Bible Literalism: A Gentile Heresy gets many things wrong and smacks of elitism.
Author: John Shelby Spong
Title: Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Harper One
Publishing Date: 16 Feb. 2016
Genre: Bible Criticism & Interpretation
Reviewer: ‘Yomi ‘Segun Stephen
Review Rating: 1 (Atrocious)
A Book Reviewer's Struggles:
I struggled to write a book review for this book - almost gave up writing it all together. Let’s just say I had mixed feelings after getting to around page 50 of the book. On one hand, I
Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy postulates difficult answers to difficult problems. The book states that the reason why Christianity is in a mess is because the Gentiles took control of it and squeezed whatever Jewishness it ever had out of it. The book goes on to say that without the Jewish flavour and discernment, a lot of things in the Bible are therefore taken literally, causing present-day Christians to misunderstand the Bible. The author writes:
“To read the gospels properly, I now believe, requires a knowledge of Jewish culture, Jewish symbols, Jewish icons and the tradition of Jewish storytelling. It requires an understanding of what the Jews called “
”. Only those people who were completely aware of these things could ever have come to think that the gospels were meant to be read literally.” midrash
The book asserts that Paul the Apostle gave gentiles a free rein in the early church and this contributed to the dominance of gentile perspective on most of the interpretation of the Old Testament...
The New Testament Fiction:
In addition, Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy claims that many of the stories in the New Testament never happened as
“It was this same Gentile ignorance, I will argue, that created in the minds of Christians over the centuries the necessity of defending the literalness of such events in the life of Jesus as the virgin birth, the miracles, the details of the passion narrative, the understanding of resurrection as physical resuscitation and the cosmic ascension as an act that actually took place in both time and space.”
While it is true that the church has serious problems and that
Assuming (let’s say the author is right) the Bible is to be treated as nothing but a set of moral stories to be learned from rather than
Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy puts the cart before the horse. No. It dismantles the cart and lets the horse loose.
More importantly, this book smacks of elitism. I do not believe that you have to be a Jew or learn Jewish stuff to fully understand the scriptures. Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy might be a book with good intentions (though I highly doubt it), but it would have been better if it had never been published.
Many thanks to Harper One for review copy.
Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy: A Journey into a New Christianity Through the Doorway of Matthew's Gospel: John Shelby Spong: 0099455026994: Books