I just reported on the Study New Testament for Lesbians, Gays, Bi, and Transgender, but this bible doesn't seem to destigmatize homosexuality in its translation of the NT – except that it doesn't use the term "homosexual." And I must say, its interpretation of the passages, supposedly using the most up to date understanding of ancient Greek, seems to interpret a lot more than it translates.
For example, check out 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. (NASB)
Now, see how the TSNT translates this passage:
People who engage in sexual acts against the Law of Moses, idol worshippers, adulterers, receptive male homosexual promiscuous cross dressers, anal penetrators, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, people who use abusive language, those who cheat people in financial transactions will not obtain God’s Realm as their inheritance! (TSNT)
Well, that clears it up – NOT. In Nyland's defense, she is not trying to clear up theology, just translate things as clearly as possible from the Greek.
I'm no Greek scholar, but let's look at the words.
This is the Greek word malakos, which is translated "effeminate" in the NASB, which Nyland translates as "receptive male homosexual promiscuous cross dressers." Interestingly, this word is only used two other places in the NT, and both times, it is referring to "soft" clothing. So how does Nyland get this very long translation? By common usage outside of the NT, I assume (she'll probably show up and take me to task, which is fine).
The problem with this is that now we are playing somewhat of a numbers game. I mean, if in extra-biblical sources, malakos is translated as "effeminate" a minority of the time, while the majority of the time, when used in to describe people, it refers to receptive promiscuous crossdressers (not to be confused with aggressive promiscuous crossdressers ;), are we just playing a numbers game?
I wonder, for instance, if we should be consulting early theologians on this passage, rather than the sum of usage across Christian and pagan literature.
In fact, what I also think she is doing here is basically taking all possible definitions of this word and putting them into one long string rather than interpreting the passage in light of Judeo-Christian theology. In light of the Jewish prohibition on cross-dressing, I'd say that this term "effeminate" probably includes transgenders and transvestites.
This is the Greek word arsenokoit?s, which I discussed previously in Is Homosexuality Compatible with Authentic Christianity?
I think it is interesting that she would interpret this word anal penetrators, since the roots of the word (aresnos = male, koites = coitus) really say nothing of the anus. I mean, if you take her translation literally, even hetero anal sex would be anathema (and well it might be). Again, I think she may be presenting more interpretation than translation – she has certainly insinuated the word "anal." As I mentioned above – we should more heavily rely on the theological background of Paul than mere common Greek usage. I think I agree with James White on this issue:
Paul draws here two terms from the Greek Septuagint that are found in Leviticus 20:13 in the combination of ‘homosexual’: arsinos, meaning male, and koitos,
the term from which we get the word coitus, sexual intercourse. It
refers to men laying with men as a man lays with a woman, i.e.
homosexuality. Given the Old Testament background of Leviticus 20:13, and the use of those terms, there can surely be no question about this meaning…
This same word appears in 1 Timothy 2:10, which she also interprets as "anal penetrators."
So far, I don't see anything that makes this translation gay-friendly, but I do see that her translation seems oddly over-specific when the original words don't seem to demand it.
>> In Part II, we'll examine the TSNT's translation of Romans 1:26-27.