A brief review of Tom Wright’s new translation of the New Testament

Tom Wright, a top British biblical scholar, has just published a new translation of the New Testament. I wasn’t going to buy it at first but reading bits of it impressed me so much by its readability and freshness that I had to get it. I like Wright’s translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:

Don’t you know that the unjust will not inherit God’s kingdom? Don’t be deceived! Neither immoral people, nor idolaters, not adulterers, nor practicing homosexuals of whichever sort, nor thieves, nor greedy people, nor drunkards, nor abusive talkers, nor robbers will inherit God’s kingdom. That, or course is what some of you were!

The casual reader of the passage in Paul’s letter will not know that the words I have highlighted in bold are a storm-centre of controversy in the church. The controversy has to do with the meaning of these two Greek words: μαλακοὶ and ἀρσενοκοῖται which Wright translates as nor practicing homosexuals of whichever sort. Wright is right. Some liberal Christian commentators have implausibly suggested that Paul only condemned pederasty or abusive sexual relationships between males. But the Greek is unqualified in its general condemnation of males who have sex with males. The word ἀρσενοκοῖται (arsenokoitai) is decisive.

Professor Robert Gagnon observes:

‘The word arsenokoitai should be translated literally as “men who lie with a male.” There is a clear connection to the Levitical prohibitions of male-male intercourse. The word is formed from the Greek words for “lying” (koite) and “male” (arsen) that appear in the Greek Septuagint translation of the Levitical prohibitions of men “lying with a male” (18:22; 20:13).’ source

The shocking implication is that the growing number of Churches worldwide that approve this prohibited behaviour (such as the United Church of Christ and the Metropolitan Community Church) are encouraging behaviour that if unrepented literally excludes people from God’s kingdom!

Categories: Bible, Dr Tom Wright, Homosexuality, NT Wright

21 replies

  1. 9 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, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

    What does NT Wright translation give for the rest of verse 11?

    You left that out.

    Shows there is power in the gospel of Jesus Christ to change a person.

    washed, sanctified, justified = forgiven and changed and made a new creation. 2 Cor. 5:17, Romans 4, 5, 6

    • Spiritual renewal leading to interior change is a key objective in most religions. Islam and Judaism bear witness to the same phenomenon.

      • Please give the rest of NT Wright’s translation of verse 11.

      • Islam does not have much on internal change. It is mostly an external law of force to control society.

        It has some, but it is not the over-riding emphasis.

        It has no solution to the sinful nature within (Nafs – Amore – نفس اماره – the Farsi version that comes from Arabic roots. (the flesh or soul that pulls towards sinfulness within)

        The historical Jesus taught about the Nafs Amore –
        Mark 7:2-0-23

      • Jesus was a Muslim prophet so you refute yourself LOL

      • “Jesus was a Muslim prophet” – LOL
        No; verse 19 contradicts your claim. Jesus made all foods clean – so He was not a Muslim prophet.
        Also Mark 7:20-23 shows the internal sinful nature / original sin as the problem, which Islam denies by Qur’an 30:30 and it’s dogmatic understanding of the Fitra.

        The historical Jesus refutes the Islamic understanding of the Fitra.
        Matthew 7:11

        “If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him?”

      • ‘Jesus made all foods clean’ – Mark *claims* this but Luke thought he was dead wrong and deleted the verse from this gospel.

        Jesus was a Muslim prophet.

  2. the word translated “effeminate” in the NASB – means “the passive homosexual” – what does Gagnon say about that?

    The bigger problem in modern Western society is that some people are holding onto identifying themselves as “gay” or “same sex attracted” and claiming that that cannot be changed by the power of Christ.

    It does not mean that all temptations go away easily. The process of sanctification is an ongoing battle and war against the flesh / sinful nature – Ephesians 6:10-20; Galatians 5:13-26; Romans 7:13-8:13, etc.

    This goes along with your other post, IMHO, if “being gay” is flaunted in public, etc. then the Muslim world and also the Muslims in England are going to be cruel, etc.

    the answer is the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ of all that the NT teaches, that can give a person who struggles with same sex attraction victory over that issue.

    • ‘the answer is the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ of all that the NT teaches, that can give a person who struggles with same sex attraction victory over that issue.’

      I have known literally dozens of Christians in this position and I can tell you solemnly that nearly all fell away from the faith because the evangelical faith they followed did not live up to its extravagant promises.

      • anecdotal experience of some does not over-ride truthfulness of the spiritual reality.

      • No, Luke did not “delete” nor think he was wrong. In fact, Luke agrees with Mark as evidenced by Acts chapters 10-11, which teaches the same thing – no longer treat the Gentiles as “unclean” like their foods – reach out to them in evangelism and friendship.
        So you are wrong.

      • “Jesus was a Muslim prophet” = massive anachronistic illogic.

        You pride yourself on being intellectual and giving scholarly evidence from scholarly modern post-Enlightenment western scholarship; yet on this issue, you nuke your brain from reason and scholarship and historical reality and commit anachronistic fundamentalism Islam in imputing something 600 later back into cherry picked verses from the NT and OT. A mass of illogical reasoning and tangled yarn of confused thinking.

      • You are in error and did not discover your mistake, 2 errors.
        Must analyze and sterilize . . .

      • you can try and dismiss the actual testimony of over 20 conservative Evangelicals I know personally who met at my Church (Westbourne Park Baptist Church, London). But your pseudo-gospel failed to work with them.

        Nothing you say here can change these facts. These are real people.

      • “failure to work” (according to your definition) does not mean it (the truth of 1 Cor. 6:9-11) is not true.

        Sanctification does not mean God zaps into a perfect sinless being, with no more struggles.

        over 20 conservatives, etc. – not quite “dozens” as you claimed earlier.

        Did all 21 or 22 go to Islam or just atheism or agnosticism or what ? or progressive Christianity ?

  3. Kenny, I’m coming after you here … you are a trinitarian polytheist wondering in a maze of error and confusion…The trinity has nuked your mind Kenny ….

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