How to Read the Bible and Still Be a Christian: Struggling with Divine Violence from Genesis Through Revelation

The acclaimed Bible scholar and author of The Historical Jesus and God & Empire—“the greatest New Testament scholar of our generation” (John Shelby Spong) —grapples with Scripture’s two conflicting visions of Jesus and God, one of a loving God, and one of a vengeful God, and explains how Christians can better understand these passages in a way that enriches their faith.

Many portions of the New Testament, introduce a compassionate Jesus who turns the other cheek, loves his enemies, and shows grace to all. But the Jesus we find in Revelation and some portions of the Gospels leads an army of angels bent on earthly destruction. Which is the true revelation of the Messiah—and how can both be in the same Bible?

How to Read the Bible and Still be a Christian explores this question and offers guidance for the faithful conflicted over which version of the Lord to worship. John Dominic Crossan reconciles these contrasting views, revealing how different writers of the books of the Bible not only possessed different visions of God but also different purposes for writing. Often these books are explicitly competing against another, opposing vision of God from the Bible itself.

Crossan explains how to navigate this debate and offers what he believes is the best central thread to what the Bible is all about. He challenges Christians to fully participate in this dialogue, thereby shaping their faith by reading deeply, reflectively, and in community with others who share their uncertainty. Only then, he advises, will Christians be able to read and understand the Bible without losing their faith.

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Product Details

Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: HarperOne (March 3, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062203592
ISBN-13: 978-0062203595
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches

 

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover
The Bible introduces us to a loving Jesus who turns the other cheek, loves his enemies, and shows grace to all. But we also meet a warrior Jesus who leads an army of angels bent on earthly destruction. Which is the true Messiah? Should we all follow the nonviolent Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount or the vengeful, sword-wielding Christ of Revelation?

As one of the foremost biblical scholars of our day, John Dominic Crossan re-veals that running throughout the entire Bible—from Genesis to Revelation—are two conflicting revelations of God: one offering a radical, holy vision where every need is provided for and love and grace are extended widely; the other working to domesticate this radical vision by em-phasizing judgment and punishment and by propping up the status quo.

But one thing is clear, argues Crossan: one cannot pretend that the Bible provides a single, unified vision of God or Jesus. If one wants to discover the Bible’s best and purest revelation of God, then Christians must measure the Bible by Jesus. And to find the best and purest revelation of Jesus, Crossan concludes, then we must look to the work of scholars who can point us to the teachings of the historical Jesus. Only then will we know how to read the Bible and still be a Christian.

 

About the Author

John Dominic Crossan, professor emeritus at DePaul University, is widely regarded as the foremost historical Jesus scholar of our time. He is the author of several bestselling books, including The Historical Jesus, God and Empire, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, The Greatest Prayer, and The Power of Parable. He lives in Minneola, Florida.

Review & Commentary

  • bnbray

    Dom is THE best of the last 75 years! He is a must read for anyone who is serious about learning. But beware, the evidence Dom presents will most likely lead you to places of discomfort that challenges your biases and preconceived notions of the “truth” about Jesus and the bible as a whole. If the reader is only interested in wanting to feel good and have his or her “beliefs” confirmed, then Dom’s writings are not for you. However, if the reader wants to learn, grow and has an open heart and mind about the subject matter, then look no further, Dom will help you on a journey full of refreshing insight and liberation from outdated and unhealthy theology.

    • MASNBG

      Sadly I have read Dom’s debate with the more traditional theologian William Lane Craig and Dom was reduced to a vacuous pathetic intellectual wreck. But yet again I have also seen Spong’s debate against the same traditional theologian and again the ‘progressive’ could only offer platitudes again solid, logical arguments. Bbbray you really should read out of the intellectual ghetto you have found yourself in, you might learn something.