The Queen James Bible website argues that homosexuality was first mentioned in the 1946 Revised Standard Version translation of the Bible. No prior Bibles mentioned homosexuality outright, it claims. The name of the Bible is an affectionate reference to King James I, who was instrumental in the creation of the King James Bible and whom some scholars allege was bisexual.
The Queen James Bible tackles scriptural passages that have been used to condemn homosexuality, such as the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and the Levitical prohibition on sexual relations between males (Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13). The editors use familiar LGBTQ-friendly interpretations of these passages. For instance, the Sodom and Gomorroah story in which the men of the city threaten Lot's angelic guests is interpreted as a story about rape and humiliation, not homosexuality. The Levitical passages are interpreted as bans on same-sex sexual activity in the context of idolatrous worship, not necessarily blanket bans on all same-sex relations. The editors discuss the subtleties of Hebrew and Greek terms in the Bible, such as toevah (traditionally interpreted as "abomination") and malakoi (traditionally translated as "soft" or "effeminate") often explored in LGBTQ theology. The result is an English-language Bible that strives to avoid the homophobic language of previous translations.
The editors of the Queen James Bible admit that scripture contains contradictions and unjust passages, but these passages were beyond the scope of their LGBTQ-focused project.
"The Queen James Bible resolves any homophobic interpretations of the Bible, but the Bible is still filled with inequality and even contradiction that we have not addressed. No Bible is perfect, including this one. 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."I am not a Biblical scholar, so I do not know how accurately the Queen James Bible captures the spirit and letter of the original texts. In the interpreters' haste to expunge homophobia from the Bible, I worry that they may be softening scriptural passages that are genuinely homophobic.
Nevertheless, an LGBTQ-friendly interpretation of the Bible is a noble endeavor and a loving gift to LGBTQ Christians and their allies. Religious Right homophobes have used scripture to shame and condemn the LGBTQ community, and I'm pleased to see LGBTQ persons of faith taking scripture back. By presenting the scripture with nuance, the Queen James Bible can help expand the conversation about faith, sexuality, and scripture.
(Hat tip to Gay Star News and Gay.net)