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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  ·  Rating details ·  321 Ratings  ·  63 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 May 28th 2011 by IVP Books (first published 2011)
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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,
Kim 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 nati ...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
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 t
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 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
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 ex ...more
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.
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 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
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 anecd
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 read
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.
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.
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.
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
Nov 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: christian
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
Mark Thomas
Jul 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Janelle Zeeb
Apr 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: ethics
This is a good book for the average Christian who wonders about how to understand all those weird laws or strange commands that God gave to the ancient Israelites in the Old Testament. Because we live in such a different time and culture, these laws and commands can seem quite strange and even unethical to us today. This book helps to give perspective on difficult Old Testament verses and tries to explain what God was doing when he gave these laws or commands. David Lamb writes clearly in an eas ...more
Mike Holmes
May 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a tough one to rate. A 3.5 is probably what I would've given it.

- 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

- (Not sure if this is fair) some areas in the book deserve more length. Dr. Lamb would probably agree with me on
Blake Atwood
Mar 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Mark Lederer
Mar 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This tackles some very relevant cultural issues face on without attempts to avoid them. It allows a thoughtful reading of the Old Testament rather than a rigid, shallow one. While not pretending to give all of the answers raised by violent, seemingly sexist and racist events in the Bible it does get the reader well down the path of understanding that the God of the Old Testament is the same God as that of the New Testament. The author uses humor, biblical support, and scholarly support to presen ...more
Jul 13, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Jul 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A must-read if you have a hard time with thinking your perception of God in the Old Testament doesn't match up with the love of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, or struggle with some difficult passages and don't know what to think of God in the Old Testament. I particularly liked the section on whether God is immutible or flexible. I would also recommend it for anyone who has any doubts about God.

It has taken me a long time to finish this book, but its not because it was difficult to get thro
Benjamin Merritt
Jul 22, 2013 rated it liked it
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.
Aug 06, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
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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).
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