Reading the Bible With the Dead – John L Thompson

I just love the title of this book – Reading the Bible With the Dead, (which is not to be confused with Reading the Bible With the Damned, which I blogged about here). Someone saw me with it in my hand and, intrigued by the title, asked me what it was about. Jokingly, I replied it was a handbook on leading home group bible studies. He believed me and commented that he needed to buy it.

The subtitle is ‘what you can learn from the history of exegesis that you can’t learn from exegesis alone’.

It amazes me how we can excise the more difficult passages from the bible. I’ve blogged
about this before briefly, commenting on the tendency of preachers
simply to ignore difficult passages, even when they appear in the
middle of the texts under consideration.The book tackles some of the controversial/difficult/most often avoided passages of the bible that have recently been resurrected by feminist theologians or liberationists for instance. By examining in brief what questions they are asking, Thompson then trawls through commentaries form the patristics, the medieval and reformation eras and finds surprising commonality of insight. Each chapter ends with things to learn form how the passages have been treated historically.

Texts dealt with include the sacrifice of Jephthah’s daughter in Judges 11, the imprecatory Psalms and Gomer & Hosea. It tends to get a little same-y or repetitive if read in a sitting, but as a book of reference it is invaluable.

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