Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
JETS 55:2 (June 2012) p. 399
Reading the Bible for All the Wrong Reasons. By Russell Pregeant. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2011, x + 136 pp., $ 14.99 paper.
In this book, Russell Pregeant, a NT scholar, addresses the foundational issue of the nature of the Bible and how to read it in our contemporary world. The book contains seven chapters with an introduction and epilogue.
After establishing the need for interpreting the Bible in a non-mechanical way that promotes human liberation in his introduction, Pregeant offers two chapters on the Bible’s nature and authority. Chapter 1 describes the Bible as the product of the Jewish and Christian communities that tells the story of divine-human reconciliation in God’s kingdom. In Chapter 2, Pregeant rejects inspiration and inerrancy as the foundation for scriptural authority by showing contradictions in the Bible and by dismissing 2 Tim 3:16-17 as ambiguous. The Bible instead is a collection of “human testimonies to human experiences of the divine” (p. 31). The authority of the Bible does not rest on the conviction that it reveals God’s truth; instead, authority lies in its usefulness in provoking dialogue and liberating people in their own pursuit of understanding the God and human relationship.
In Chapters 3-5, Pregeant addresses instances of “Bible abuse.” Chapter 3 confronts the claim that the Bible provides a scientific explanation of creation. The Bible’s “pre-scientific” creation accounts are different in kind from scientific explanations. This gives license for Christians to embrace evolutionary science while acknowledging the need for the Bible in addressing questions that science cannot answer regarding the purpose of creation. In Chapter 4, Pregeant refutes the practice of interpreting the Bible as an end times guide. He begins by debunking a dispensationalist articulation of the rapture. He then argues that later NT texts spiritually reinterpret (correctly, in his opinion) earlier expectations of Christ’s literal return and instead emphasize Christ’s spiritual reign on earth, a reign that results in lasting peace. In Chapter 5, the author takes on three controversial issues. Regarding women in ministry, he argues that Jesus and the early church have a radical impulse toward liberating women for ministry. As for 1 Tim 2:11-12, it is irrelevant because it is a later text (non-Pauline) that reflects the patriarchal institutionalization of the later church, which is out of touch with the early liberating impulse. As for divorce, early extreme prohibitions receive loosening in later NT treatments to address new circumstances. This development shows that God is eager to offer divorce for those needing ...
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