Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World

Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World

by John Shelby Spong


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062011299
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/05/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 572,984
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

John Shelby Spong, the Episcopal Bishop of Newark before his retirement in 2000, has been a visiting lecturer at Harvard and at more than 500 other universities all over the world. His books, which have sold well over a million copies, include Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy; The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic; Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World; Eternal Life: A New Vision; Jesus for the Non-Religious, The Sins of Scripture, Resurrection: Myth or Reality?; Why Christianity Must Change or Die; and his autobiography, Here I Stand. He writes a weekly column on the web that reaches thousands of people all over the world. To join his online audience, go to He lives with his wife, Christine, in New Jersey.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Part I Setting the Stage: Posing the Problem

1 Examining the Bible's Mystique 3

Part II The Formation of the Torah

2 Breaking Open the Books of Moses 21

3 The Yahwist Document: The Original Narrative 29

4 The Elohist Document: The Torah Expands 37

5 The Deuteronomic Writers: The Third Strand of the Torah 45

6 The Priestly Document: The Fourth Strand of the Torah 51

Part III The Rise of the Prophets

7 The Transitional Books: Joshua, Judges and Samuel 63

8 The Story of Nathan: All Are Subject to the Law 71

9 I and II Kings, Elijah and Elisha: Step Two in the Prophetic Tradition 77

Part IV Introducing the Writing Prophets

10 The Prophetic Principle: Ancient and Modern 85

11 The Isaiahs I, II and III 91

12 Jeremiah: Prophet of Doom 105

13 Ezekiel: Prophet of the Exile 111

14 Daniel: Misplaced but Potent 117

Part V The Minor Prophets: The Book of the Twelve

15 Hosea: The Prophet Who Changed God's Name to Love 125

16 Amos: The Prophet Who Changed God's Name to Justice 131

17 Micah: The Prophet Who Turned Liturgy into Life 137

18 Jonah: Definer of Prejudice 143

19 I and II Zechariah: Shapers of the Jesus Story 149

20 Malachi: The Dawn of Universalism 155

Part VI The Bible's Protest Literature

21 Job: Icon of a New Consciousness 163

22 Ruth: The Myth of Racial Purity 169

Part VII Liturgical Books and Wisdom Literature

23 The Book of Psalms 177

24 Wisdom Literature: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon 183

25 Lamentations and Esther: Books Designed for Liturgical Observances 189

26 The Chronicler, Ezra and Nehemiah: National Mythmakers 195

Part VIII Introducing the Christian Scriptures, Commonly Called the New Testament

27 A New Beginning-An Old Theme 203

28 Dating the Historical Jesus 209

29 Dating the New Testament in Relation to the Life of Jesus 215

30 The Oral Period 221

Part IX Paul: The First New Testament Writer

31 The Witness of Paul 229

32 Paul's Secret Thorn 235

33 Paul's Early Epistles: I Thessalonians and Galatians 241

34 The Corinthian Letters 247

35 Resurrection According to Paul 253

36 Resurrection Through Jewish Eyes 259

37 Romans: The Gospel of Paul 265

38 The Theology of Paul as Revealed in Romans 271

39 Who Is Christ for Paul? The Gospel in Romans 277

40 The Elder Paul: Philemon and Philippians 283

41 Post-Pauline Epistles: II Thessalonians, Colossians and Ephesians 289

Part X The Synoptic Gospels

42 Exploring Mark: The Original Gospel 297

43 Mark's Use of Synagogue Worship Patterns 303

44 Mark's First Narrative of the Crucifixion: A Passover Format 309

45 Matthew: The Most Jewish Gospel 317

46 Matthew's Interpretive Secret 323

47 Matthew and the Liturgical Year of the Synagogue 329

48 Luke: Moving Toward the Gentile World 333

49 Luke's Vision of Universalism 339

50 Acts: The Spirit That Embraces the World and Drives Toward Wholeness 347

51 Paul and Early Christians as Viewed Through Acts 353

Part XI The Pastoral Epistles, Hebrews and the General Epistles

52 I and II Timothy and Titus: "We Have the Truth!" 361

53 The Epistle to the Hebrews 367

54 The General Epistles: James, I and II Peter and Jude 373

Part XII The Johannine Corpus

55 Introducing the Johannine Material 381

56 The Gospel of John: Not a Literal Book 387

57 The Raising of Lazarus and the Identity of the Beloved Disciple 393

58 The Epilogue of John 399

59 The Johannine Epistles and the Book of Revelation 405

Bibliography 411

What People are Saying About This

Andrew D. Scrimgeour

“A master teacher and story teller, Spong brings the best of current scholarship to free the books of the Bible from Sunday School naïveté and literalistic interpretations. The result is an introduction to the Bible that will engage readers who no longer sit in church pews.”

Gregory C. Jenks

“A masterful reading of these texts that have shaped the Western world. This book is filled with insights from a lifetime of deep engagement with Scripture. Highly recommended!”

Sarah Sentilles

“Bishop Spong has built a much-needed bridge between the academy and the pews. Pulsing beneath his brilliant, thought-provoking, passionate book is this question: Can Christianity survive the education of its believers?—a question he answers with a resounding yes.”

Katie Ford

“In Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World, Spong offers a way for critical and curious readers to discover the exquisite and profound ways the Bible can, in fact, lead towards abundant life. After a decade of feeling banished by the Bible, I am now drawn back.”

Fred C. Plumer

“Bishop Spong’s newest book is not only for the ‘non-religious’ but it will find its way into churches, study groups, seminaries and the seekers. This book should renew a sincere interest in the biblical story that for too long has been lost in our corporate ignorance.”

David Felten & Jeff Procter-Murphy

“If your addiction is the shallow, narrow, literal interpretation of the Bible doled out by most churches, then you need an intervention. Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religous World is like a treatment center in a box.”

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Reclaiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Clark44 More than 1 year ago
Bishop Spong tells it like it is as always. I have been a recovering fundamentalist for 50 years and I have found in his books a way to have the Bible and Jesus in my life without the baggage of literalism or magic. I also find in this book room for the occurance of things unseen and beyond our senses. I have been reading in modern biblical scholarship for 10 years and the tentancy to throw out Jesus and the Bible was strong in the beginning. Bishop Spong's words put me in touch with a new faith path and this book is one of his best.
DubiousDisciple on LibraryThing 6 days ago
Could this be Spong¿s best yet? Perhaps not, his books are all so powerful, but it¿s definitely my new favorite. I¿ve actually been looking for precisely this sort of book, so I was really excited to find it¿authored by one of my favorite writers, no less!Spong goes book-by-book in pretty much chronological order through the Bible, explaining scholars¿ best guesses at each book¿s origin (place, time, authorship) and the historical atmosphere out of which they were written. The idea for this collection sprang from a series of lectures Spong was invited to give, beginning in the summer of 2006, about how various Biblical books came to be written and regarded as scripture. Much of the information here was known to me already, but there was a host of new insights as well. I¿ve got yellow highlighter marks all over the book! Here are some of the more interesting discussions you¿ll find:[1] The formation of the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. You¿ll learn more about the Documentary Hypothesis, and how scholars believe these five books came together, from the four primary sources. Not the most complete explanation, but surely the easiest to understand I¿ve ever read.[2] The ¿prophetic principle¿ (you¿ll find out you had no idea what a ¿prophet¿ is) and the historic background behind the three ¿books¿ of Isaiah. Scholars are coming to the conclusion that Isaiah had not just two authors, but at least three.[3] The ¿protest¿ literature within the Bible, and what stimulated its writing.[4] The ¿national mythmakers¿ who preserved Israel¿s history.[5] The evolution of the Apostle Paul¿s beliefs, and how he grew over time from a fiery, apocalyptic preacher into a mellow, thoughtful philosopher.Of course, you¿ll read about the Gospel story, the pastoral influence, the Johannine corpus, it¿s all there and it¿s all very readable. Highly recommended!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great historical perspective of how the bible was developed and written. It will make you change the way you think about it.
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