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God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist?
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God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist?

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  199 ratings  ·  49 reviews
God has a bad reputation. Many think of God as wrathful and angry, smiting people right and left for no apparent reason. The Old Testament in particular seems at times to portray God as capricious and malevolent, wiping out armies and nations, punishing enemies with extreme prejudice. But wait. The story is more complicated than that. Alongside troubling passages of God's ...more
Paperback, 205 pages
Published April 28th 2011 by IVP Books (first published 2011)
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Community Reviews

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Bob
One of the objections that the late Christopher Hitchens and others have raised to Christianity is the character of the God they find in the Bible. In their account, God, especially in the Old Testament is so angry that he kills Uzzah simply for steadying the ark. He seems sexist, racist and inconsistent. And for many, these are real obstacles to faith--who wants a God like that.

David Lamb and his students have also wrestled with these questions but come to a very different conclusion about God,
...more
John Martindale
I enjoyed reading this book, David Lamb includes humor and popular culture as he writes about various problematic passages in the Old Testament, seeking to show that God is loving, merciful and good. He seems like the kind of guy I would enjoy as a friend and well, as a professor. My favorite chapter was the one concerning God not being sexist, he made a excellent case from the OT that God is very affirming to woman and yeah, i really like it. David's chapter on the OT violence did not really sa ...more
Daniel Bastian
From Marcion to Richard Dawkins, many have found the Old Testament troubling, not least for its Pandora’s box of ethical difficulties and the striking dissonance it generates when contrasting its patterns and ideas of morality with those of Jesus in the gospels. The God of the Old Testament is portrayed as exhaustively legalistic, sexist, provincial, bloodthirsty, even capriciously so, while the New Testament’s protagonist comes off rather as an ethical savant, whose preachments and parables far ...more
Kim Winters
Through solid exposition and an inviting, readable writing style, Lamb has provided us with the perfect resource for anyone with honest questions about God or the Bible. Even if you do not consider yourself to be an official "skeptic" - at one time or another you have come across things in the Old Testament (or heard about them!) that make you cringe. You want to love God and trust Him, but how can you if He orders toddlers to be mauled by bears, oppresses gifted women or calls for innocent nati ...more
Lars
David Lamb's discussions on difficult Old Testament passages combined with his persisting assertions that Yahweh and Jesus is one and the same God makes this a brief, yet relevant book for believers and seekers alike. I doubt Dawkins and Hitchens would ever pick up a book like this one, but Lamb does a great job at responding to their criticism of the Old Testament God nonetheless. In addition, the book is rather funny and also personal, and honest. I'm definitely recommending this one.
Kevin
Great book for those who are interested in learning more on how to reconcile the apparent differences between God as portrayed by the New Testament and the Old Testament. The author does a good job of overcoming some of the difficulties, while at the same time realizing that somethings just must live in tension. Further, the author also brings out Scriptural evidence that is often overlooked as we deal with the troubling passages. Overall this book is well worth the read.
James
This is a good, popular level book which wrestles with the ways the God of the Hebrew bible is maligned in both popular Christianity and by its critics. Lamb produces a compelling vision of the God of love, who is not rigid, angry or sexist. He does this by wrestling with difficult texts (i.e. gang rapes and genocide). Sometimes he offers alternative readings of texts, more often he places these texts with in a wider and more generous view of the God of the Old Testament, offering a hermenuetic ...more
Eric
I grew up with the author, David Lamb. I will point out that I co-authored a junior high report on sedimentary rock with David. The influence is clear. OK, David probably doesn't even remember me, but it is fun to read books written by your childhood contemporaries.

I am Jewish and God Behaving Badly was an interesting look into a Christian perspective on the Old Testament, and the personality of our Lord God. Dave's casual, relaxed writing style, replete with contemporary and even personal anecd
...more
Moni
Lamb presents some great theories that really do connect the Old Testament Yahweh with the New Testament Jesus. As someone who has struggled with some of God's choices (specifically with the Old Testament), I will happily subscribe to Lamb's justifications. He uses a lot of Hebrew text in his explanations. He also has a comfortable, yet still academic writing style that makes reading the intense information much easier.

I highly recommend this to anyone who has ever doubted God's love after read
...more
MT
Great idea for a book. As David Lamb points out right away the view in popular culture is that the God of the Old Testament is angry, sexist and racist. Lamb gives great examples from the Simpsons, the Office, Doonesbury that all point out the cultural impressions.

Then Lamb does a really cool thing. He actually looks at the scriptures to see what the character of God actually is. It turns out that like so many urban myths and legends the facts don't back up the initial impression.

Lamb's book is
...more
Tim
An excellent defence of the God of the Old Testament, and shows how He is consistent with Jesus in the New Testament. I personally felt Lamb's style was slightly too conversational and the witty remarks started to grate towards the end of the book, however the content is very thorough. He clearly has a love for God and the Old Testament in general, and the author's passion for this is infectious. Highly recommended for all who struggle to see the consistency between God and Jesus.
Sarah
I was disappointed with this book. I did not feel like the reasoning given was adequate, and there were a few instances of circular logic which was frustrating. I was hoping for a more convincing argument for some of the things presented, and it just wasn't there.
Blake Atwood
In my opinion, any book that makes passing references to both The Far Side and The Simpsons in addition to tackling the toughest questions the Bible forces us to answer is a worthwhile read. "God Behaving Badly" is also highly recommended because it's an accessible book on the difficulties that the Old Testament presents to present-day believers and skeptics alike.

As an Old Testament professor, David Lamb has done his research and it shows, yet he never gets so academic that his book is off-put
...more
katie
The title of this book is definitely meant to draw you in and shock you. And it worked because I stole it from work to read it!

Sometimes when I am reading the Old Testament, I have to stop and say, “Uh…what?” God can come off, well, angry, sexist and racist. It sometimes even seems worse compared to how loving and kind Jesus was in the New Testament, causing people to separate God into the mean, scary Old Testament God verses the nice New Testament Jesus. How does we reconcile these seemingly d
...more
Mike Holmes
This is a tough one to rate. A 3.5 is probably what I would've given it.

Pros:
- Honestly discusses some of the most difficult questions and passages raised by Old Testament Scripture
- Preaches against dismissal, mere rationalization, or simple apologetic reasoning and pushes for a more comprehensive understanding.
- Forces one to look into the character of God with more depth

Cons:
- (Not sure if this is fair) some areas in the book deserve more length. Dr. Lamb would probably agree with me on
...more
Amanda
This book is written for the layman who knows little to nothing of how to interpret the Old Testament's difficult passages or who has read very little of the Bible, making it lean to the boring side for those who are more knowledgeable about the Bible. If you have read a few apologetic books before, Lamb's book is probably going to be a restatement of what you've already read. Even so, I found this book to be interesting until the chapter on God's immutability, or unchanging-ness. I found his ex ...more
Dan Olson
I heard the author interviewed on the radio before I bought the book. I was intrigued by what I heard I was not disappointed in the book. This book definitely helped to reconcile some of the differences I've seen between the God of the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament .
Kirstin
The God of the Old Testament is seen as angry and sexist and racist but thanks to this book one can see He had good reason for doing what He did. I learnt a lot about the character of God through this book and have grown in my understanding because of it. Highly recommended.
John
Good, but not great. The author uses too many words to make his (otherwise good) points. Through many examples, I would summarize as if you find an Old Testament passage that seems troubling - you should consider the context; with adequate context, God is loving, faithful, and present.
Robbie
When speaking to a friend about this book I reflected openly about how seasons of one's life change the way a person views what they read. I think the book is very good at discussing "hot" theological topics, specifically the attributes of God revealed in the Old Testament. However, for where I am in life many of those topics were not compelling. Yet, I would certainly recommend this book to someone wanting to know more about the God of the OT. I would also recommend this as a good resource to u ...more
Josh
Pretty good. I thought chapter 2 'Angry or Loving?'; chapter 3 'Sexist or Affirming?' and chapter 6 'Legalistic or Gracious?' were all very well done and very insightful. Still desiring a book that deals with Old Testament violence in a different way. Didn't find his chapter on the issue of violence to bring anything fresh to the conversation. However, the entire book is well written, good humored, and fast paced. It's worth picking up if you are interested in the New Atheist debate or are curio ...more
Amber
Lamb has a good grasp on the specific passages that are usually cited and referenced with difficulty and he does a good job providing an intro and general address for each of the passages. It's hard to believe how much content is crammed into such a short book. And he provides recommendations if you want to pursue any particular passage in greater depth. A must-read for anyone but especially Christian high school or college age students who might be struggling with biblical critique.
Keith
i especially enjoyed the first few chapters of this book which looked at questions of whether God was sexist, racist, or violent. It was a good critique, though Lamb seems to have failed when he shows that Jesus is not violent, but then concedes that Jesus, like God in the OT, at times justifies violence. He actually argues against this, and shows no evidence for it in the NT, but then concludes that both OT God and NT Jesus are alike.
Sean Muldowney
Very good as an introductory, popular-level read. I would quickly recommend it for laypeople who are troubled by some of the tougher Old Testament accounts, despite quite a bit of "churchy" language.
Benjamin Merritt
A pretty good place to start to engage this tough topic. Written at a popular level in a very conversational style and full of amusing pop culture references.

Would probably make a great group study, though much more needs to be said on this topic.

Sidebar: I was frustrated with the Kindle version of this book because the endnotes were not active links, making it virtually impossible to keep up on his sources.
Joshua Duffy
This book was an interesting journey into the portrayal of God the OT gives us. Lamb does a good job of making me realize that there is a bigger picture of God than we seldom take from isolated scriptures within the Old Covenant. I liked the book but thought Lamb took too much effort trying to be contemporary and easy to read, which the book definitely was. I definitely recommend it though.
Dave McNeely
This book is a very enjoyable read and would be ideal for a small group wishing to wrestle with troubling themes in the Old Testament. The tone is engaging, but the footnotes allow you to follow the academic trail if you wish. I will be using this with an Intro to Old Testament class with undergraduates (mostly freshmen) this semester, so I look forward to seeing how they receive it.
Melissa
I'd give it 3.5 stars if i could. we're working through it in discussion group. it raises good questions, and does a decent job of dealing with some questionable texts. since it's covering a broad range of subjects, though, it is not thorough enough in any one subject. i also am not keen on his writing style, but it doesn't seem to bother anyone else in the group.
John Hanscom
A Christian Old Testament Scholar challenges our assumptions of what the Old Testament says about God, and does it very well. He is clever, and, at times, what the British would call "too clever by half," but the points he makes are sound, and he consistently shows how the Old Testament depiction of God matches the New testament depiction of God-In-Christ.
Disa
This was an easy read, but something that is better to read slowly so you can take it all in. The author goes through "troubling" passages from the Old Testament to share more of God's character. Although, at times his added thoughts (even though it fits my style) were a little annoying or cheesey, it didn't take away from the content.
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Lamb is associate professor of Old Testament at Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, Pennsylvania. He has worked in campus ministry with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. His first book was "Righteous Jehu and His Evil Heirs" (Oxford).
More about David T. Lamb...
Righteous Jehu and His Evil Heirs: The Deuteronomist's Negative Perspective on Dynastic Succession. Oxford Theological Monographs.

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