Bible Review 14:3, June 1998

Bible Books

Sex, Violence and Greed

The Harlot by the Side of the Road: Forbidden Tales of the Bible

Jonathan Kirsch (New York: Ballantine Books, 1997), 378 pp., $27.00 (hardback)

Many modern readers think of the Bible as a “dry and preachy” book, not having much sympathy for the all-too-human passions of sex, violence and greed. In this book, Jonathan Kirsch, author, book columnist for the Los Angeles Times and practicing lawyer, attempts to change that impression, to reveal the Bible’s fullness in recounting human complexity. In the process, Kirsch hopes “to take back the Bible from the strict and censorious people who wave it in our faces and to restore it to the worldly man or woman who will appreciate the flesh-and-blood passions that are described in the Holy Scriptures.”

Unlike most books about the Bible, this one begins with a warning: “The stories you are about to read are some of the most violent and sexually explicit in all of Western literature. They are tales of human passion in all of its infinite variety: adultery, seduction, incest, rape, mutilation, assassination, torture, sacrifice, and murder. And yet every one of these stories is drawn directly from the pages of the Holy Bible.”

Join the BAS Library!

Already a library member? Log in here.

Institution user? Log in with your IP address.