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

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9781596270688: Sex, Sacrifice, Shame, and Smiting: Is the Bible Always Right?
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The Bible presents us with difficult statements about money and finance, social justice, marriage and divorce, sex, religion and politics, and other areas of life. Many of us pick and choose among them, feeling free to treat some of the Bible's moral rulings as absolutes but ignoring those we find unacceptable.

Are there areas where we can ignore what the Bible says?  Is the Bible is simply wrong about some things? Are we free to argue that we understand things better than the biblical writers did an so can disregard them?  Or must we accept what the Bible tells us, no matter how difficult it might be to put into practice?

Kraus explores questions of prosperity, treatment of enemies, the death penalty, economics, social justice, sexual behavior, and others.

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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.)
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