The submission to Watchtower Bible & Tract Society!
The following is the submission made to Watchtower B&TS, and is typical of that made to National Council of Churches of Christ (NCCC), the International Bible Society (IBS) and the United Bible Societies (UBS) about their misleading/incorrect translations, and the effect this has on the lives of homosexual men and women!
Each submission was about 12 pages, and specific to that Bible Society's translations. The one below refers to the Watchtower B&TS ie Jehovah's Witnesses but the orthodox Bible Society translations are much the same on this issue - check for yourself!
The Watchtower 'reply' shew they had no answer, their reply was just a religious tirade. So I sent another letter, asking again.........read on!
My conclusions WBTS reply My reply
To: Watchtower Bible & Tract Society; New York. 19 Sept 2000
I am making this submission as I believe you to be people who have the same love for the scriptures as I, and would want the scriptures to reflect the original writers' intent as accurately as possible. I have studied the New World Translation Study Bible carefully and found there are parts which cause concern. However, this is in no sense just a criticism of the New World Translation, but springs from the same concern about translation that I have already shared with the United Bible Society (UBS), the International Bible Society (IBS) and the National Council of Churches of Christ (NCCC) of their Bible translations. I will continue to make such submissions to other major producers of Bibles as God has called me to do. I should perhaps first introduce myself.
I am a trained and accredited 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. The Bible 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 original language interlinear texts, lexicons/dictionaries and analytical concordances, as well as other references that enable word usage and analysis,
*contextually ie Biblical context (ie whole Bible as well as verse, chapter etc), comparison and cross-referencing; using 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 do my utmost to work with correct facts and information as experience shows that incorrect data/assumptions lead to wrong conclusions/results.
And I take great care in Bible study, because I have seen the damage done by literalism and misuse, within our own wider family, and in the world 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, including the NWT, play in the condemnation, oppression, beatings and murders of homosexuals.
The responsibility for much of this damage falls on those who are prepared to misuse scripture for their own ends, but the oppression and maltreatment of homosexuals is, I believe, one for which the translation community bears a heavy responsibility, although probably out of ignorance of the people and the issue at the heart of the matter. So my concern in writing to you about the NWT Study Bible, is the quality of those Biblical texts (and associated study and foot notes) enabling others to damage homosexuals including those (and we know many) who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity.
While I respect that the translation community has worked honestly, it has sadly sown considerable confusion and misled readers and students in the various popular translations, as you will see in this submission. This is almost certainly due to traditional perceptions of the people and the issue, which inevitably influences translation. I appreciate the difficulty - I shared the same perceptions until challenged by the Lord to find out for myself, which enabled prayerful study of the scriptures on this matter with 'new eyes and understanding'. That initial study in 1992 was enough to show me the need for repentance, but exegesis has prayerfully continued to the point where I am confident to approach you and other Bible Societies regarding translation on this issue. My wife and I have over 7 years experience of sharing with homosexual Christians, and have amassed much knowledge of the people and the issue, and its relationship to scripture.
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 in its 4th print, and is recommended reading for Ordinands in Training at some colleges, and in the Study Pack on Human Sexuality of the UK Baptist Church. Parent Support Groups etc also use it as standard reading. 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 (when it was completed), as well as the essence of the initial Bible study. The submission in this letter contains more material especially, but not only, on Gen 19:1-11, 1 Cor 6 and 1 Tim 1 and Jude 7 as a result of my continuing study, including of texts in the original languages.
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 ignorantly 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 also many homosexuals who choose to live celibate lives, including some who live with a partner.
Thus defined above, neither heterosexuals who get involved in same-sex acts, nor bisexuals (who are attracted to both genders), are 'true homosexuals', although there is a homosexual side to the nature of bisexuals, which for some is dominant. There is also a small number of people who are confused about their sexuality, usually resulting from child sexual-abuse. My Bible study, based on the above premises (which we found to be true to the experience of the homosexual Christians we met, and supported by professional opinion), led to my repentance, following which the Lord called us to our ministry. And it is the Lord who has led me to write to you and other Bible Societies.
In over seven (7) years of 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 right 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 sharing with homosexual Christians, serves to show that all translations on this issue are confused and wrong. The International Bible Society is due to re-examine these texts following my submission, and the National Council of Churches of Christ, USA, has members of its translation committee who recognise the need 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 through 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, faithful and loving Christian people. Such condemnation and rejection is both unchristian and wicked, and it is invariably 'backed' by Biblical quotation!
I proceed now to the study summary, apologising for the length of this letter, which is unavoidable.
GENESIS 19:1-11 (and 13:13)
This is a story that, as translated and interpreted, has wrongly done great damage to homosexuals and their image. The NWT; the NIV, (New Int'l Version); GNB (Good News Bible), JB (Jerusalem Bible), and LB (Living Bible) all contribute to that damage by incorrectly inserting into v.5 words like 'have sex/intercourse with'. This is contrary to the prophets and Jesus, who provide the only evidence of Sodom's sin - thus words for which there is no Biblical foundation, as follows;
a) While we know from Gen 13:13 that these were wicked men, we are NOT told in the story;
1. Specifically, what form their wickedness took, (but the prophets and Jesus tell us) OR
2. who these men were (other than 'men of Sodom') who were going to attack Lot's messengers. There is no basis in the story or in any other Biblical evidence that these were homosexuals, OR that the intended offence was same-sex rape. Indeed the opposite is true!
The Hebrew derivative of 'yada' (to know) used here is misconstrued as sexual intercourse. But variations on 'yada' occur nearly 700 times in scripture, meaning 'know' 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 state 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 had offered 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 way was to appease the local gods by offering his daughters as shrine prostitutes, which also required 'virginity' offered to that god - this would show that Lot was 'nodding' his recognition and offering appeasement to that god.
f) Lot was a man of obscene wealth and different culture, who brought his own God, into the territory of the gods of Sodom 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 gives some clues to the reasons for the attack,'Get out of our way...this fellow came here as an alien, (foreigner), and now wants to play the judge!'- not uncommon reasons given by xenophobes.
g) Not only is it NOT made clear that the story in Gen 19 is about homosexuals and same-sex rape, but we are told by the prophets and Jesus quite different. Most references in the Bible to Sodom do not specify what their 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 and others who translate and/or interpret it traditionally, are doing so at variance with the Lord Jesus, the Living Word, and in spite of the Biblical evidence!
The story in Judges 19 is significant - the criminals - Benjamites - are clearly identified, and the woman offered is raped to death. This story is similar to that of Sodom, but more vicious. So, why are homosexuals (who are NOT identified in Gen 19) condemned, while Benjamites who are identified in Judges 19 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 in the Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible) to same-sex activity, that when read literally as translated does not seem to be associated with other OT references to male shrine prostitution. However, the 'New American Standard Bible' and the 'Interlinear NIV Hebrew-English Old Testament by JR Kohlenberger 3rd' states the literal translation as "you shall not lie with a male as those (plural) who lie with a female (singular))", something I have also found by textual study, and thus pointing to prostitution. Together with the following, it confirms that the reference, as all other OT refs, is about male shrine prostitution.
*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 and Jude.
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?
1. Comparing the laws in Exodus/Leviticus, with those in the copy of the law, (Deuteronomy), in the same way as Kings is compared with Chronicles, and the Synoptic Gospels are compared to help understanding, so in Deuteronomy is found 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 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' 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 its 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 points to the Leviticus references being about male 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. These 'truly great' books are silent on the matter, and there is but one doubtful reference which when analysed points, like all other Old Testament references, to same-sex acts associated with idolatrous fertility worship, ie male shrine prostitution.
Thus, the conclusion is that there is no condemnation of loving, faithful same-sex relationships in the Old Testament - the scriptures of Jesus and the early church - only of male prostitution, which may have been committed by any man. Even if Gen 19:5 could be construed as same-sex rape, it does not alter this conclusion. This should be reflected in the NWT, its references and study notes.
In particular, any references to 'homosexuals' should be used with care, and preferably not at all as the present concept of 'homosexual' as we understand it today, was not defined until the 1890s. Thus the writers of the Old (and New) Testament could not be writing with this same concept in mind, and to use the word in this way will mislead the reader. Also, neither 'shrine prostitute' nor 'sodomite' is equivalent to 'homosexual' , and footnotes should make this clear. ===============================================
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 equally welcome such people.
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 first refers to his servant as 'doulos' ('servant'). Later he speaks of his servant as 'entimos' ('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' ('son/child'). To refer in such terms to someone who was not family, especially to a servant, was one way in his society of saying 'this is my love'.
The story's language agrees with cultural considerations to strongly suggest that here was a loving, homosexual relationship. And there is no condemnation, 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, in Cyprus, no young woman could marry until she had served in the Temple of Aphrodite and been selected, with payment to the temple, for prostitution services. And at the annual 'Aphrodisia' festival, all eligible women in the area had 'to serve as temple prostitutes' when pilgrims came from around the Mediterranean to take part in the temple's 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 corrupting practices out, so Paul fought 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.
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-stage argument setting out Paul's thinking on how humanity goes wrong. The immorality of Rome is its backdrop.
The argument goes as follows;
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 passage is about what happens when people refuse to acknowledge the living God and turn to idol worship - Paul was certain, he had seen it! The argument hinges around vv 23-26, the latter verse of which 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 sheer lust. People were dissatisfied with expression of their natural sexuality, and were turning to, what were for them, un-natural 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
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 were common in Corinth. But Biblical translators do not seem to properly appreciate either the cultural background or the meaning of 'malakoi' and 'arsenokoitai'.
Paul identifies various wrongdoers in vv7-9, and he includes 4 Greek words to identify those guilty of sexual immorality.
He uses two words to condemn heterosexual immorality;
a) pornoi - 'male whoremongers'; (porne = harlot)
b) moichoi - 'male adulterers'.
Paul uses two other words that are translated (and used) incorrectly to condemn all homosexuals;
c) malakoi - 'soft men', in this context the passive partner in same-sex prostitution, and
d) arsenokoitai - Paul was referring directly back to Lev 20:13 '.. koimethe meta arsenos koiten gunaikos...' which from the Leviticus study refers to 'men who lay with male shrine prostitutes'.
But how are these words translated?
1.'pornoi'meaning 'male whoremongers' is translated as;
- 'fornicators' (NWT/KJV/NRSV- too general);'people who are immoral' (GNB- can mean many things); 'sexually immoral' (NIV- right ballpark, but could mean many things); 'people of immoral lives' (JB- can mean many things);'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 the only word correctly and consistently translated 'adulterers'.
But confusion is shown again in the translations of 'malakoi' and 'arsenokoitai';
3. 'malakoi'meaning 'soft' and thought to refer to male prostitutes,is translated as;
- 'men kept for unnatural purposes' (NWT - what does this mean?); '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); 'effeminate' (KJV- foolish).
These give 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' meaning 'men who lay with cult prostitutes' is variously translated as;
- 'men who lie with men' (NWT - misleading);'homosexual offenders' (NIV- what offence?); 'sexual perverts' (RSV- can mean many things); 'homosexuals' (LB- wrong);'sodomites' (NRSV, JB - misleading, see **NOTE below); 'homosexual perverts' (GNB- perverted in what way?).
When the meaning of 'arsenokoitai' derived from Lev 20:13, is strictly 'men who lay 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 reasonably clear meanings, but they are wrong. 'Sodomite' 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, these translations of 'malakoi' and 'arsenokoitai' give reason to those who wickedly oppress and destroy 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 such 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).
1 TIMOTHY 1:10
The same confusion is shown 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 the main Roman city of Anatolia, and 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'- a word with the same root as in the letter to Corinth. Translators give us;
- 'fornicators' (NWT/NRSV- too general);'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); 'the immoral' (GNB- can mean many things); 'immoral with women' (JB - inadequate, what does it mean? ).
b) 'arsenokoitais' - whose meaning is 'men who lay with male shrine prostitutes'. Translators give us;
- 'men who lie with males' (NWT- misleading);'sodomites' (RSV, NRSV- misleading); 'homosexuals' (LB - wrong); 'perverts' (NIV - means what?); 'abusers of themselves with mankind' (KJV - means what?); 'sexual perverts' (GNB - who/what?); 'immoral with boys or men' (JB - in what way?).
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. How are people who have to rely on these translations meant to deal with these variations, most of which sow confusion and are wrong?
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 NWT does link these by X-reference, but has failed to determine the core meaning of 'arsenokitais' and misleads readers.
PAUL'S OTHER LETTERS
The final point of interest is that neither Paul, nor any other New Testament writer used 'malakoi' or 'arsenokoitai' again. Paul condemned 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 idolatry, 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 in his condemnation.
Here, Jude refers to false teachers in the context of 'Sodom and Gomorrah, and like cities..'
Jude 7 Greek includes '..ekporneusasai (fem. pl.) kai apelthousai (fem. pl.) opiso sarkos eteras...'Using the feminine plural in this context is an example of the way idolatry is described in the Hebrew scriptures eg 'daughters of Sodom who have prostituted themselves and gone after other gods etc'. Also, sexual acts have little relevance when referring to the teaching of false teachers. The Greek has nevertheless been incorrectly translated to 'accord with current tradition' thus;
*NWT gives 'committed fornication excessively, and gone out after flesh for unnatural use..'
*KJV gives 'giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh..'
*JB gives ' fornication of Sodom and Gomorrah and other towns nearby was equally unnatural..'
*NIV gives 'gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion...'
*NRSV gives 'indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural lust...'
*RSV gives 'acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust...'
*LB gives 'all full of lust of every kind, including lust of men for other men..'
*GNB gives 'indulged in sexual immorality and perversion..'
The evidence in Isaiah 1:10ff, Ezekiel 16:48-50 and the Gospels has been ignored (as well as the evidence within the story of Sodom and Jude 7 itself - see Notes on Gen 19 attached) to make Jude 7 read incorrectly as actual sexual acts. Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jesus refer to the 'sin of Sodom' (either specifically or in the context of another town's actual or potential sin), and speak of Sodom's sin as idolatry, injustice, pride, unbelief etc. Jude was written after the prophets and Jesus, so Jude's writings would be informed by the clear understanding of the sins of Sodom given by the prophets and Jesus, and should be translated acordingly.
Ezekiel Chapter 16 should be read to see the context in which vv.48-50 are set, and it becomes clear why the Jude keyword references are in the feminine plural. This is just one of many instances where idolatry was referred to as 'spiritual prostitution, fornication or adultery', which indicate that Jude 7 should be translated in spiritual terms eg ' like the daughters of Sodom who prostituted themselves, and went whoring after other gods, and perverted justice etc'.
Bible translators have misled their readers in Gen 19, by not considering the full Biblical evidence about Sodom and its sins. Its resulting mistranslation, confusion and inaccuracy continues in other references like Jude 7, and fuels condemnation of homosexuals by people who do not understand them, even those homosexuals who love the Lord and live 'blamelessly in love before God'.
NWT translators should re-consider the Jude passage, and re-translate accordingly.
Study and analysis shows that;
a) there is no condemnation of loving, faithful homosexual relationships in the Bible.
b) translators have not only brought confusion to the translation of those texts traditionally thought to condemn all homosexuals and the expression of their sexuality, but have translated key phrases and words, and used footnotes in a way that is highly 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 NWT, give ignorant, bigoted people a Biblical weapon to hurt and damage homosexuals, although the texts have no relevance to the lives of responsible homosexuals, 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 with the minimum of delay, indicating clearly the position by re-translation and/or suitable footnotes.
SOME CHANGES RECOMMENDED TO 'NWT STUDY BIBLE' TRANSLATION
While some X-references to texts and notes re 'shrine prostitutes', and other X-references from Lev 18:22, 20:13 to 1 Cor 6:9, 1 Tim 1:10 in the NWT Study Bible are helpful, there remains some serious mistranslation, and some indiscriminate use of X-references. The following deserve attention;
1. The term'Homosexual/ity' has at least two definitions, and as understood today includes faithful, loving, commited partnership, which is neither mentioned nor condemned in scripture. This should be recognised if any reference to homosexuals must be made, and notes added to help readers. However, the term is best avoided, recognising that Biblical writers cannot have used that term as we understand it, as it is of recent, (late 19th Century), definition.
2.1 The offending part of Gen 19 v5 be retranslated 'that we may know them' or 'that we might know who they are' as in the accurate translations of this phrase. It would take account of Isaiah's, Ezekiel's and Jesus' view of Sodom's sin, and the extensive use of the root 'yada' (to know) in the Hebrew Bible NOT related to sexual acts, except where made absolutely clear, which is not the case here.
2.2 X-References at Gen 19:5 should relate to idolatry/spiritual prostitution, pride, injustice etc, and X-references to sexual acts removed, eg Lev 18:22; 20:13 Rom 1:26/7 etc as they contradict the prophets and Jesus, and thus mislead.
3. A footnote to Gen 19:1-11 be included, making clear by X-ref to Jesus and the great prophets, that the 'popular' interpretation of the story of Sodom is wrong, and not about homosexuals/ity.
4. Any X-refs connecting Sodom with 'same-sex acts' eg Lev 18:22; 20:13; Rom 1:27; 1 Cor 6:9 be deleted throughout the scriptures, and replaced with X-refs from Sodom to Isaiah 1:10ff; Ezek 16:48-50, the gospel references of Jesus, and Jude 7 (when re-translated), and vice-versa.
5.1 The Leviticus references 18:22 and 20:13 be correctly translated ie 'you shall not lay with a male as those who lay with a woman' and footnotes added to indicate their context and meaning ie male shrine prostitution. X-refs to 1 Cor 6:9 and 1 Tim 1:10 remain; add Deut 23:17 and 1 Kings and 2 Kings refs to male shrine prostitution; all other refs be removed.
5.2 Add a footnote to show the Greek Septuagint (Lev 20:13) source of 'arsenokoitai/s'; ie 'ho an koimethe meta arsenos koiten gunaikos' adding that Paul uses it only in 1 Cor 6:9 and 1 Tim 1:10 and not in any other letters, all of which contain condemnation of sexual immorality.
6.1 At Deut 23:17,18 add the following X-references ie 1 Kings 22:46; 1 Cor 6:9; 1 Tim 1:10.
6.2 Remove the footnote "17* Or 'a catamite, a boy kept for purposes of sexual perversion'" which is incorrrect, the reference being to shrine prostitutes (male shrine prostitutes were referred to as 'dogs' but so were false teachers and gentiles, so there is a need to clarify this).
6.3 Remove the footnote "'18# Likely a pederast, one who practises anal intercourse, esp with a boy'" which is also incorrect for the same reason as the 'catamite' reference, and remove X-refs to Gen 19:5 and to Rev 22:15 (the meaning of the latter reference to 'dogs' is uncertain).
7. Remove all existing X-refs at Judg 19:22, as it cannot be reliably translated or inferred that it has any connection with same-sex acts or with shrine prostitution, only with violence. Neither has it connection with Gen 19:5, except in its story outline - different characters/outcome.
8.1 At 1 Kings 14:24, remove from the footnote "....Lat. 'Effeminati' 'effeminate man' " which is wrong and irresponsible.
8.2 Remove Rom 1:27 and Jude 7 (which have no connection with temple prostitution) from the X-refs. Other X-refs could be added here eg 1 Kings 15:12; 22:46; 2 Kings 23:7; Lev 18:22 and 20:13, 1 Cor 6:9 and 1 Tim 1:10, all connected with male prostitution/cult.
9. Remove at 1 Kings 22:46 and 2 Kings 23:7 the X-refs to Rom 1:27 and Jude 7, which have no connection with shrine prostitution.
10. To X-refs at Isaiah 1:17-20 add Gen 19:5; Ezek 16:48-50; Matt 10:11-15, 11:20-24; Mark 6:11; Luke 10:10-12, 17:28-30, all of which refer to the story of Sodom and the sins of Sodom.
11.To X-refs at Ezekiel 16:48-50 add Isaiah 1:10-20 and the Gospel refs in 10 above.
12. At Romans 1:18-32 add a footnote to indicate the nature, context and meaning of the passage ie an argument showing moral corruption as the result of general idolatry.
13. Replace the X-refs at Rom 1:27 (which concerns unbridled sexual lust), with Judg 19:22. The present X-references have no connection with male shrine prostitution, which was part of a religious liturgy.
14.1 Translate the Greek 'malakoi' and 'arsenokoitai' in 1 Cor 6:9 according to their correct contexts, ie 'male prostitutes' and 'men who lay with male shrine prostitutes' respectively.
14.2 Remove the footnote beginning "9# Or 'nor sodomites.' Lit 'nor liers with males.' Gr.," and ending with "...masculorum concubitores" as misleading, bearing in mind that many people equate 'sodomite' with 'homosexual' and perpetuates the damage to which I referred earlier.
15.1 At 1 Tim 1:10 re-translate 'arsenokoitai' in its correct context ie 'men who lay with male shrine prostitutes'
15.2 Add X-refs to Lev 18:22; 20:13 (from where arsenokoitai is derived) and 1 Kings 15:12; 1Cor 6:9 and any other refs to male shrine prostitution.
16. Re-translate that part of Jude 7 '..committed fornication excessively and gone out after flesh for un-natural use..' in spiritual terms; eg 'whoring after other gods, and perverting justice' This reflects Isaiah's, Ezekiel's and Jesus' view of the sin of Sodom, the descriptive language used by the prophets to condemn idolatry and injustice, the feminine plural context of the Greek text, as well as the context of Jude 7 in denouncing false teachers.
17. At Jude 7 replace X-references to Lev 18:22 and Rom 1:26 (which are inconsistent with the context), with Isaiah 1:10ff, Ezek 16:48-50 and the Gospel references in 10 above.
18.1 Re-translate 2 Pet 2:10 in spiritual terms (for much the same reasons as for Jude 7).
18.2 Remove the X-ref to Rom 1:26.
18.3.And at 2 Pet 2:14 remove the X-refs to Rom 1:24; 1:27.
Sirs, I have been honest, but I trust I have not been ungracious, and I apologise if this submission gives that impression. But I do care very much for Biblical integrity, justice and truth, and have concluded from my work that the scriptures are mistranslated on this issue. I have tried to avoid typing errors etc, but if there is anything you wish to question, or on which you think I could provide assistance, I will attempt to respond well.
I look forward to a reply from you, meanwhile may I wish you the blessing of God in your work.
Yours in Christ, George S E Hopper C Eng (Ret'd)
Watchtower's 'reply' follows. It seems that they could not refute my work by study based on scholarship, so they...........;
WATCHTOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY
NEW YORK October 19, 2000
Dear Mr. Hopper:
Your letter of September 19, 2000, has been received. We note your comments on what you consider to be the Bible's view of homosexual practices.
We appreciate your concern and evident sincerity in this matter. However, we are familiar with the translational arguments that you detail in your letter in an effort to justify sexual relations between those of the same sex. (Romans 1:24-32) Such artful attempts to change the true intent and meaning of God's Word amount, in fact, to "counterfeit words" and a "twisting" of the Scriptures in an effort to make the Bible say what it does not say. (2 Peter 2:1-3; 3:14-18)
Likely you are aware that efforts to "make even everything that is straight crooked" while claiming God's approval is not unique to this generation, as you will see from a consideration of Micah 3:9-12. In the final analysis, it becomes a matter of accepting what the Bible plainly states or forced attempts to accommodate our Creator's standards for his creation to practices that He clearly condemns. Of course, those who accept such interpretations and, in effect, establish their own standards, must also be prepared to accept the consequences. In his first letter to the Corinthians, in listing wrongdoers who will not inherit God's kingdom, including "men kept for unnatural purposes" and "men who lie with men," it is not without purpose that the apostle Paul introduced his comments with the warning: "Do not be misled, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
Jehovah's Witnesses have great compassion for any who have problems in living up to God's high standards, including those who have homosexual tendencies. The aberrations in personality, traits, thinking, and conduct cannot be attributed to God, as if that is how he made us. Rather, the Bible shows that all have inherited sin or imperfections from our first parents, Adam and Eve, who chose to disobey God, wanting to set their own standards, and received the penalty of death. However, having inherited wrong tendencies, whatever they might be, is no excuse for practicing sin.
The Bible shows the need to "strip off the old personality with its practices, and clothe yourselves with the new personality, which through accurate knowledge is being made new according to the image of the One who created it. " (Colossians 3 :9, 10; Ephesians 4:17-24) That this can be done successfully, with God's help is shown at 1 Corinthians 6: 11. The statement "and yet that is what some of you were" indicates that some who were now Christians had formerly practiced what God condemned, including homosexual conduct.
We are enclosing photocopies of two articles that appeared on pages 483 to 489 in the August 15, 1974, issue of The Watchtower that you may find to be of interest.
Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York Inc (No name or signature)
I was disappointed that my work had been 'rubbished' with no basis for doing so, so I sent the following reply on 7 Nov 2000;
HOMOSEXUAL MEN AND WOMEN AND THE BIBLE
I am sorry that the reasoned statement I sent shocked you. I confess I thought that, while we disagree on some matters of doctrine, I was approaching an organisation that took Bible study and life issues seriously, as I do. To dismiss my study in the way you have is avoiding the issue.
I acknowledge that this is a difficult area for many - it was for us, even though led by the Lord. But it is no more difficult than the situation the early Church faced with the gentile question, people who were 'fodder for hell'in Jewish eyes. If the Bible of the early Church ie the Alexandrian Septuagint, had been religiously followed by those early Jewish Christians, no gentiles would be part of the New Covenant, unless first becoming Jews. But the teaching of Jesus was revolutionary, for the 'uncircumcised' (ie gentiles), and the 'unclean' (ie outcasts). His angry words were largely kept for those who set themselves up as arbiters, who excluded the poor and the outcast. Jesus teaching was inclusive, he sent his disciples into 'all the world to make disciples'. There was no talk of any group as such being excluded, only of individuals who did not love their neighbour eg Matt 25:31-46. Too revolutionary for you even now to understand?
We know from our own 8 years of experience with them, the qualities of faith, courage and love of many homosexual men and women who follow Christ - who leave those 'Christians' who misuse the Bible to demonise them far behind. They did not choose their homosexual orientation, no more than hermaphrodites chose to be born with both male and female characteristics. I just wonder where you think these and many other 'given' variations of humanity come from if not God. We have seen a minister of religion sit opposite a hermaphrodite, and effectively deny that such a person exists, because as he said 'The Bible says "God made man and woman"'. Such thinking makes God and the Bible appear ridiculous, and you are adding to that.
Further, you seem to refuse to recognise something that is surely evident to anyone who takes Bible study sufficiently seriously to go back to the original languages - the quality of translation. Honest translators tell how difficult is the translation of ancient Hebrew. Work done by others has shown how poor it often is. My word analysis and contextual study is entirely Biblical, and based on understanding of the lives and life issues of homosexual men and women. Not so your pamphlets, which are ideological and have little basis in reality, other than that some homosexuals are promiscuous - but you stereotype them all to suit your argument, which is dishonest.
You state that you are familiar with the translational arguments I have put forward. If that is the case, then you should have no difficulty responding. But I have to state that if you cannot reply to my submission point by point showing by reasoned criticism of my work that it is at fault, I shall assume you have no answer, and that you are looking at what is for you, as acceptance of gentiles into the Church was for Peter, fresh truth of God.
Yours in Christ, G S E Hopper
I am still waiting for a reply!