Pastoral Psychology

, Volume 55, Issue 6, pp 667–699 | Cite as

The Homosexual Tendencies of King James: Should this Matter to Bible Readers Today?

  • Donald CappsEmail author
  • Nathan Steven Carlin


The question whether King James, who commissioned the translation of the Bible into English in 1604, had homosexual tendencies has been under discussion in recent years. We review the arguments presented against this view and conclude that they are largely circular and ad hominem. We then consider the evidence presented by those who argue for this view, including the emotional distance between King James and his wife; his intense affection for three men in the course of his life; contemporary criticism of his public expressions of affection toward two of these men; and contemporary allegations that his reluctance to commit England to war was due to his “effeminate” nature. We discuss his family history and his relationship to one man in particular and conclude that the argument he had homosexual tendencies is compelling. We then take up the associations that his own contemporaries made between homosexual behavior, effeminacy, pacifism, and the scholar, and present our view that in authorizing the translation of the Bible into English, he provided a scholarly model for male cooperation that was inherently superior to the martial model of male enterprise advocated by his opponents. We also suggest that his authorization of a new translation of the Bible was psycho-dynamically related to his loss of his mother in infancy and to his guilt for having failed to come to her aid when she requested his help. Finally, we make a case in behalf of the King James Version of the Bible on the grounds that it functions as a cultural selfobject (Kohut), due mainly to its maternal associations; that King James’s favorite Bible verse was Matthew 5:9—“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God”; and that James had homosexual tendencies.


King James Bible translation Homosexual tendencies Peacemaking Effeminacy The scholar Mother guilt Cultural self object Heinz Kohut 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Princeton Theological SeminaryPrincetonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Religious StudiesRice UniversityHoustonUSA

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