cover image The Good Book: Discovering the Bible's Place in Our Lives

The Good Book: Discovering the Bible's Place in Our Lives

Peter J. Gomes. William Morrow & Company, $25 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-688-13447-1

Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard and longtime pastor of Memorial Church there, has been cited by Time as one of the seven best preachers in America. He laments, however, that he and his fellow ministers across the nation ""preach regularly from the Bible to congregations that know so little about it,"" despite the outpouring of biblical translations, exegetical books and other analytical aids. His mission in this cogent exercise in nonsectarian Christian apologetics is to help reverse the current decline in biblical literacy by reclaiming the Bible from theological stodginess and lay laziness. The book is divided into three parts called ""Opening the Bible,"" ""The Use and Abuse of the Bible"" and ""The True and Lively Word,"" which refer, respectively, to didactic, polemical and pastoral approaches. The unified result masterfully clarifies what the Bible really says about homosexuality (very little), women as full faith partners (much more), racial harmony (lots, both explicitly and implicitly) and anti-Semitism (""Christianity's Original Sin""). But, whatever the subject, Gomes wants Bible readers to think about intrinsic meanings in Old and New Testament scripture. (Nov.)