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Title: God and Sex: What the Bible Really Says
Author: Michael Coogan
Number of Pages: 238 pages
Book Number/Goal: 35/40 for 2010
My Rating: 5/5

Amazon Summary: Readers looking for an unbiased appraisal of what the Bible says about premarital sex, homosexuality, and polygamy can trust Coogan, a biblical scholar of the highest order. Concise, clear, and accessible to general readers, this book covers all the usual topics plus a few that may surprise. A professor of religious studies at Stonehill College and editor of the New Oxford Annotated Bible, Coogan has also taught at Harvard and Wellesley. He covers predictable ground in unpredictable ways, frankly noting, for example, the pervasive biblical assumption that women are subordinate while explaining how that reflects the Bible's foreign and ancient context. The author does not overreach the evidence to promote his own agenda, but notes the Bible's contradictions on certain issues and admits the limits of modern scholarship. Readers may be surprised to find a convincing discussion of evidence for God's own (sometimes unflattering) sexuality, in metaphor if not in fact. Coogan's reminder at the book's end that modern application of biblical texts requires interpretation and nuance is a welcome corrective to selective, literalist use.

Review: This was another one I got from the library the other day. The new non-fiction shelf had so much interesting-looking stuff! I could have gone home with a whole bag full of books just from that section, but new books are only two-week loans, so I limited it to just three. Anyway, this one stood out because of the title, and also because it has a faux-leather Bible-esque cover, so it caught my eye right away.

I have been interested in reading books about the Bible and about Christianity lately. I have a lot of issues around the Bible due to my mom, and for a long time even just thinking about reading about the Bible or Christianity was enough to stress me out and make me feel really anxious, but I think I'm starting to get to a place where I can deal?

Anyway, I enjoyed this book. It was a pretty quick, easy read, and looked at various topics related to sex and gender, including homosexuality, marriage, abortion, divorce, etc. As the Amazon summary notes, he doesn't handpick verses to hold up one view or another, but lays out all the verses related to each topic, acknowledging contradictions and such. (I also found it interesting because a lot of liberal Christians are all about how Jesus wouldn't be down with this or that judginess, but Jesus was pretty damn judgey himself, sometimes even more so than the Old Testament.)


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