Last month, I had the honor of writing a guest post for Kim’s award-winning blog Sophisticated Dorkiness. My contribution – a take on The Browser’s Five Book Interview – I titled, “God, the Church and the Bible: A Ground Floor Guide.” In my post, I featured five books that I thought make great entry-level resources for individuals who are interested in learning about Christianity and the Bible from a scholarly perspective. In my post I also mentioned a number of follow-up books interested readers could also explore. One of those follow-up books happened to be John Shelby Spong’s Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World. I must confess that when I wrote that piece I was in the process of reading Spong’s book, but I had not yet finished it. However, even though I was about half way through the book when I posted my article, based on what I had already read I felt fairly confident about recommending it.
After finishing it yesterday, I’m relieved to report that my gamble paid off. Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World is a very good book and most importantly, definitely worthy of inclusion in my above-mentioned list of recommendations. Spong’s book is highly readable, scholarly and personable.
In a nutshell, Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World is Spong’s commentary on the Bible as seen through the twin lenses of modern scholarship and progressive interpretation. According to Spong, no matter how the Bible has been interpreted throughout history, it still contains a great deal of universal truth that people of any faith (or no faith) can apply the their daily lives. In order to make his case, Spong employs his knowledge of modern Biblical scholarship to mine the ancient Biblical texts much like a miner might draw precious ore from some dark and hidden realm. Of course by doing so, Spong has created a very good entry-level book for anyone seeking a scholarly analysis of the Bible. To me, this is the book’s greatest aspect.
Besides being a nice follow-up read to the books I mentioned on Kim’s blog, Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World could also be read alongside Marcus Borg’sReading the Bible Again For the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously But Not Literally and Timothy Beal’s The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book. By doing so, I doubt any curious reader would be disappointed.