The Bible Now

For millennia, people have used the Bible as a touchstone on important social and political questions, and rightly so. But many use the Bible simply as a weapon to wield against opponents in a variety of debates–without knowing what the Bible actually says about the issue in question.
In The Bible Now, two respected biblical scholars, Richard Elliott Friedman and Shawna Dolansky, tell us carefully what the Hebrew Bible says or does not say about a wide range of issues–including homosexuality, abortion, women’s status, capital punishment, and the environment. In fascinating passages that shed new light on some of today’s most passionate disputes, the authors reveal how the Bible is frequently misunderstood, misquoted, mistranslated, and misused. For instance, those who quote the Bible in condemning homosexuality often cite the story of Sodom, and those who favor homosexuality point to David’s lament over the death of Jonathan. But as the authors show, neither passage is clearly about homosexuality, and these texts do not offer solid footing on which to make an argument. Readers learn that female homosexuality is not prohibited–only male homosexuality. And on the subject of abortion, the Bible is practically silent, with one extraordinary exception.
The Bible has inspired people to do great good but has also been used by people to do great harm, so it is vitally important for us to pay attention to it–and to get it right. The Bible Now shows us how we can–and cannot–use this ancient source of wisdom to address our most current and pressing issues.



“A refreshingly honest look at what the ancient Bible teaches us about contemporary controversies, as explained by biblical scholars who can write for lay readers. You will be surprised at their novel interpretations of texts that have been misused to justify both right and left wing positions on homosexuality, abortion and capital punishment.”- Alan Dershowitz, author of The Genesis of JusticeĀ andĀ The Trials of Zion

“Friedman and Dolansky offer fascinating observations and, with lucidity, passion, and humor, they help all readers across the religious spectrum to ask the right questions.”
Amy-Jill Levine, University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, Vanderbilt University

“This is a timely book. Friedman and Dolansky look at several hot-button issues and give a dispassionate, scholarly presentation of the biblical evidence. That evidence is seldom if ever clear cut, and does not provide the kind of absolute authority that ideologues often claim. This is an excellent study in the problems of applying the Bible to modern issues.”
John J. Collins, Holmes Professor of Old Testament, Yale University

“Without taking and arguing a particular side, this is a lucid discussion, informed by strong scholarship, of the biblical texts at issue for the issues. Some readers may wish for ‘the answers’; the rest of us will be relieved at their absence.”–Publishers Weekly

TLS reviewTimes Literary Supplement