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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?

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  406 ratings  ·  75 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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Daniel Bastian
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed
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 bloodthirsty and capricious, jealous and vengeful, sexist and provincial, not to mention exhaustingly legalistic, while the New Testament’s protagonist comes off rather as an ethical savant, ...more
Dec 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian
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,
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 ...more
Kimberly  Winters
Feb 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lamb's book tries to address the more troubling aspects of God as He appears in the Old Testament: the seemingly random acts of violence, the killing, the apparent misogyny, and so forth. While Lamb doesn't try to excuse everything, when we consider the context of those stories, both in terms of known history and within the story itself, we see a more complex character.

I like the author's attitude in particular. Rather than dismiss critics as misguided or hateful, he's willing to consider what
Nov 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Jun 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Sarah Frobisher
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.
Mar 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
How could God command genocide?

Why does God endorse slavery?

God is a sexist monster, isn’t he?

These are the sorts of questions that frequently come up in discussions about the Bible, whether those discussions are with skeptics or sincere Christians working through the Bible for the first time. Such questions have always been there, the first Christians had to spend much time, and spilled much ink, seeking to answer them. But it seems such questions are becoming continuously louder in our culture
May 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, jewish
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
Jul 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
I.P.B. Dogood
Jul 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
It was Ok. Most of the things argued for I already know from reading other apologetic resources. However, Lamb misses the point with some of the haters' objection towards God and His behavior.

If you are interested in this subject, Paul Copan, J. P. Holding, and Glenn Miller. Skip this book.
Aug 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
I was hoping for a more serious engagement with the issues and the texts, not a restatement of arguments I've heard lots of times before. I ended up just skimming the book, since there wasn't enough new thought to make it worth slowing down.
Clint Sanchez
Mar 01, 2017 rated it liked it
I started off enjoying this book and its context related stories, but I quickly lost interest. While I don't attribute that directly to the author or the book, I can say it failed to keep me. All in all it was a good, informative book.
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book is really hard for me to rate, as I appreciate anyone endeavoring to explain the "difficult" passages of Scripture, however, I think the end result should be considered as well and this particular book came across as unfocused and basic. I had hoped for an in-depth look at the passages many people use these days to attack God, but most of the book is generalized information I have heard or read before. I would say this book is a decent read if you are just getting started at looking at ...more
Dec 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, christian
A good introduction to the God of the Bible. God Behaving Badly is written in an accessible, straightforward way. The book is filled with lots of Biblical examples and overall does a good job of pointing out the more controversial aspects of God's character and actions. While it's a good primer, it's not all encompassing. I still need to do a lot of research and reflection about the topics discussed in Lamb's book.
Mar 24, 2019 rated it liked it
An insightful study on the God of the Old Testament. The author has a unique perspective on several interesting stories in the first half of the Hebrew Bible, but seems to focus more strongly on some arguments then others, leaving his weaker arguments to the wayside. Still an enjoyable read, especially for theology majors, (or people interested in theology). Read for an Old Testament studies course I'm currently enrolled in.
Chunyang Ding
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
In a word: Context. Lamb focuses on the context of the Old Testament to argue against some of the common labels that the God of the Old Testament is given. It's a well-researched book, but I do wish that he did away with some of the parenthetical remarks and the partially forced pop culture references. However, I especially enjoyed his treatment of mutability vs immutability, and thought that it was very thoughtful.
Oct 18, 2017 rated it liked it
This book was mentioned in a sermon this summer, and I decided I wanted to check it out. Issues of race, in particular, have been weighing on my heart, and I wanted to hear what a Biblical scholar had to say. The answers were pretty much "pat," with many references to both Scriptures and authors who ranged from Biblical scholars to atheists. There were many issues addressed in the book; I did not finish it as I did not find it as helpful as I hoped.
Joshua Elliott
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Essential reading if you have ever asked or thought the subtext of this title. Dr. Lamb will explain some of the cultural context, descriptive vs. prescriptive texts, and answer questions you may not have realized you had. This book reads less like apologetics than you may expect and the chapters are manageable; perfect for a Sunday school or young adult study group.
Paul J
Aug 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
David Lamb has done an excellent job helping us to understand the context of many passages that are difficult to comprehend, especially since they bother our 21st century sensibilities. Lamb successfully connects us with the context of the time of the events and helps us to discover that there is more to the story. In the end, Lamb makes a statement that I fully agree with - God is fascinating.
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book! I have struggled with a lot of what I read the Old Testament. David Lamb really helps put things in perspective and helped me understand things in a historical context. I wish there was more on sexism and there were some parts that got a little boring, but overall it is a good, insightful book.
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A must read for all those interested in biblical apologetics, but more importantly to understand the character of God better personally.
Aaron Carlberg
May 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Probably my least favorite of this series. It seems to lack the depth and cultural insight of the others.
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Very basic. I agree with what other 2 & 3 star reviewers have said.
Anne Helen
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Can’t decide if this is a good or a bad book.
It is simple but maybe it is a good basic.
At the same time as it is a introduction kind of book it also has a few inside jokes.
This is a helpful treatment of questions related to God's character as described in the Old Testament of the Bible. The author takes a more in-depth look at the historical and literary context of events to answer moral questions about God's actions that arise from a cursory reading of the Old Testament but doesn't go deep enough to make this a scholarly treatment of the issues. This book is written for a general audience, on the level with books like Dawkins' The God Delusion.
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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).