cover image Sex, Sacrifice, Shame, & Smiting: Is the Bible Always Right?

Sex, Sacrifice, Shame, & Smiting: Is the Bible Always Right?

Donald Kraus. Seabury, $16 (166pp) ISBN 978-1-59627-068-8

The subtitle alone will dissuade some from picking up this book, but that would be a mistake. Kraus, executive editor for Bibles at Oxford University Press, approaches his subject with the delicacy required when introducing ideas that will be considered at best heterodox and, at worst, heretical. News of schisms within the mainline churches fills the headlines. Many of these bitter disagreements boil down to how one reads and understands scripture. Kraus makes a compelling case for a context- and culture-sensitive reading of the sacred book. When doing so, he insists, one can transcend the literal and appreciate the nuance in the telling of biblical stories. He further claims that a strictly literal reading of the scriptures has contributed to morally excluding segments of our population—gays and lesbians in particular. And while he fails to fully address the inherent dangers of substituting subjective understanding for objective truth, he recognizes that, for each reader, the text comes alive in different ways. Many readers will disagree with Kraus’s conclusions, but most will be challenged to re-examine their traditional views. (Nov.)