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24 April 2011

What was the "Sin of Sodom"?

I'm an avid fan of Robert Price, as you may remember. I recently discovered that he has a podcast called The Bible Geek Show, and it is fascinating.

I recently sent the following email to Dr. Price:

Greetings, Dr. Price.

I'm currently going through your podcast archives (and enjoying it very much). On your episode from 7 November 2009, when discussing the Bible's view of homosexuality, you briefly went into the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, and stated that the Sin of Sodom was its neglect of needy travellers.

That's in accordance with Ezekiel 16:49, and I can see no problem with that. But you go on to say, "Every one of [the men of Sodom] comes to interrogate and lynch the visitors, whom they do not know to be angels." I'm unfamiliar with that interpretation of Genesis 19:5. It had always been my understanding that the men of Sodom were feeling a little... frisky. Indeed, the 2011 edition of the NIV says, "They called to Lot, 'Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.'" Certainly not as euphemistic as the KJV's, "bring them out unto us, that we may know them". Is this a mistranslation? I don't know how the NIV holds up to scrutiny, but I can only assume that it's better than King James.

But if the Sodomites (sigh...) were out for nothing more than a good, old fashioned lynching, why would Lot offer his virgin daughters to them, instead? (Granted, one might ask why he would offer his daughters to a rape gang, but at least that interpretation seems to make more sense in context, at least to me.) Would you mind elaborating on this a bit?

And on a completely unrelated note, I came across an audiobook recording of you reading "The Dunwich Horror" a few months ago, and I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it. Thanks!

Gem Newman
Organiser, Winnipeg Skeptics

It turns out that the so-called Sin of Sodom probably had nothing to do with sex.

Curious? Dr. Price was kind enough to elaborate, and if you want to know what one particular Biblical scholar thinks on the subject, here's your answer—and it's a very interesting one. (Fast forward to 08:14 if you're impatient.)

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