BOOKS: OPEN BOOK

WHY LIBERALS TOO SHOULD BE ABLE TO BIBLE-THUMP

Eighty-one pages into The Good Book (Morrow; 383 pages; $25), his entertaining bid to grab serious Bible study back from the religious right, Peter Gomes quotes his guiding spirit: not St. Paul, Paul Tillich or scores of other cited exegetes, but obscure Yale historian and teetotaler Roland Bainton, who in 1958 defended his abstinence "based on biblical principles [although] not based on biblical precepts or biblical practice." Gomes applies this same distinction to biblical texts on slaves, Jews, women and homosexuals, explaining why each group's persecution or exclusion, even if derived literally from Holy Writ, runs counter to its principles.

These...

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