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From William A. Percy
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Translators and commentators have long been puzzled by the word "racha," which is left in the original in the King James version. Clearly racha was a term of disparagement, some sort of insult. In a general sense, one may conjecture that the word is related to a Hebrew term meaning "empty," "empty-headed," or "brainless." That would parallel the imprecation "thou fool" in the last clause of Matthew 5:22.

If Johansson is right, as he seems to be, then the teaching ascribed to Jesus is that his followers should not insult men, impugning their masculinity by labeling them "softies," that is, passives or effeminates, types of person generally disparaged at the time. "What the text in Matthew demonstrates," Johansson concludes, "is that he forbade acts of violence, physical and verbal, against those to whom homosexuality was imputed, in line with the general emphasis on self-restraint and meekness in his teachings." Warren Johansson cautions that none of his analysis implies that Jesus accepted or approved of homosexual behavior. Condemnation of homophobic slurs does not necessarily entail approval of homosexual behavior, as some overenthusiastic gay-Christian admirers of Johansson's piece have concluded. All the same, Johansson's discovery seems to preclude the common perception that Jesus did not say "one word" about homosexuality. In fact, according to Matthew he did say one word: racha.

With its graphic personal asides, extravagances, and oftentimes sheer creativity, the QBC ranks as the most entertaining Bible commentary I have read. That is not necessarily a compliment.

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