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Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious Worldby John Shelby Spong
Synopses & Reviews
For two hundred years, scholars have been analyzing one of the most important books ever written—the Bible—and overturning much of what we once thought we knew. Everyday Christians, however, are not privy to this deeper conversation. It is for these people that renowned bishop and author John Shelby Spong presents Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World, a book designed to take readers into the contemporary academic debate about the Bible.
A definitive voice for progressive Christianity, Spong frees readers from a literal view of the Bible. He opens the possibility that some of the characters in the New Testament are imaginary composites or even literary creations—such as Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus; Judas Iscariot; Nicodemus; the Samaritan woman by the well; and Lazarus who was raised from the dead. He presents the Bible as an ever-changing and always growing story. He demonstrates that it is possible to be both a deeply committed Christian and an informed twenty-first-century citizen.
In this thorough, substantive guide, Spong explores the origin and essential meaning of each of the individual books in the Bible, examining the background, the context, the level of authenticity and even the trustworthiness of the messages found there. He explains why these particular books, written between two and three thousand years ago, came to be regarded as authoritative and preserved as sacred; he traces the pathway that biblical religion has traveled as it evolved through the centuries, and he shows how people have misused many of these texts in the service of their prejudices.
Reaching far beyond the familiar Sunday-school stories that have provided the content of most peoples biblical knowledge, Spongs journey into the heart of the Bible is his attempt to call his readers into their own journeys into the mystery of God. “One does not,” he asserts, “have to twist ones brain into a first-century pretzel in order to take the Bible seriously in this increasingly non-religious world.”
"Episcopal bishop Spong, author of more than 20 books, may be retired, but he hasn't stopped. His newest grows from a series of summer lectures that clue the people in the pews on the kinds of topics biblical scholars discuss among themselves: for example, biblical characters such as Judas and Joseph, Jesus' earthly dad, appear to be literary creations. Everybody who hasn't abruptly left the room on hearing it suggested that the Bible may not be literally true is in for a wonderful ride as Spong tours Christianity's sacred text, leaving little unexamined and demythologized as he urges Christians to grow up and take the Bible seriously — just not literally. Spong's arguments aren't new, but he has the gift and motivation for making biblical scholarship accessible; he writes with charity and clarity. His fans will want this for Bible study groups; his detractors may simply decide that Spong, still unwelcome and still here, is being his heretical self once again. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World, bishop and social activist John Shelby Spong argues that 200 years of biblical scholarship has been withheld from lay Christians. In this brilliant follow-up to Spongs previous books Eternal Life and Jesus for the Non-Religious, Spong not only reveals the crucial truths that have long been kept hidden from the public eye, but also explores what the history of the Bible can teach us about reading its stories today and living our lives for tomorrow.
Sarah Sentilles, author of Breaking Up With God: A Love Story, applauds John Shelby Spongs Reclaiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World, writing that “pulsing beneath his brilliant, thought-provoking, passionate book is this question: can Christianity survive the education of its believers?…A question Bishop Spong answers with a resounding yes.”
For centuries, scholars have been debating, analyzing and exploring perhaps the most influential book ever written—the Bible—and overturning much of what we know about this sacred text. However, a large group of people who actually use this book, mainly lay Christians, arent aware of this larger, deeper conversation. It is for these people that Spong, drawing on a lifetime of experience, writes Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World, a primer on the history and significance of the Bible. In this informal and accessible survey, Spong will move book by book through the Scriptures, introducing their themes and messages by examining the sweep of history in which these books were originally written. What has history taught us? How should we read these stories today? What does it mean for how we live our lives? And why do people tenaciously hold on to so many myths associated with the Bible? For the vast audience of people eager for a meaningful journey into the Bible, Spong leads the way.
About the Author
JOHN SHELBY SPONG was the Episcopal Bishop of Newark before his retirement in 2000. As a visiting lecturer at Harvard as well as at universities and churches throughout the English-speaking world, he is one of the leading spokespersons for liberal Christianity. He has initiated landmark discussions of controversies within the church and has become an outspoken advocate for change. Visit him at <>johnshelbyspong.com.
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