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The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible's…
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The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible's Texts of Hate to Reveal the… (edition 2005)

by John Shelby Spong

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478632,644 (3.56)6
Member:carlym
Title:The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible's Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love
Authors:John Shelby Spong
Info:HarperCollins (2005), Paperback
Collections:Swapped
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Tags:nonfiction, religion, Christianity, Bible, swapped, @ 220

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The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible's Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love by John Shelby Spong

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I thought this was really lightweight material, especially considering the author is usually intellectually stimulating and thought provoking. I've read numerous books and other resources that provide much more material, in greater detail, with less unnecessary verbiage while still getting their points across. I've seen more and better from Christians, agnostics, and atheists. I was very disappointed in this book. Not remotely recommended. ( )
  scottcholstad | Mar 16, 2019 |
Bible > Bible > Interpretation and criticism (Exegesis) > Religion
  FHQuakers | Feb 12, 2018 |
From the publisher:

As Spong exposes and challenges what he calls the "terrible texts of the Bible," laying bare the evil done by them in the name of God, he also seeks to redeem these texts, hoping to recover their ultimate depth and purpose.
This review has been flagged by multiple users as abuse of the terms of service and is no longer displayed (show).
  St-Johns-Episcopal | Jun 16, 2017 |
The subtitle of this book is Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love. I read this book a few years back, and the reason it came to mind today is because I am feeling overwhelmed by the aggressiveness of anti-Bible crusaders. Unquestionably, there are many passages in the Bible that are not only questionable theology, but downright appalling. Unquestionably, there are “Christians” today who pounce on these texts in order to promote discrimination or oppression. But the majority of Christians do not; the majority of Christians worship a God of love, and either spiritualize or completely discard those scriptures that reveal, not God’s will, but human weakness.

Can we really worship a God who murdered all the firstborn males in every Egyptian household? How about a God who stops the sun in the sky, providing more daylight so that Joshua can slaughter more of his enemies? Would the God you worship instruct Samuel to “Go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass”?

Is it ok to possess slaves, or sell your daughter into slavery? Should cursing or violating the Sabbath be cause for death? Is it right to stone disobedient children? Of course not, neither today or 2,500 years ago, and we know this.

How about the treatment of women as chattel? Encouragement of homophobia? Anti-Semitism? Spong guides us into a more liberal understanding of the Bible, pointing out the texts that exhibit human thinking, human fear, and comparing them to texts where the love of God shows through, and briefly touching on his vision of the Kingdom of God. It’s true that this book is one of the more negative of Spong’s works, but it sets us up for books yet to come. ( )
  DubiousDisciple | Jul 7, 2011 |
Spong lost so much credibility with me in the first 37 pages that I can't read anymore. He goes off on a tangent about how the question of whether the Bible is the Word of God depends on the meaning of the verb "to be," but never explains why that is the crucial point. He says that none of the bad things described in the Bible (the flood, various battles) can be ascribed to God. He says that in a post-Newtonian world, it is impossible to believe that God performs or has performed miracles.

He says that "From the moment in which human beings achieved the dramatic step into self-consciousness, the evolutionary struggle to survive became primary, carrying with it enormous emotional consequences." No, the evolutionary struggle to survive was always there, and that's not a characteristic particular to humans. "To be human was always to be on guard against external enemies, both human and subhuman." Again, being on guard against enemies is a characteristic of all living things.

In talking about the Andrea Yates trial, he says that "It did not occur to the members of the jury, charged with rendering a verdict, that it was their responsibility either to judge the motive or to explore any extenuating circumstances." Yeah, that's because it's NOT the jury's responsibility to do that. Juries aren't there to decide whether they think a person is a bad person; their job is to decide whether someone broke the law. Another reviewer has pointed out that he refers to Andrea Yates as "Agatha Yarnell." Spong says in his endnotes that "Agatha Yarnell" is not the woman's real name, and even though her name was all over the news, he doesn't want to use it in order to spare her family further embarrassment. If that was his goal, he should have picked a better pseudonym. How dumb does he think we are?

I flipped through the rest of the book to look for better parts, and I came across this: "Far from women suffering from 'penis envy,' I think a case can be made for the fact that men suffer from menstruation envy. Through the ages men have yearned to capture that female life power that enables women to bleed from their genitals and not die." That has to be one of the weirdest things I have ever read.

Also, based on the description on the back of the cover, I thought this book was going to be an explanation of texts in the Bible that have been used for hateful purposes to show how those passages do not mean those things. Instead, Spong's thesis is that the Bible is not the Word of God (or the words of human authors inspired by God, or anything like that), and those passages are just evidence of prejudices at the times in which the Bible was written. I agree with him in very broad terms--that some parts of the Bible are specific to the time in which they were written, and that Christians have wrongly used the Bible to justify some horrific acts--but this book does not do a good job of promoting those arguments. ( )
2 vote carlym | Jun 2, 2008 |
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For Christine Mary Spong, My Partner in Every Sense of the Word
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It is a mysterious book, this Bible.
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… That was our faith story's moment of truth. Shortly thereafter, a creed was formed to articulate that experience. Originally, it had only three words, all of which were rather vague: Jesus is Maschiach.
Maschiach was, as noted earlier, a Jewish word that literally meant "the anointed one." Those three words constituted the first attempt to develop a creed. Many people will assert that this was the best creed the church was destined ever to produce, primarily because it made no attempt to pin down the power of this God experience. It understood the fact that human minds might experience a sense of the holy but they will never be able to explain that dimension of their lives, to say nothing of being able to explain the fullness of God. So it was that this three-word creed left vast amounts of what might be called "wiggle room." At the very least this creed understood that God cannot be bound in human concepts. As history moved and Christianity became more institutionalized, however, the human need for security of certainty overwhelmed the sense of awe and wonder in the experience of the divine and the creedal explanations of the church grew increasingly more complex and restrictive.
That is what the Bible is, the epic of our life. To try to make it more than that, the source of religious authority or the ultimate definer of truth, is to turn it into being demonic. It is from those who have claimed too much for this literalized Bible that the sins of scripture embedded in its “terrible texts” have emerged. They are texts wrenched out of this epic tale and used to enhance violence, to destroy the holiness of God’s world, and to hurt, maim or kill certain of the children of God. The day of using the Bible to claim for your prejudice that it has “the authority of the Word of God” is quite frankly over, and we should give thanks for that fact.
From Paul suggesting that God entered Jesus in the resurrection when God raised him into God's life, to John suggesting that Jesus was the enfleshed word of God and part of who God is (since God spoke in creation and said "Let there be light"), is quite a range of human explanations. Paul and John and all the other New Testament writers were attempting, each in his own way, to make sense out of an experience that proclaimed, in ecstatic language, "We have met God in this life of Jesus." I am not interested in debating the details of these competing biblical explanations. I am interested rather in what it was that created the experience that God had been met in Jesus. I regard all explanations as time-bound and time-warped. When they become supernatural tales that purport to hear the voice of God speaking from the sky or see the Holy Spirit descending on a particular life, or suggests a miraculous birth that occurred without benefit of a human father, I recognize that I am reading mythology. I do not dismiss mythology as untrue. I ask, What was there about this life that required this elaborate mythology to develop?
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060778407, Paperback)

In the Sins of Scripture, Bishop John Shelby Spong takes on a thematic exploration of the Bible, carefully analyzing those passages that inform some of our key debates, like the role of women in the church and in society, and homosexuality, to name just two.  Beyond that he also looks at scriptures that have helped shape culture and history -- bringing to light the undercurrent of anti-Semitism he finds in the Gospels, for example.  The journey is particularly compelling because Bishop Spong believes in and values the good the Bible has brought to many through the ages.  His goal is not to define the Bible itself as something to be set aside, but instead to honor and value what he loves about it while still labeling what he dramatically calls "texts of terror" for what they are.

The true joy of the book is found in Spong's vigorous intellect, which he shines bright in an attempt to catch a reflection of the age, culture and circumstances in which the texts he examines were written.  Like an archaeologist working with ideas instead of tools, he removes the rocks, brushes away the sediment and reports on what he finds.  What were the roots and cultural realities behind the Scriptures that define the role of women in the church?  What were the hopes and fears driving the writers who condemned homosexuality in such stark terms?  What is the justification behind scriptures recommending "the rod of correction" (or as Bishop Spong simply labels it: "[t]he physical abuse of children…".)

Whether or not you agree with some of his musings along the way, many of his conclusions are hard to argue with.  Putting aside the issue of divine origin of the Bible, no one can deny passages have been used in service of very human ends.  Finally, the Sins of Scriptures can be seen as a careful observer of what those ends have been.  And when taken on those terms, it makes an interesting read, regardless of one's religious background.--Ed Dobeas

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:37 -0400)

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"In The Sins of Scripture America's most progressive and outspoken Christian leader, John Shelby Spong, surveys the great conflicts in Western history. He reveals, for instance, how the Bible was used to oppose the Magna Carta and support the divine right of kings, to condemn the insights of Galileo and Charles Darwin, and to support slavery and later apartheid and segregation. Christian leaders used the Bible to justify the Crusades and their unspeakable horrors against Muslim peoples, as well as the murderous behavior of the Inquisition and the virulent anti-Semitism of the Holocaust. The Bible is still quoted in the church to justify treating women as second-class citizens. Today it is the chief weapon of politicians and preachers seeking to deny justice for gay and lesbian people. In addition, the Christian church, while claiming allegiance to this book, has encouraged the abuse of children and supported environmental degradation."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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