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Translations of “Malakoi” and “Arsenokoitai” Through History (I Cor 6:9)

by Jeramy Townsley

The purpose of this page is to show the difficulty in translating the words arsenokoitai and malakos - two words used (incorrectly) to condemn gays.

Throughout the history of English translations, there has been little agreement on the meanings of these two Greek words. Most of the English translations describe malakos as "weak" or "effeminate" - neither of which mean gay.

While effeminate could be applied to a stereotyped gay personna, effeminate could be applied equally to a heterosexual, as the word malakos was often used with this meaning in the original Greek.

While arsenokoitai is typically translated as "abusers of themselves" or "sodomites", both of which are vague, and at the very least do not seem applicable to a long-term, loving gay relationship. (Even the reference to Sodom refers to an aggressive, impersonal sex-act, not one of mutual care, respect and fidelity). Regardless, there has been a great diversity of ideas on the meanings of these two words, none of which allows the broad imposition of all homosexual behavior to be applied to either or both of these words.


Version Year Translation
Koine Greek 56 A.D. malakoi arsenokoitai
Latin Vulgate 405 molles masculorum concubitores
Wyclif 1508 lecchouris synne of Sodom
Tyndale 1525 weaklings abusers of themselves with mankynde
Great Bible 1539 weaklynges abusers of themselves with mankynde
Geneva Bible 1560 wantons bouggerers
Bishops Bible 1568 effeminate liers with mankinde
Reims-Douai 1609 effeminate liers with mankind
King James Authorized Version 1611 effeminate abusers of themselves with mankind
The Revised Version 1811 effeminate abusers of themselves with men
Darby 1890 those who make women of themselves abuse themselves with men
Young 1898 effeminate sodomites
American Standard Version 1901 effeminate abusers of themselves with men
RVA 1909 los afeminados los que se echan con varones
Louis Segond 1910 les effimines les infames
Wesley's New Testament 1938 guilty of unnatural crime
Goodspeed 1951 sensual given to unnatural vice
Jerusalem Bible (French) 1955 effeminate people with infamous habits
Phillips 1958 effeminate pervert
Interlinear Greek-English New Testament 1958 voluptuous persons Sodomites
The Amplified Version 1958 those who participate in homosexuality
New English 1961 homosexual perversion
New American Standard Bible 1963 effeminate homosexuals
Today's English Version 1966 homosexual perverts
Jerusalem Bible (German) 1968 sissies child molesters
Jerusalem Bible (English) 1968 Catamites Sodomites
New American Catholic 1970 homosexual perverts sodomites
Revised Standard Version 1971 sexual perverts
The Living Bible 1971 homosexuals
New International Version 1978 male prostitutes homosexual offenders
New King James 1979 homosexuals sodomites
rev Luther Bibel 1984 lustknaben knabenschander
Elberfelder Bibel 1985 Wollustlinge Knabenschander
New Jerusalem Bible 1985 self indulgent sodomites
New American Catholic 1987 boy prostitutes practicing homosexuals
Revised English Bible 1989 sexual pervert
New Revised Standard 1989 male prostitutes sodomites
New Living 1996 male prostitutes homosexuals
Third Millenium Bible 1998 effeminate abusers of themselves with mankind

Note from Mary: The information for this page is Used With Permission from its author, Jeramy Townsley.

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