The Bible Now

The Bible Now

The Bible Now

The Bible Now

Synopsis

For millennia, people have used the Bible as a touchstone on important social and political questions, and rightly so. But many use the Bible simply as a weapon to wield against opponents in a variety of debates - without knowing what the Bible actually says about the issue in question. In The Bible Now, two respected biblical scholars, Richard Elliott Friedman and Shawna Dolansky, tell us carefully what the Hebrew Bible says or does not say about a wide range of issues - including homosexuality, abortion, women's status, capital punishment, and the environment. In fascinating passages that shed new light on some of today's most passionate disputes, the authors reveal how the Bible is frequently misunderstood, misquoted, mistranslated, and misused. For instance, those who quote the Bible in condemning homosexuality often cite the story of Sodom, and those who favor homosexuality point to David's lament over the death of Jonathan. But as the authors show, neither passage is clearly about homosexuality, and these texts do not offer solid footing on which to make an argument. Readers learn that female homosexuality is not prohibited - only male homosexuality. And on the subject of abortion, the Bible is practically silent, with one extraordinary exception. The Bible has inspired people to do great good but has also been used by people to do great harm, so it is vitally important for us to pay attention to it - and to get it right. The Bible Now shows us how we can - and cannot - use this ancient source of wisdom to address our most current and pressing issues.

Excerpt

This book is about what the Bible has to say about major issues of our time. We shall address five current controversial matters: homosexuality, abortion, women’s status, capital punishment, and the earth.

There have been many books in recent years about the literary qualities of the Bible, about who wrote the Bible, and about the Bible in light of history and archaeology. Literary study of the Bible is a focus on what was written then. History and archaeology are the study of what happened then. But this book is about what the Bible means now. The Bible’s value, above all, is as a guide to lives. And we mean to all of our lives, whether one is religious or not, whether one is Christian, Jewish, or from another religion or no religion. Some people think of fundamentalist Christians and Orthodox Jews as the ones who connect their decisions to the words of the Bible. But that is not correct. One finds scholars, clergy, and just folks, from all across the religious spectrum, who read, study, and care about what the Bible says on things that matter to them. And one finds many who have never read or studied the Bible, who still share a cultural sense of its importance as a foundation for morality and virtue. The Bible is a source of human experience and of wisdom, and wisdom is something we need. We can argue about which biblical passages are historically accurate, but, still, it is the first history writing on earth. The Bible’s oldest prose was written when Herodotus’s great-grandmother was not yet in preschool. We can question the morality of any given story or law, but still the Bible is an extraordinary repository of remarkable stories, exquisite writing, and revolutionary laws. Indeed, when we argue about these things, we are participating in a two thousand-year-old process that the Bible itself started us doing.

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