Can You Sue a Book?

Chris Salzman

July 10, 2008

This whole thing is a shame. Maybe the guy who is suing needs an apology and a hug from his family and former church. Maybe they had the truth part down but forgot the love part. Maybe he's just a bitter guy. It's hard to tell. I dont' think he'll get anywhere with the lawsuit though.<br><br>From what I've been able to research I think there are three reasons why this suit isn't going to fly. I'm not a lawyer, a theologian or a Greek scholar but most of this research doesn't take an expert to understand.<br><br>First, It's been the practice of the courts not to rule on religious doctrine and they might see this as doctrinal. <br><br>Second, I don't think the translation angle is going to hold too much water. Apparently there were two words Paul used for male on male sex. One was "malakos" to indicate the passive partner, for example a male prostitute, which the King James translates "effiminate." The other was "arsenokoites" for the active partner, defined as "one who lies with a man as with a woman." The King James translated this as "abusers of themselves with mankind" while some other translations use "sodomite." The King James could be more literal but if NIV was going for a thought-for-thought translation it seems sort of logical that if Paul was going to condemn one partner in a homosexual act that the intent of the other word, "arsenokoites" would be to condemn the other as well. <br><br>Since "homosexual" is the English equivalent for this sort of activity the translators used the word for both "malakos" and "arsenokoites". I read several commentaries which emphasized that the action rather than the inclination was what was being discussed and named as sin, which might be why two words, distinguishing both partners in the act, would have been used.<br><br>Third, there has been little success in lawsuits in which an author or publisher is sued over attitudes or even actions which may have been precipitated by the content of a book, movie or song. Freedom of speech has won out in suits accusing song lyrics precipitated murder or alleging that criminals got ideas for the crimes they committed from novels. I think proving intent to do harm is pretty hard to prove.<br><br>All that said, somebody with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove might get somewhere depending on which judges he draws. That's what so much fun about our courts.<br><br>

July 11, 2008

I have a great respect for Bible translators, so don't think I'm pointing fingers, but I sometimes wonder about the translation of words in the Bible. I went to <a href="http://biblos.com/" rel="nofollow">http://biblos.com/</a> and looked up the verse and found that the word comes from two other words that mean "male" and "bed" and that this is one of only two times that particular word is used. While I don't doubt that the translation is correct, it gives me pause. <br><br>What power do we have, and how do we use it? Do we use our knowledge of God's Word to heal or to wound? This man would probably say that Christians, as a group, have used God's Word to wound him. I'm not suggesting for a minute that we don't teach truth, but I am suggesting that Christians can do more harm than good when we simply spout scripture without understanding, both of the words and of the person we are talking to.

Christiane Li
July 11, 2008

My thoughts:<br>One day,<br>Dude will stand before God, <br>Apologize to Him,<br>And owe Him a LOT more that a mere 60 million bucks.

July 11, 2008

Well the word "homosexual" actually never did appear in a translation of the bible until 1946, I believe. So it's a modern concept that has been in translated into the Bible, but "arsenokoitai" has been widely translated, and Bible scholars over the years have said they don't know what it means in the context, and even some scholars say that it means "male prostitutes" "pedophiles" or even "perverts." So it's understandable how that slight mis-translation can cause a ton of pain, and give excuse to a lot of people to use the Bible to hate people. It's actually very fascinating to look at that verse in Bible Gateway, and just change between translations and see the number of ways that's translated even today. Fascinating.<br><br>So I can understand where Fowler is coming from, although 60 million dollars? That seems a little excessive and aggrandizing. However, I think the even more offensive translation out there right now is New Living Translation that actually translates it as "those who practice homosexuality." The whole concept of "practicing homsexuals" is entirely a modern concept that cannot be equated to what Paul was talking about.<br><br>It really saddens me to see that translation as there have been so many people damaged by that slight change in translation.

July 11, 2008

Ironically, the passage that this guy is citing as obviously encouraging hatred toward homosexuals is THE VERY SAME PASSAGE that keeps me from singling out homosexuals for mistreatment. The passage lists a number of sinners who would be barred from the kingdom of heaven. I know at least one of my sins is in that list, so, without God's grace, I too would be barred from God's kingdom. Because that passage shows me that, without God's grace, I would be in the same boat with those sinners, homosexuals included, I don't treat homosexuals badly.<br><br>Also, a few years ago, I interviewed the chairman of the CBT. Although I did not talk to him for as long as I would have liked and I did not talk about translation as it relates to sexuality, the interview left me with the impression that his goal and the goal of other translators is to convey meaning. They want to give people the tools to guide their own thoughts and their own actions, not tell people directly what to think and what to do.<br><br>Perhaps this guy's family did give him a hard time. He needs to get an apology from them, not try to sue Zondervan. His family's reading of the text is not everyone's reading of the text. If two different types of behavior -- for instance, his familiy's behavior and mine -- seem to come from the same source, then obviously the source isn't to blame.

July 12, 2008

If that happens, that'll be awful. It's like a biblical scholar suing the davinci code because it's inaccurate (without a doubt:) Anyhow, I don't think it'll be a successful court case for the guy suing.

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