Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy: A Journey Into a New Christianity Through the Doorway of Matthew's Gospel

John Shelby Spong. HarperOne, $26.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-236230-8
In his previous two books Spong (The Fourth Gospel), retired Episcopal bishop of the Diocese of Newark, instructed that to understand the gospels readers must follow directions to their Jewish origins. In this latest book of scriptural analysis he concentrates specifically on the Book of Matthew to explain his reasoning. Spong ascribes purposeful patterns to Matthew, wrapping the gospel "in an interpretative envelope" that reflects Jewish liturgy, scriptures, and calendar. Repeatedly, Spong proclaims that understanding the words literally only results in spiritual atrophy across the Christian community, weakening the church's appeal in the face of modern science and secular culture. Spong fastidiously leads readers beyond controversial assertions—Jesus did not preach the Sermon on the Mount, nor did he write the Lord's Prayer—to an overarching, syncretic sermon at the book's end. This final thesis strikes a universal tone: "There are no outcasts from the love of God." In possibly his final book, Spong perfects the clear, digestible Christian hermeneutic he has spent a career developing. Passionate and learned, he mentors gently but radically. These are essential lessons for devout Christians and casual readers alike. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/25/2016
Release date: 02/01/2016
Genre: Religion
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-06-236231-5
Ebook - 416 pages - 978-0-06-236233-9
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