What do talking animals, spontaneous combustion, mass murder, and the inexplicable reversal of the Earth’s rotation have in common? They’re all found in one of the most influential books in history: The Bible. The author, a former pastor who now provides multi-faith spiritual care, is quite familiar with the Bible’s texts. However, it wasn’t until he listened to it on an audio book that he began to identify many unusual verses that, in modern times, would be widely considered to be absurd or downright offensive. For example, thousands of people are killed on little more than a whim. Slavery is condoned. Human sacrifice is encouraged. And a father offers up his daughters to be gang raped.
The actions committed by various characters depicted in The Bible speak for themselves for any reader who chooses to listen. However, Francis goes well beyond these questionable acts to break down other passages that are more likely to be taken at face value by the casual reader. For instance, why did the Israelites eat nothing but manna for 40 years, despite having livestock? How is it possible for God to have infinite mercy, yet also condemn humans for an unpardonable sin (blasphemy)?
One of the many intriguing points the author makes is to highlight the careful word choices found in the King James version, which uses friendlier words like “maidservant” and “servant” instead of “slave.” The version of the Bible one chooses to read or listen to, along with the level of scrutiny given to the text, can have a significant impact on a reader’s personal interpretations. Francis has clearly poured considerable effort and time into his book. It’s an impressive collection of thought-provoking discussions that are accessible for both Biblical scholars and casual readers alike.
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