According to this engaging but not always convincing liberal gloss on the Good Book, biblical literalism is an idolatrous departure from the Bible's "enduring but non-literal wisdom," which progressives can reclaim through informed interpretations of biblical metaphor and symbolism. Drawing on historical and contemporary Bible scholarship, Buehrens, a Unitarian minister and co-author of A Chosen Faith, gives an illuminating if brief rundown of each book in the Bible, one informed by feminist, literary and lefty political critiques. The results are mixed. Themes of liberation and social justice emerge in the Exodus narrative, the Prophetic books and the Gospels. But on fundamentalist hot-button issues like homosexuality and women's rights, the Bible's clear statements defy interpretive rehabilitation. Faced with outright prohibition on a man "lying with a man as with a woman," Buehrens suggests that "the inner spirit of what is intended" there might be different. He champions "reading against the grain": with that interpretive strategy, the New Testament's urging of submissiveness on wives and servants, for example, attests to husbands' and masters' anxiety over the egalitarianism of Church congregations. And his anti-literalist, Bible-as-metaphor approach sometimes throws the religion out with the bathwater, as when nonbelievers are reassured that stories of miracles and resurrections can also be seen as metaphorical rather than actual events. Unfortunately, Buehrens's laudable attempt at "reading the Bible to overcome oppression" drains away much substantive content.
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In his introduction, Buehrens offers several compelling reasons for studying the Bible. You aren't fully literate without it; if you can't or won't understand it, others will interpret it for you. And to his mind, most importantly, you can't be spiritually mature by simply rejecting the Bible as oppressive. Buehrens, who is affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist church, offers humanist or liberal interpretations solidly based on the original texts, and he also draws on other historical and literary sources to bolster his explanations. Although this is by necessity an overview, Buehrens does a masterful job of coursing through both Testaments, placing events and pronouncements in context of both prevailing theology and the times. An interesting balance to biblical interpretations that are weighted in the other direction. Ilene Cooper
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The writer shares his view of understanding and learning from the other great religions and finds compromise with the other sages, Mystics and prophets. A good read!Published 18 days ago by Jim Meeks
An excellent introduction to the Bible through a liberal point of view.Published 1 month ago by Jacques Herman
Important for the near future of the liberals in the Netherlands. Special the Remonstransts.Published 13 months ago by rev. Tina Geels
I have read enough of the Old Testament to realize I'm not willing to spend my time reading all of it. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Charlie Sharpe
His language style and opinions are still a bit too authoritative for it to be totally palatable by most non-fundamentalists.Published 22 months ago by Darrell
This man is not a scholar. As ex-president of the UUA (and I am a Unitarian) he has his UUA principles straight. Read morePublished on May 5, 2013 by Julia Jonathan
The subtitle is a good description for what this book is. It is an introduction to the bible, with a target audience of religious liberals. Read morePublished on April 16, 2013 by Scott Cromar