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The Human Faces of God: What Scripture Reveals When It Gets God Wrong (And Why Inerrancy Tries To Hide It) Paperback – January 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Wipf & Stock Pub; 1st edition (January 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160899323X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608993239
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #863,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Christians can ignore the facts that Stark brings into the light of day only if they want to be wrong.
--Dale C. Allison, Jr.
author of Constructing Jesus

The Human Faces of God is one of the most challenging and well-argued cases against the doctrine of biblical inerrancy I have ever read.
--Greg A. Boyd
author of The Myth of a Christian Nation

I learned so much from this book that I can strongly encourage anyone who is seeking to move from simplistic proof-texting to a comprehensive understanding of the Bible to read this book carefully.
--Tony Campolo
author of Red Letter Christians

This is must reading for Christians who have agonized over their own private doubts about Scripture and for others who have given up hope that evangelical Christians can practice intelligent, moral interpretation of the Bible.
--Neil Elliott
author of Liberating Paul

[W]ith the help of this book, we may discover that the Bible when we read it in all its diversity and vulnerability does bring healing words to those who keep listening.
--Ted Grimsrud
author of Embodying the Way of Jesus

Stark's book effectively demonstrates how the Bible, in practice, is the most dangerous enemy of fundamentalists.
--James F. McGrath
author of The Only True God

Stark provides a model for theology that is committed to hearing the voice of the victims of history, especially the victims of our own religious traditions.
--Michael J. Iafrate
PhD Candidate, Toronto School of Theology

This book is the most powerful antidote to fundamentalism that I've ever read.
--Frank Schaeffer
author of Crazy for God --Wipf and Stock Publishers

About the Author

Thom Stark was a Fig Tree and Ledbetter scholar at Emmanuel School of Religion. His academic interests include second temple apocalyptic Judaism and Christian origins, as well as modern Christian and Islamic theologies of liberation.

More About the Author

Thom Stark is the author of The Human Faces of God: What Scripture Reveals When It Gets God Wrong (and Why Inerrancy Tries To Hide It) (Wipf & Stock, 2010), and a forthcoming monograph on New Testament christology, tentatively titled Behold the Man. Thom was a Fig Tree and Ledbetter scholar at Emmanuel School of Religion: A Graduate Seminary. He is a member of several professional societies, including the American Academy of Religion, the American Historical Association, the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and the Society of Biblical Literature. Thom's academic interests include Second Temple Jewish History and Religion, Christian Origins, Second Testament Christologies, Ancient and Modern Apocalyptic Sects, Global Theologies of Liberation (Christian and Islamic), Interreligious Dialogue, Anthropology of Religion, Postcolonial Studies (African, Latin American, and Middle-Eastern), and Religion and Globalization. Thom has lectured on Second Temple Jewish apocalypticism, Christian origins, the Parables of Jesus, and early Christological controversies. Thom also maintains a blog where he sporadically engages issues in religion, politics, and culture.

Customer Reviews

It is the most troubling and helpful book I have read in a very long time.
Jeremy Myers
Mr. Stark's book is aimed at fundamentalist and conservative evangelical Christians, and in many ways I am exactly his target audience.
T. Lethbridge
He provides an accessible introduction to the methods that scholars use to evaluate the history and intent of a biblical text.
Valerie Tarico

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 67 people found the following review helpful By T. Lethbridge on April 16, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr. Stark's book is aimed at fundamentalist and conservative evangelical Christians, and in many ways I am exactly his target audience. However, several years ago I finally stopped putting my questions on a back burner and began studying my faith and the presuppositions that went with it. My studies took me through theology, textual criticism, early church history, the canon, and archeology and I purposely tried hard to draw from authors both conservative and liberal. I mention this because a book review is as much about what the reader brought to the reading as what the author put into the writing. I came to this book as conservative evangelical turned deist scrabbling for purchase at the precipice of agnosticism and looking for a handhold. In that regard, I may not have been Mr. Stark's ideal audience and it is in that regard The Human Faces of God left me dissatisfied.

However, there is ample reason for the five star rating. Of all my reading, this book is the clearest and most concise dead fish slap against the face of Biblical inerrancy I have yet read. The author's writing is excellent, the tone is scholarly, it is amply footnoted, and it brought new material to my attention. Mr. Stark uses the Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy as his foil throughout the book as well as numerous quotes from defenders of Biblical inerrancy. Having spent nearly my entire life in this perspective, I never felt Mr. Stark was creating straw men or misconstruing evangelical/fundamentalist thinking on this issue. Mind you, he does not pull any punches, but the opposing viewpoint was presented honestly. At several points in the book he also presents alternative perspectives to both inerrancy and his own beliefs. In this regard, I feel Mr. Stark did a real service to the reader.
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30 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Valerie Tarico on November 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
Thom Stark shows his readers the pages of the Bible through a scholar's eyes. Armed with a deep knowledge of ancient Near Eastern cultures and religions, Christian history, and linguistics, Stark unveils theological arguments that have been a part of the Judeo Christian tradition from the beginning. In doing so, he provides a devastating critique of inerrancy, which seeks to defend the Bible by manufacturing consensus. In its place, he offers readers a high integrity alternative, a means of drawing moral and spiritual insight from the Bible without making an idol out of either the book or our own dogmas.

Most Christians think that they must either accept the Bible as divinely inspired in its entirety or reject it as a moral and spiritual guide. But among theologians, this has never been a consensus position. Like Bart Ehrman, Thom Stark offers the lay reader a window into the world where theologians and antiquities scholars wrestle with the ancient texts that comprise the Bible. He provides an accessible introduction to the methods that scholars use to evaluate the history and intent of a biblical text.

Stark confronts so called inerrantists head on, exposing what he calls a "hermeneutics of convenience" as they pick among a potpourri of interpretive methods, depending on whichever one best protects their dogmatic insistence that the Bible is God's perfect and complete revelation to humankind. One chapter title sums it up: "Inerrantists Do Not Exist."

I recently reread The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible's Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love, by John Shelby Spong. I am forever indebted to Spong's patient, tireless engagement in the process of reformation. But I will confess that of the two books I learned more from The Human Faces of God.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stevie Jake on April 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is by far one of the most intense books I have ever read. Im not a Biblical inerrantist and this book still made me struggle. Stark has the ability to truly make the reader think hard about their convictions while not coming across as hostile. Although the book is aimed at negating inerrancy, it accomplishes much more.

Chapters 1-3 are aimed at the articulation of the doctrine of inerrancy itself. Stark uses the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy as his focal point to debunk. He does an excellent job of illuminating the contradictions, intellectual dishonesty and mental gymnastics of Biblical inerrantists. I have not seen such a strong argument against the doctrine of inerrancy as the one that was put forth in these three chapters alone.

In chapters 4-8 Stark pushes his argument further (much further) by turning his eye towards the Bible itself to root out the discrepancies. He demonstrates that early Israel possessed a polytheistic worldview similar to its surrounding neighbors. Then, he shows the reader that there are hints of child sacrifice as an acceptable (but not often occurring) practice in early Israel. Stark then sheds light on the acts of genocide in the OT. He not only critiques the immorality of such passages, but he also assesses their historicity. By the time he's finished with this chapter there isnt much to salvage for an inerrantist. Chapter 8 is the most controversial of all. Stark attempts to demonstrate that Jesus was wrong in His apocalyptic prediction of the end of the world. While I so badly did not want to agree with him, I could not find a hole in his logic.

The last two chapters deal with which scriptural readings will not work and which ones will.
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