The Bible Now

Richard Elliott Fried­man and Shaw­na Dolansky
  • Review
By – August 24, 2011
In today’s polit­i­cal debates on social issues, we some­times hear, this is what the Bible says,” and reli­gious view­points often make their way into pub­lic pol­i­cy. Pro­fes­sors Fried­man and Dolan­sky have iden­ti­fied five top­ics in the cur­rent polit­i­cal dia­logue: Homo­sex­u­al­i­ty, Abor­tion, Women’s Sta­tus, Cap­i­tal Pun­ish­ment, and the Earth and researched what the Bible does indeed say on these con­tro­ver­sial top­ics.

They apply the prin­ci­ples of rig­or­ous aca­d­e­m­ic schol­ar­ship includ­ing text crit­i­cisms, anthro­po­log­i­cal per­spec­tives, and an in-depth analy­sis of Bib­li­cal Hebrew as well as oth­er ancient lan­guages. They do not attempt to con­vince the read­er of one point of view over anoth­er, but rather to open the text to a fuller under­stand­ing of what the texts say, or do not say, in some cas­es, about these issues.

For exam­ple, the Bible does not direct­ly address abor­tion, although we believe ancient cul­tures rec­og­nized and under­stood it, which leads into the very inter­est­ing dis­cus­sion of when life begins. Accord­ing to Pro­fes­sors Fried­man and Dolansky’s schol­ar­ship, it is the first breath that deter­mines life. If we accept this inter­pre­ta­tion, it then guides us in today’s world in under­stand­ing how we should approach pol­i­cy in leg­is­lat­ing abor­tion.

This is a thought­ful, well-researched, and well-writ­ten analy­sis of mod­ern issues and how the ancient texts can give us wis­dom and guid­ance in mak­ing decisions.
Bar­bara Andrews holds a Mas­ters in Jew­ish Stud­ies from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go, has been an adult Jew­ish edu­ca­tion instruc­tor, and works in the cor­po­rate world as a pro­fes­sion­al adult educator.

Discussion Questions