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Reforming SodomProtestants and the Rise of Gay Rights$
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Heather Rachelle White

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469624112

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469624112.001.0001

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How the Bible Came to Speak about Homosexuality

(p.1) Introduction
Reforming Sodom

Heather R. White

University of North Carolina Press

This introductory chapter traces the history of homosexuality in mainline Protestantism. Appearing for the first time in the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Bible in 1946, in Apostle Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians, the term “homosexual” was added by liberal Protestant Bible scholars who believed that homosexuality was a vice that had been opposed since Sodom. Two enigmatic Greek nouns, referenced in the older King James Version (KJV) as “effeminate” and “abusers of themselves with mankind,” now appeared as a single, streamlined “homosexual.” Some Bible readers, however, opposed this textual change and noted that before the addition, the topic of same-sex relationships was absent in Protestant literature. The chapter argues that the Bible's specifically same-sex meaning was an invention of the twentieth century. It also discusses how this liberal Protestant legacy shaped all sides of the oppositional politics over gay rights.

Keywords:   homosexuality, mainline Protestantism, Bible, Revised Standard Version, Apostle Paul, liberal Protestant, King James Version, gay rights

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