Tiring attack on the “ancient, sacred, and mythological book we call the Bible.”
Though former Episcopal bishop Spong (Eternal Life: A New Vision, 2009, etc.) claims to have had a “longtime love affair” with the Bible, it is hard to see that in this book-by-book attack upon the Old and New Testaments. The author makes it clear that he sees the Bible as at best a collection of heavily edited myths and allegories, at worst an outright lie. Spong’s stated purpose of introducing modern higher criticism of the Bible to ordinary readers seems laudable, but he fails to pull it off. He does not effectively introduce biblical criticism to those who might actually believe the Bible. Instead of building a bridge of understanding, he challenges readers to leap across a canyon from ignorance to enlightenment. Spong shows no interest in compromise; rather, he judges as deluded or silly those readers who believe that anything in the Bible is literal or based on historical fact. The author doesn’t seem to comprehend or care that the world is far from “non-religious,” and his book is geared toward those who are already at the cusp of disbelief. Though many of his ideas are already well-known arguments, Spong also includes theories of his own—e.g., the Apostle Paul was “a deeply repressed gay man”; basically nothing in the Gospel of John should be taken literally. The author is so lost in refuting scripture that he has forgotten what that scripture’s tie to real people even is.
Once intriguingly controversial, Spong is now tediously irrelevant.