The books of the New Testament are not the infallible words of God. The texts were in a state of flux during the faith’s early centuries. We can and should build on that flexible tradition. These are the claims by which this book is guided. In Fictional Religion, Jamie Spencer challenges readers to take a more rational, more scholarly, and a more historical-critical approach to the New Testament. He examines twelve writers who, he posits, allow us to see how thoughtful artists over the last 600 years have taken the Christian doctrine they inherited, and applied both its formal tenets and its spirit to the intellectual needs, social contexts and cultural biases of their age. Throughout the Christian era, playwrights, poets and story writers like Chaucer, Shakespeare and C. S. Lewis have performed the same services for New Testament doctrine that Hebrew Bible prophets and story-tellers provided for Jewish law as laid down in the Pentateuch. Although our creative artists are not allowed official entry into Holy Writ, they shape Christian doctrine and insights in new ways to meet new human conditions. They keep the New Testament new.
“Spencer’s learned and accessible exploration shows the prose and poetry of these English authors to be a source of insight and inspiration.” — Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, Professor of New Testament, Seminary of the Southwest
“A marvelous mash up of sacred and secular texts. The conversation ranges from raucous to sublime, from hilarious to heady. After reading this book, you won t think of God, humans, or books in the same way again.” — Deborah Krause, Academic Dean and Professor of New Testament, Eden Theological Seminary
“A thoughtful, intentionally provocative and helpful work which will challenge experienced theologians and prove equally engaging to a wider audience.” — The Reverend James H. Purdy, Rector, Saint Peter s Episcopal Church, Ladue, St. Louis, Missouri
“Surprising and pleasing. Any open-minded reader of this irenic book is likely to find both instruction and delight. As for the closed-minded ones, there s just the outside chance that it might pry open an eyelid.” — John V. Fleming, Louis W. Fairchild Professor of English and Comparative Literature emeritus at Princeton University
Material taken from the Polebridge Press.