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How to Read the Bible and Still Be a Christian: Struggling with Divine Violence from Genesis Through Revelation Hardcover – March 3, 2015
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“Crossan, one of the most prolific popular writers among the scholars of the historical Jesus . . . proposes viewing the nonviolent movement of the historical Jesus-and not some apocalyptic bloodbath-as the end or center or climax of Christian time.” (Booklist (starred review))
“When studying the Bible, Christians are met with opposing versions for God: one of vengeance and one of compassion. Crossan confronts this conflict and challenges readers to engage in conversations about faith and the historical Jesus.” (U.S. Catholic)
From the Back Cover
The Bible introduces us to a loving Jesus who turns the other cheek, loves his enemies, and shows grace to all. But we also meet a warrior Jesus who leads an army of angels bent on earthly destruction. Which is the true Messiah? Should we all follow the nonviolent Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount or the vengeful, sword-wielding Christ of Revelation?
As one of the foremost biblical scholars of our day, John Dominic Crossan re-veals that running throughout the entire Bible—from Genesis to Revelation—are two conflicting revelations of God: one offering a radical, holy vision where every need is provided for and love and grace are extended widely; the other working to domesticate this radical vision by em-phasizing judgment and punishment and by propping up the status quo.
But one thing is clear, argues Crossan: one cannot pretend that the Bible provides a single, unified vision of God or Jesus. If one wants to discover the Bible's best and purest revelation of God, then Christians must measure the Bible by Jesus. And to find the best and purest revelation of Jesus, Crossan concludes, then we must look to the work of scholars who can point us to the teachings of the historical Jesus. Only then will we know how to read the Bible and still be a Christian.
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Top Customer Reviews
Crossan, regarded as the preeminent Jesus scholar writing in English in our time, uses his considerable skills and learning in pastoral ministry, cultural anthropology, world literature, history, linguistics, archeology, and, of course, biblical studies to address the question, “What does the Christian Bible reveal about its own imagination of God’s character when we read it through as a complete unit and as an integrated whole?” In particular Crossan wishes to answer the questions, “Is the God of the Bible violent or nonviolent, and is Jesus as the image of God violent or nonviolent?”
Crossan proposes that the meaning of the Bible’s story is in the middle, in the story of Jesus in the Gospels and in the early writings of Paul.
He identifies Christians as people not of the book but of the person and with the book. Christians do not believe that God so loved the world that he gave his only Book, but rather his only Son (Jn 3:16). Crossan’s contention is that “The norm and criterion of the Christian bible is the biblical Christ and the norm and criterion of the biblical Christ is the historical Jesus.”
The Bible presents God as both violent and nonviolent; it also depicts Jesus as nonviolence in his life and then, in the book of Revelation, as the Christ of violence. How do we know which depiction of God and Jesus Christ is true.Read more ›
Keep writing these books John Dominic. They are wonderful aids for seeking, non-literalist Christians
Dr. Peter Messmore
Crossan’s model describing the dynamics of the Christian Bible is highly though-provoking – The Radicality of God vs the Normalicy of Civilization – Nonviolent Power of Persuasion vs Violent Power of Force – Distributive Justice vs Retributive Justice.
His discussion of how the Apostle St. Paul was initially something of a radical but was de-radicalized through two stages is quite intriguing. In the New Testament epistles that were written by Paul (1 Thessalonians, Galatians, Philippians, Philemon, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Romans), the apostle is referred to as the “Real Paul” or the “Radical Paul”. In those whose authorship may be in question (2 Thessalonians, Colossians, Ephesians), the apostle is de-radicalized into a conservative “anti-Paul.” or “Post Paul”, and in those that were definitely not written by Paul (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus), the apostle is further de-radicalized into a reactionary “anti-Paul.” or “Pseudo Paul”. Differences between the three are somewhat surprising.
Crossan closes with the statements, “Justice is the body of love, and love is the soul of justice. Separate them and you do not get both— you get neither;
…” and, borrowing from poet John Keats, “Justice is love, love is justice. That is all we know on earth, and all we need to know.”
The book is a fascinating read and is very informative in selected areas of Christian history and scripture.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I do not feel that the author answered the question posed by the title. He did, however, compare opposing violence and non violence. It is an interesting study.Published 1 month ago by N Goodyear
Erudite discussion of the seeming violence of God in the Bible. Crossan shows how later editing changed much of the original writings to fit with the human concept of power and... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Patricia S. Snowden
I bought "How to Read the Bible and Still Be a Christian" because of the intriguing title and the author, John Dominic Crossan. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Ernest G. Barr
Excellent. The work challenges the reader's thinking in positive ways. You will grow spiritually and professionally.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
I am a Christian; however, I have struggled most of my adult life with the dichotomy of God as described in the Bible. Read morePublished 4 months ago by HT
The point of the book was excellent, but it could have been shorter. There was a lot of repetition.Published 7 months ago by Clarence Hoop
Very eye opening, makes one understand why scripture is so contradictory at timesPublished 7 months ago by granville russell
A deeply committed Christian faces violence in the Christian Bible and tracks a path through the maze of heavenly demands and worldly ambition.Published 7 months ago by Danie van Zyl
Not a bad read, but there was an assumed understanding of the thought process I never quite gathered. Several of the chapters left me without any conclusions. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Doug Clark