The word “gay” is in the Bible by mistake

The first time the word “gay” appeared in the Bible was in 1946. That year, a committee met to translate a modern English version of the book from Greek. Religious scholars, priests, theologians, linguists, anthropologists, and activists have conducted decades of research and investigation into cases where the word appears in the book. Their conclusion is that it was a translation error.

In other words, the biblical assertion that homosexuality is a sin — the catalyst for a complete shift in culture, with political, religious ramifications, consequences for gay rights and acceptance and, frankly, deadly results — were, they claim, wrong. .

As a new movie asserts, “it was the misuse of a single word that changed the course of history.”

1946: The Mistranslation That Changed Culture It is a new documentary film directed by Sharon “Rocky” Roggio. Ahead of its premiere this week at DOC NYC, it has spread, as one might expect, widely within conservative and Christian communities.

A popular campaign to promote the film on social media resulted in the official TikTok account garnering more than 185,000 followers. Logical. For most people – devout Christian or otherwise – what the movie says is shocking.

There are layers to it: the realization that the Bible has been translated many times over the centuries, and that human error may have been involved in the process. This may be obvious, but it is eye-opening. Moreover, there is agreement with the idea that human error can be responsible for fueling homophobia – the mentality of hatred, oppression, and religious nationalism that has defined the past 75 years of our existence.

Before anyone saw the film, there was an orchestrated effort to attack and debunk the film’s claims. Roggio and others involved in making the documentary have received threats. Campaigns have been launched to remove even innocuous posts on social media. An entire book has been published to refute the evidence – although the film has yet to be shown.

Roggio told The Daily Beast in an exclusive interview before 1946New York premiere. “We literally untie them and pull the anchors out of the bottom.”

These attacks come from all directions.

“We were shocked by the conservative public,” Roggio says. We shocked the atheist audience. We are shocked by the church-damaged LGBTI people who are now leaving the church, because they feel we advocate religious supremacy even by playing up this dialogue.”

1946 He takes an academic journalistic approach to substantiate these claims. Through their review of thousands of historical documents, centuries of ancient texts, and translations of the Bible in many languages, the experts concluded that two Greek words were mistranslated to mean gay. One more accurate means androgynous. The other implicitly refers to a person who sexually assaulted and harmed someone.

As the film shows, after years of translation, when the error was pointed out, the commission acknowledged it and tried to correct it. But by the 1970s, traces of these verses had spread widely. By the time the AIDS crisis arrived in the 1980s, that mindset had been weaponized by the moral majority, particularly in the amalgamation of politics and religion in the United States.

“The point of our film was the scriptural craftsmanship,” says Roggio. “We just think it was a magic book just handed to us, but these are real people who made these decisions that affect our real reality. People will feel out of touch with this idea that it was man who corrupted, not God. As much as we fight biblical literalism, we want from Our conservative audience has to travel with us, meaning this is not an attack on God. This is not an attack on the Bible. This is a real problem of mistranslation.”

Before 1946 Premiering at DOC NYC November 12, we spoke with Roggio about the work she (along with scholars and activists Cathy Baldock and Ed Oxford) has done to accurately substantiate the film’s claims, the challenge of reaching a Christian community that refuses to even listen to the evidence, and how a film A documentary like this would change the world.

I grew up in church, but I’m still someone who found the idea of ​​”homosexuality” being a mistranslation in the Bible shocking. What was the people’s response to this?

We are talking about the largest book in the world. This affects the three largest religions in the world. This affects everyone. We do not discuss these things. This was what piqued my interest as someone who grew up in the church, was a victim of bad religion, and was discriminated against because I am a member of the LGBTQ community. Realizing that the word gay wasn’t in the Bible until 1946, that was a flick for me. I think it would be a click away for a lot of people.

Even the basic principle that the Gospels we read were translated by a human, and there may have been an error in that translation – this is a startling realization of people.

One of the biggest fears we see in America today is Christian nationalism and people who use the Bible who say it is infallible. They are literalists in the Bible. She has dominion over us. It can not be changed. The word is the word. This is dangerous. It is dangerous for many people. We see that happening in our reality today, and I call that religious supremacy, really. My idea of ​​refining these topics is to hopefully get a conservative audience to join us and be honest about this. Words have power and words have meaning. The way we use the Bible and use these ancient texts is very important. So what we’re trying to do is put context.

What is the point of this context?

Our film is more than just theology. It’s history. It is the community. It is a policy. It is a law. It is repression. That’s how, again, these words make sense. As a group we had to negotiate the script. Over time a group of people has had to pick and choose which verses stand out, and which ones we follow – the verses that appear in our land and law. To be an honest reader of Christian texts, we have to find a way in which we do not persecute people, as we put the text in context – we understand where it came from and how it affected a group of people.

When you introduce this idea, which is seismic and potentially annoying to many people, how do you explain it to them on a basic level?

1946: The Mistranslation That Changed Culture This is the first time the word “homosexual” appears in the Bible. We had a team of researchers who wanted to ask the question: Who made this decision and why? What was discovered by a series of letters written by the translation committee that put the word “gay” there, was that it was a mistake. Then it was discovered how the word “gay” got into print in the 1970s. This affected the 1980s and the moral majority, and how we see the fusion of politics and religion, specifically in America. What we see now are the dangers of Christian nationalism, and they are increasing.

Can you talk more specifically about the mistranslation of the word “gay” and what happened there?

We are talking about a word, a medical term that has a connotation of a group of people who have an orientation, contrary to what the original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic texts indicate, a aggressor, a person who was the aggressor – someone who offended another person, and there is a victim on the other side. It’s an entirely different connotation. So that was my motivation for making the film, because now I have concrete evidence, written letters from the committee [acknowledging this].

This translation committee not only recognized the error, but continued to correct it and make its translations reflect the connotation of abusive behavior. While we now see a grudge in the conservative committees, who have done the opposite since the eighties. They say it refers to consensual verbs, so it has been amplified as homophobia due to poor translation.

This translation committee not only recognized the error, but continued to correct it.

From my experience, I know there are many Christians who are unmoved by their beliefs, and operate from the point of blind faith. How do you feel about coming up with all this evidence, research, and proof – even just a request to hear what the movie claims – but met with such stubborn certainty?

It’s like hitting a wall. You have two types of Christians. You get people like my dad. [Roggio’s father is a pastor who appears in the film and repeatedly challenges its claims.] They want us to think that they love us so much, that they are just trying to give us the truth. And my father is very kind and never hurts. But there are other people we’ll see, especially on social media, turning their fear into anger and then hate. They are evil. Much of what I see on social media and TikTok is an example of the phrase “there is no love like hating Christians.” They are just so disgusting.

Is it ever a product? What does facing that look like on a human level?

We have reached out to a couple of people who will actually listen and watch the movie. But there are a lot of people who are too closed to thinking. It is heartbreaking that people are not even open to recognizing us as human beings. It’s just a human tendency. With the church feeling so comfortable with others – not us, it’s you – it’s easy for them to dehumanize an LGBTQ person. The main drawback is that even some of those theologians who would put forth this harmful discourse, do not have relationships with LGBT people.

Do you think this makes a difference?

One of the reasons why I wanted to put my dad in the movie and my story in the movie is that we’re a prime example of this “hitting the wall”. This is an example of someone I love very much, who is my biggest persecutor. There is no way for him at all. And the other thing, you know, is we’re not going to change everyone’s opinions, and that’s okay. But at the end of the day, my dad needs to keep his beliefs where they belong, and stay away from mine.

I do not hinder his equal rights and he does not need to hinder my rights. I do this to provide equal protection to everyone under the law, because if we don’t deal with this now, with the Bible in this country, we are all in trouble – no matter what you believe in.

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