The Bible is full of narratives about sexual encounters, and modern-day readers have shown a widespread interest in what, exactly, it says about the subject. Scholars have turned their attention to the rigorous examination of biblical texts from historical, theological, and ethical perspectives.
Still, many clergy and lay people continue to look upon these words (even the most cryptic, confusing, and bizarre ones) as authoritative literal statements. In addition, these misinterpreted texts are constantly used to "legislate morality" and to promote "family values"--selectively and misleadingly twisting what is written.
As it stands, the gulf between the scholarly understandings of these texts and their popular appropriation today is a large one. Before the Bible can be applied to contemporary issues, it is vitally important that we take a careful look at what the Bible itself says-- placing it in the contexts of the social worlds in which it was written. To know what the Bible really means, we must first actually determine what it meant when it was written, and apply this to the lives we lead, here and now. This is the mission of GOD AND SEX.
Michael Coogan is one of the leading Hebrew Bible scholars in America. His new book on sexuality in the Bible (the sexuality of men, women, and God!) promises to be as scintillating as it is informative. Here a seasoned interpreter of Scripture shows how ancient authors viewed the world of sexuality, and how these ancient reflections can influence modern thinking, as "people of the book" reflect on the pressing issues of sex and gender in our own day, issues ranging from adultery and premarital sex to same-sex relations and heterosexual sex within marriage. - Bart D. Ehrman, New York Times bestselling author of Misquoting Jesus
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 ... 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. - Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Revered by the devout as a revelation of God's will, the Bible vexes many progressive thinkers as an obstacle to gender equality and sexual liberation. Coogan has written this book to help such progressives get past their vexations ... A critique as radical as this one will astonish conservatives, who will wonder why those who accept it would even bother with the Bible. But it will embolden social activists glad to weaken restraints rooted in traditional understandings of scripture.
Expect media attention and controversy." - Booklist
Michael Coogan is an extraordinary writer on the culture of the Bible and the ancient Near East. Though acknowledged far and wide as an impeccable scholar, he always manages to make his scholarship accessible to the general reader and to find just the right point of entry into a subject so that the reader may be lured onward. Furthermore, his clarity of exposition inevitably exposes the relevance of his subject to our world. A book on sex in the Bible is the perfect subject to display Coogan's unusual abilities. It's hard to imagine readers not being interested in the subject of sex and God, especially in the hands of a writer as skillful as Coogan. - Thomas Cahill, former director of religious publishing at Doubleday and author of the bestselling Hinges of History series