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Documentary Sheds Light on Mistranslation of Word “Homosexual” in Bible

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26 December 2023 |

The journey of self-acceptance and truth-seeking for many in the LGBTQ community, especially those from Christian backgrounds, has often been fraught with challenges. Southern Baptist, Ed Oxford’s, personal struggle led to a fascinating discovery regarding the understanding of homosexuality in Biblical texts. His story, along with his colleagues’, is now the subject of a powerful documentary, “1946: The Mistranslation that Shifted Culture,” which has entered the race for an Academy Award this year, following its successful premiere at the DOCNYC Film Festival in November 2022.

After decades of battling depression and attempting various methods to change his sexual orientation, Oxford embarked on a profound quest to understand what the Bible truly says about homosexuality. His research, spanning over a decade, involved extensive travel, investment, and the study of archival materials, leading him to question the interpretation of key biblical passages. (Read a 2019 interview with Oxford here.)

A pivotal moment in this journey occurred in September 2017 when Oxford, alongside colleagues Kathy Baldock and Peter Tuon, delved into Yale University’s archives. There, they uncovered a crucial error in the translation of the Bible from 1946. The term ‘homosexual’ first appeared in the Bible in that year, and their findings revealed that the translators had acknowledged their mistake in 1959. However, a binding contract with the publisher prevented any amendments for the following ten years. This erroneous translation influenced subsequent versions of the Bible, notably the NIV, TLB, and NASB, which are among the most influential English translations.

The documentary argues that this mistranslation fueled an anti-gay sentiment that significantly contributed to higher rates of suicide among LGBTQ youth, particularly those from Christian backgrounds. Oxford asserts that while the initial mistake might have been honest, many contemporary translators, theologians, and pastors continue to ignore newer, more accurate interpretations, perpetuating harmful biases against LGBTQ individuals.

“1946: The Mistranslation that Shifted Culture” is not just a historical account, but also a poignant narrative of struggle, revelation, and hope. Directed by Rocky Roggio, the film features interviews with scholars and pastors, offering diverse perspectives on this controversial issue. It powerfully combines academic research with personal stories, aiming to enlighten and challenge viewers.

The film’s theater debut happened in Los Angeles at Laemmle NoHo Theatre from December 1-7, with three screenings daily. Its selection for an Academy Award underscores the significance of its message and its potential impact on both the Christian and LGBTQ communities. The DOC NYC Film Festival, renowned for showcasing compelling stories from diverse backgrounds, hosted its debut, reflecting the festival’s commitment to sharing stories that change perceptions and foster understanding.

As “1946: The Mistranslation that Shifted Culture” heads to theaters in Los Angeles, New York, and London, it invites viewers to reconsider long-held beliefs and opens the door for a more inclusive and compassionate interpretation of Biblical texts. Virtual screenings will be available during the holidays from December 22 – January 17 at this website.

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