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The Bible for Grown-Ups: A New Look at the Good Book Paperback – Apr 20 2018
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'Loveday intelligently and successfully assesses the Bible in ways that are accessible and useful for those with open, inquiring minds.' - Publishers Weekly.
'A hymn to an irrepressible longing in the human spirit for higher meaning ... Loveday writes with a clarity that is little short of gripping.' - Matthew Parris, Spectator
About the Author
Simon Loveday trained as an anthropologist and a literary critic, teaching at UEA and Oxford. He also edited the psychological journal Typeface and wrote The Romances of John Fowles. He lectured at Keele University and lived in Wells, Somerset, where he was at one time Chair of the Wells Festival of Literature. Simon Loveday died in October 2016.
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Let's begin with the title "The Bible for Grown-Ups", which suggests that all previous efforts of understanding the book were less than serious approaches and that the world has long waited for an exposition such as his. Elsewhere on the cover we note a blurb from Matthew Parris who pronounces it "fascinating and persuasive". Since Mr Parris is a famous atheist we might correctly infer what direction the book is going to take. Despite the promise that this is a "thrilling read, for Christians and anyone else, which will overturn everything you thought you knew about the Good Book", it's just another skeptic's turn at kicking around someone else's sacred text.
That is fair enough; there is lots of room in the marketplace for all shades of opinion on the Bible. The problem is that this is not a particularly well-written exposé of the Good Book's problems. It lacks balance, nuance and has a rather low view of his readers--- he felt it necessary to inform them that the Bible was not written in English in 1611.
Loveday frequently can't get his facts straight. The Catholic Church, for example, has far more profound reasons for its stand on sexuality than the passage on Onan; the Mass does not consist of "bread and water (!); William Tyndale did not write the first English translation. And so on. For a better and more honest attempt at understanding the Bible, try (if you like skepticism), Marcus Borg's "Reading the Bible Again for the First Time"; or (if you are interested in the Bible as literature), Northrop Frye's "The Great Code"; or (if you have an open mind) Fee & Stuart's "How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth".
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
My reading of his book certainly confirms this for me. In that sense, the book is an amazing feat of discovery and not of judgement. What he does do, is compare conflicting texts within and between the Old and New Testaments, with great care for linguistic, cultural and historical issues. He does take a critical look at the different statements in both Testaments on retribution and compassion, between damnation and salvation, as well as the differences between heaven on earth or the life eternal.
Simon Loveday makes a careful examination of the ambiguity between the notion of Christ as the Son of God or the Son of Man, as well as identifying some of the confusions created by the contextual use of Greek and Hebrew of the original versions. Naturally he considers the consequences resulting from whether you believe that the New Testament was written for Jews or for Gentiles, for those in Judea or those of the Diaspora.
While he does say that there is “very little correspondence with historical reality”, he does emphasize that the the Good Book is full of symbolism, synonyms and metaphors. Simon examines the parts in detail, but concludes that the whole is very significant, notwithstanding the inconsistencies that he points out. He reminds us, that just as with Bible literature, that the writings that interpret the Torah are more voluminous than the Torah, with the same applying to writings about the Qur'an.
This book is important in the way it exposes inconsistencies and confusions in the Bible, without coming down on the side of belief or disbelief. In this way I think The Bible for Grownups is really important for people of many faiths and none. If you stand back from what he describes, the 'whole' of his message may serve to elucidate so many sectarian divisions and conflicts in the world of today, both within and outside the Christian Church. His book describes many instances of where an interpretation depends so much upon where one is standing and the values and convictions held in your community.
Loveday's book is an antidote to 'blind faith'. Would that other books could be written in a secularly similar vein about the sacred books of other faiths—that we might all get along much better.