The Queen James Bible: A new gay-friendly translation
If the title itself doesn’t give it away, the Queen James Bible is a new “gay Bible” based on the King James Version, complete with a rainbow-styled cross on the cover. It was named “Queen James Bible” because King James I of England, who authorized the creation of the Bible that bears his name, was rumored to be bisexual.
According to the unnamed editors of this version, “The Queen James Bible seeks to resolve interpretive ambiguity in the Bible as it pertains to homosexuality. … We edited the Bible to prevent homophobic interpretations.” It is a near-identical reproduction of the KJV, but with gay-friendly edits made to eight verses that have been traditionally been interpreted as speaking negatively against homosex. What follows is a comparison of the KJV to the QJV (changes in bold), followed by my comments on their changes:
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.
The editors claim that the real problem here was the bullying of strangers. The error of the men of Sodom was not the fact that they wanted to have gay sex with the visiting “men,” but the fact that they wanted to rape them as an act of power over them.
The problem with this translation is that the Hebrew word yada does not mean “rape” and there is no Hebrew word in this passage corresponding to “humiliate.” This is an interpretation, not a translation. While it’s clear that the men of Sodom were willing to resort to rape if necessary to have sex with the visiting men, there is nothing in the text that indicates they sought the men out simply to rape them as some sort of power play.
We also have to consider the fact that the reason for Sodom’s destruction could not be due to this so-called attempted rape, because God had determined to destroy Sodom for its wickedness before the angels ever arrived.
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.
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.
While the editors chose to keep the word “abomination” in their text, they note that the word “simply means something that is ‘ritually unclean,’ or a ‘taboo.’” While that is part of the semantical domain of this word, there are other contexts in which it clearly means something that it detestable. The text distinguishes between abominations to Israel, and abominations to God. Clearly nothing is ritually unclean for God, or even taboo. What God considers abominations are things that are morally detestable, including homosex.
They note that their “taboo” interpretation of the Hebrew works for Leviticus 18:22, but not for Leviticus 20:13 since it calls for the death penalty, and according to them, no one would be put to death merely for doing something taboo. So they conclude that the appearance of “abomination” in 20:13 is due to a transmission error. But the only reason to see a conflict between the use of “abomination” in 18:22 and 20:13 is if one wrongly assumes abomination only refers to taboo or ritual uncleanness. If one understands it to mean “detestable,” then the conflict disappears. As with all their other changes, this is a case of the tail wagging the dog.
They justify their addition of “in the temple of Molech” because worship of Molech is mentioned in the immediate context of Leviticus 18:22. In verse 21 we read, “And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord.” The problem is that there is no logical connection between verse 21 and verse 22. Indeed, a look at verses 21-23 reveal that these are a string of three separate commands, each of which has its own rationale:
18:21 And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord.
18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
18:23 Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.
While verse 24 makes it clear that these things were practiced by the pagan Canaanites, there is no reason to think that the homosexuality described in verse 22 is connected with cultic worship practices, anymore than we should think that the bestiality described in verse 23 was connected with cultic practices.
Finally, as a matter of common sense, their interpretive translation cannot be correct. If God’s concern was ritualistic temple sex, why only condemn male-male ritual sex? Why not also condemn male-female ritual sex? If their interpretation is correct, there was no need for Moses to add the phrase “as he lieth with a woman.” Clearly the problem was not where they were having sex, or the purpose of their sex, but that fact that their sex partner was another male, rather than a female.
KJV: For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature. 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 recompence of their error which was meet.
QJV: Their women did change their 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; 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 recompence of their error which was meet.
Once again they take a blanket condemnation against lesbian and gay sex and try to soften it by limiting its application to pagan, cultic practices. There is no lexical or contextual basis for such an interpretation. Paul could not have been more clear and more specific regarding his condemnation of male-male and female-female sex. As in the Leviticus passages, Paul’s concern was not where they were having gay sex, or the purpose of the gay sex, but the fact that they were engaging in gay sex. The basis for his condemnation is the fact that these men and women are exchanging the natural use of the opposite sex for the unnatural use of the same sex. As Paul makes clear, the problem is that men were lusting after other men, not that men were having cultic sex with men.
Also, Paul’s condemnation of homosexuality is included in a long list of sins including envy, murder, strife, deceit, hostility, gossip, slander, arrogance, and disobedience to parents. Are we to believe that Paul was only condemning such practices when they are associated with idolatry? Would Paul approve of such behaviors so long as they are not engaged in at pagan temples? Of course not! There is no basis for singling out homosex alone as being immoral only in connection with idolatry.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10
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, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
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, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
The editors take exception with translating the Greek malakoi as “effeminate.” They rightly point out that the word “can mean soft, like the fine fabric of a rich man’s clothes (Luke 7:25 and Matthew 11:8) and it can mean morally soft, such as ‘undisciplined’, ‘decadent’, ‘lazy’, or ‘easily influenced,’” and thus translate it as “morally weak.” What they fail to mention is that when malakos is used of males in a sexual context in extra-biblical literature, it can refer to males who – like females – are penetrated by other men. It is also used to refer to heterosexual men who pretty themselves up to attract women (i.e. a “pretty boy”), of men who fall in love with women, and of men who have sex with many women. Malakos, then, refers to soft, effeminate males, whether homosexual or heterosexual. Whether Paul has homosexuals or “metrosexuals” in mind can only be determined by the context.
How can the context help us to determine the meaning? The next word is instructive. After including the malakoi in the number of those who will not inherent the kingdom of God, Paul mentions the arsenokoites, which the KJV translates “abusers of themselves with mankind” and the QJV translates as “promiscuous.” While scholars debate the meaning of this word, promiscuous is not one of the options. The word can refer to either economic exploitation or homosex, depending on the context. Given the fact that Paul juxtaposes arsenokoites with malakoi, it is more likely that Paul is using the former to refer to active homosexual partners, and the latter to refer to passive homosexual partners.
Many scholars think that Paul coined arsenokoites – or it was coined in Paul’s day – from a combination of the words arsen (male) and koite (bed) used in the LXX of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 to describe male homosex. If so, then it becomes all the more clear that Paul has homosexuals in mind.
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;
The editors simply deleted the words “with mankind” to avoid any connotation of homosexuality. The entire phrase “them that defile themselves with mankind” is translated from one Greek word: arsenokoites. This is the same word used in the vice list of 1 Corinthians 6:10. If it means homosexual in the Corinthians passage, it most likely bears the same meaning here. Paul is referring to men who have sex with other men.
KJV: Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, 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 Gomorrha, 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.
While I am not convinced that Jude is speaking about homosexuality here, “non-human flesh” is definitely an interpretation rather than a translation.
We do not who is responsible for editing these passages, or even publishing the Bible. Apparently they do not have the fortitude and courage to identify themselves. Instead, they have chosen the amorphous title “the editors.” My guess is that they have chosen to remain anonymous for two reasons: (1) fear of a public backlash; (2) a lack of credentials.
It’s clear that this Bible is not the work of scholars, but amateurs who have edited select passages they do not like to make them fit their own bias and agenda. They write, “The Queen James Bible addresses those controversial verses by editing them very slightly for interpretive clarity. The edits all confirm that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality, and therefore renders such interpretations impossible. … We wanted to make a book filled with the word of God that nobody could use to incorrectly condemn God’s LGBT children, and we succeeded.” This is propaganda, not scholarship.
The amateurish nature of this project is evidenced by mistakes found on both their website and in their Bible. For example, on their website they write, “The Bible is the word of God translated by man. This (saying nothing [about] countless translations and the evolution of language itself) means the Bible can be interpreted in different ways….” They are missing the word “about” that I supplied in brackets. This is not the only example. Later they write, “In creating the QJV, we chose [to] look at both of those terms with historical and translative contexts.” They are missing the word “to” that I supplied in brackets. Their publisher (whoever that may be; my guess is that this is self-published) is so sloppy that they made a mistake in the table of contents. “The First Book of Samuel” is listed twice. The second occurrence should read “The Third Book of Samuel.”
You might say, “Jason, you are being excessively nitpicky about this. Everyone makes mistakes.” While I agree that we all make mistakes during the writing process (you could probably find some in this post), we are talking about a professional product here, not a blog post. Obvious mistakes appear in both their printed publication and on their official website promoting that publication. I work in marketing and deal with external communications on a daily basis. We have a review processes in place to catch the inevitable human errors. Errors as obvious as these should have been caught by reviewers. My guess is that they were missed because those involved in this project are few in number, and not trained for the task of translation, publication, or marketing. Their editorial sloppiness is indicative of their sloppiness in handling the Biblical text.
The Queen James Bible is not a translation, but a piece of propaganda put out by the gay community to help gay Christians avoid the obvious: that the Bible condemns homosex. They can change the Word of God to fit their fancy, but the fact remains that they have changed and perverted the Word of God to fit their agenda. While gay men and women can choose to read this Bible, and while they may feel approved by this new “translation,” the fact remains that the Word of God cannot be changed, and God is still opposed to sex between persons of the same gender.
For additional reading, see my article titled Homosexuality and the Bible.
1. The Amazon page lists the author as “God,” and the contributor as “Jesus Christ.”
2. See http://queenjamesbible.com
3. See http://queenjamesbible.com/gay-bible
4. The editors justification for their changes to all eight passages is available at http://queenjamesbible.com/gay-bible.
5. It’s surprising that they kept the word in the text, because they argue that homosexuality should not even be described as taboo: “[W]e don’t believe homosexual relations to be taboo….” See http://queenjamesbible.com/gay-bible.
6. T hey are using a Hebrew way of referring to the books, in which there are four books of Kings (although the editors also call the four books “Samuel”).
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