[Here’s another preview from the book I’m working on. Putting the Bible in Its Place: Off the Pedestal. Out of the Trash Can. Back on the Table. Let me know what about this excerpt interests you.]
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As a preacher I tried to make offensive biblical passages less so, even palatable. I could spin an irksome passage. I had a few exegetical and semantical tricks up my sleeve. But, alas, trickery can take you only so far. I grew weary of my byzantine justifications.
So I took another approach.
When I stopped defending the Bible as THE WORD OF GOD, I could finally say: THE BIBLE GOT THAT WRONG. For example, in various parts, the Bible condones slavery, genocide, subjugation of women, and condemnation of homosexuals. All morally despicable. Just flat-out wrong. Period.
But the Bible also gets a lot of things right. Do justice, love kindness, walk humbly. Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. Love your enemy. We can find similar gems in The Way of Tao, the Bhagavad Gita, Hamlet, Middlemarch, and Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Epiphanies await us in all manner of literature, art, and music. Why limit ourselves?
We can approach the Bible as we would a collection of ancient Greek and Roman writings or a collection of ancient Chinese and Indian writings—respectfully, but critically. We don’t take Zeus literally. Why should we take Jehovah literally?
In my book I trek across old terrain but with a fresh perspective and a set of literary tools unavailable before the 19th century. I explore this terrain the way Charles Darwin explored his terrain: with an open mind. In his time, geologists had developed tools and methods that enabled a more informed understanding of the earth and its creatures.
Like other scientists of his day, Darwin left the supernatural out of his explanations for the existence of the natural world and the formation of its diverse species. He wanted to see and understand the world as it was, not as others said it was.
Darwin’s approach to the natural world inspired my new approach to the Bible.
One thing I discovered, much to my surprise, is that Eve is a hero, not a villain as Christendom has preached and taught for 2,000 years. Eve defied authority and gave humanity the gift of sight and knowledge.
And that wasn’t the only surprise.
See Paula’s photo (“Hydrangea Season”) on the home page. Posted August 7