A Critique of Prohomosexual Interpretations of the Old Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha -- By: James B. De Young

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 147:588 (Oct 1990)
Article: A Critique of Prohomosexual Interpretations of the Old Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha
Author: James B. De Young


A Critique of Prohomosexual Interpretations of the Old Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha

James B. De Young

Professor of New Testament Language and Literature
Western Conservative Baptist Seminary, Portland, Oregon

The contemporary debate surrounding homosexuality has many facets, including sexual behavior, public morality, law, civil rights, public health, and the interpretation of Scripture. The last facet is particularly important, for the way people perceive the relevance of the Bible on the issue will determine in large measure how the issue will be addressed from the other perspectives.

In recent years interpretations of the Scriptures have arisen that challenge traditional teaching regarding homosexuality. The “prohomosexual” interpretations are “revisionist” in that they either (1) fail to find homosexuality where it has been found before (Gen 19; Judg 19; Ezek 16; 1 Cor 6; 1 Tim 1; etc.), or (2) claim that passages referring to homosexuality are irrelevant to the Christian church either because they concern Israel’s special relationship to God (e.g., Lev 18; 20), or because they concern a form of homosexuality (rape or pederasty) unlike the modern phenomenon of mutual adult relationships and hence have nothing to contribute.

Somewhat surprisingly, this “prohomosexual” position is founded on the witness of the Old Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha. The claim is that the Scriptures, excluding 2 Peter and Jude, do not link homosexuality to Sodom, nor does the Old Testament Apocrypha. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha makes this connection for the first time in reactions to the homosexuality rampant in Greco-Roman society. The Pseudepigrapha subsequently

influenced 2 Peter and Jude to connect Sodom with homosexual practices. Therefore, according to Bailey, “the traditional conception of Sodom receives little support from Scripture.”1 Boswell2 and Scroggs3 have followed Bailey in this approach. Scroggs indeed believes that condemnations of Scripture concern pederasty, not mutual, adult homosexuality, on the basis of interpretations found in the Pseudepigrapha. The New Testament, like the Pseudepigrapha, is only reacting to the pederasty of the surrounding pagans.

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