What’s in a Translated Word?

January 22, 2015

While at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, Cristina Richie put together a brief challenge to modern English translations of the Bible that use words like “sodomite,” “effeminate,” and “homosexual” when trying to capture what the Apostle Paul was writing about in his list of troubling behaviors in 1 Corinthians 6:9.

Richie argues that Paul had in mind the Hellenistic practice of pederasty, or the taking of a younger boy by an older man for sexual objectification. This deplorable cultural oddity is well documented, and would surely draw the ire of Paul as he attempted to help the church at Corinth navigate through its messy issues. The bottom line, however, is that Paul was not discussing committed, monogamous, mutually consenting, adult, same-sex relationships.

Richie doesn’t necessarily break new ground with her analysis and summation, but she does make a strong case with an economy of words, and her paper may be useful for helping others understand that Paul’s words should not be co-opted by translators and interpreters trying to press an agenda against same-sex marriage or gay Christians.

Read Cristina Richie’s paper,”An Argument Against the Use of the Word ‘Homosexual’ In English Translations of the Bible.”

Originally published in the Heythrop Journal, 51 no. 5 (2010): 723-729.

 

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