About the Author
Joseph W. Smith III has been a high school English teacher in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, for over twenty years. Before that he worked at Simon & Schuster and has written over a thousand articles for the Williamsport Sun-Gazette (including hundreds of movie reviews). He has also written a comprehensive guide to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (McFarland, 2009) and plays trumpet in the Repasz Band.
Smith surveys passages in the Bible which involve sex, violence, and other material which some find difficult to stomach. The author makes extensive use of evangelical commentaries to establish the sense of each passage and evaluate the extent of explicitness and restraint evident in each place. The aim is not to make more general comment in application but to uncover the sense of God’s word on these related issues. The book acts as a case study and reference work regarding the Bible’s dealing with explicit content.
Table of Contents
“UNCOVERING NAKEDNESS” — SEX
1. “Please Give Me Some”: A Few Aphrodisiacs
2. “Covering His Feet”: The Man’s Body
3. “I Will Lay Hold of Its Fruit”: The Woman’s Body
4. “Your Shame Will Be Seen”: Disrobing and Nudity
5. “If They Cannot Exercise Self-Control”: Premarital Sex
6. “Be Drunk with Love!”: Intercourse and Marriage
7. “Your Lewd Whorings”: Adultery
8. “The Wages of a Dog”: Prostitution
9. “You Shall Not”: Bestiality, Voyeurism, Incest, and Homosexuality
“THE BLOOD GUSHED OUT” — VIOLENCE
10. “I Will Drench the Land”: Blood and Gore
11. “Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth”: Beatings, Attacks, and Tortures
12. “He Violated Her”: Rape
13. “Wallowing in His Blood”: Dismemberment and Other Disgusting Deaths
14. “The Smoke of a Furnace”: Death by Fire
15. “And Sons Shall Eat Their Fathers”: Cannibalism
16. “This Abomination”: Murdering Children
17. “120,000 in One Day”: Mass Killings and Assassinations
“ANY UNCLEAN THING” — OTHER BLUNT OR UNSAVORY MATERIAL
18. “Unclean until the Evening”: Menstruation, Semen, and Other “Discharges”
19. “Wasting Disease and Fever”: Bowels, Boils, Tumors, and Leprosy
20. “Their Flesh Will Rot”: Vomit, Corpses, and Other Gross-Outs
21. “And the Dung Came Out”: Feces and Urine
“UNCOVERING NAKEDNESS” — SEX
Joseph Smith III first takes up the issue of sex in the Bible under the topic of aphrodisiacs. This sets the tone for the book as many OT references to aphrodisiacs would go unnoticed by most of today’s readers. Smith’s goal throughout is to show how an original reader of each passage would have understood it and then to relate the content to the mode of expression. What was assumed at the time? For someone reading the book at that time, where is the euphemism and where is the explicit language in the Bible? How have our English translations accurately or inaccurately conveyed that spectrum? With these questions in mind, Smith consults academic commentaries which deal with the original languages and come from an orientation which affirms the Bible as God’s word. He then walks the reader through most of the relevant passages explaining the text in commentary fashion focusing on the subject at hand.
“Smith’s goal throughout is to show
how an original reader of each passage
would have understood it
and then to relate the content
to the mode of expression.”
Genesis 30 is a prime example. Rachel and Leah, Jacob’s two wives, argue over some mandrakes until an agreement is reached which secures the plants for Rachel. Smith quotes Gordon Wenham: “in ancient times, mandrakes were famed for arousing sexual desire … and for helping barren women conceive.” Furthermore, it is suspected that mandrake roots took on this connotation because of their resemblance to genetalia. The sound of the word for mandrake also bears remarkable similarity to “love” and “my beloved.” One now sees that the deal which allowed Leah to spend an extra night with Jacob was sexually motivated and not, for example, motivated by some ….
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