Why We Chose the King James Version
We chose the 1769 form of the King James Bible for our revision for the following reasons:
1. The obvious gay link to King James, known amongst friends and courtiers as “Queen James” because of his many gay lovers.
2. No Bible is perfect, but everyone knows the King James Bible; It is arguably the most popular Bible in history and the basis of many other translations.
3. Most English Bible translations that actively condemn homosexuality have based themselves on the King James Version and have erroneously adapted its words to support their own agenda. We wanted to return to the clean source and start there.
4. Some claim the language of the KJV is antiquated, but we believe it is poetic, traditional, and ceremonial. Christianity is an ancient tradition, and the King James and resultant Queen James versions remind us and keep us connected to that tradition.
What We Changed
The Bible says nothing about homosexuality. However, there might be no other argument in contemporary faith as heated as what the Bible is interpreted to say about homosexuality.
The Bible is the word of God translated by man. This (saying nothing countless translations and the evolution of language itself) means the Bible can be interpreted in different ways, leading to what we call “interpretive ambiguity.” In editing The Queen James Bible we were faced with the decision to modify existing interpretively ambiguous language, or simply to delete it.
There are problems with removal of verses:
• It doesn’t address the problem of interpretive ambiguity, it only brushes it under the rug.
• It renders an incomplete Bible.
• Revelation says not to “edit the book,” and people often extend that to mean the entire Bible, not just the book of Revelation.
We also refused to just say “that’s outdated” and omit something. Yes, things like Leviticus are horribly outdated, but that doesn’t stop people from citing them. We wanted our Bible bulletproof from the ones shooting the bullets.
There are also problems with editing verses:
• The context, idiom, and grammar from the time are almost impossible to recreate. • Changes could further create interpretive ambiguity.
Many versions of the Bible translated and published since the King James Bible have changed the language, so the precedent had been set for editing. Furthermore, both problems with editing are easily addressed by deciding to make the edits as simple as possible.
We edited the Bible to prevent homophobic interpretations. We made changes to eight verses. Our edits are as follows:
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. (KJV)
We side with most Bible scholars who understand the story of Sodom and Gomorra to be about bullying strangers. Strangers were not well-treated or well-regarded at the time of Bible (hence so much of the Word urging the love and acceptance of others).
We know Lot asks that the men do not “know” the angel visitors “wickedly,” (Genesis 19:7), in other words “brutally,” which we understand to mean “rape.” We know from Leviticus that one is not allowed to have sex with a beast, and angels are not human. Plus, the passage mentions the men of the city; Obviously women and children aren’t going to be invited to a dominating and public rape, but we know there were women and children in Sodom because Lot had daughters. Rapes such as this one are common between men in prison; they aren’t sexual acts, they are power-dominating acts.
Therefore, we changed the verse to the following:
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. (QJV) (Page 21)
Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13
Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: 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. (KJV)
Leviticus is outdated as a moral code, but we still picked it as our most important book to address in our edits, as most anti-LGBT religious activists cite Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 as proof-positive that homosexuality is a sin, even worse, a sin punishable by death.
Translation of the Word Abomination
To address Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, we need to look at the path of translation. The Hebrew word “to’evah” from which abomination is translated simply means something that is “ritually unclean,” or a “taboo.”
Given the definition of the Hebrew word “to’evah” and the other “to’evah”s in Leviticus, we suggest that by today’s standards, a biblical abomination would be understood to be “scandalous.” (Keep in mind, a biblical “abomination,” by Levitical standards, would be scandalous, for a Jewish priest. Leviticus a holiness code for Jewish priests; In Hebrew it is known as Torat Kohanim – “Instructions for the priests”.)
Next on the path of translation, we see that the pre-KJV Greek versions of Leviticus could have used the Hebrew word “zimah” or Greek “anomia” – words that mean “actual violation of law or a sin,” but notably did not use those words. Anomia was used in pre-KJV Greek translations in the case of child sacrifice, a popular pagan ritual.
To simply replace “abomination” with “taboo” would only address 18:22, and not the death penalty proposed in 20:13. Furthermore, we don’t believe homosexual relations to be taboo, so that solution would have been unsatisfactory. Since abominable offenses aren’t all punishable by death like this one leads us to believe there was translative error at some point: If having sex with a man is punishable by death, it wouldn’t be called an abomination. Therefore, we left the word abomination as is, and found a much more elegant and logically clear solution to this interpretive ambiguity…
Context Within Leviticus
Leviticus is a very strict holy code designed to prevent acts associated with pre-Jewish idol worship. Many of the rules concern sexual acts, as most pagan rituals were sexual in nature. One notable and highly condemnable act was having sex with male pagan temple prostitutes. Both Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 are often referenced by themselves, but to understand the meaning behind the most famous anti-LGBT Bible verses, we looked at their context within Leviticus.
Leviticus 18 includes a long list of forbidden sexual offenses in the form of incest, from verse 6 (“near of kin” relatives) to verse 18 (your wife’s sister). At verse 19, the sexual offenses are no longer incestuous, simply forbidding sex with a menstruating woman (verse 19) and your neighbor’s wife (verse 20).
Leviticus 18:20 switches to the important topic of pagan idolatry: “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.” Again we must leverage the historical context in which Leviticus was written: Molech is an ancient pagan god, often referred to as “the [the] false god.” Leviticus mentions Molech in several places. Archetypal pagan rituals for worship of Molech included child sacrifice (literally referenced here in verse 20, and which we know was a “zimah,” punishable by death), as well as sex with male temple prostitutes. In fact, having sex with these male prostitutes in a pagan temple was the most popular form of Molech worship and therefore of “abominable” pagan idolatry.
We assert that Leviticus 18:21 refers to “lying” with these pagan male prostitutes as a form of pagan idolatry. This fits in with the story order of Leviticus, and with the other offenses punishments punishable by death within Leviticus. We therefore change Levticus 18:21 and 20:13 to read as follows:
Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind in the temple of Molech: it is an abomination. (QJV) (Page 75)
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. (QJV) (Page 76)
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against their nature: (KJV)
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. (KJV)
After Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, these New Testament verses are frequently interpreted as evidence that the Bible takes a stance against homosexuality. Romans is written in some of the most obtuse language in the entire Bible making it very difficult to interpret and translate. As such, its translations are usually some of the most incredibly stretched to support homophobic agendas.
Again we looked at the verse’s context in the rest of the chapter and book. Romans 1 describes how a group of Christians left the church to practice idolatry and were abandoned by God to continue on a downward spiral of sins including pride, envy, murder, and more.
Anti-LGBT Bible interpretations cite “women did change their natural use into that which is against nature:” to mean that women engaged in lesbian sex and that lesbianism is “unnatural.” In historical context and with knowledge of ancient pre-Bible idolatry, we know that women were treated as less than men, and even less so in pagan ritual of the time. It is much more likely that Paul meant to express that women were ritually defiling themselves (sexually or otherwise). After all, these women weren’t “lying” with women, language one would expect from Paul, a devout follower of Leviticus. We can’t be exactly sure what Paul meant by the natural use of a woman, but we can be pretty sure he wasn’t talking about lesbian sex. Romans 1:28 calls the acts “inconvenient,” further bolstering our understanding of women’s use and/or abuse in ceremony.
This would actually support 1:28: While the women were occupied with unnatural uses of their bodies (which could even have meant pagan dancing; we really have no idea), the men carried on in typical pagan sexual fashion like they always had done in pagan worship. And, being pagan, it was obviously “unseemly.”
Another instance of interpretive ambiguity occurs, we believe, because the description of the pagan gay sex is written after the fact that God has abandoned the idolators. It is easy to therefore say “God gave them up because they were having gay sex.” Had the verses read as follows, there would be no confusion:
Their women did change the natural use into that which is against their 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. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections.
This is with no words changed, just rearranged.
We know Paul was a Jew and steeped in the purity tradition of Leviticus. Leviticus, as we know, is intended to condemn ritual impurities associated with pagan idol worship. It would not be unreasonable to assume a connection, especially since Romans 1:24 mentions “uncleanness.” We know sex, both heterosexual and homosexual sex (not distinguished from each other at the time), was an extremely major component of pagan ritual. Most scholars (us included), agree that the sin in Romans 1 isn’t being gay or lesbian or having gay sex. The sin was worshiping pagan idols instead of God, as it was in Leviticus, as it is everywhere in the Bible.
To reflect our more examined understanding of what is “natural” and to clarify the subject matter of Romans 1, we have changed the verses to the following:
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; (QJV) (Page 545)
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. (QJV) (Page 545)
Romans is our most major editing, but also one of our most powerfully free of interpretive ambiguity; it has been made very clear, yet retains all of the content of the original.
1 Corinthians 6:9
1 Corinthians 6:9
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, (KJV)
1 Corinthians 6:10
Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (KJV)
Anti-gay interpreters of the Bible believe “nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind” in First Corinthians 6:9 to mean homosexuals, and therefore that homosexuals are on a level with all the other bad people named in the verse who won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Some Bible translations explicitly name homosexuals in this list (NAS, New Living), others choose different words (NIV uses “perverts,” others “boy prostitutes,” “self-indulgent,” and even “sissies”). In creating the QJV, we chose look at both of those terms with historical and translative contexts. Specifically we went to the Greek translations, where the subject of interpretation is most famous with Corinthians.
First, we know the English “effeminate” can be translated from the Greek “malakoi,” which can mean “soft,” but in several very important ways. It 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.” To Greeks and first century Romans, these traits were associated with women, who were seen as morally weaker than men, obsessed with beauty and self-indulgences. Women were far from equal with men at the time of the Bible, enslaved in a manner of misogyny we would find difficult to comprehend today. Anyone morally weak, passive, easily influenced, vain (anything “weak-like-a-woman” so to speak), fits better with the covetous, drunkards, adulterers, and the like described in these verses. Whether or not they are effeminate by today’s standards has no bearing on it, and so we changed “effeminate” to “morally weak” to clarify this verse’s meaning.
One of the most famous homosexual Bible ambiguous interpretations is the line “Abusers of themselves with mankind,” which can be linked to the Greek word “Arsenokoitais.” The meaning of arsenokoitais has been famously debated, but in fact, “arsenokoitais” translates to “the male who has many beds,” and wherever else “kotais” is used in the Greek translations, it implies what we would use “promiscuity” for in modern English. (“Arsenokoitais” is likely referring to men who “abuse themselves” with the child-aged male prostitutes common in pagan temples at the time). Furthermore, Greek as a language had developed words for homosexuality, but none of those words were used in arsenokoitais’s place. We changed the phrase “Abusers of themselves with mankind” to “promiscuous” as one who is promiscuous risks their own health and that of others, sexually and otherwise, as they disrespect their God-given body.
We changed Corinthians 6:9 to reflect this clarified understanding (Corinthians 6:10 included for context):
1 Corinthians 6:9
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, (QJV) (Page 554)
1 Corinthians 6:10
Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (QJV) (Page 554)
1 Timothy 1:10
1 Timothy 1:10
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; (KJV)
Given the context and theme of all our edits, we have changed “defile themselves with mankind” to simply “defile themselves.”
1 Timothy 1:10
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; (QJV) (Page 575)
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. (KJV)
Given our clarification of the story of Sodom, we chose to highlight the fact that the male mob in Sodom raped angels, which is “strange” in that it is nonhuman. We changed the verse to the following:
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. (QJV) (Page 593)
What We Didn’t Change
We didn’t change anything else to create this edition of the Queen James Bible. 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.
The discussion of homosexuality in the Bible is great and far-reaching and we encourage all to study it more. Our website http://queenjamesBible.com/ has resources for further study.
Yours in Christ,