A Most Peculiar and Bad Book

I said on the About TPL page that “because much of what is published today, even by Christian publishers, is absolute garbage, warnings about bad or useless books will be provided alongside of information about good books.” I have read A Most Peculiar Book: The Inherent Strangeness of the Bible (Oxford, 2021) so you don’t have to. The author, Kristin Swenson, is “Associate Professor of Religious Studies (Affiliate) at Virginia Commonwealth University and a fellow at Virginia Humanities in Charlottesville.” She “grew up with the Bible in an open-minded, garden-variety Protestant congregation.” “Lutheran,” she says at the end of the book. She loves the Bible, but believes that it “contains bewildering archaisms, inconsistencies, questionable ethics, and a herky-jerky narrative style.” It is full of “head-scratching oddities, absurdities, and exasperating lacunae.” The Gospels are “not disinterested reporting of historically verifiable fact but were designed first and foremost for the purpose of telling what the authors believed.” They are “stories of faith told in order to achieve a certain effect.” The author believes that “there’s virtually nothing in the Bible concerning homosexuality that’s relevant to our times.” Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John didn’t actually write the Gospels attributed to them. Paul did not write all of the letters with his name on them. And on and on. Swenson questions everything in the Bible in some way. I have several books in my library about the Bible from a secular perspective. They may be bad when it comes to the inspiration, authority, and interpretation of the Bible, but they are not useless. Swenson’s book is both bad and useless.