DeYoung, James B. “Homosexuality: Contemporary Claims Examined in Light of the Bible and Other Ancient Literature and Law”, Kregel Academic & Professional, 2000.
Responding to Homosexuality Via the Bible
Using the Bible, Jewish literature, and information from ancient cultures, James B. DeYoung provides the knowledge necessary to respond with confidence, compassion, and honesty to the demands that Christians accept active homosexuality. His response is from a conservative Christian point of view, to the revisionist biblical studies of John Boswell, Robin Scroggs, William Countryman and many others. However, since DeYoung is not familiar with both the biblical material and the works of his principal opponents causing his book to be a jumble of textual argument, theological and ethical assertion and confused terminology. In striving for a comprehensive refutation of Boswell and others, DeYoung has produced a volume that will not only be too technical for all but that will also disturb scholars of every persuasion with its rhetorical and interpretive shortcuts. Many of his critiques, especially those of Boswell’s use of biblical and ancient material, have merit and are echoed in other recent scholarship, but they are presented with no regard for scholarly protocol. Totally absent is a central idea necessary to compete paradigms of the revisionists. DeYoung intersperses long quotations from ancient sources that do little to focus the reader’s attention. Even stranger are his wastes of time in brief, fictionalized narratives that speculate on the experiences of such characters as Lot’s wife, a Canaanite temple prostitute and a very strange future Christian ala Luke Skywalker. DeYoung should have saved the trees by not wasting paper on this—it is a complete and utter embarrassment both to him and to who he considers his readers.
It is interesting that not everyone agrees about this book. One reviewer says that this is “a scholarly, well researched and referenced work that can derail almost any pro-homosexual argument… Heavily footnoted, Dr. De Young derails the most popular pro-homosexual propaganda and does it on biblical, historical-ethical, and legal grounds”. He also has something to say about the negative reviews, “ I now believe the loud and negative reviews are directly proportional to the degree of unease and discomfort the pro-homosexual lobby has with this truthful tome”.
Another says, “The title of this book interested me because I thought the book would provide neutral, objective comparisons of older and newer translations of biblical passages. However, by the end of the introduction it was apparent that this was just another evangelical-Christian anti-homosexual book that fully subscribed to older biblical translations and was written principally to dismiss contemporary scholarly efforts to clarify them”. I have to agree that this book takes its evidence from
“older, long-held stereotypical views of homosexuals that have little to do with who these people actually are. In most cases, Mr. De Young uses biblical language against these people as Christianity has traditionally done, and he makes no effort to genuinely understand where past translations have been in error and have resulted in mischaracterizations and mistreatment of homosexual persons”.
We are aware that contemporary scholars have at times misinterpreted biblical passages. Re-examining them, we see that in several cases these scholars have also provided a much deeper and more accurate interpretation of them. For those who deeply believe that the Bible is a direct revelation of God, it is necessary to know what scripture genuinely means as intended by its author. Mr. DeYoung was not able to do so and this simply means that he is unable to accept his own challenge and his own biases and prejudices cloud what might have been honest and accurate understandings of biblical passages.
On the plus side, DeYoung discusses the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek terms “tovbah”, “bdelygma” and “anomia”. Both Boswell and Helminiak based their studies on the use of these terms. He refers to the Hebrew Bible’s view on homosexuality and he deals with the Apocrypha and Psudepigrapha texts. Sadly, however, this book is a waste of time even from a conservative Christian point of view. I hate when I prepare myself to like something and then find out that it is valueless to do so.
De Young gives us what he thinks is a readable yet comprehensible explanation of homosexuality as presented in the Bible and other ancient literature and law. I understand that he seeks to evaluate virtually every attempt to reinterpret the Bible and other ancient Jewish, Greek, Roman, and Christian literature on this topic. He arranges and critiques these reinterpretations under six or seven different groupings, including ritual purity, worldview, liberation theology, and moral argumentation. And then he blows it by first addressing why homosexual behavior is wrong. In the chapters that follow, he presents the witness on homosexuality as found in the Old Testament, the Pseudepigrapha and Apocrypha, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible which he incorrectly refers to as the Old Testament, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Timothy 1:8-10; Jesus and the Gospels, and in ALL the sacred and secular law codes from the ancient Near East. (The word “all” bothers me—I do not think he could have possibly examined them all). In the final chapter, he claims to give the answers to the twenty most important questions about homosexuality and gay rights (are there only 20?), and references these answers to longer discussions in the text. The book is readable if you have a very strong background in study of scripture, otherwise it is meaningless unless you want to go hopping back and forth between books. He also does something that some of you might think is cute—- he begins each chapter with a fictional (FICTIONAL???!!!) vignette that is set in the times and that focuses on the issue that each chapter subsequently unfolds. There are substantial subject, author, and scripture indeces (sic—no spell check?).