From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In a refreshingly sensible tone, Knust, assistant professor of religion at Boston University, tackles today™s most contentious biblical texts and brings to light some intriguing others in this effort to detail and explain what the Bible says about sex. Although it is academic in its embrace of biblical scholarship and treatment of texts, this is also a personal book. Knust, a lifelong Baptist (and ordained as an American Baptist pastor), begins with an anecdote from her childhood that defends the value of studying and questioning the Bible. Matters of how biblical interpretations bear on real issues for people today are never far from the discussion. As Knust is clear-eyed in showing the Bible™s acceptance of polygamy, slavery, prostitution, and premarital sex, she calls into question facile judgments and absolutist claims about œwhat the Bible says. In her able hands, readers will learn and appreciate the variety of ways that the Bible treats and judges sex. She also demands of readers that they then think for themselves about how biblical texts should be interpreted and applied. (Feb.)
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*Starred Review* Knust’s impressive and highly readable analysis of Old and New Testament Bible stories explores mores of ancient cultures, which supported prostitution and polygamy along with slavery and patriarchy. In doing so, she makes a convincing case for religious leaders and others to take greater care and responsibility in extracting wisdom needed for healing contemporary society. Knust cites several examples of prominent figures who have misused the Bible to support wars, slavery, and the oppression of women and children. Her analysis of the story of Ruth and Naomi reveals that sex outside of marriage does not always lead to ruin. Likewise, she asserts that the downfall of Sodom and Gomorrah came not because of rampant homosexuality but as a result of society’s excesses and its leaders ceasing to seek justice, rescue the oppressed, and protect widows and orphans. The book also explores a plethora of taboo subjects: female sexual desire, divorce, infidelity, homosexuality, celibacy, menstruation, cross-dressing, and circumcision as well as the perennial need for intimacy and human contact. For those wanting to understand the Bible as a chronicle of human conduct for achieving the goals of survival, peace, and fulfillment, this is a treasure. --Susan DeGrane
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