A Review Of William Loader, “Making Sense Of Sex: Attitudes Towards Sexuality In Early Jewish And Christian Literature.” Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013. 168 Pp. $24.00. -- By: Godwin Sathianathan

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 19:1 (Spring 2014)
Article: A Review Of William Loader, “Making Sense Of Sex: Attitudes Towards Sexuality In Early Jewish And Christian Literature.” Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013. 168 Pp. $24.00.
Author: Godwin Sathianathan


A Review Of William Loader, “Making Sense Of Sex: Attitudes Towards Sexuality In Early Jewish And Christian Literature.” Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013. 168 Pp. $24.00.

Godwin Sathianathan

Associate Pastor
South Shore Baptist Church
Hingham, MA

Has there ever been a society in history where sex isn’t a hot topic? I am not qualified to give a definitive answer, but my gut tells me “no.” Today, as we peruse news headlines or watch reality shows or listen to conversations at water coolers and play-dates, it’s easy to see how pervasive sexuality has become. It’s everywhere. And it is awfully controversial.

What does God say about sexuality? That’s another big question. The first step in approaching this delicate subject is to keep one eye on our present culture while putting the other squarely on the biblical world. We need to grasp the ancient setting behind the text and the literary world of the text. If we miss these, we may not accept the validity of Leviticus’ restrictions on homosexuality (Lev 18:22) or embrace Jesus’ heavy teaching on divorce and remarriage (Matt 19:1-12) or enjoy Solomon’s poem on marital sexuality (Song of Solomon).

William Loader helps us see the ancient world more vividly in his work Making Sense of Sex: Attitudes towards Sexuality in Early Jewish and Christian Literature. He says, “This book is about listening to what ancient authors were saying [about sex]. In particular it looks at attitudes towards sex in early Judaism and one of the movements it generated, Christianity” (1).

The Flesh And Bones Of The Book

Making Sense of Sex is an accessible summary of five scholarly works on ancient sexuality, researched and published by Loader over several years.1 The books assess attitudes towards sex from a variety of Jewish and Christian sources, written between 300 BC and 100 AD – including Philo, the Pseudepigrapha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the New Testament.

Not surprisingly then, this book is not only thoroughly researched, it is also carefully organized. It’s divided into four sections that explore sexuality within creational beliefs, the family structure, the temple system, and the intersection of Hellenistic and Jewish thought. The book also includes a subject index that covers all six works. Thus, the book can be enjoyed on its own or used as a guide for his larger corpus.

Sexuality In The Ancient World

One thing Loader does effectively is paint the ancient world. For example, first century wives were viewed as inferior to their...

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