The Bible presents us with difficult statements about money andfinance, social justice, marriage and divorce, sex, religion andpolitics, and other areas of life. Many of us pick and chooseamong them, feeling free to treat some of the Bible's moralrulings as absolutes but ignoring those we find unacceptable.Are there areas where we can ignore what the Bible says? Is theBible simply wrong about some things? Are we free to argue thatwe understand things better than the biblical writers did and cantherefore disregard them? Or must we accept what the Bible tellsus, no matter how difficult it might be to put into practice? Krausexplores questions of vengeance, the death penalty, economics,social justice, sexual behavior, and more.
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 populationgays 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 Krauss conclusions, but most will be challenged to re-examine their traditional views. (Nov.)Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.