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The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart Paperback – April 30, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (April 30, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060088303
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060088309
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #350,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Biblical studies have historically been consigned to theological schools and church groups. In The Good Book, Peter Gomes, pastor of Harvard University's Memorial Church and a professor of theology, has written a vivid, common sense and wise analysis of what the Bible means for us today. As an African American gay man, Gomes is interested in re-viewing the biblical passages on sexuality and race, but The Good Book is much more than a revisionist look at controversial biblical passages. Gomes is interested in rediscovering how the Bible can find a place in our emotional and political lives, as well as in our religious beliefs. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard and longtime pastor of Memorial Church there, has been cited by Time as one of the seven best preachers in America. He laments, however, that he and his fellow ministers across the nation "preach regularly from the Bible to congregations that know so little about it," despite the outpouring of biblical translations, exegetical books and other analytical aids. His mission in this cogent exercise in nonsectarian Christian apologetics is to help reverse the current decline in biblical literacy by reclaiming the Bible from theological stodginess and lay laziness. The book is divided into three parts called "Opening the Bible," "The Use and Abuse of the Bible" and "The True and Lively Word," which refer, respectively, to didactic, polemical and pastoral approaches. The unified result masterfully clarifies what the Bible really says about homosexuality (very little), women as full faith partners (much more), racial harmony (lots, both explicitly and implicitly) and anti-Semitism ("Christianity's Original Sin"). But, whatever the subject, Gomes wants Bible readers to think about intrinsic meanings in Old and New Testament scripture.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

If you don't read anything else in this book, read this chapter and share it with everyone you know.
BLP
For 'heart' people, The Good Book helps in understanding how our God-given mind can help our heart in understanding what the scriptures are really saying to us today.
Amazon Customer
This fine book draws from our history of Biblical interpretation to show that over and over again we have skewed the Bible to support our prejudices.
James Harvey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 79 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
I tend to like books whose ratings vacillate between five stars and one. Clearly some readers get it and some don't.
The Bible has been used for centuries as an excuse for slavery, for bigotry, for war, for torture, for anti-Semitism, for homophobia, and for misogyny. It has been used as a crutch for those emotionally immature enough to need to feel right and morally superior. The people who would use the Bible in this way--and they continue to flourish and proliferate--will probably have little use for Gomes's impressive volume, and so be it. For the rest of us, however, The Good Book is worthwhile and enriching. It illuminates the Bible for both the veteran churchgoer and the uninitiated. In teaching Sunday school and Confirmation classes for the Episcopal Church and in delivering funeral and wedding sermons, I have drawn on Gomes's book again and again to help convey the Christian message.
Anyone interested in reading the Bible with "mind and heart" will find The Good Book to be a good read.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Fields jeffery.fields@platinum.com on July 29, 1998
Format: Paperback
My wife read this book aloud to me cover to cover on our commutes to church. She bought it because she is black and an Episcopalian and wanted to see what a black Episcopalian bishop had to say about the Bible. We found Gomes writing to be clear, well reasoned, and very non judgemental.
My wife knows many Jews and got a lot out of the chapter that refuted Biblical arguments for Anti-Semitism, as did I. We especially got a lot out of the chapter on the refutation of Biblical justifications for slavery, as I am white, and our marriage would have been illegal 50 years ago in many states. We found Gomes rebuttal of the sinfulness of homosexuality to be very balanced and informed and were a little surprised when he bravely admits to being gay.
Overall, The Good Book opened our eyes to the fact that the Bible is a great source of understanding God as a peaceful and loving God. We are no longer scared of reading the Bible anymore.
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52 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Helpful Reviewer on September 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Those who have never had the unique privilege of hearing Rev. Gomes preach will most enjoy and benefit from this book, for the book memorializes the singular virtues of his ministry: his delightful use of language, the great clarity of his thinking, the openness of his mind, and his general resistance to ideology and dogma. As a book targeted to a general audience, it is not as comprehensive nor as successful at handling intellectual complexities and contradictions as a more scholarly tome might be. Too often, Rev. Gomes makes interpretive leaps which are perhaps not supported adequately by his arguments and marshalling of evidence. However, it must be said that any book of this ilk would necessarily be guilty of similar "sins." In any event, Rev. Gomes does not intend for his book to be yet another addition to the library of general Biblical scholarship. Instead, he succeeds at his primary objective, which is to breathe life into the reader's relationship with the book and to rescue the Bible from individuals on points of the political spectrum who brazenly manipulate its complex and elusive message to support their own particular points of view. A thought-provoking and surprisingly easy read.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Ollie Nanyes on February 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
I was someone who had studied the Bible (on an lay level) mainly for historical interest. My past encounters with fundamentalism had turned me off to trying to find spiritual inspiration from much of the Bible.
This book helped me see that one does not have to turn the Bible into a religous idol in order to gain spiritual nourishment from it. It also placed into context some of the more confusing laws and holiness codes from the Pentateuch.
In short, Professor Gomes has helped me reclaim much of the good from my Christian heritage.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By M. Burgess on June 15, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This work by the preacher to Harvard University would have been unnecessary if he was not gay, black, and a Republican. These credentials alone suggest that he might have something different to say about how Americans interpret the Bible. And, in this regard, Rev. Gomes' book does not disappoint.
Gomes' aim with this book seems to have been to help recover the original "voice" of the Bible. His concern, as has been the concern of many before him, is to let the Bible speak for itself rather than through the interlocutors of its many and varied readers. Reclaiming this more authentic voice, he contends, is necessary if we are to rescue the Bible from the hands of those who mistakenly use it to advance their own prejudices and agenda. His particular concern is with those who use the Bible to further circumscribe the freedoms of women, blacks, and homosexuals. But in the course of his defense, he also does a creditable job of rescuing the Bible from others who in one way or another have misunderstood its essential nature. You may not agree with his conclusions, but you will appreciate Rev. Gomes' fresh new look at some familiar passages of Scripture.
Intended for the layman, The Good Book also is worthwhile reading for anyone interested in the Bible and its interpretation.
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51 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Angela Arnold on February 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
Gomes takes the Bible off its pedestal and presents it to us as a tool for Christian living. This book is a must read for any Christian struggling to read and understand the Bible in modern terms. He explores many of the controversial topics of the Bible, including race, homosexuality, women's roles, anti-Semitism, wealth, and more. He challenges the reader to accept the Bible as an interpretation of fantastic religious events with historical and sociological significance. He teaches the reader to deal with contradictions within the Bible, even within individual books of the Bible. He helps the reader to discern for himself what facts are crucial to an individual's belief in Christianity and what facts enrich the stories of the Bible. This book challenged my beliefs in positive ways and taught me to never "idolize" the Bible again.
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