Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Homosexuality and the Bible from Fortress

This press release on a timely book is just out from Fortress Press:

Scholars Debate Homosexuality and the Bible in New Book from Fortress Press

MINNEAPOLIS (September 30, 2003)— Few recent issues have sparked such debate in the churches as homosexuality, same-sex unions, and ordination of gays and lesbians. A new Fortress Press book is being praised for its frank presentation of two sharply contrasting views on the biblical witness.

This debate strikes such a deep chord for a number of reasons. Open dialogue in the Christian churches on these topics is still fairly recent. And sexual identity is so fundamental to personal identity that these questions are not simple decisions but cut to the core of one’s humanity. The issues at stake are complex and include biblical interpretation, biology, psychology, sociology, law, ethics, and church politics. Furthermore, there are deep emotions manifested in the church’s discussions: guilt, shame, anger, fear, and embarrassment about discussing in public issues surrounding such deeply private matters. A key point of contention is the biblical witness—its meaning, use, and authority.

In Fortress Press’s newly released Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views, two New Testament scholars examine the biblical passages on the subject of same-sex sexual behavior and how this relates to modern questions of construing homosexuality and sexual orientation. Discussing both Old Testament and New Testament passages, each author also raises important interpretive and moral questions and then offers a response to the other’s assumptions, assertions, and conclusions.

Chief questions examined by professors Dan O. Via and Robert A. J. Gagnon include the distinctions between purity systems and sin, the church’s use of ancient Israel’s laws, the nature of the practices Paul was addressing, how the biblical passages relate to our contemporary concerns, the church’s treatment of members who are homosexuals, and the assumptions we bring to reading the Bible in our modern contexts.

It is hoped that these contributions will inform readers, enliven the discussion, and bring fresh perspective to these issues-for personal reflection, in congregational study groups, in college and seminary courses, and in church judicatory assemblies.

Praise for Homosexuality and the Bible

Homosexuality and the Bible is a timely contribution that should be read by all sides in the debate that threatens to divide all churches. I know of no other work that so clearly illumines the biblical issues at the heart of the controversy surrounding homosexuality.”

Stanley Hauerwas
Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics, Duke Divinity School

“This is an excellent contribution to a debate which is set to run and run in most parts of Christendom. I know of no finer presentation of all the main issues. The authors set out their cases and responses to one another with rigour and yet with an admirable absence of rancour. Be warned: this book may force you to change your mind!”

Graham Stanton
Lady Margaret’s Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge

“The issue of homosexuality before the church is indeed a wearisome task, and people of good will on both sides of the vexing question wish we could for a while talk about something else. But of course that is not possible because not only are there real issues at stake, but the lives of real people are at risk around the issue. This book presents the key arguments, pro and con, with clarity, reasoned thought, and for the most part with civil discourse. We will wait, along with Via and Gagnon, to be led to newness beyond competing advocacies to a new chapter yet to be written. That of course is the work of the Spirit. . . .”

Walter Brueggemann
William Marcellus McPheeters Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary

“With unmatched clarity, the two sides of the homosex debate are set forth. Persons who read this volume will make their decision ‘knowing the issues.’”

Charles H. Talbert
Distinguished Professor of Religion, Baylor University

“This particular dialogue book should further the discussion of this important matter, as it lays out well the exegetical, hermeneutical, and personal issues involved and at stake. Highly recommended.”

Ben Witherington III
Professor of New Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary

“Two esteemed New Testament scholars claim the Bible as ultimate authority for Christian faith and life, address the biblical witness regarding homosexuality, and come to strikingly different conclusions. How can this be? Issues of exegetical meaning and theological method are pivotal, and the interpretive choices confronting us are here clearly on display. Christian leaders and churches challenged by questions surrounding the voice and role of Scripture on same-sex relations will find in this dialogue an invaluable chart for navigating these confusing waters.

Joel B. Green
Dean of the School of Theology and Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Asbury Theological Seminary

“Here, in brief and eminently readable form, are presented two opposing views of the controversy that rages within our churches. Robert Gagnon’s brilliant and lucid condensation of his principle arguments should be a significant asset for clergy and laity alike, while Dan Via opens new vistas and challenges.”

Catherine Clark Kroeger
Associate Professor of Classical and Ministry Studies, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary

“This book presents a vigorous and illuminating debate about the implications of scripture for contemporary attitudes toward homosexuality. While I find Via’s arguments more cogent, the debate itself will be quite helpful to Christians as they think through their own positions in light of scripture. I strongly recommend this book.”

James F. Childress, Hollingsworth Professor of Ethics, University of Virginia

“Two adept spokespersons propound contrasting ways of listening to Scripture on the question of same-sex erotic relationships. Readers who already hold positions on either extreme will likely find here only reinforcement for their views. But the great, often silent, majority in the middle that struggles with this vexing issue will find provocative material on both sides that begs for critical reflection.”

Robert L. Brawley
Albert G. McGaw Professor of New Testament, McCormick Theological Seminary

Dan O. Via is Professor Emeritus of New Testament at Duke University Divinity School. He is author of several Fortress Press books, including The Ethics of Mark’s Gospel (1985), Self-Deception and Wholeness in Paul and Matthew (1990), and What is New Testament Theology? (2002).

Robert A. J. Gagnon is Associate Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice (2001).


Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views

By Dan O. Via and Robert A. J. Gagnon
ISBN 0-8006-3618-X Paperback 127pp 5.5” X 8.5”" $13.00 (Canada $20.95)

To order Homosexuality and the Bible please call Fortress Press at 1-800-328-4648 or visit the web site at www.fortresspress.com. To request review copies or exam copies please visit the website at www.fortresspress.com or call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234. For interviews, speaking engagements, and writing assignments please call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234 or email toddb@augsburgfortress.org

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