexuals.

8. The NIV Jude 7 translation 'sexual immorality and perversion' is highly questionable, (see Jude 7 notes above) and should be re-translated in spiritual terms, (rather than physical) in the fashion of the OT prophets who denounced the 'whoring after other gods, and the spiritual perversion which denied justice' which fits better with Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jesus view of the sin of Sodom.

9. The X-references in the Jude 7 page footnote to Gen 19:5 (and 2 Pet 2:10) require deletion.

Professor Stek, I have been challenging, but honest; I trust that I have not been ungracious; I have certainly not intended to be so, and apologise if this letter gives such an impression. I do care very much for justice and truth, and believe passionately that the scriptures are mistranslated on this issue.

I look forward to hearing from you. Meanwhile may I wish you the blessing of God in your work.

Yours in Christ

George S E Hopper  C Eng

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INTERNATIONAL BIBLE SOCIETY                         April 24, 2000

Dear Mr. Hopper:

Thank you for your package of materials containing several very thoughtful critiques of specific items in the NIV translation.  Your work is deeply appreciated and I will pass it on to the Chairman of the Committee on Bible Translation, Rev.  John Stek.

Let me assure you that this material buttressed by your thorough research and documentation, will be considered very seriously by CBT.  You will hear from Rev.  Stek in due course.

1 have included, along with this letter addressed to you, a packet of information about the NIV and a document which dialogues about homosexuals.

God's Blessings,

International Bible Society;  Translations Group

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INTERNATIONAL BIBLE SOCIETY                  4/29/00

John H. Stek, Chairman, Committee on Bible Translation

Dear Mr. Hopper,

I respond to yours (no date) concerning NIV renderings of certain passages relative to the practice of same-sex unions (fleeting or permanent), and to cross-references as well as to study notes in the NIV Study Bible.

You call our attention to passages that do indeed call for careful contextual exegesis and carefully nuanced renderings into contemporary English. And as a matter of fact, our translation committee is reviewing all those passages again (as well as much more) and the editors of the Study Bible are reviewing all the study notes, including those pertaining to the passages that concern you.  We are very conscious of the fact that in today's environment these scriptural words are closely attended, frequently quoted, and, yes, sometimes abused.  Your paper can serve as a stimulating contribution to our committee's discussion of the passages, cross-references and study notes you cite.  For that reason, I will share your comments with all our committee members and with the General Editor of the Study Bible.

Thank you for your concern that the Word of God should speak with clarity and charity.

Yours in Christ,

John H. Stek

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Needless to say we were moved by Prof Stek's reply, and responded thus;

Dear Professor Stek

Thank you for your kind and gracious letter in response to my submission. It was an emotional and spiritual moment when my wife and I read your reply, and a prayer of gratitude was offered to him who you and we love as Saviour.

I am especially gratified as an evangelical Christian that you, as representatives of the NIV have responded as you have. Needless to say, if there is any more I can reasonably do based on our experience, you have only to mention it. Any matter will be dealt with the utmost integrity.

May God richly bless your work

Yours in Christ

George S E Hopper C Eng


 
 
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