Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart
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Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  824 ratings  ·  44 reviews
"The Bible and the social and moral consequences that derive from its interpretation are all too important to be left in the hands of the pious or the experts, and too significant to be ignored and trivialized by the uninformed and indifferent.
ebook, 400 pages
Published March 17th 2009 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1996)
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Hom Sack
The issues raised are important in regards to the Bible. However, Gomes' arguments are not persuasive. Also, there seems to be contradictions, e.g., his criticism of interpretations in the chapter "A Matter of Interpretations", section "The Danger of Interpretations". Yet later, on the matter of homosexuality in "The Bible and Homosexuality", he offers his own interpretation of "The Law of Leviticus" i.e., Leviticus 18:22. Perhaps the non persuasive arguments are due to a verbose writing style t...more
Danielle R
Jan 08, 2008 Danielle R rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone seeking to understand sexuality and the bible
This book provides a new way to read the bible. The author is a gay black minister at Harvard and so he is really suggesting a new way to understand the scriptures as it relates to homophobia, sexism and racism. In this book he takes apart and deconstructs all the misreadings about the bible that people have used to justify homophobia, sexism racism etc. I won't say that all his arguments are convincing but it is definitely eye opening and refreshing to hear a new reading of the bible that chall...more
Peter Gomes is a Harvard divinity professor, a Republican with strong ties to the Bush (Sr.) administration, and a gay black man. I picked this up because the contradictions inherent in his person fascinated me, but kept reading it because it's a...well, it's a good book, no pun intended. It's not the judgmental screed I expect from people associated with the right; it's a thoughtful look at the Bible itself from a perspective of deep personal faith and extensive academic study, and it touches o...more
Aug 25, 2007 Kaye rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: liberal or potential Christians
Shelves: religion
The author is likable, extremely intelligent, knowledgeable, and wholly dedicated to God. Particular attention is given to the role of women, African-Americans and homosexuals within the Bible. Gomes examines prejudice as "supported" by scripture, and how some Christians throughout time have used scripture to support marginalizing segments of society.
Oct 18, 2008 John rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Spiritual seekers
Dubbed by Times magazine as one of America's seven best preache's, Harvard professor of Christian Morals and pastor of the school's University's Memorial Church, Rev. Gomes' latest work, The Good Book, is a bestseller selection of the Book of the Month and Quality Paperback Book Clubs. This well-written, compassionate and thoughtful book is written for the general public to entice them back to reading the Bible through new eyes, paying more attention to its moral principles than the social pract...more
A very lively, excellent, and relevant booking on reading the Bible. It was written for readers across the spectrum - from those who are intimidated by it or curious, to those who may feel they know it rather well. Though this topic may seem prudishly boring, the author has a wonderful way of bringing both seriousness and illuminating humor to the subject. This book should be a mandatory read for every person who intends to or currently reads the Bible. One of my favorite assertions made by the...more
A bit disappointing. Gomes covers too much material in too little depth, with too little boldness. The result is a very moderate book that never fulfills its potential. In each chapter Gomes introduces a problem, presents other thinkers' responses to that problem, and then spends precious little time voicing his own opinion on the matter (and analyzing scripture himself) before concluding and diving into the next issue.

Gomes employs an odd methodology--half-academic, half-personal narrative--and...more
I first heard of Peter Gomes, sadly enough, when I read his obituary in the B. Globe. He was "the minister to Harvard" for almost 30 years, I think. He weathered all kinds of controversies on campus. He was known for being a cultural conservative and created his own controversy when he came out as a homosexual in 1991... Here is a reflection on that time: "I’m always seen as a black man and now I’m seen as a black gay man. If you throw the other factors in there that make me peculiar and interes...more
Reading the Bible with the Mind as well as the Heart? What a lovely notion.

I quite liked this book, even reading it as an outsider to the faith. It serves as a good antidote to idiots who quote scripture to support untenable positions.

His thesis is that the Bible can be quoted to serve any purpose, and that Biblical inerrancy is a modern heresy that turns the text, or the physical book itself, into an object of idol worship. Instead he argues that the Bible should not be read as the inerrant wo...more
Gomes succeeds in the first half on his book with his instructions on a good way to approach reading of the bible - he balances devotion and scholarship well making the case for scholarship's ability to enhance a devotional reading

Gomes's method of looking at contentious issues through the bible is marred by two flaws. 1 He is WAY too focussed on Paul. Not only does he not balance his new testament reading with the hebrew scriptures, but even his new testament readings give Jesus short shrift. 2...more
Nice book by a theologian from the Harvard Divinity School on how the Bible addresses various hot-button topics such as homosexuality, wealth, temptation, science, women, racial issues, etc. Balanced and written with a heart, the book reminds the reader of the historical and social context of a lot of the passages that are often lifted out of context to support a particular point, thus arming the reader with knowledge to refute those people who seem to love doing just that. I think he also makes...more
This is a book that has already changed my outlook on life in a positive way and I only have read chapters 1, 8, and 9. I hope to read the chapters that I missed (a discussion group at my church has been reading it and I was out of town) and finish the book. One of the things that the author talks about in Chapter 9 is hope. I just did not expect that in a matter of one chapter I would be challenged with a deep question (what is a good life for me?) and look at such concepts as idols and hope in...more
A fantastic book for anyone who has even a remote connection to Christianity and the Bible, or who is just curious to read an insightful perspective on how the Bible is and has been used, misused, interpreted, and misinterpreted in the U.S. today and in the past.
Feb 04, 2012 Charles rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people like me
Recommended to Charles by: George Regas (?)
A rich and textured book whose author's voice was always kind, compassionate, knowledgeable, scholarly, but not off-putting nor pedantic, and occasionally downright funny. It has been a very long time since I've systematically read any of the Bible, but I feel drawn to the wisdom books and Gomes has sown the seed. I have realized lately that literature is really very much my religion and _The Good Book_is a nice way to lead this reader back to Scripture. Now I have to find more books by the good...more
Justin Pitt
Thought-provoking and relevant. The Good Book is a good read for anyone curious about the relevance of the Bible or the Christian faith in the modern world who don't believe they must leave their brain at the church door. Equally relevant to long-time religious folk or newbies. Only requirement for this book is a slightly open mind. Gomes is a compassionate and intelligent writer of a deep and abiding faith. Chapters on slavery, homosexuality and mystery were particularly moving.
This book is worth the read for anyone interesting in "figuring it out" and taking a long, hard, soul-searching, introspective look at her life and how she lives it. It provides context and a call for responsibility to do what is most difficult. It never tarries from its challenging path and its unrelenting call to duty. Sobering, inspiring, and what most of us need to separate convenient interpretation from fact as we wander through each godless day.
Sep 16, 2008 Kev rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Aaron, Clayton, Norb
Recommended to Kev by: Jo Flemming
I can't say enough good things about Gomes. If you want to know the origins of biblical justification for slavery and racism just read. If you want an introduction to silent witness that is never cited by homophobes just read about future King David & Jonathan.

If you want a faith of integrity for the 21st century just read.

This book is cited so often that I had practically read it from afar before I ever read directly. It's great.
This is a very interesting book that takes different topics (like slavery, women's place in the church, and even homosexuality) and talks about how scriptures in the Bible have been used in discussion with these topics. It is interesting to read his interpretation of the scriptures. I'm not sure that I buy into everything he claims. It was definitely worth the read and worth giving more thought to his ideas.
The book is written in three parts:
1) Opening the Bible
2) Use and Abuse of the Bible
3) True and Lively Word

The book has an extensive vocabulary and digs deep into theological ideas. This might be too deep for the average reader. The author was a college professor at Harvard, and writes like this was his dissertation thesis.

I enjoyed it, but I am not the average reader.
It all comes down to personal interpretation and that's very important to keep in mind when reading the Bible. Anyone who really thinks their interpretation is the only one doesn't want to consider the grays of life. The Bible was used for Prohibition and to repeal Prohibition, it has been used for gay bashing and for gay rights etc. etc. Gomes is refreshingly open-minded for a religious man.
Gomes’s three-part guide to biblical hermeneutics describes what the Bible is, how it has been adopted improperly for bigoted ends, and how it relates to our daily lives now. Big hearted and intelligent, the headline-making parts are unfortunately the least convincing; but the outer sections boast many good passages. Probably worth 3 ½ stars.
Peter Gomes died this week, following a stroke in December. A Boston/Cambridge person, chaplain at Harvard, and very respected. I am inspired to read one or more of his books, starting with this. I know many people who loved and learned from him.

Update -- read the book -- like it -- will recommend this to other people.
A fascinating "new" look at the Bible, written from the viewpoint of a gay African-American theologian/pastor. Peter Gomes is the pastor of Harvard's Memorial Church, and he reintroduces the age-old scriptures by presenting them in a new light and addresses some of the biblical taboos, refuting much of them in the process.
Jim Robles
A nice treatment of the conflict (not!) between science and religion.

Bottom of page 44. Hebrew ratasch. Exodus 20:13. Thou shall do not murder. The premeditated taking of life outside the womb. “Killing” = the ritual slaughter of animals for sacrifice.

Psalm 137:9 Happy . . . rock.
Darrell Vandervort
Some might think this book dated since it first appeared in 1996, however, the heart of the book speaks timelessly to all generations. Gomes dares us to read the Bible as we are taught to love God, with our whole mind, our whole strength, and our whole spirit. It truly is a living Word.
Highly intellectual as one might expect from Gomes. I personally found it a bit difficult to get through and abandoned it about half-way through. The theme of the book is very interesting, but I didn't feel that Gomes fleshed out each topic as well as I wanted.
Seems like a lot of the problems with the Bible for Christians are pretty simple for Baha'is. Science, for example. The Baha'i Faith says that science is the test of physical reality and you have to accept the results.
This is one of the best books I have read about the Bible. The author takes the reader through historical and current perspectives that are thorough and objective.
Matthew K.
this book is worthwhile if you are curious as to how the Bible has been historically misinterpreted and how to ascribe to it true meaning and significance in your life
Pablo  Rodriguez
A good look at the key points of the Bible and Biblical interpretation. This would be a good book for someone wanting a basic understanding of Biblical points.
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Born May 22, 1942, in Boston, Massachusetts from Cape Verdean parents, Gomes graduated from Bates College in 1965 and Harvard Divinity School in 1968. He also spent time at the University of Cambridge and is now an Honorary Fellow of Emmanuel College, where The Gomes Lectureship is established in his name. Gomes was ordained as an American Baptist minister by the First Baptist Church of Plymouth,...more
More about Peter J. Gomes...
The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus: What's So Good about the Good News? The Good Life: Truths That Last in Times of Need Sermons: Biblical Wisdom For Daily Living Strength for the Journey: Biblical Wisdom for Daily Living Good Book: Discovering The Bible's Place In Our Liv

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