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Harvard Bible scholar says passage condemning gays was rewritten — original specifically said gay sex was fine

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The original version of Leviticus expressly permitted gay sex, a Biblical scholar writes in the New York Times.

Idan Dershowitz is a fellow at Harvard and has studied the development of the Old Testament carefully, including Leviticus 20:13 which reads that “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”

This was likely the first law anywhere banning gay sex, Dershowitz says, and it was added a century after the original, which expressly permitted it.

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“Like many ancient texts, Leviticus was created gradually over a long period and includes the words of more than one writer. Many scholars believe that the section in which Leviticus 18 appears was added by a comparatively late editor, perhaps one who worked more than a century after the oldest material in the book was composed,” he writes.

Dershowitz laid out his claim that the original version expressly permitted gay sex in a scholarly article for Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel.

“There is good evidence that an earlier version of the laws in Leviticus 18 permitted sex between men,” he argues. “In addition to having the prohibition against same-sex relations added to it, the earlier text, I believe, was revised in an attempt to obscure any implication that same-sex relations had once been permissible.”

His argument hinges on textual analysis, which he says offers “strong evidence of editorial intervention.”

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“One can only imagine how different the history of civilization might have been had the earlier version of Leviticus 18’s laws entered the biblical canon,” he writes.

Read the full piece here.

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