Interview With Authors of Exegetical Work
ROME, 12 FEB. 2007 ZENIT.
Three exegetes have published a new book in
which they conclude that the Bible clearly teaches homosexual practices
"Clarifications sur l'Homosexualité dans la Bible" (Clarifications on
Homosexuality in the Bible) was written by a priest from the John Paul
II Institute and a priest and a Protestant pastor from the University of
Emmanuel Community Father Jean-Baptiste Edart, Dominican Father Adrian
Schenker and pastor Innocent Himbaza spoke about their book in this
interview with ZENIT.
Q: How was the idea of the book conceived?
Himbaza: A certain number of publications mention the topic of
homosexuality when referring to the Bible. I must point out that I study
these publications carefully, because I am especially interested in the
way that social issues integrate biblical facts.
I then observed that on the topic of homosexuality, the biblical
intention is often drowned by the authors' personal opinions. It seems
to me that, in a number of cases, the biblical intention is biased or
forced. Now, these positions influence readers, including theologians.
This is why, to enlarge the debate, I first suggested to Adrian Schenker
to take up the biblical texts with me and reread them with respect. As
we are two Old Testament scholars, we thought it would be interesting to
associate a New Testament scholar with us in order to cover the whole
So he contacted Jean-Baptiste Edart, who willingly agreed to collaborate
on this project. The aim was to limit ourselves to the Bible and to
observe what it really says about homosexuality.
Father Schenker: I had a bit of time on several occasions, independently
of one another, to encounter the problem of homosexuality posed to
Christian Churches. These contacts and publications showed me that often
the biblical facts are not treated with sufficient seriousness.
That is why, when Innocent Himbaza
who had the idea of this book
invited me to participate, I consented. For one must do justice to the
biblical facts, even when it is well understood that the question has
aspects other than that of the Bible. But the Bible is certainly one.
Q: A word on the book's content?
Father Edart: Above all one must first explain the literal sense of the
biblical text on the question of homosexuality. To do so, we study the
biblical texts with the aid of the instruments of modern biblical
criticism, without taking recourse to the tradition of interpretation
proper to each of the Christian confessions.
Father Schenker addresses the legislative texts of Leviticus
18:22 and 20:13, questioning himself on the justification of the
biblical text on the clearly enounced prohibition, Pastor Himbaza takes
up the accounts of the Old Testament: Sodom and Gomorrah
Genesis 19; the rape of Gibeah
Judges 19; and the relationship between Jonathan and David
Samuel 18:21 and 2 Samuel 1.
He questions the place that homosexuality has or might have in these
texts. I address the texts of St. Paul which speak of this subject
Romans 1:18-32; 1 Timothy 1:10 and 1 Corinthians 6:9, specifying the
meaning of certain ambiguous expressions and seeking to understand why
Paul, in Romans, links idolatry to homosexuality. I conclude trying to
see in what measure the Gospels address this question.
Q: This work was written by two Catholics and a Protestant. Do you think
it can contribute to the progress of the ecumenical cause?
Imbaza: This book, which does not deal with ecumenism, can remind
readers that Catholics and Protestants can in fact meet again around the
same Bible. It shows that initiatives on various themes are possible and
can be envisioned in an ecumenical framework.
Father Edart: This book is in itself an ecumenical work. Although each
author is responsible for his part alone, the work was carried out in
profound listening to one another.
This was translated in a mutual correction of works not only in the
form, but at times also on the background. We were especially careful to
avoid any interpretation of the text that went beyond its literal sense
which is already word of God as the constitution "Dei Verbum"
Thus we made the experience of a common reading of the Scriptures
possible. We very much hope that this book will help Christians of
different confessions to dialogue on a particularly delicate and
Q: What is the book's message?
Imbaza: On reading, in their contexts, the biblical texts relative to
the topic of homosexuality, one is obliged to see that the Bible's
position is clearly against homosexual practices.
A healthy reading of the Bible, both of the Old as well as of the New
Testament, cannot escape this fact. Contrary to certain publications, we
think that the passages mentioned before as supposed illustrations of
active homosexual life
Jonathan and David, Jesus and the beloved disciple, etc.
do not, in fact, evoke the subject. ZE07021225