Answers to the questions you would have liked to ask about the Bible but were too squeamish to raise your hand about.
There's a lot of sex and violence in the Bible. Author Joseph W. Smith III wants to show this is true and to demonstrate that Christians do not need to be overly squeamish about explicit content any more than the Bible itself is. In Sex & Violence in the Bible, he clarifies and explains some of the graphic passages we find in Scripture. Many of these references have been obscured by idiom and the cultural difference between then and now, but there is no doubt sex and violence are present.
In this carefully organized catalog of sexual, violent, and other blunt biblical passages, Joseph Smith develops a "Christian aesthetic" to help us process our culture's daily deluge of such material. Assesses "please give me some"; "uncover his feet";"unclean until evening"; "your lewd whorings"; "weeping and gnashing of teeth"; "wallowing in his blood"; "wasting disease and fever"; "a thing to be hissed at"; and more.
All regular readers of the Bible have a vague grasp that there are references to sex and violence in the Bible, but they do not know how many references there are, nor how explicit the references are. This book serves the very useful purpose of showing us exactly how much sex and violence there is in the Bible, as well as the precise nature of the references to the human body. It is a work of painstaking research and scholarship. If the concentration of examples makes for uncomfortable reading, it is nonetheless important that we confront the subject. We need to know what kind of book the Bible is, and additionally we can assume that the references to sex and violence in the Bible tell us something that God wants us to know.
At last, a book which deals soberly with the fact that the Bible addresses the earthy aspects of life but which does so in a way that honors not just the Bible's content but also the Bible's intentional modes of expression. This is a needed adult antidote to the crudity of the schoolboy culture which sadly seems to have gained the upperhand in church circles in recent years.
-Carl R. Trueman,
Westminster Theological Seminary
Some people have a rather rosy picture of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. They may think that the Bible is a collection of sayings that include only encouragements, promises, and high-sounding sentiments. Readers can only come to that conclusion if they havent actually read the Bible, or have done so only selectively. Joseph W. Smith III wants us to come to terms with the Bible as it is - filled with stories and images of sex and violence. His purpose is to shock us, but not gratuitously. He wants to shock us into reckoning with the real Bible and the real God to which it points.
-Tremper Longman III,
At first, looking only at the title, I was worried that this book would be mainly of prurient interest. To be sure, it is not for the faint of heart. But what the author manages to show convincingly is how very frank and honest the Bible is about subjects that are often avoided or handled gingerly by today's Christians. In a word, he convinces us that the Bible is not a prudish book. Smith's study provides a great resource on these two subjects, which indeed pervade the Scriptures. The take-home from this exhaustive examination of the relevant texts is that we would be well advised to share the Bible's realism, if we wish to share its message of truth.
Westminster Theological Seminary
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