Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism ), a retired Episcopal bishop and prominent spokesperson for liberal Christianity, focuses this book on "terribl"/>

THE SIN OF SCRIPTURE: Beyond Texts of Hate to the God of Love

John Shelby Spong, Author . Harper San Francisco $24.95 (315p) ISBN 978-0-06-076205-6

Spong (Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism ), a retired Episcopal bishop and prominent spokesperson for liberal Christianity, focuses this book on "terrible texts" which have been used to justify such "sins" as overbreeding, degradation of the environment, sexism, child abuse and anti-Semitism. These biblical texts, according to Spong, are not the incontrovertible Word of God, but flawed human responses to perceived threats. An incendiary example of this is Spong's assertion that Paul was a closeted gay man whose anti-gay statements were motivated by little more than his own self-loathing. Spong does not stop there; in the course of the book he suggests that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married; that none of the supernatural events described in the Bible took place (including the resurrection); and that theism itself is a misunderstanding of God. Interestingly, readers who do not endorse Spong's radical reinterpretation of Christianity will still find much in this book they can affirm. His explanation of the roots of Christian anti-Semitism is fascinating and much less challenging to orthodoxy than many of his other claims. Unfortunately, Spong leads with his weakest section, which features a variety of poorly constructed arguments claiming, but giving inadequate evidence for, a strong causal relationship between biblical injunctions and both overpopulation and environmental problems. Nonetheless, this absorbing book has much to offer readers of all persuasions. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 03/28/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
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