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God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question -- Why We Sufferby Bart D. Ehrman
Synopses & Reviews
In times of questioning and despair, people often quote the Bible to provide answers. Surprisingly, though, the Bible does not have one answer but many "answers" that often contradict one another. Consider these competing explanations for suffering put forth by various biblical writers:
In God's Problem, Ehrman discusses his personal anguish upon discovering the Bible's contradictory explanations for suffering and invites all people of faith — or no faith — to confront their deepest questions about how God engages the world and each of us.
"In this sometimes provocative, often pedantic memoir of his own attempts to answer the great theological question about the persistence of evil in the world, Ehrman, a UNC — Chapel Hill religion professor, refuses to accept the standard theological answers. Through close readings of every section of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, he discovers that the Bible offers numerous answers that are often contradictory. The prophets think God sends pain and suffering as a punishment for sin and also that human beings who oppress others create such misery; the writers who tell the Jesus story and the Joseph stories think God works through suffering to achieve redemptive purposes; the writers of Job view pain as God's test; and the writers of Job and Ecclesiastes conclude that we simply cannot know why we suffer. In the end, frustrated that the Bible offers such a range of opposing answers, Ehrman gives up on his Christian faith and fashions a peculiarly utilitarian solution to suffering and evil in the world: first, make this life as pleasing to ourselves as we can and then make it pleasing to others. Although Ehrman's readings of the biblical texts are instructive, he fails to convince readers that these are indeed God's problems, and he fails to advance the conversation any further than it's already come." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Ehrman writes in a clear and engaging style, bringing personal reflection and reason to bear on academically sound readings of biblical perspectives on suffering, from both the Old and the New Testament. Ultimately, the book is a very personal statement that will anger some and resonate with others." Library Journal
A top Bible scholar and New York Times bestselling author of Misquoting Jesus challenges the varied and contradictory biblical explanations for why an all-powerful God allows suffering.
In Heretics Jonathan Wright charts the history of dissent in the Christian Church through the stories of some of its most emblematic hereticsfrom Arius, a fourth-century Libyan cleric who doubted the very divinity of Christ, to more successful heretics like Martin Luther and John Calvin. As he traces the Churchs attempts at enforcing orthodoxy, from the days of Constantine to the modern Catholic Churchs lingering conflicts, Wright argues that heresy, by forcing the Church to continually refine and impose its beliefs, actually helped Christianity to blossom into one of the worlds most formidable and successful religions.
Today, all believers owe it to themselves to grapple with the questions raised by heresy. Can you be a Christian without denouncing heretics? Is it possible that new ideas challenging Church doctrine are destined to become as popular as have Luthers once outrageous suggestions of clerical marriage and a priesthood of all believers? A delightfully readable and deeply learned new history, Heretics overturns our assumptions about the role of heresy in a faith that still shapes the world.
About the Author
Bart D. Ehrman is the author of more than twenty books, including the New York Times bestselling Misquoting Jesus. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is a leading authority on the early Church and the life of Jesus. He has been featured in Time and has appeared on NBC's Dateline, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, CNN, The History Channel, major NPR shows, and other top media outlets. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.
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