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The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics Paperback – September, 2002

4.2 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"...In its learnedness, [Gagnon's] book will...be in the vanguard of its position and cannot be ignored...." -- Martti Nissinen, University of Helsinki, and author of Homoeroticism in the Biblical World (From the Jacket Flap)

"...the fullest and best presentation of the conservative position....expressing the case same-sex intercourse sympathetically and convincingly." -- I. Howard Marshall, Professor of New Testament, Emeritus, University of Aberdeen, Scotland (Blurb Inside Book)

"...the most thorough examination of the scriptural and theological...perspectives on same-sex relations....a tour de force." -- Marion L. Soards, Professor of New Testament, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (From Jacket Flap)

"Gagnon has offered a learned, judicious, and comprehensive examination of the biblical testimony....fair and compassionate...a major resource...." -- Brevard S. Childs, Sterling Professor of Divinity (Hebrew Bible), Emeritus, Yale Divinity School (From Inside Book)

"Gagnon's book is an extremely valuable contribution to the current debate....I recommend this book wholeheartedly." -- C. E. B. Cranfield, Professor of Theology (New Testament), Emeritus, University of Durham (From Inside Book)

"Gagnon's incisive logic, prudent judgment, and exhaustive research should make this book a dominant voice in the contemporary debate." -- Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, O.P., Professor of New Testament, Ecole Biblique, Jerusalem (From the Back Cover)

"I believe that this volume will become a classic in the ongoing discussion of the church's...response to homosexuality." -- Duane F. Watson, Professor of New Testament, Malone College (From Inside Book)

"I know of no comparable study of the texts and interpretive debates that surround homosexual behavior." -- Max L. Stackhouse, Stephen Colwell Professor of Christian Ethics, Princeton Theological Seminary (From the Jacket Flap)

"No Christian concerned with homosexuality can afford to ignore this book." -- John Barton, Oriel and Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture, University of Oxford (From the Back Cover)

"This is a brilliant, original, and highly important work,...indispensable even for those who disagree with the author." -- James Barr, Distinguished Professor of Hebrew Bible, Emeritus, Vanderbilt University (From the Back Cover) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

"Gagnon offers the most thorough analysis to date of the biblical texts relating to homosexuality. His strong and clearly articulated argument establishes that the Bible contains a unanimous witness defining same-sex intercourse as sin. He does so while rigorously engaging biblical scholars and historians who have written both for and against this understanding of same-sex intercourse. In addition, he demonstrates systematically why attempts to classify as irrelevant for our contemporary context the Bible's rejection of same-sex intercourse fail to do justice to the biblical texts. His conclusions are clear and compassionate, as he cautions readers on all sides of the debate against a truncated gospel, and challenges all to strive for a holistic view of the command to love God and neighbor." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 522 pages
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press; 8/16/02 edition (September 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0687022797
  • ISBN-13: 978-0687022793
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,434 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Robert Gagnon provides a more than thorough look at texts referring to homosexuality. Indeed, he is so thorough that even his opponents in the academic community admit and endorse his text as extremely worthwhile and worthy of recognition. Those who are giving this book poor reviews simply because they don't agree with his conclusion are simply being led by their emotions. If Martti Nissinen says, "...In its learnedness, [Gagnon's] book will...be in the vanguard of its position and cannot be ignored...." then that cannot be ignored, as Nissinen is one of the most qualified scholars from the opposing perspective.

The reality is that this book is a systematic look at the issue of homosexuality, and is a significant challenge to the hermeneutical partiality of more liberal scholars. Indeed, Gagnon allows the text to interpret itself, rather than asserting assumptions (i.e. only the exploitative homosexual practices is condemned, the ancient world did not have loving homosexual partners, etc.) that aren't accurate. Gagnon provides specific examples of how the claims made by opposing scholars may be an incomplete or eisegetical understanding. If you want to know more about homosexuality, this book is a phenomenal resource.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Many churches today are discussing the question of whether homosexual sexual behavior is sinful, which requires an understanding of what the Bible says about it. Prof Gagnon has produced the most comprehensive examination of the Biblical evidence regarding homosexual behavior. His treatment is definitely on the conservative side, but he attempts to be fair to all viewpoints. This is easily the best book on the subject, but it is not an easy read. The most interesting aspect of Gagnon's approach is his comprehensive approach. He starts with Genesis and shows that the Jewish viewpoint is anchored in Genesis and the marriage of two complementary human beings -- male and female. Then he interprets the rest of the Bible in the light of Genesis. He does not limit himself to the 5 or 6 well-known passages in the Bible which are often discussed when the topic is homosexual behavior. Those who are conservative will find this book very helpful. Those who are liberal (on this topic) will find it the strongest case that can be made for the "opposing side."
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
With the Homosexual agenda gaining momentum and taking hold around the world it is important for Christians to familiarize themselves with what the Bible says (and doesn't say) about Homosexuality.

In this book, Robert Gagnon takes the Biblical stance that homosexuality is clearly a sin. His book is divided into several parts, going in a logical, chronological order, starting with the Old Testament and ancient Near-Eastern culture, Judaism, the teachings of Jesus, the teachings of Paul and finally, a look at some scientific research in regards to the subject.

At 493 pages this is certainly not light reading--especially considering the copious amounts of footnotes--but it is definitely very heavily researched, citing sources from many ancient cultures, philosophers, historians and religious texts.

Also of note, I noticed that Gagnon is wary of avoiding sweeping generalizations (words like "all", "always", "everyone", etc)--a trait to be desired in objective research that is sometimes lacking. While he largely disagrees with those taking a pro-gay stance, to his credit he makes it known when they have said something that he entirely or at least partially agrees with.

The main question remains: Does Gagnon make a strong case for saying that the Bible is against homosexuality? I would have to say that he does. In addition to his arguments, there are some things I would have pointed out from my studies in the various world religions. For example, Zoroastrianism also speaks against homosexuality as evident in the following passage of the Zend-Avesta.

"Ahura Mazda answered: 'The man that lies with mankind as man lies with womankind, is the man that is a Daeva [demon] . . ." The Zend-Avesta, Fargard VIII, V, 32.
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Format: Hardcover
Dr. Gagnon, a professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, has written a mind-numbingly thorough treatment of the Bible's teaching on homosexual practice (not homosexuality per se: he draws a distinction between one's desires and one's actions). In his own words, "The objective of this book is to demonstrate two main points. First, there is clear, strong, and credible evidence that the Bible unequivocally defines same-sex intercourse as sin. Second, there exist no valid hermeneutical arguments, derived from either general principles of biblical interpretation or contemporary scientific knowledge and experience, for overriding the Bible's authority on this matter." (page 37)

Contrary to what you might assume, Dr. Gagnon does not believe that every word in the Bible is absolutely true. On page 345 he states, "On the whole I find Paul's exposition of the gospel to be compelling and an authoritative lens from which to interpret and inform my experience. Nonetheless, even though I generally agree with the ultimate point that Paul wants to make on issues of critical significance for Paul, I sometimes have reservations about the way that Paul gets there. For example, I sometimes find Paul's exegesis of the Old Testament to be less than compelling. Paul is still 'my apostle,' but he does not (and did not in the first century) have to be inerrant in every matter."

Given that he believes the Bible is a fallible book, his arguments have appeal for theological moderates as well as for theological conservatives (such as evangelicals). And even readers who reject his conclusions on non-Biblical grounds will likely be convinced that contemporary attempts to find Biblical permission for homosexual conduct are futile.
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