When did the word “Holodomor” appear?

When did the word “Holodomor” appear?

Holodomor (Голодомор) is a part of the Soviet famine of 1932-33.
The events in Ukraine were called "Holodomor", but when did the word appear?

Google Books Ngram Viewer shows no mentions ofHolodomorbefore 1990s,
and while it shows a couple of mentions of Cyrillic wordГолодоморas early as 1938,
I couldn't find anything relevant on the Google Books search proper.

When did the word Holodomor appear?

Wikipedia explains the etymology of holodomor as follows:

The word Holodomor literally translated from Ukrainian means "death by hunger", or "to kill by hunger, to starve to death". Sometimes the expression is translated into English as "murder by hunger or starvation". Holodomor is a compound of the Ukrainian words holod meaning "hunger" and mor meaning "plague". The expression moryty holodom means "to inflict death by hunger". The Ukrainian verb moryty (морити) means "to poison somebody, drive to exhaustion or to torment somebody". The perfective form of the verb moryty is zamoryty - "kill or drive to death by hunger, exhausting work". The word was used in print as early as 1978 by Ukrainian immigrant organisations in the United States and Canada. However, in the Soviet Union - of which Ukraine was a constituent republic - references to the famine were controlled, even after de-Stalinization in 1956. Historians could speak only of 'food difficulties', and the use of the very word golod/holod (hunger, famine) was forbidden.

Discussion of the Holodomor became more open as part of Glasnost in the late 1980s. In Ukraine, the first official use of the word was a December 1987 speech by Volodymyr Shcherbytskyi, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine, on the occasion of the republic's seventieth anniversary. An early public usage in the Soviet Union was in February 1988, in a speech by Oleksiy Musiyenko, Deputy Secretary for ideological matters of the party organisation of the Kiev branch of the Union of Soviet Writers in Ukraine. The term may have first appeared in print in the Soviet Union on 18 July 1988, in his article on the topic. "Holodomor" is now an entry in the modern, two-volume dictionary of the Ukrainian language, published in 2004. The term is described as "artificial hunger, organised on a vast scale by a criminal regime against a country's population." - Holodomor (Wikipedia)

The December 26, 1925 issue of СВОБОДА (SVOBODA, "FREEDOM"), a Ukrainian language daily newspaper from Jersey City, New Jersey, USA, tagged "Official Organ of the Ukrainian National Association, Inc.," contains an article titled "НАСЛІДОК ГОЛОДІВКИ" that contains the word "голодомор":

The word "голодомор" appears in multiple issues of this daily paper through 1939 and once again in 1952.

This term was first mentioned on August 17, 1933 in in a Czech magazine "Večernı́k P.L.", where the information about the "Hladomor v SSSR" was published.

What is the history of the word ‘woke’ and its modern uses?

Following the new US president Joe Biden’s inauguration earlier this week, Boris Johnson was asked if Mr Biden was woke.

The prime minister answered that there was “nothing wrong with being woke”, but that it was “important to stick up for your history, your traditions and your values, the things you believe in”.

The word “woke” is difficult to get away from in the media and popular culture nowadays, but before the Black Lives Matter movement, it was barely known in the UK despite having been used in the US throughout the early 2000s.

“Woke” is currently used by the political left to refer to progressiveness and social justice, while those on the political right have weaponised it as a way to denigrate those who disagree with their beliefs.

But where did the word come from, and how did it arrive at this point?

Origin of the word ‘woke’

The phrase “woke” and to “stay woke” is not new — it began appearing in the 1940s and was first used by African Americans to “literally mean becoming woken up or sensitised to issues of justice”, says linguist and lexicographer Tony Thorne.


Mr Thorne, a visiting consultant at King’s College London, told The Independent that the word is rooted in African American Vernacular English (AAVE), and was used in American street and youth culture for a long time.

In 1971, the phrase was used in a play by American playwright Barry Beckham titled Garvey Lives!, in which he wrote: “I been sleeping all my life. And now that Mr Garvey done woke me up, I’m gon’ stay woke. And I’m gon’ help him wake up other black folk.”

It also entered popular culture thanks to singer Erykah Badu, who used the phrase “I stay woke” in her 2008 song Master Teacher. David Stovall, a professor of African-American studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago, told the New York Times that Ms Badu’s use of the phrase meant “not being placated, not being anaesthetised”.

It started becoming a politicised word in 2014, after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, sparked the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

“‘Woke’ was largely unknown in the UK until the BLM movement, but in the 2000s it was a popular word used by young people in America, especially in black communities,” said Mr Thorne.

The twisting of ‘woke’

It was only in 2017 that the word “woke” was aded to the Oxford English Dictionary, and was defined as “being ‘aware’ or ‘well-informed’ in a political or cultural sense”.

It evolved into an all-encompassing term to describe leftist political ideology, used as a “shorthand for people on the left” to signal progressiveness, but weaponised by those on the right as a “sneering, jeering dismissive term” to denigrate those who did not agree with their beliefs, said Mr Thorne.


Like phrases before it - such as “politically correct”, “social justice warrior” and “cancel culture” - “woke” has become a toxicised term used by alt-right and politically conservative groups to insult people on the left.

“People who are woke simply can’t use the word anymore,” explained Mr Thorne. “It’s been appropriated, co-opted and toxicised by the alt-right and right-wing speakers. Those who are woke can still talk about empathy and compassion and social justice, but I think they’ve had to abandon the neat, snappy slang words and go back to explaining what they really believe.”

How is the word used now?

The word “woke” may have previously been a convenient, single-word summation to encompass ideologies centred around social justice for people on the political left. But for those on the right, it was “very exotic, a short sharp word… that sounds quite percussive and almost shocking when you don’t know what it means”, said Mr Thorne.

“It’s very easy to latch on to, like the word ‘snowflake’, which when weaponised by the right, has the same sort of resonance. You haven’t been able to use it in a positive way because it was picked up by the right to be used for ridicule and dismissal,” he said.

People who actually identify as “woke” no longer use the word to describe themselves, preferring to use more complex language such as “empaths” or “social justice” instead of “woke” due to its current negative connotations.

The word “liberal” is another word that has become unusable by people who actually identify as such, as it can be used as or perceived as a slur.

Such terms are known in the US as “skunk terms”, explains Mr Thorne, phrases that are increasingly used in such toxic ways that they “stink” too much to be used in their original contexts.

Is there another word to replace “woke”?

Not at the moment, said Mr Thorne. People who are woke have mostly abandoned the term because it is being used with “malicious intent” by those with opposing views, but no similar slang word has surfaced in its place.

“When the word “woke” was being used by woke people, it wasn’t a word they obsessed about, so perhaps it is inconvenient but they wouldn’t mind much about having to abandon it,” he said.

In a debate on social media, Mr Thorne found that people who were progressive did not want to be “condemned with a lazy, casual slur like that”.

He thinks the next word could be more academic or scientific, but whatever it is, “we do ned a vocabulary that progressives can use, they deserve to have that”, he said.

However, any word that crops up to replace “woke” could easily be co-opted once again by those with opposing ideologies.“

"I do fear that the same process of terms appearing and then being hijacked and weaponised might be likely to happen again,” said Mr Thorne.

How the Word “OK” Was Invented 175 Years Ago

"OK" is one of the most common words in the English language, but linguistically it's a relative newbie. It's just 150 years old, and traces its roots back to 19th century Boston. Rather than anyone purposefully inventing "OK," it's actually editorial joke that inadvertently went viral. 

It all began in the office of Charles Gordon Greene at the Boston Morning Post, Good Magazine writes. The year was 1839, and among writerly folk, abbreviations were all the rage (think LOLZ, OMG or NBD today). "This trend," Good continues, "produced many unsuccessful terms such as OW—an OK-like term for “oll wright” (all right) that flopped."

OK first appeared as an abbreviation for “Oll Korrect,” printed in a satirical article about grammar, the Economist continues. The word's origins were only revealed in the 1960s, however, when etymologist Allen Read did some digging—through suggestions that the word might come from Europe, a Civil War nickname for biscuits, or an abbreviation for the telegraph term Open Key. Still others falsely thought that president Martin Van Buren had invented the term in his presidential campaign, which used the slogan "Vote for OK" in reference to both his hometown and his nickname, Old Kinderhook,  the Economist writes. But Van Buren only popularized the term, Read found, not invented it. 

Although Read showed "how, stage by stage, OK was spread throughout North America and the world to the moon, and then took on its new form AOK, first used by space people and frowned on by purists," the Economists writes, some doubters continue to insist that the word in fact has a much earlier origin. We'll just have to be OK with never knowing for absolute sure. 

When did the word &ldquoHolodomor&rdquo appear? - History

In his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, British scientist Richard Dawkins defended his newly coined word meme, which he defined as "a unit of cultural transmission." Having first considered, then rejected, "mimeme," he wrote: "‘Mimeme’ comes from a suitable Greek root, but I want a monosyllable that sounds a bit like ‘gene.’ I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate ‘mimeme’ to ‘meme.’" (The suitable Greek root was mim-, meaning "mime" or "mimic." The English suffix -eme indicates a distinctive unit of language structure, as in "grapheme," "lexeme," and "phoneme.") "Meme" itself, like any good meme, caught on fairly quickly, spreading from person to person as it established itself in the language.

The Non-Apology 'Apology'

Some people may have noticed that in recent years there has appeared a new kind of apology. This apology, it must be said, seems to bear only a passing resemblance to the mea culpa sort of apologies we all grew up with it often is offered in the passive (“mistakes were made”), or the conditional (“If I have offended anyone I am sorry”), and rarely entails an outright admission of wrongdoing on the part of the apologizer. When did the word apology stop meaning “I’m sorry”?

Apology comes to English from the Greek roots of apo- (“away from, off”) and logia (from logos, meaning “speech”). The word's earliest meaning in English was “something said or written in defense or justification of what appears to others to be wrong or of what may be liable to disapprobation.” To anyone who has ever studied ancient Greek or read widely of certain philosophers, this will come as no surprise. Plato’s Apology of Socrates is an account of the self-defense presented at the trial of Socrates, not an explanation of how that philosopher admitted his transgressions.

The earliest published use of apology we have evidence of comes from the title of a work by Sir Thomas More, the Catholic humanist and social philosopher of Henry VIII’s court. The word appears in his 1533 work Apologye of Syr Thomas More, Knyght. However, the first published use of a word is not necessarily the same thing as the first actual use of it, and there has recently been discovered earlier, hand-written evidence of apology in correspondence between members of the British court a letter addressed to Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in 1526 contains the line “Here is an apologie made for the defence of the Frenche King."

If you encounter an apology anywhere in the 16th century chances are very good that the word is indicating a defense or justification, as in the case of the 1550 potboiler The Apology of Iohan Bale Agaynste a Ranke Papyst, or Robert Crowley’s summer beach read of 1566, An Apologie, or Defence, of those English Wryters & Preachers which Cerberus the Three Headed Dog of Hell, Chargeth wyth False Doctrine, Under the Name of Predestination.

So we may instead ask when did the apology start meaning “I’m sorry”?

That appears to have begun at the end of the 16th century, and we may blame Shakespeare for this (at least until we discover someone else who has used this word loosely before him). Most dictionaries today will not provide the earliest known date that a specific sense of a word appeared, but the Oxford English Dictionary does, and they currently have a line from Richard III: “My Lord, there needs no such apologie."

Shakespeare is renowned as a creator of new words, although he is often mistakenly given credit for coining elements of our vocabulary that already existed. Yet even though he did not invent most of the words which he is purported to have invented, he still was remarkably inventive with his language. He would play with the English language, stretching it and assigning new meanings to existing words with astonishing aplomb and daring.

It may well turn out that some writer before Shakespeare was using the word apology to indicate an admission of “I goofed and I am sorry for it,” but until we find such evidence we may still say that the Bard is the father of the modern apology—just not the “I’m sorry but not really sorry” kind.

Other Meaning of Vacation

But there was a point in its history at which it also showed itself to be at the mercy of morphology. You know the word locate? And how it's got location? And relate has relation, and translate has translation, and so on? (Note that this pattern is not universal we have ovations without ovates, invitations without invitates, etc.) Well, in the first half of the 17th century, the lawyerly English-speaking people wanted to use a good, solid Latin-pedigreed word to mean "to make legally void annul," and they chose vacate, from vacātus. This led to the "act of vacating an order or legal proceeding annulment" meaning of vacation, and eventually (as vacate developed further) to the "an act or instance of vacating (something, such as an office, post, or house)" meaning of the word. The meanings aren't such a radical departure as one might think though: like vacation, vacate is ultimately from vacāre, which along with meaning "to be empty, be free, have leisure" also means "to annul."

The vacate-related meanings of vacation are far from common, and hardly seem suited to vacations, so we'll stop there and save any further ruminations on them till after we return from ours. That bookstore is calling us.

The Birth of Cool

Photo by Archive Holdings Inc/Getty Images

Being cool is hard. Staying cool is harder. It’s an elusive quality, in part because it’s an elusive word with layers of nuanced meaning that peel off as we travel back through the centuries.

At its simplest, cool is neither too hot nor too cold, and it’s with this meaning that the word initially slipped into our language from its cognates in Dutch and German. It appeared originally as col—which can be found as far back as the ninth century, when someone translated the poetry of the Roman philosopher Boethius from Latin into English—and, for a long time, couldn’t quite figure out how it wanted to be spelled. It toyed with coul, flirted with coole, and even went through a koole phase, long before the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company figured out how to brand menthol cigarettes with sophistication. It finally settled on cool, all the while holding on to its sense of climatic moderation, captured very straightforwardly by Daniel Defoe in his novel A Journal of the Plague Year: “The Weather was temperate, variable and cool enough.”

If you think about how thoroughly suffused our language is with temperature metaphors—tempers get hot, blood runs cold, smiles and receptions are warm—it’s not hard to imagine cool making the leap from literal to non. This happened fairly quickly, while English was still Old with a capital O. Whoever wrote Beowulf, sometime in the 10 th or 11 th century, knew that emotions can come in “waves,” now “boiling” but eventually growing “cooler.” It wasn’t until much later, though, that cool began hinting at its full figurative potential.

In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Theseus tells his Amazonian bride-to-be, Hippolyta:

Hamlet, disheveled and ranting at the ghost of his dead father, frightens his mother, Gertrude, who cries out:

By the 16 th century, cool had fully evolved from an adjective of the atmosphere around us to one of the attributes within, suggesting deliberation, rationality, and calmness. It wasn’t long before the word began attaching itself to all manner of idiom, cementing its metaphorical turn. A “cool hand” reaches out from more than three centuries ago, a “cool customer” gains purchase, and we’re all kindly asked to “keep cool.”

Exactly when, and where, cool aspired to more than mere composure—to an alluring mix of style, hipness, poise, and who knows what else—is impossible to determine, but there’s a tantalizing piece of evidence from the 19 th century. In 1884, a professor at Washington and Lee University named James A. Harrison published an article titled “Negro English” in Anglia, a German journal about the English language. In it, he discusses African-American dialect with the panting excitement, and racist condescension, of a man who has discovered an alien culture in his own backyard. The Negro, he asserts:

Among the many “Negroisms” that Harrison cites is the interjection “Dat’s cool!,” which is given without definition or explanation, and so we’re left to wonder at how closely its meaning mirrors the modern. By the 1920s, though, cool is firmly fixed as an unambiguous term of approval and even reverence. In 1924, the singer Anna Lee Chisholm recorded “Cool Kind Daddy Blues.” In the early 1930s, Zora Neale Hurston, in her short story “The Gilded Six-Bits,” wrote of a male character:

By the 1940s, “cool cat” clawed its way into the jazz scene, and the word has had currency ever since. But for a concept that’s been around for a century, it’s stubbornly resistant to scrutiny. A couple of years ago, a psychologist named Ilan Dar-Nimrod, now at the University of Sydney in Australia, wanted to figure out which adjectives are most closely associated with cool, or, as he put it, “to determine what those in a coolness-valuing culture mean when they say cool.” Two broad sketches emerged, which Dar-Nimrod called cachet cool (think Marilyn Monroe) and contrarian cool (think James Dean).

As Dar-Nimrod points out, other research over the years has linked a number of behavioral traits to coolness, including sexual appetite, risk-taking, masculinity, and muted emotion. Plug all that into an algorithm, add nicotine and booze, and out pops Don Draper, who couldn’t care less whether you think he’s cool, which, according to research and to the never-ending frustration of Pete Campbell, only makes him cooler.

Getting at the nature of cool is further complicated by the fact that it’s become fashionable in recent years to boast about not being cool. Perhaps the word is being pushed into its next stage of evolution by the freaks and the nerds, whose childhood unpopularity is a badge of honor and whose brave new world of geekery is vindication. No matter what you think of it, coolness cannot be claimed for yourself, say, in a job interview, like diligence or punctuality. If you call yourself cool, you most certainly are not. Only other people can render that judgment, and who’s to say their notion of cool is one that you subscribe to?

Coolness is a fleeting shadow, a flickering light. You may have it today but you won’t tomorrow, and, despite their protestations to the contrary, your parents never did.

Common cold

Coronaviruses can be found all over the world and are responsible for about 10-15% of common colds, mostly during the winter. The coronaviruses that cause mild to moderate disease in humans are called: 229E, OC43, NL63 and HKU1.

The first coronaviruses discovered that are able to infect humans are 229E and OC43. Both of these viruses usually result in the common cold and rarely cause severe disease on their own. They are often detected at the same time as other respiratory infections. When several viruses, or viruses and bacteria, are found in patients this is called co-infection and can result in more severe disease.

In 2004, NL63 was detected for the first time in a baby suffering from bronchiolitis (a lower respiratory tract infection) in the Netherlands. This virus has probably been around for hundreds of years, we just hadn’t found it until then. A year later, in Hong Kong, another coronavirus was found – this time in an elderly patient with pneumonia. It was later named HKU1 and has been found to be present in populations around the world.

The F-word in the dictionary

The F-word was recorded in a dictionary in 1598 (John Florio’s A Worlde of Wordes, London: Arnold Hatfield for Edw. Blount). It is remotely derived from the Latin futuere and Old German ficken/fucken meaning ‘to strike or penetrate’, which had the slang meaning to copulate. Eric Partridge, a famous etymologist, said that the German word was related to the Latin words for pugilist, puncture, and prick. One folk etymology claims that it derives from “for unlawful carnal knowledge,” but this has been debunked by etymologists.

The word became rarer in print in the 18th century when it came to be regarded as vulgar. It was even banned from the Oxford English Dictionary. In 1960, Grove Press (in the US) won a court case permitting it to print the word legally for the first time in centuries—in D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover (written in 1928).

WATCH: What Are Synonyms For The F Word?

My quest to find the word ‘homosexual’ in the Bible

I was born and raised in a Southern Baptist church by two incredibly amazing parents who dearly love the Lord. It was a great experience. I remember Sunday school and Training Union, contributing to Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong for foreign and home missions, and many other traditions that still bring fond memories.

My heart for missions began as a kid in that SBC church and, ultimately, resulted in answering God’s call to help fulfill the Great Commission by serving overseas in Japan. I later returned stateside and enrolled in Talbot Seminary to grow in my understanding of God’s word.

It was my Southern Baptist roots where I gained a deep appreciation for Scripture. My heart’s desire was to do my part in spreading the gospel. I wanted to share Christ and disciple others and was gearing up for a lifetime of furthering the kingdom of God.

God can’t use me

Having heard many sermons throughout my life, I was convinced God did not want me — nor could God use me. I was an abomination. I was “damaged goods.” I tried to change. Oh, I tried so hard! Prayer and fasting. Reparative therapy. The only thing that changed was that I experienced more and more depression.

So I just held on to the hope that God would one day provide a way — some special pill, an accomplished therapist, or I would just miraculously wake up straight.

Church taught me that gay people were horrible and nasty. They had an agenda. They wanted to destroy the family and, ultimately, the church.

“My Christian friends were angry with me that I wouldn’t (couldn’t) give up being gay, and my gay friends were angry that I wouldn’t give up on the church.”

But this wasn’t me I didn’t want to destroy the church. I love God’s church. And I love God with all my heart.

I recognized in my teenage years that I was same-sex attracted and thought it was just a stage I would grow out of. During college, I realized it was not going away and in fact was getting more intense.

Depression continued. Pain. Self-hatred.

My Christian friends were angry with me that I wouldn’t (couldn’t) give up being gay, and my gay friends were angry that I wouldn’t give up on the church. I felt homeless.

A revelation in Bible study

One day during my personal Bible study and devotional, I was reading Acts chapter 10 where Peter saw a vision of God letting a sheet descend with all kinds of unclean animals. Peter was disgusted by what he saw, but God told him not to call them disgusting because God created these things and God had made them clean.

As I reflected on those words, the thought came to my mind: “What if God was OK with gays”? I immediately dismissed such a notion as horrible and satanically influenced. However, God’s Spirit continued to work on me, even seeming to offer the question, “Well, what would you do if an angel came down and told you that God was OK with you being gay?” (Kind of like Paul’s road to Damascus experience.)

I was shocked! I could not believe my mind entertained such a notion. The Bible is clear on this issue, so there is no reason for debate. If I were to hear this from an angel, I would have written it off as Satan disguising himself as an angel because I felt God’s word was clear.

Thus, I was declaring to God that the only way I would ever change my mind about homosexuality was if God showed me through Scripture. In that moment, I had set a condition before God. God was going to have to convince me that Scripture was teaching something different than what I thought it was teaching.

Digging into the Greek and Hebrew

About a decade later, after many episodes of extreme depression, I decided I wanted to dig into this with all my heart, soul and mind. I wanted to know the truth, regardless of what it entailed or revealed. I did not set out to prove or disprove any preconceived narratives. Instead, I only sought facts in order to weigh the evidence.

I started with the Greek and Hebrew texts and realized I needed to study the historical context of each of these texts in order to clearly understand the passages. So I put my seminary training of Greek and Hebrew to work.

“The English word ‘homosexual’ was not in any Bible until 1946.”

One of the many things I discovered was that the English word “homosexual” was not in any Bible until 1946, when it appeared in the Revised Standard Version. I was shocked. I wanted to know who put it in there and how they came to that conclusion.

My research led me to the Yale University archives, where the RSV translation notes are held. In September 2017, I traveled to Yale with author and researcher Kathy Baldock and spent many days searching for the answer to the question, “Why did this translation team make the historic decision to put the word ‘homosexual’ into the Bible for the first time?”

Kathy Baldock and Ed Oxford

The RSV translation team kept meticulous notes we even found a grocery shopping list. This team of 22 men were extremely godly and ahead of their time. The letters they left behind showed how they encouraged churches and church leaders to include Blacks and women on committees where important decisions were being made.

Luther Allan Weigle, head of the RSV translation team, has been called the father of the modern Sunday school movement because he introduced curriculum that could be used to teach children about Bible stories. He was a big advocate for missions in Japan and China. And one time he received a letter from an elderly lady asking that he write Congress requesting the discontinuation of the poll tax. (Citizens in her town were required to pay $1 for a voter registration card. But poor families could not afford this and instead spent that $1 on much needed food, thus preventing their representation in elections). Weigle enthusiastically agreed and wrote a letter to Congress.

The answer in the archives

“The RSV committee decided the word ‘homosexual’ was an inaccurate translation of malakoi and arsenokoitai in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and replaced it with ‘sexual perverts.’”

On the third day at Yale we found the answer — after we got to know this wonderful team of translators. The answer was found in an exchange of letters between a seminary student and Weigle. This seminary student challenged the usage of the word “homosexual” in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and provided a detailed outline of his reasoning. Weigle responded and admitted that the translation team had indeed made a mistake and would seek to correct it in their next update.

However, Weigle had just signed a contract stating that he would not make any changes in the RSV for 10 years. During those 10 years, translation teams were working on the translations of the first New American Standard Bible, The Living Bible and New International Version Bible.

A subcommittee of the RSV translation team voting on one of many decisions required to create a new English translation of the Bible.

We then went to research in the translation notes of the NASB, TLB and NIV Bibles. It turns out these versions used the RSV as their basis for including the word “homosexual” in their translations, not knowing that the RSV had retracted its decision.

The RSV committee decided the word “homosexual” was an inaccurate translation of malakoi and arsenokoitai in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and replaced it with “sexual perverts.” An example of “sexual perverts” would be a dirty old man exposing himself to children on a playground. The RSV team admitted that the Greek word arsenokoitai was not condemning homosexuals, but instead those who were abusive in their pursuit of sexual encounters.

Historical context of Paul’s time

The historical context shows that pederasty, sex with slaves, temple prostitution and other abusive forms of sex were prevalent in the first century when the Apostle Paul wrote 1 Corinthians. Even though the Bible contains six verses that appear to condemn homosexual activity, it contains more than 200 verses that condemn heterosexual activity. So as researchers it is important for us to determine the type of homosexual or heterosexual activity being condemned.

“It is important for us to determine the type of homosexual or heterosexual activity being condemned.”

First century people had no context of same-sex, committed monogamous relationships, therefore they would not be able to have the perspective we are able to see after 150 years of studying homosexuality. We might as well ask them what they thought about iPhones. They would have no frame of reference. But Paul definitely did not approve of the reprehensible same-sex activity that involved various abuses. Hence his words in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy.

The three main English Bible versions of the 1970s (NASB, TLB, NIV) are the translations I grew up on. They are the most influential English translations in our lifetime. Since their publication some 40 years ago, we have seen the largest amount of teen and young adult suicide in the history of the world. How can this be? In part, it is because we have been giving the wrong advice, advice shaped after the word “homosexual” entered the Bible.

Since our time in the Yale archives, I have done an enormous amount of investigation. I traveled thousands of miles, spent tens of thousands of dollars on research, and interviewed hundreds of people. I ultimately realized that the evidence is incredibly overwhelming. I eventually had to admit that I had been wrong about homosexuality. I had to admit that my church and my denomination had been wrong about homosexuality. My Southern Baptist background taught me to approach Bible study as a Berean, and the Bereans in Acts 17 wouldn’t even believe the Apostle Paul’s words until they studied the Scriptures and did their own due diligence.

So for me to continue down the path of a non-affirming theology would have required me to discard the volumes of irrefutable facts I had uncovered from intense research.

We were wrong about slavery too

All this reminds me of how we Southern Baptists made that atrocious mistake 200 years ago regarding slavery. Some Southern Baptist pastors felt that “if we abolished slavery, we might as well do away with the New Testament because we wouldn’t be following it anymore.” They actually believed they were being obedient to God’s word by holding on to slavery. Ridiculous, huh?

Looking back from our 21st century perspective, we find it difficult to comprehend that pastors taught such things. But for them, it was real. It was a matter of following their (misguided) understanding of God’s word in order to hold on to slavery.

So much damage has been done. Too many lives have been lost. It’s time to fix this.

Ed Oxford lives in Long Beach, Calif. He is a graduate of Miami University and Talbot School of Theology. A former staff member with Campus Crusade for Christ, he now works in the financial services industry. He and Kathy Baldock are the author of a forthcoming book, Forging a Sacred Weapon: How the Bible Became Anti-Gay. Their research also will be featured in a new documentary, 1946: The Translation that Shifted a Culture. This column is adapted from a letter sent to key Southern Baptist pastors by the Tyler Clementi Foundation.