Sex in the Bible: A New Consideration

Overview

What is the Bible's stance on such controversial issues as homosexuality and polygamy? What does it have to say about sexual behaviors that some would deem perverted or criminal? Is sex always wrong if it is not used to create life?

Ellens answers these and other questions in a book that argues that our understanding of what the Bible has to say about sex is frequently misguided. He corrects our impressions with a look at the Scriptures themselves, considers what they might have...

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Sex in the Bible: A New Consideration

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Overview

What is the Bible's stance on such controversial issues as homosexuality and polygamy? What does it have to say about sexual behaviors that some would deem perverted or criminal? Is sex always wrong if it is not used to create life?

Ellens answers these and other questions in a book that argues that our understanding of what the Bible has to say about sex is frequently misguided. He corrects our impressions with a look at the Scriptures themselves, considers what they might have meant to people in the past, and reflects on how we understand, or misunderstand, them today. Focusing on early interpretations and contemporary misconceptions, Ellens guides readers through what the Bible actually says, showing how these messages have been interpreted in different contexts, and suggesting new ways of reading and translating them for use in our own lives. Readers hoping to reach a better understanding of the Bible's views on sexual practices and sexuality in general will find their questions answered here.

What does the story of Adam and Eve reveal about sex and sexuality? What does the Old Testament say about sex and how might we interpret that in our own lives today? How does the New Testament say we should behave in our sexuality and our lives? What lessons can we learn from a closer examination of the Bible and its teachings on human love, marriage, and sexuality? These are among the many questions Ellens answers in an effort to help us all come to a better understanding of the gift of sexuality and its attendant behaviors in our lives. In non-judgmental prose, he elucidates the Bible and our understanding of its teaching on these and related issues.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Ellens, an eminent scholar of the Bible and psychology, serves as both series editor and author of this work on the Bible's views on sex and sexuality, in which he also contemplates such topics as reproduction's purposes, original sin, gender roles, adultery, divorce, monogamy, and homosexuality. In some instances, e.g., homosexuality, he does an outstanding job of presenting the social and historical context for the Bible's abomination of its practice, pointing out its origins in pagan religious practices of the time. . . . [H]is study is accessible and comprehensible; public libraries will find it popular."

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Library Journal

"Ellens aspires to discuss all aspects of human sexuality and the perspective offered by the numerous and varied authors of the 66 books of the Holy Bible during the 1,000 years or so that they wrote. He tries to look at the texts as they were intended by their original writers to be understood by their original readers, rather than as they are now read after 2,000 years of dogma, interpretation, and moralizing. He also mentions teachings of the Quran and Islam that are influenced by Christianity and Judaism."

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Reference & Research Book News

"Sex in the Bible is a book that can be enjoyed by clergy, students of theology, and lay persons alike….Sex in the Bible: A New Consideration is exactly that -- a man telling the truth as he has discovered it, over a lifetime of study of human nature and biblical texts. And that truth is a breath of fresh air, indeed."

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Observer & Eccentric

"Ellens believes interpretation of any biblical passage must attend to cultural context. Present culture is significantly different enough from those of biblical times to affect one's understanding of biblical passages. In the Bible, women are important for the family line, but are often viewed as property. Sometimes readers are uncertain whether sex relationship or property relationship was the central issue in this or that biblical story. Similarly, knowing whether an admonition refers to a context of holy worship and is significant only in worship settings--or also in ordinary human relationships--is difficult. Ellens seeks to clarify these contextual matters in specific biblical references to sex. He discusses ways that today's culture differs significantly from the cultures of biblical times. He points out the distinctive effects of Jerome and Augustine upon a pronounced separation of sexuality from spirituality. He reminds readers that New Testament authors lived in cultural contexts different from those of the Old Testament. Jesus's response to the law of the Old Testament was more of a situational ethics than people today are prone to admit. Ellens is generally successfully in his attempt to write at a level suitable for general readers. Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above; general readers."

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Choice

"Compelling writing and thoughtful engagement with matters textual and sexual make this a fine resource for anyone confronting contemporary sexual issues."

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The Christian Century

"[D]oes a better job than most at prodding us to encounter the biblical texts in all their strangeness….[E]llens is a welcome guide worth reading and learning from and arguing with and reading again."

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Books & Culture

". . . this book is clearly and playfully written, in order to entice and allure the reader, but basically it has a very clear, contemporary-oriented thesis."

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Biblical Archaeology Review

Library Journal
Ellens (The Destructive Power of Religion), an eminent scholar of the Bible and psychology, serves as both series editor and author of this work on the Bible's views on sex and sexuality, in which he also contemplates such topics as reproduction's purposes, original sin, gender roles, adultery, divorce, monogamy, and homosexuality. In some instances, e.g., homosexuality, he does an outstanding job of presenting the social and historical context for the Bible's abomination of its practice, pointing out its origins in pagan religious practices of the time. In contrast, he lays the blame for celibacy on the tortured psyches of Saints Augustine and Jerome without fuller consideration of the Greco-Roman context, wherein physical innocence was valued. From a scholarly perspective, he assumes some of what needs to be proven (i.e., the purpose of sex is primarily to create cherishing relationships), which somewhat detracts from his focus. With that in mind, his study is accessible and comprehensible; public libraries will find it popular.-Sandra Collins, Duquesne Univ., Pittsburgh Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

J. HAROLD ELLENS is Editor for the Praeger Series in Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality. He is a Research Scholar at the University of Michigan Department of Near Eastern Studies, a retired Presbyterian theologian, an ordained minister, a retired U.S. Army Colonel and a retired Professor of Philosophy, Theology, and Psychology. He served 15 years as Executive Director of the Christian Association for Psychological Studies, and was Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Psychology and Christianity. He has authored, coauthored, or edited 164 books, including The Destructive Power of Religion, 4 volumes (Praeger, 2004).

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction : the psychology and spirituality of sex 1
2 The Bible, sex, and moralization 7
3 God's sexuality : deity, gender, and sexual design in creation 15
4 Falling in and out of love 23
5 Making love : celebrating sex 35
6 Making babies : purposes of sex 45
7 Sin and seduction : Adam, Eve, and sex problems 53
8 Old Testament sex laws : women as property versus women as agents of their destiny 67
9 Adultery : sex and marriage 83
10 Monogamy : models and meanings 95
11 Homosexuality : what does the Bible say in the Old Testament? 103
12 Homosexuality : what does the Bible say in the New Testament? 121
13 Bad sex : incest, pedophilia, bestiality, necrophlia, rape, and sodomy 137
14 Sex and love : the real thing 149
15 Sex and shalom : what God had in mind 157
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