The Queen James Bible has been around since late 2012 but it seems to be making the rounds again on social media so I’ll take some time to give a brief description of the lies and deceit it presents.
While I do have qualifications in Hebrew and Greek, I don’t plan to address those language issues in detail here. Rather, this is intended for a general audience so the analysis will be of the English texts with necessary reference to original language issues. If you wish to ask questions about the original languages I will be happy to field them but I would also direct you to this CARM site which has some original language discussion of these texts. The best and most thorough exegesis of these texts can be found in Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon’s massive tome, The Bible and Homosexual Practice.
The King James Version is a good, old translation which represents the original language texts well. The QJV follows the KJV closely with a few notable exceptions. The approach here will be to examine the texts in chronological order with a discussion of the differences and then compare these to a contemporary translation from the NIV.
What’s in a name?
The Queen James Bible’s name reveals a lot about its creators. It is intentionally provocative in that “queen” is typically used of a class of homosexual males. So the wordplay between King and Queen is intended to be affirming of male homosexuality and offensive to traditional Christians who understand the undertones behind it. So right at the outset this is a mocking, confrontational, and insulting title, ironically, representing a group that has begged for tolerance and acceptance from traditional Christians.
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.”
NIV They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”
This is the first occurrence of a text that has homosexual overtones to it. In this story, Lot shelters two men for the night in the city of Sodom. Unbeknownst to him, these are two angels who have come to town in order to see if the city is as wicked as has been reported to God.
Ancient hospitality standards meant that Lot was to protect these men at all costs. When the men of Sodom approach the house at night they demand to have the men turned over to them. The question is what do the men want to do with these two strangers? The KJV says that they want to “know” them. This has always been understood to be a euphemism for homosexual intercourse. However, the QJV cannot let that stand so it changes the actual word into a three-word interpretation: “rape and humiliate”. The QJV has taken this step in order to remove homosexual acts as the actual sin. Instead they want the sin to be “rape” (because everyone agrees that rape is bad and it also happens between heterosexuals) and “humiliation” because this also frees the text of strictly homosexual behavior as sin.
Anyone who studies the whole of the Sodom and Gomorrah story will acknowledge that the cities were rife with all manner of sin. The Sodom story points out that one of those sins was to violate the hospitality codes and engage in homosexual activity with, and quite possibly the rape of, the two men. This is one of the least offensive changes made by the QJV and yet it is still deceptive as it tries to blunt the force of the homosexual activity and re-channel it into the directions of rape and humiliation only. The NIV preserves the sense of the text and the best scholarship by simply saying “have sex with them”. This does not imply that they necessarily intended to rape the men, although that is still a possibility.
Humiliation would be the natural outcome in the ancient world if the men were sexually used as women. These were classed societies and the passive male partner in sexual relations lost status in the eyes of such societies at this time. The QJV text mixes some truth about humiliation with some uncertainty on the issue of rape in order to present this text as being less about homosexuality as sin and more about criminal behavior and social customs violations.
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.
NIV Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.
This is the first text explicitly on the subject of male homosexuality. As you can see below, the KJV has no qualifying phrase placing any limits on the sin of homosexual practice. It is simply “an abomination”. The first deceit that the QJV puts into the text is the phrase “in the temple of Molech”. This phrase does not exist in the original language texts of the Hebrew Bible. So why is it here? This is an attempt to limit the impact of the text so that not all homosexual practices are wrong, just those done in a particular religious context.
The attempt to deceive finds some ground based upon Lev. 18:2-3 where God tells the Israelites that they are not to follow the practices of the Egyptians or the Canaanites. Among those practices is male homosexuality. This leads to the natural conclusion that both groups committed these, or at least most of these, sins. Verse 21 seems to be the only exception because the Egyptians did not worship Molech. In fact, they saw it as a detestable form of worship.
Molech worship included stoking fires inside the god’s bronze idol until its hands were glowing red hot. Then a child or infant was placed on the hands and allowed to burn to death. Priests would play musical instruments in order to cover over the sounds of the dying child’s shrieks of agony. The Egyptians did not do such things. Homosexual acts, however, were something the two cultures could have in common. It also makes sense that the acts were condemned outright as we know of no homosexual acts conducted during worship in Egypt. So there doesn’t seem to be any grounds to the idea of ritual worship much less Molech worship “in the temple”.
The text is also deceptive in that Jewish religious tradition has held that homosexual practice was a sin based upon this text and the next one and there were no limiting factors. The NIV gives a modern translation and it does not limit the text in any way. Simply put, the text says that male homosexual practice is a sin.
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.
NIV If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.
This passage also has the same phrase “in the temple of Molech” included. Again it is without any justification. All of the same criticisms can be leveled at this as the text above. Both texts seem to hope to have the reader infer that the text was in some way incomplete, misunderstood, or even covered up until now. While conspiracy theories may be appealing to some people, the text has actually been consistently understood to mean that male homosexual acts were sinful all along the translation history.
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 their nature.
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.
NIV Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.
This text has even more problems than the texts listed before it. The QJV has simply struck out part of the text of this verse, moved it to the next verse, and rewritten the rest. It departs from the KJV’s faithfulness to the original Greek text at this point. This is the most extensive change under discussion here.
Notice that the KJV line “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections” does not appear at all in this verse of the QJV. Also notice that the QJV adds men to this list, which is not in the Greek text at this point, and it includes the limiting phrase “in ritual lust” which is, again, not in the original Greek. All of this is again an attempt to limit the sin of homosexual practice to only pagan worship practices.
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.
QJV 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.
NIV In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
In conjunction with verse 26, this verse has also been significantly reworded. The missing sentence “for this cause God gave them up unto vile affections” has been moved to this verse and is modified. It removes the word “them” and inserts the word “idolators”. As before, this is not found in the Greek. Similarly, the words “pagan and” are included which are not in the Greek text. As in the previous verse and the Leviticus verses, the goal is to limit the sin of homosexual practice only to pagan worship. That would mean that all other homosexual practice is free and clear of any “sin” label.
The assumption underlying the use of “idolators” is that Romans 1 is only about pagan idol worshipers. In fact, it is about humanity at large. When human beings are left to their own devices they naturally turn away from God, His will, and His intentions. This is a rebellion in which God is abandoned only to be replaced by worthless idols and human sexuality is misused and abused through homosexual acts.
1 Corinthians 6:9
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,
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,
Here we are presented with an interesting case. Notice the three underlined sections. The KJV has the term “effeminate” which is a translation of the term “soft” from Greek. Two lines of thought have been proposed on this translation. One that retains the KJV translation is to understand the effeminate male as what we might consider a transgender or cross-dressing male. The other is to understand the pairing of the two words used here as the active and passive participants in male homosexual acts. This seems to be the best of the two arguments for reasons that are too lengthy to be discussed at this time.
Notice that the QJV has completely changed the translations of these words to their own peculiar choices. The effeminate male becomes “morally weak” and the “abusers of themselves with mankind” become “promiscuous”. These are very strained readings of the text at best but it serves the purpose of removing general homosexual acts from the category of “sin”. The NIV has followed what scholarship has come to conclude: that these are the active and passive partners in male homosexual acts. It has also gone a step further by not trying to draw the nuanced distinction for the English reader but simply combining the terms to say “men who have sex with men”. This covers it all for the modern English reader and there is a footnote to explain that this renders two Greek words.
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.
NIV for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine
A look at the Greek text is almost required for this passage. The underlined words are only one word in Greek. The English text has more words in it than the Greek because it has to explain what is meant by the Greek whereas the Greek readers knew instinctively. The Greek word is a combination of two Greek words which indicate male homosexuals. It more literally means a “male-bedder” that is, one who “goes to bed with” a male. Used euphemistically, it has sexual overtones to it. Scholarship has improved the translation of this passage in two ways and they are both reflected in the NIV. The first is the phrase “for those practicing homosexuality” and the second is the change from “whoremongers” to “sexually immoral” as the Greek word covers a more broad range of sexual sins.
It is also worth noting that the QJV has omitted any reference to “mankind” in the underlined section. Notice the rather ambiguous phrase “for them that defile themselves”. This is more unjustified sleight of hand to fool the uninformed reader. Exactly what type of defiling is in mind is not clear from this translation. It may be an attempt to point to religious defilement of some sort, which would be somewhat consistent with the previous attempts to limit the sinfulness of homosexual acts only to those done in the context of pagan religious services.
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.
Referring back to the Genesis 19 situation at Sodom, Jude raises some issues unlike the previous passages. Notice the adjectives change from the “strange” flesh in the KJV to “nonhuman” flesh in the QJV. The problem here is what nuance was intended by the word “strange” in the Greek. The QJV wants us to think that the men were sinful because they wanted to have sex with the two angels. However, the men never know that these two are actually angels. They think that they are simply two men who are visiting the city overnight. The QJV might also wish us to think that the story is told with the reader already having the knowledge that these two men are actually angels and that the reader would know that the real sin was the men wanting to have sex with angelic beings.
Of all the changes listed here, this is the only one that might be justified. The Greek word is literally the word “other” and not “strange”. In fact, it is heteros from where we get hetero-sexual. The Greek word homois means “same” and is where we get the word homo-sexual. In the latter case it means people of the “same” sex whereas in the former case it means people of the opposite sex. But some other observations need to be made in order to fill out the interpretation. Jews of the time knew that homosexuality was a sin. Nowhere is it indicated that the men of Sodom knew the two “men” were angels. So how should we understand the word “other”?
Modern translations have varied a bit in how they handle this. The NIV has again corrected the other two versions by changing “fornication” to “sexual immorality” based upon better scholarship. The NIV has also opted to say “perversion” instead of “strange flesh”. The combination of the two is clear enough for the informed English reader to understand that “perversion” is something beyond “sexual immorality” and thus has homosexual implications because of the story’s background. The ESV has “unnatural desire” while TLB has a more clear explanation, “lust of men for other men.” The NRSV simply has “unnatural lust” which is relatively clear based upon the context in the same way as the NIV.
At this point I would not side exactly with any of these translations. I would retain the NIV’s use of “sexual immorality” instead of “fornication” but I would opt for “other flesh” as a more literal reading of the text. Having said that, the intention of “other flesh” is probably to indicate the “nonhuman” or “angelic” flesh of Lot’s visitors. Jude uses stories about angels to make his point. He precedes this with reference to a story from 1 Enoch about angels who left heaven to come to earth for their own purposes; he follows it with reference to a story about the archangel Michael disputing with Satan over the body of Moses. In between he references the story of Sodom with its angelic visitors. By using thesestories as illustrations, Jude is telling his readers that certain ones have similarly improperly transgressed into the realm of angels since they “heap abuse on celestial beings” (v. 8).
Why, then, do other translations specifically indicate or allude to homosexual activity? The most obvious answer seems to be that they understand the term “other” to mean something like “other men not of the city; not of their ethnic group – strangers”. If the men of Sodom simply wanted homosexual activity they could have satisfied themselves with each other. Instead they went after the strangers who were “other” than them.
One other factor deserves some thought. Since the KJV says “fornication” and “strange flesh” it doesn’t have a homosexual overtone to it other than the background knowledge of Genesis 19 that the reader brings to it. So it is difficult to see how this change would lessen the sin of homosexuality, unlike the previous changes made in other passages. The only way it is possible is to understand “strange flesh” as a euphemism for “homosexual acts with strangers”. Based upon the context, this seems unlikely. The QJV may be reacting more to modern versions which retain the notion of homosexuality in them than to the language of the KJV since it is ambiguous in meaning anyway.
Much more could be said and has, in fact, been written on these topics. This is a selective, concise summary and evaluation of these passages. It is in no way to be considered a complete exegetical evaluation.