A tour of the Bible proposes an antidote to today’s spiritual crisis.
According to Watt (Saving Lives in Wartime China, 2015), readers live in morally challenged times and their spiritual despair, accentuated by the experience of war and genocide, cannot be ameliorated by the secular materialism that helped establish it. And yet the “world at the beginning of the 21st century is itself in bondage to materialism.” But a proper response to this loss of moral direction can be found in the teachings of the Bible, specifically its articulation of the covenant that exists between God and humankind that is based on love, mercy, and justice. In order to illuminate the nature of that covenant, the author first provides an overview of the structure of the Bible and, with impressive erudition and lucidity, furnishes guidance regarding its interpretation. Then he examines the character of the covenant as expressed in the Bible, the exemplar of which is God’s promise to Moses and the Israelites, a story that illustrates the manner in which a people came to fully acknowledge the nature of the divine as it expresses itself in mortal life. Finally, Watt astutely applies that theological worldview to the contemporary problems that plague humanity, including the dissolution of marriage, the rise of inequality, and the degradation of the environment. At the heart of the author’s ingeniously original thesis is the notion that the world suffers from “androcentrism,” the unchecked rise of the “obstinacy of male hubris.” This imbalance in the earthly kingdom can be fixed only by a profound “transformation of consciousness,” from a “patriarchal world of phallocentric domination” to loving service to others. Watt’s mastery of the Bible is as remarkable as his explanations are transparent—if nothing else, this is a wonderful primer. And while he acknowledges that the book is primarily written for those who accept the main premises of the Judeo-Christian tradition, its philosophically ambitious diagnosis of modernity should interest even the more secularly minded.
A deeply meditative Bible introduction and a philosophically captivating account of how its wisdom could cure the world’s ailments.