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He leads you through the maze of interpretation that has historically surrounded understanding of slaves, women and homosexuals, and he evaluates various approaches to these and other biblical-ethical teachings. Throughout, Webb attempts to "work out the hermeneutics involved in distinguishing that which is merely cultural in Scripture from that which is timeless" (Craig A He leads you through the maze of interpretation that has historically surrounded understanding of slaves, women and homosexuals, and he evaluates various approaches to these and other biblical-ethical teachings. Throughout, Webb attempts to "work out the hermeneutics involved in distinguishing that which is merely cultural in Scripture from that which is timeless" (Craig A. Evans). By the conclusion, Webb has introduced and developed a "redemptive hermeneutic" that can be applied to many issues that cause similar dilemmas. Darrel L. Bock writes in the foreword to Webb's work, "His goal is not only to discuss how these groups are to be seen in light of Scriptures but to make a case for a specific hermeneutical approach to reading these texts. . . . This book not only advances a discussion of the topics, but it also takes a markedly new direction toward establishing common ground where possible, potentially breaking down certain walls of hostility within the evangelical community."


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He leads you through the maze of interpretation that has historically surrounded understanding of slaves, women and homosexuals, and he evaluates various approaches to these and other biblical-ethical teachings. Throughout, Webb attempts to "work out the hermeneutics involved in distinguishing that which is merely cultural in Scripture from that which is timeless" (Craig A He leads you through the maze of interpretation that has historically surrounded understanding of slaves, women and homosexuals, and he evaluates various approaches to these and other biblical-ethical teachings. Throughout, Webb attempts to "work out the hermeneutics involved in distinguishing that which is merely cultural in Scripture from that which is timeless" (Craig A. Evans). By the conclusion, Webb has introduced and developed a "redemptive hermeneutic" that can be applied to many issues that cause similar dilemmas. Darrel L. Bock writes in the foreword to Webb's work, "His goal is not only to discuss how these groups are to be seen in light of Scriptures but to make a case for a specific hermeneutical approach to reading these texts. . . . This book not only advances a discussion of the topics, but it also takes a markedly new direction toward establishing common ground where possible, potentially breaking down certain walls of hostility within the evangelical community."

30 review for Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis

  1. 4 out of 5

    David

    William Webb proposes a redemptive-movement hermeneutic as the best way to interpret scripture, using it to investigate issues controversial in the contemporary church regarding women and homosexuals. He lays out 18 criteria, ranging from persuasive to inconclusive, on how to analyze scripture. His argument is that all scripture comes to particular culture; the question is what principles transcend cultures. In regards women, he shows that though some of the passages of scripture seem archaic to William Webb proposes a redemptive-movement hermeneutic as the best way to interpret scripture, using it to investigate issues controversial in the contemporary church regarding women and homosexuals. He lays out 18 criteria, ranging from persuasive to inconclusive, on how to analyze scripture. His argument is that all scripture comes to particular culture; the question is what principles transcend cultures. In regards women, he shows that though some of the passages of scripture seem archaic to us, in their context these passages lifted women up from where they were to a higher plane. He then argues that to be faithful to scripture is not to stop here, but to follow the pointers in scripture to their logical conclusion which is complementary egalitarianism: men and women are different (they complement one another), but are equal in their service to society and the church. Or, to get right to the point, women can serve in the church in any way men can. In regards to homosexual we find that while the ancient cultures were very accepting of homosexual practice scripture moves counter-culturally to condemn these practices. There are no pointers to an ultimate acceptance of homosexuality, as there were with women's issues. His conclusion is that the church is correct in not condoning homosexual practice. Some will say that Webb is on a slippery slope by arguing that the texts on women are cultural. But he persuasively shows that all interpreters of the Bible admit some things are cultural. For example, no Christians use scripture's acceptance of slavery to argue for slavery, no Christians give their firstborn double inheritance, and we do not greet with a holy kiss. The question to tackle is which parts of scripture are cultural and which transcend. Perhaps it is a slippery slope, but it is a slope that all who interpret scripture are forced to live on. Overall I found this book liberating and challenging. Coming from a church that does not allow women to be pastors, this is something I have wrestled with. Webb's arguments give the reader a lot to chew on and cannot be ignored. I recommend this book to anyone who desires to understand the Bible's teachings on women and homosexuals.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Adam Omelianchuk

    More like 3.5 stars... Perhaps the most interesting and most controversial book on biblical interpretation published in the last ten years is William J. Webb’s Slaves, Women & Homosexuals. The austere title signals to the reader three subjects that have been the most debated in the last 200 years. And for good reason: all who make up those people groups have been marginalized and oppressed under those who supposedly hold the authority of scripture. Webb takes seriously the intuitions of the moder More like 3.5 stars... Perhaps the most interesting and most controversial book on biblical interpretation published in the last ten years is William J. Webb’s Slaves, Women & Homosexuals. The austere title signals to the reader three subjects that have been the most debated in the last 200 years. And for good reason: all who make up those people groups have been marginalized and oppressed under those who supposedly hold the authority of scripture. Webb takes seriously the intuitions of the modern reader who is rightly appalled after reading a text like Exodus 21:20-21: “If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.” What to make of such a barbaric practice, which appears to be sanctioned by the Bible? Webb’s answer: read it from the slave’s point of view. At the time it was written, this was seen as having a softening effect on the institution of slavery; under the Mosaic Law, slaveholders could not go beyond certain limits, specifically causing the death of their slave. Unlike the surrounding culture, which put no limits on slaveholders, this text has a ‘redemptive component’ that moves the culture towards a better ethic, one that ultimately vindicates the abolition of slavery. Thus, to read the ‘words on the page’ in isolation from their redemptive spirit and ethical movement is to misunderstand the text. This raises the question of cultural analysis: how to go about it? By what criteria do we discern the cultural components of a text from the transcultural ones? Webb proposes 18 different criteria meant to discriminate texts that address passing cultural conditions from those that are applicable in all times and places. As a result, he concludes that a “redemptive-movement” hermeneutic leads to the abolition of slavery and either egalitarian gender roles or what he calls “ultra-soft patriarchy” (symbolic male headship that is functionally egalitarian); but, he concludes, it does not lead to the blessing of covenantal same-sex relationships. I leave it to the reader to explore the soundness of Webb’s criteria, but I am less sanguine about his project than I used to be. While there is much I agree with regarding how his hermeneutic determines what the text is saying, why it says it, and where it is taking those who apply it, I think the categories of “cultural” and “transcultural” are too vague to be helpful. For example, when discussing how scientific evidence determines whether a text is “cultural” or “transcultural” he brings up the texts that appear to presume a geocentric view of the cosmos, and says, “the geocentric component of biblical cosmology is cultural...” This is an odd way of putting it. Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that the biblical cosmology is false? I think so, and therein lies the problem. There are certain questions that are not best served by appeals to cultural relativity. Here a few that are relevant to the issues of slavery and female subordination: [1] Is it ever morally permissible to own another human being? [2] Is the following proposition coherent: ‘x is equal with y and x is designed to be subordinate to y?’ [3] Is a hierarchy that stipulates that person P is subordinate to person Q by virtue of P’s being P a morally acceptable form of hierarchy? Each answer demands a 'yes' or 'no' answer. Making a judgment either way is not determined by whether a text is culturally relative; rather, our judgments about these questions determine whether the texts in question are morally flawed or accommodating a morally flawed situation. Texts that address the topic of divorce are a good example. Begin by asking whether the Bible allows for the permissibility of divorce. If we say 'yes,' then we have to decide whether the text is morally flawed or accommodating morally flawed situations. If it is morally flawed, then we are judging it by a prior 'no-divorce' ethic. If it is accommodating morally flawed situations, we have to determine what those situations are and apply the text accordingly. If we say 'no, it doesn't permit divorce', then we have to explain why certain texts seem to allow for divorce (and how do you do that?). As for slavery, either the Bible says it is morally permissible (under certain circumstances), or that it is impermissible, but in circumstances when it is slavery is a fact of life, we should act in such-and-such way. Categories of truth or falsity, and moral permissibility or impermissibility are the relevant issues at stake--not whether things are "cultural" or "transcultural." (If it were, I would have expected a longer treatment of head coverings, but alas they went unaddressed.) This is precisely what made the argument for abolition so difficult. The pro-slavery side could always say, "Look, if the circumstances are such that slavery is part of the economy, then these are the principles we have to abide by (submitting without complaint, not being harsh, ect)." This is the same problem that faces egalitarians: if women are uneducated or become utterly dependent on the physical labor of males, then the acceptability of female subordination in the home and church seems to follow. Yet Webb (rightly, I think) would advocate for abolition and egalitarian gender roles. But why? I assume it is because he thinks a more thoroughgoing biblical theology of the "ultimate ethic" he appeals to can be established. Unfortunately, he spends little time developing it. Of course, it isn't fair to expect this from a book devoted to developing criteria for cultural analysis, but his conclusions largely rest on some weighty background assumptions. All this is not to say that Webb's hermeneutic and his 18 criteria are not useful and informative. There is a lot worth considering, and those who disagree with him have their work cut out for them in defending a "static" hermeneutic.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    This is an amazing book on hermeneutics, as well as one of the two most compelling books I’ve read on the subject of women in ministry. Webb’s approach to hermeneutics is one that most Christians unconsciously employ to an extent already, and that goes a long way in explaining troubling OT passages as well. Many of the passages pertaining to slavery, warfare, women, etc., look regressive to us from where were we stand, but to the original readers were incredibly redemptive. And Webb’s argument i This is an amazing book on hermeneutics, as well as one of the two most compelling books I’ve read on the subject of women in ministry. Webb’s approach to hermeneutics is one that most Christians unconsciously employ to an extent already, and that goes a long way in explaining troubling OT passages as well. Many of the passages pertaining to slavery, warfare, women, etc., look regressive to us from where were we stand, but to the original readers were incredibly redemptive. And Webb’s argument is that in many cases they point beyond even where Scripture leaves them, and toward an ultimate Kingdom ethic which the people of God continue to live into as we seek to be obedient to the words of Scripture. Webb uses the example of slavery in the Bible to present what he refers to as a “redemptive movement hermeneutic.” Slavery is no where condemned in the Bible, and this lack of condemnation was too often been used by past proponents of slavery to argue for its justification. But we see in the Scriptures a progression of thought that eventually has pointed the people of God to the universal conclusion that slavery does not represent God’s ultimate intention, or the final expression of his will for people. The progression begins in the Old Testament with a dramatic shift in the way slaves were to be treated in Israel as compared to surrounding nations, laws that make slavery more humane (while preserving the merciful “welfare” function that slavery served for the poor in the ancient Near East), and in the New Testament the elevation of slaves to equality with free people, Paul’s urging of Philemon to set Onesimus free, etc. This trajectory, or redemptive movement, led the Church to the conclusion that though the ultimate abolition of slavery is not explicitly called for in the Scriptures, it is (now) universally accepted that such a conclusion is where the Scriptures compel us to go. Webb makes a lengthy and compelling argument that a similar trajectory exists in Scripture as it pertains to the place of women in society and in the church. The Old Testament dramatically elevates the place of women in comparison with the rest of the ancient Near East, and this trajectory clearly develops and expands as the OT progresses, and as the NT dramatically expands upon both the worth of and roles of women. Webb acknowledges the legitimate questions that remain over whether women, though equal to men, are meant to function in certain church roles but not others, and suggests options that deal seriously with those passages. Webb’s conclusion is that the Bible’s redemptive movement points to one of two options: ultra-soft patriarchy, or complementary egalitarianism, as he calls them. Wherever one falls in their view of women in ministry, it would be hard to remain unmoved by the case Webb makes. Along with this, Webb tackles the issue of homosexuality, and shows that contrary to what some of its advocates claim, it is nearly impossible to identify a similar trajectory on this issue. The Scriptures are consistent in denying that homosexual practice is a God-honoring expression of sexuality. While Christians are to be unreservedly loving of homosexuals, they cannot on biblical grounds affirm their lifestyle. One potential blind spot for readers to be aware of: Webb gives weight to each of his arguments as the book progresses (from “highly persuasive” to “inconclusive”), and in this reader’s opinion is very fair as he does so. However, where one puts the weight in what constitutes persuasive criteria is somewhat subjective, and the reader should keep this in mind as they take in this study. This book is must-reading for anyone wrestling through the issue of women in ministry. Highly recommended!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin

    This was assigned reading for my MA in hermeneutics. The whole book is essentially a list of principles on how to discern which parts of the biblical text are transcultural and which are culture-specific—a very interesting and important question. Webb writes clearly and goes through each of his 18 principles, applying them each in turn to the questions of slavery, the role of women and homosexuality. Spoiler alert: he defends a position he calls "complementary egalitarianism" (something that nei This was assigned reading for my MA in hermeneutics. The whole book is essentially a list of principles on how to discern which parts of the biblical text are transcultural and which are culture-specific—a very interesting and important question. Webb writes clearly and goes through each of his 18 principles, applying them each in turn to the questions of slavery, the role of women and homosexuality. Spoiler alert: he defends a position he calls "complementary egalitarianism" (something that neither most egalitarians nor most complimentarians would agree with) and maintains that the Bible's ban on homosexuality is transcultural and remains in play. The book may be quite helpful for those looking to engage with and answer the pro-LGBTQ stance that recently some have sought to defend biblically. Webb shows why this doesn't work on the basis of the various principles. However, while his principles are generally solid, he applies them in ways that seem to skew things towards his chosen position of egalitarianism. At times he seems to give more weight to certain passages over others seemingly with no basis other than his personal preference. Beyond that, he seems to pay little attention to redemptive history, throwing OT and NT passages together indiscriminately as though "this is the Bible's position" doesn't account for development over time. The book spurred me on to a lot of thoughtful engagement with the egalitarian position (I made copious notes) and for that, I am thankful. It probably gave me more respect for the process of those who come to egalitarian conclusions. Nevertheless, I remain unconvinced by Webb's arguments towards egalitarianism.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Makayla Payne

    One time I was reading Jesus talking to the Pharisees about the Sabbath. I realized that my own way of reading Scripture would never lead me to Jesus’ conclusion. It would lead me to the Pharisees’ conclusion. This is clearly a problem, I thought, but I didn’t know how to fix it. Well, Webb helped me fix it! This book has significantly impacted the way I view Scripture and argues well for a reading of Scripture that focuses more on the spirit of the text than the isolated words. Webb excellently One time I was reading Jesus talking to the Pharisees about the Sabbath. I realized that my own way of reading Scripture would never lead me to Jesus’ conclusion. It would lead me to the Pharisees’ conclusion. This is clearly a problem, I thought, but I didn’t know how to fix it. Well, Webb helped me fix it! This book has significantly impacted the way I view Scripture and argues well for a reading of Scripture that focuses more on the spirit of the text than the isolated words. Webb excellently shows how to determine whether something in Scriptural is transcultural or culturally-bound. He makes sense of why slavery is allowed throughout Scripture and why those same texts demand the abolition of slavery today. Similarly with issues pertaining to women, he shows why women were considered property back then and why those same texts strongly argue for an egalitarian perspective for today. It all depends on a redemptive movement hermeneutic rather than a static hermeneutic. The slavery and women texts in the original context were redemptive in that culture, but it’s harmful to apply them the same way today. Instead, we should look for the “ultimate ethic” or the redemptive spirit of the text to see the goal that these texts were pointing towards. Then we apply the redemptive spirit to our modern context. I love this book. Excellent research—one I will come back to many times. I highly recommend.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Conor

    A well nuanced hermeneutic beginning to bridge the seemingly unbridgeable gulf between the culture surrounding scripture (OT and NT) and 21st century culture while allowing it to speak to the church today. Neither the stodgy, isolated-words-on-the-page, "static hermeneutic" of more conservative types, nor the dismissive "it's-just-culturally-relative-so-we-don't-have-to-listen-to-it" liberal hermeneutic do justice to the biblical text; both are naive and reductionistic. Webb points a way out of A well nuanced hermeneutic beginning to bridge the seemingly unbridgeable gulf between the culture surrounding scripture (OT and NT) and 21st century culture while allowing it to speak to the church today. Neither the stodgy, isolated-words-on-the-page, "static hermeneutic" of more conservative types, nor the dismissive "it's-just-culturally-relative-so-we-don't-have-to-listen-to-it" liberal hermeneutic do justice to the biblical text; both are naive and reductionistic. Webb points a way out of such a deadlock, though a further discussion of who Christian ethics are for (the church of course!) and why, as well as a theological reading of scripture within the Christian community are necessary (Outside of Webb's concerns in this book). I found myself bristling at the simplistic "culture-bound" vs "transcultural" distinction, though proposing an alternative is something I'm still thinking through. Overall the book is clearly written, scholarly, and faithful; a good immersion into cultural factors affecting the interpretive process of scripture.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    This book will help you think about what parts of scripture are transcultural (for all people throughout time) and what parts are cultural (for a specific people at a specific time). Webb specifically applies 18 principles to a wide variety of topics, but his main focus is on slavery, women’s role in the church and human sexuality. Overall, Webb argues for what he calls a “redemptive” movement hermeneutic”. That is to say he argues that we need to look for the spirit of the laws in scripture in This book will help you think about what parts of scripture are transcultural (for all people throughout time) and what parts are cultural (for a specific people at a specific time). Webb specifically applies 18 principles to a wide variety of topics, but his main focus is on slavery, women’s role in the church and human sexuality. Overall, Webb argues for what he calls a “redemptive” movement hermeneutic”. That is to say he argues that we need to look for the spirit of the laws in scripture in order to apply them in today’s world.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Laura Howard

    Webb clearly and convincingly argues that Christians should approach Scripture with what he calls a “redemptive movement hermeneutic,” meaning that much of the Bible presents is with an incomplete ethics, and we need to be willing to let the spirit of the text (really, the Holy Spirit) lead us beyond where Scripture might stop on certain issues. He uses “neutral” examples—the foremost of which is the issue of slavery—to demonstrate that what God ultimately wants for his people is in many cases n Webb clearly and convincingly argues that Christians should approach Scripture with what he calls a “redemptive movement hermeneutic,” meaning that much of the Bible presents is with an incomplete ethics, and we need to be willing to let the spirit of the text (really, the Holy Spirit) lead us beyond where Scripture might stop on certain issues. He uses “neutral” examples—the foremost of which is the issue of slavery—to demonstrate that what God ultimately wants for his people is in many cases not precisely and explicitly articulated. Webb follows this with some impressively detailed work, establishing 18 criteria to help the reader evaluate which components of Scripture are culturally bound and which are transcultural. These criteria are incredibly helpful tools; some are ones I’ve been using for years without knowing how to articulate; some are newer to me but make a great deal of sense. So far, so good. But then Webb evaluates what Scripture has to say about women and homosexuality using these criteria. He does a decent job of evaluating passages that have to do with women. But when it comes to passages that deal with homosexuality, Webb fails to employ his criteria well. He consistently (and vastly) overestimates what he can conclude about sexual ethics by his own criteria. This is perhaps showcased when, in his penultimate chapter “What If I Am Wrong?,” he considers error in his assessments regarding women but not regarding sexual ethics. This is a big mistake on Webb’s part. I leave this book grateful for the tools it has given me but with a sense of sadness and frustration for how these tools were ultimately misused by the one who presented them to me. I would not want this book in the hands of someone unable or unwilling to think critically about Webb’s failure to adhere faithfully to his own project.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Marone

    Regardless of what you think of the Bible - whether you believe in its message or not - and whether or not you agree with Webb's conclusions on the primary issues he covers, this is a necessary book of hermeneutics. Centuries have been devoted to figuring out which aspects of the Biblical text should be understood as culturally bound and which aspects are transcultural. This task becomes more and more difficult as we move further away from the ancient world. But it is a task that needs to be don Regardless of what you think of the Bible - whether you believe in its message or not - and whether or not you agree with Webb's conclusions on the primary issues he covers, this is a necessary book of hermeneutics. Centuries have been devoted to figuring out which aspects of the Biblical text should be understood as culturally bound and which aspects are transcultural. This task becomes more and more difficult as we move further away from the ancient world. But it is a task that needs to be done and done diligently. Webb offers 18 different criteria for assessing the cultural/transcultural nature of issues within the Bible. He applies those criteria specifically to issues of slavery, women, and homosexual behavior. Though Webb uses these criteria to stake out his own positions on those topics (slavery: abolitionist, women: complimentary egalitarian, homosexuality: prohibitive), I would argue that the primary virtue of Webb's book is in his ability to assess the value of each criteria given - what does the criteria tell us or not tell us, how can it be used or not used? Too often when we debate hot issues like women in the church or homosexuality, we are too quick to say, "But that bit is cultural," or "That bit is meant to be carried out for all time," without ever giving proper consideration to the interpretive work necessary to make those determinations. Even if you should disagree with the positions Webb stakes out, this is a valuable book for anyone interested in understanding what the Bible means, in the culture it was written, now, and into the future.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Corey Hampton

    This book is good, but it is really boring. It's definitely written for a very conservative audience, as Webb spends a bit too much time trying to convince his readers of what seems to be quite obvious already (such the difference in first and twenty-first century understanding of women and how the Bible progresses in its own understanding over time). But despite this, the book was really insightful. I do think that he could have done much better on the issue of homosexuality though, but I unders This book is good, but it is really boring. It's definitely written for a very conservative audience, as Webb spends a bit too much time trying to convince his readers of what seems to be quite obvious already (such the difference in first and twenty-first century understanding of women and how the Bible progresses in its own understanding over time). But despite this, the book was really insightful. I do think that he could have done much better on the issue of homosexuality though, but I understand his context. If your reading of the Bible leads you to undervalue women (or if you find it difficult to reconcile your progressive understanding of women with the Bible), then read this book. It will help you!

  11. 5 out of 5

    James Korsmo

    I really appreciated this book! I think it is fair to say that hermeneutics, and specifically hermeneutics as it relates to cultural anaylsis, is one of the most pressing issues facing the church today. How we understand Scripture to relate to its original culture and how we appropriate it in our own culture is one of the issues that is driving our current era of church history. How we understand issues such as those surrounding women and homosexuals are very live and important questions in our I really appreciated this book! I think it is fair to say that hermeneutics, and specifically hermeneutics as it relates to cultural anaylsis, is one of the most pressing issues facing the church today. How we understand Scripture to relate to its original culture and how we appropriate it in our own culture is one of the issues that is driving our current era of church history. How we understand issues such as those surrounding women and homosexuals are very live and important questions in our day. And this is why I commend William Webb's book as highly as I possibly can. He addresses these issues by carefully probing the underlying hermeneutical questions with thoroughness and and an irenic and humble spirit. Webb begins by laying out the Christian's challenge with regard to these issues, "It is necessar for Christians to challenge their culture where it departs from kingdom values; it is equally necessary for them to identify with their culture on all other matters" (22, italics in original). This is difficult because though Scripture contains both culture-bound and transcultural elements, these would have been nearly indistinguishable to its original readers. The challenge, then, is to live out the spirit of the text without being too inseparably bound to the "isolated words." For Webb, this means undertaking a "redemptive-movement hermeneutic" as opposed to a "static" hermeneutic. A redemptive-movement hermeneutic seeks to assess the "movement" of a text relative to its original cultural setting. It then moves into our own day and seeks to retain the same direction of movement relative to our current culture in places where our cultural setting has gone beyond that of the original culture. An explicit component of this assessment is that the Bible doesn't only contain an "ultimate" ethic, but often contains provisions, laws, and instructions that entail only a "partially realized" ethic. It is worth taking a second to look at the reasons Webb outlines for this to be so, because I don't think this concept is one most readers of Scripture consciously ascribe to. Webb asserts that God often inspired a "partially realized" ethic (1) for pastoral reasons, to stretch his people as far as they could go without snapping; (2) for padagogical reasons, to help people move from the known to a foreseeable future with enough continuity so they can find their way; (3) for evangelistic reasons, thus reform was intended to better social structures without being so radical as to jeopardize other aspects of the Christian mission; (4) to sustain competing values, such as upholding temporary values in pursuit of associated goods, such as slavery in service of social welfare or patriarchy in service to gender differentiation; and (5) for soteriological resons, to to deal with a fallen and sinful humanity to whom reform does not come easiliy and move us in a process of progressive sanctification. Throughout the book, Webb sustains an argument that, taking the presence of elements of both an ultimate and a provisional ethic within Scripture (and he certainly acknowledges the presence of an ultimate ethic in Scripture), we must undertake careful cultural analysis to determine what components of Scripture are culture-bound and which are transcultural. Once this is done, we seek to uphold the transcultural components and seek to live out the culture-bound components through a process of "redemptive movement" where we seek to follow the redemptive spirit within the text by reapplying that same spirit to our own culture. Let's follow a similar flow to Webb's own argument to flesh this out a bit. Webb argues that the neutral example of slavery provides an important case study for understanding how a redemptive movement hermeneutic works. The culture of the Ancient Near East and of the Greco-Roman world upheld a structure of slavery. The Bible, written within this culture, reflects this setting, in that it assumes the general structure of slavery. There are no explicit texts or passages that speak directly to the need for the abolition of slavery (except perhaps for Gal 3:28 and parallels); there are, on the flip side, though, many texts that assume that slavery exists. But many of these texts reflect a "redemptive movement," that is, they demonstrate a limited but real movement away from the worst abuses of slavery toward better and more equal treatment of slaves. This movement, when coupled with the ultimate ethic in Scripture that acknowledges the equality of all people before God and the need to love neighbor as self, points toward the need for further movement beyond the movement accomplished in the OT or NT. Thus, as we live out the spirit of these texts, we appreciate our different cultural setting and seek to move closer to the unrealized ultimate ethic of abolition of slavery, and even beyond this toward fuller workplace and economic justice. Webb takes this same process of analysis into his discussion of texts surrounding women. In that cultural analysis, through the use of eighteen different criteria, he assesses the culture-bound components of patriarchy, relating to economic, social, and practical concerns. This analysis includes a careful exposition of the pertinent New Testament texts in their cultural settings, as well as a thorough discussion of the relation between the testaments on this point, and especially of the role played by Genesis texts in the discussion. He then couples this with an investigation of the ultimate ethic present in scripture, and concludes that the Bible moves toward a complementary egalitarianism or an ultra-soft patriarchy. The third issue Webb looks at throughout the book is that of homosexuality. This is important in two respects. First, it is important because it is a vital issue in its own right, and second, because it is often related either positively or negatively to discussion of issues regarding women, usually to rhetorical effect. Thus, importantly, Webb demonstrates that the two issues, both needing careful cultural analysis, demonstrate opposite movements within Scripture. Whereas the patriarchy texts evidence a positive movement toward egalitarianism, the homosexual texts consistently demonstrate an absolute movement away from freedom to complete prohibition, and this movement is to be carried over into our own culture, albeit slightly modified. William Webb's book is often cited and quoted in studies surrounding these important and divisive issues, and this is with good reason. I wish I had read this book years ago, and have deeply appreciated his hermeneutical insights. He shows how to recognize a redemptive movement in Scripture that acknowledges and appreciates the spirit of the text without being too bound to the "isolated words," by which he means the words taken in isolation from their cultural and canonical context. He demonstrates a genuine faithfulness to Scripture and an intense pursuit of God's truth and God's desire for our lives here in the in-between time, while also demonstrating how to carefully move beyond the bare words of Scripture in those cases when it is bound to its cultural setting. I look forward to appropriating his insights in future study. I must say that I also deeply appreciated his humble and irenic tone. He openly acknowledged the areas of greatest weakness in his own case (even writing a "What If I Am Wrong?" chapter to lay bare and discuss these weaknesses and their bearing on his case), and also sought to acknowledge the strengths of his opponents positions and demonstrated charitable readings of opposing views. All the same, I think he also admirably shows the promise of careful cultural analysis for faithful application of Scripture, in a convincing assessment of the issues surrounding both homosexuality and women. I also hope at the very least that this book dismantles the arguments often bandied about that those who favor women in ministry are on the slippery slope to accepting homosexuality or that those who accept women in ministry must make this subsequent move, as Webb demonstrates how this is clearly not so. In all, this book is a landmark study of hermeneutics especially as it bears on these important issues, and is a must read for those on all sides of these pressing discussions. Do not miss this book, and do not delay.

  12. 4 out of 5

    David Lasley

    Honestly probably 3.5 stars. Webb proposes a “redemptive movement hermeneutic” to answer the tough biblical questions our culture is asking. He suggests that “without this interpretive framework we fail to answer the criticisms of those who rightfully find abhorrent things within the sacred text”(p. 302). He lists and rates 18 criterion to help the reader decipher texts that address the three topics listed in the title. I honestly had a hard time in rating this book. I think there are aspects of Honestly probably 3.5 stars. Webb proposes a “redemptive movement hermeneutic” to answer the tough biblical questions our culture is asking. He suggests that “without this interpretive framework we fail to answer the criticisms of those who rightfully find abhorrent things within the sacred text”(p. 302). He lists and rates 18 criterion to help the reader decipher texts that address the three topics listed in the title. I honestly had a hard time in rating this book. I think there are aspects of it that are incredibly valuable. His “breakouts” criterion, and more than a few others, are really well done. I think many wouldn’t argue with more than a few of them as aspects of a sound approach to understanding/applying scripture in these three areas. I also really appreciated that he was somewhat (though not as extensively as he could have been) willing to acknowledge the very real possibility that his conclusions could be wrong or incomplete (especially on various biblical aspects in the “women” topic). That self reflection and humility was a breath of fresh air for a treatment on these topics especially that often get mired in rhetoric and/or the demonizing of other perspectives. However, I wasn’t quite sure I could go as far as he does in trying to attain the “spirit” of the text for current cultural application. It feels as though there is a line being crossed that passes beyond the authority of scripture and places that authority (at least somewhat) into our hands. I also felt like his criterion were sometimes disjointed and detached the text from its context or how it fit with other texts - especially those which Jesus Himself addresses and interprets. All in all I can understand why I’ve heard more than a few seminary folks reference the book in one setting or another. In my limited reading, it seems like an important, helpful contribution in grappling with how to read scripture addressing the topics of slaves, women and homosexuals. However, Im not sure I’m ready to go “all in” for his approach.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lily Evangeline

    Problematic and dated title aside, this was an interesting read for me. Hermeneutics (and biblical interpretation in general) is not a regular area of study for me, nor one that comes particularly naturally to me, but I've been beginning to feel my deficiencies in this area when having discussions with family and friends in an overwhelming evangelical conservative environment. So while I would never have read this book on my own, when offered the chance to do so in company of a book club, I coul Problematic and dated title aside, this was an interesting read for me. Hermeneutics (and biblical interpretation in general) is not a regular area of study for me, nor one that comes particularly naturally to me, but I've been beginning to feel my deficiencies in this area when having discussions with family and friends in an overwhelming evangelical conservative environment. So while I would never have read this book on my own, when offered the chance to do so in company of a book club, I could hardly pass it up. Trying to maintain relationships with more conservative friends and family (while also rejecting particular interpretations of scripture that I grew up with) demands that I have at least some baseline proficiency in explaining my convictions. I appreciate that this book seems to have that conservative demographic primarily in mind as it painstakingly develops criteria for cultural analysis while arguing for a "redemptive spirit" interpretation of scripture. I don't feel that his dealings with homosexuality to be particularly thorough or overall convincing, and would need further personal research on that issue, but I really appreciate his thoughts and interpretations on women in the church. Coming from a patriarchal conservative background, with all the (more literal) methods of interpretation that comes with that, it was something of a relief to read a convincing egalitarian interpretation of 1 Tim 2. Personally, I feel that the complementarian perspective was absolutely detrimental to my faith and a barrier to real knowledge of God. in light of that, it's important to me that I have an interpretation that I feel would at least warrant respect (if not conversion) for my theology from complementarian evangelicals, instead of the vague, "Ah, so you're a liberal christian who doesn't care for the Bible" vibes I get now. Church division aside, I also think this book has a nice message for "living in theological greyness" that everyone could learn from. An interpretation is, after all, at the end of the day only that--an interpretation.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Adam Shields

    Short Review: I think this is a helpful (although a bit dull) book on how to parse out cultural and transcultural aspects of scripture and how to think think about our own culture and how we put scripture into practice within that culture. We cannot read scripture without our culture. We are not transcultural beings. But there are things we can do to try to identify cultural blind spots and all scripture to speak to us in our cultural setting. Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals presents 18 criteria Short Review: I think this is a helpful (although a bit dull) book on how to parse out cultural and transcultural aspects of scripture and how to think think about our own culture and how we put scripture into practice within that culture. We cannot read scripture without our culture. We are not transcultural beings. But there are things we can do to try to identify cultural blind spots and all scripture to speak to us in our cultural setting. Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals presents 18 criteria for cultural evaluation of scripture according to his Redemptive Movement Hermeneutic. Although it is long and complicated, I am basically in agreement with the concept. I am not sure I agree with the results of his analysis of the three subjects (Slaves is a neutral subject that he assumes most Christians now agree is sinful, Women in the church is one that he thinks is a positive answer and acceptance of gay marriage in the church is one that he thinks is transcultural command and is his negative example.) There is no way, even in my long review to work through all 18 criteria. But I do think they are helpful and worth working through. My nearly 1200 word review is on my blog at http://bookwi.se/webb/ ‎

  15. 4 out of 5

    Richard Fitzgerald

    Important Strategies for Determining the Cultural and Transcultural Nature of Biblical Texts This book takes the position that is available cannot be read as static words on the page. The biblical text provides a redemptive movement from the culture of the readers' and authors' culture. That movement gives us insight into the possible trajectory intended by God and how to interpret the biblical text today. The first chapter made me wonder whether the author was simply pushing an agenda, but while Important Strategies for Determining the Cultural and Transcultural Nature of Biblical Texts This book takes the position that is available cannot be read as static words on the page. The biblical text provides a redemptive movement from the culture of the readers' and authors' culture. That movement gives us insight into the possible trajectory intended by God and how to interpret the biblical text today. The first chapter made me wonder whether the author was simply pushing an agenda, but while he has definite positions there seemed little agenda pushing through the book. The strategies he suggests are important and well-thought out. The illustrations were mostly convincing. Whether the reader agrees with the books applications in every situation, the book and it's criteria for determining the cultural or trans-cultural nature of the biblical text is well worth engaging.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Peter Neumann

    Sound hermeneutical principles Webb provides a compelling interpretive approach to the Bible for discerning the application for just about any issue, but with the intention of drawing out conclusions for two key issues: women in church (and home) leadership, and homosexuality. Using and spiritual-redemptive trajectory approach, and working through 18 possible criteria, Webb demonstrates that a strong case can be made in Scripture for moving toward an egalitarian position with regard to women, whi Sound hermeneutical principles Webb provides a compelling interpretive approach to the Bible for discerning the application for just about any issue, but with the intention of drawing out conclusions for two key issues: women in church (and home) leadership, and homosexuality. Using and spiritual-redemptive trajectory approach, and working through 18 possible criteria, Webb demonstrates that a strong case can be made in Scripture for moving toward an egalitarian position with regard to women, while at the same time affirming a transcultural restriction towards homosexual practice. While some may disagree with some of Webb's conclusions in these matters, it cannot be said that he has not provided ample reasoning and support for his views. Aside from the 2 issues Webb addresses, this book would serve as an excellent text for a biblical hermeneutics course, since the process and principles expounded are applicable to a far wider range of issues.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dylan Katthagen

    A great book on biblical interpretaion by William J.Webb. I would thoroughly recommend this text for all those within the Church that wish dive deeper into these contentious issues. 'Slaves, Women and Homosexuals', identifies the importance of recognising the underlying principals behind scripture over and against the mere isolation of verses. Webb describes how ancient milieux has influenced both the Old and New Testaments, he discusses cultural and transcultural considerations and teaches how A great book on biblical interpretaion by William J.Webb. I would thoroughly recommend this text for all those within the Church that wish dive deeper into these contentious issues. 'Slaves, Women and Homosexuals', identifies the importance of recognising the underlying principals behind scripture over and against the mere isolation of verses. Webb describes how ancient milieux has influenced both the Old and New Testaments, he discusses cultural and transcultural considerations and teaches how to differentiate between the two, before calling all those 'in Christ' to continue growing as a complementary egalitarian community improving upon the ethics of the ancient world and further enhancing the ethical seeds of scripture. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 NASB

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tom R.

    This book made me think about the Bible in a much different way and really helped explain some parts of it that are very difficult for us to understand in modern times. Really emphasizes how understanding the culture the Bible was written in can help you understand the Bible better. There were a few things I didn't like about it -- such as a "what if I'm wrong" section that didn't admit very much possibility of being wrong -- but overall I'd recommend it to anyone who's always found it hard to un This book made me think about the Bible in a much different way and really helped explain some parts of it that are very difficult for us to understand in modern times. Really emphasizes how understanding the culture the Bible was written in can help you understand the Bible better. There were a few things I didn't like about it -- such as a "what if I'm wrong" section that didn't admit very much possibility of being wrong -- but overall I'd recommend it to anyone who's always found it hard to understand how the Bible treats a number of controversial issues.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Secrest

    Good book with a measured approach to difficult issues and discussions. The framework of evaluation criteria is questionable as a hard and fast rule. Additionally the concept of the redemptive movement hermanuetic opens the door to twisting ones understanding of scripture to our desire instead of God’s desire. While the book has issues that bear pause and careful consideration, it does provide fodder for genuflection on difficult issues.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Robert Tessmer

    A very nice try, but the argument put forth just seems contrived to me. It not that the author and I would probably disagree very much about the issues debated in this book, it's that we would probably have to have a much deeper debate about biblical inspiration.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Steve James

    A text for a class on Hermeneutics. I think it was good in that raises the question of what is your hermeneutic for determining if something is cultural or transcultural. But it does venture into the deep waters of theology that I'm not comfortable in swimming alone in.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Land

    I gained a deeper understanding of the redemptive hermeneutic through this book. It’s rather dense so my favorite part was the conclusion in the back as I felt it provided a life-giving, practical way of moving forward beyond the book into the real world.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alex Burlingame

    Thoughtful, gracious, and compelling.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    In this book Webb proposes a specific hermeneutic (method of interpreting the bible) that he calls the redemptive-movement hermeneutic. He then uses three topics--slavery, women, and homosexuality--as his case studies for his hermeneutic. Before I write much more I want to admit that I haven’t studied much in terms of hermeneutics so I can only take what he says at face value (not in comparison to other hermeneutical methods). Second I humbly come with the following pre-formed opinions about the In this book Webb proposes a specific hermeneutic (method of interpreting the bible) that he calls the redemptive-movement hermeneutic. He then uses three topics--slavery, women, and homosexuality--as his case studies for his hermeneutic. Before I write much more I want to admit that I haven’t studied much in terms of hermeneutics so I can only take what he says at face value (not in comparison to other hermeneutical methods). Second I humbly come with the following pre-formed opinions about the 3 case studies, (1)Slavery is wrong and not part of God’s original design, (2) women are equal to men in standing before God and in authority to lead in the church through all the gifts of the Spirit, (3) Homosexuality is a sin. In this I am already in basic agreement with Webb’s conclusions, so I felt that I should state that from the get go. The book is divided into three sections and a conclusion. The first section outlines Webb’s hermeneutic, the second and third sections proceed, point by point, through his different criteria (biblical and extra-biblical respectively) and ending with a conclusion. Webb’s basic premise is that we as Christians know that we need to understand the Bible in its cultural context, but have not developed a systematic way of approaching it. There are very few people who interpret the Bible without assuming at least some of it is culturally-bound (e.g. stoning adulterers, slaves submitting to even harsh masters, head coverings for women, cooking a goat in his mother’s milk). His question is, how do we understand what is a cultural versus transcultural (e.g. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, ten commandments, etc.). He proposes that we can understand all scripture as redemptive. Throughout history God, Jesus and the Apostles are calling God’s people closer to holiness and correct living, and calling people in a way that was prophetic in that era. With that premise, Webb asks us to look at scriptural commands and compare them to the surrounding society, how was he calling his people to be set apart and what direction does that point in? In He then sets up 18 different criteria to help tease that apart. He then launches into the 18 criteria using Slavery (which is allowed in the bible but most of the Christian world agrees is probably not within God’s design) as his neutral case study and then using the same framework to look at the role of women in the church and relating to men and the case of homosexuality. Regarding women, he makes the case that the underlying spirit of the text moves us towards what he calls either a complementary egalitarianism or soft-patriarchalism (the primary difference is that in the second, a special place of honor should be given to men, otherwise men and women should be equal). Regarding homosexuality, he shows that God always called his people (OT and NT) to stand against the prevailing cultures which accepted homosexual behavior and so the underlying spirit of the text does not move us towards accepting homosexuality. I initially picked up this book because I would identify with Webb as a complementary egalitarian (women being equal in power and authority under God while acknowledging the interdependence of men and women as different). Because of that, I was being challenged that if I were to accept that position, I would have to move away from understanding homosexuality as a sin (which continues to be my position). I appreciated Webb’s understanding of the bible in context and while I’m sure not all would agree with his assessments it is a worthwhile read. He focuses primarily on the topic of women, primarily because less is said about homosexuality in the bible. I do feel like he dismissed some of the more recent scientific and psychological studies on homosexuality (he is first and foremost a theologian). Overall I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in biblical interpretation and especially looking for a thoughtful perspective on two hot-button issues of our day. I don’t find all of his criteria to be equally compelling and sometimes he is a little too glib in his arguments. However, I found his perspective a helpful foundation for doing good application of the bible that is both contextual and at the same time originating in the Bible.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Edward

    I enjoyed the methods that this author uses but I do not agree with some of his conclusions. Webb’s criteria attempt to guide us in discussing and learning what practices or teachings in the Bible are cultural--and therefore not applicable to our lives as Christians today--and which are transcultural--and therefore applicable. I believe the criteria he has laid forth are good and useful for all those who wish to study the Bible and then apply the teachings to our lives today. However, as my wife I enjoyed the methods that this author uses but I do not agree with some of his conclusions. Webb’s criteria attempt to guide us in discussing and learning what practices or teachings in the Bible are cultural--and therefore not applicable to our lives as Christians today--and which are transcultural--and therefore applicable. I believe the criteria he has laid forth are good and useful for all those who wish to study the Bible and then apply the teachings to our lives today. However, as my wife pointed out, his inability (in our opinion) to apply some of the criteria objectively leaves his credibility a little shaken. I believe that some of Webb’s conclusions reached using his criteria are biased because he believes that patriarchy is a thing of the past. For example, he dismisses the idea of created order (and thus man is to be a head over woman) based on parallelisms with the practice of primogeniture (the right of the first-born child, specifically the first-born son). Webb concludes that primogeniture was a cultural practice in the past and that we don't really practice that today, so it isn't transcultural. And since the doctrine of created order is parallel to that of primogeniture, then created order is also cultural and therefore should not be practiced today. Thus this is one reason that Paul's prohibition of women teaching men in public should not be followed anymore. Here's my problem with that logic: to the best of my knowledge, all ancient cultures practiced some form of primogeniture and some cultures today still practice it. That would seem to me that primogeniture wasn't just something that was cultural to the Israelites; and if this is a transcultural practice then we should follow to some extent. Now, a similar argument could be made about worshiping multiple gods...many (if not all) ancient cultures worshiped multiple gods (and some still do today) so therefore it’s transcultural and we should follow it to some extent today. But here’s the main difference: God forbids the worship of other gods, therefore, whether this is transcultural or not, it’s not something Christians should do. However, God does not explicitly (or implicitly) tell us not to practice primogeniture, yet Webb decides this is not something we should practice. In Webb’s evaluation of the slave texts, we find a similar pattern and I agree with his reasoning that slavery is a practice that should be done away with even though many ancient cultures practiced it. But here is a difference between the slave texts and primogeniture concept: slavery is inherently contrary to God’s command to love one another for we cannot love someone if we own him and we cannot love someone if we treat her like property to be abused any way we want; however, when the first-born son takes his responsibility properly and conducts himself with the commands of God in mind, there will be no abuse of siblings, kinfolk, or children; i.e. there is no contradiction between practicing primo-geniture and following God’s commands. Admittedly, no one performs his duties as the first-born perfectly because of sinful human nature, but is that a reason to discard primogeniture? No, of course not! So Webb’s discarding of primogeniture is based merely on his use of this as a parallel to created order and thus created order can be tossed since primogeniture can be tossed. This and other inconsistencies with applying the criteria can cause the reader to discard the entire book but I think that would be a mistake. Take what is good and discard what is bad: take the criteria that Webb lays out and discard his biased applications. The other applications are still useful for learning how to apply the criteria in order to gain a fuller understanding of the Bible.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    I am constantly referring people to this book and referencing it. Webb coins the term “redemptive movement hermeneutic” to talk about the movement of the text towards a greater ethic. He uses slavery texts as a neutral point in the argument, as almost all of of us can agree today that slavery is wrong, while Scripture seemingly condones it. A closer look reveals that the Bible always pushed the surrounding culture on towards a greater ethic regarding slavery. While other cultures were free to rap I am constantly referring people to this book and referencing it. Webb coins the term “redemptive movement hermeneutic” to talk about the movement of the text towards a greater ethic. He uses slavery texts as a neutral point in the argument, as almost all of of us can agree today that slavery is wrong, while Scripture seemingly condones it. A closer look reveals that the Bible always pushed the surrounding culture on towards a greater ethic regarding slavery. While other cultures were free to rape and pillage female slaves, the Israelites were instructed that if they took a slave as a wife (slept with her) then she would have the same protection and status of being a wife. Granted, when looking at that through 21st century lenses, it still appears crude because the Bible still condoned taking female slaves as wives. But for the culture and context in which those instructions were given, this better treatment of slaves was radical, indeed this instruction was already very difficult for the culture to understand and accept in this historical context. It’s easy for us to impose our modern values on ancient cultures and judge them, but doing so fails to acknowledge our own biases. So on and on in the Old and New Testaments, we see the Bible pushing towards better treatment of slaves, with Paul even urging Philemon to free his runaway slave Onesimus. We also see numerous passages discouraging people from becoming slaves and encouraging people to seek freedom. Thus the “redemptive movement” of the text pushes us on toward a greater ethic regarding slavery, namely the freedom of slaves and abolishment of human slavery. In regards to women in society and in the faith, we see a similar redemptive movement in the Old & New Testaments. We see women being acknowledged for military conquests and obedience to the LORD in the Old Testament, and the acknowledgement of female prophets and a greatly elevated social status in the New Testament. The surrounding culture saw this as radical and suppressed women, while Scripture pushed the culture forward towards the better treatment of women. Women were the first witnesses of Christ’s empty tomb, and women have been included in the visible sign and seal of the new covenant, baptism (previously only men were included in the visible sign and seal of the old covenant: circumcision, see Colossians 2:9-12). The redemptive movement of the text is thus the greater elevation of women’s status in society and in the Church. Now let’s look at homosexuality. Both the Old and New Testament denounce homosexuality as an abominable practice. If the surrounding culture shared this view, then we could begin looking for clues that God was pushing for better treatment of and eventually acknowledgement and tolerance of the homosexual lifestyle. But this isn’t the case. The surrounding culture was fairly open to homosexuality, yet the Bible still opposed it in both Testaments. Thus the redemptive movement is against the grain of culture; the Bible continues to affirm that homosexual behavior is sinful. If we were to continue that movement today, then we must also stand against the grain of culture and continue to confess that homosexual behavior is sinful. This "redemptive movement" approach to the text on these three issues is very enlightening and helpful. Webb did a great job writing this book and his research is outstanding. He goes through all the texts of contention and explains them in detail, the book is worth it for this alone. The practical examples and plain logic he uses is refreshing, and makes his point very well. Read it and learn more.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Janelle Zeeb

    This is a fascinating look at the difficult topic of how to apply Biblical ethics to modern life. It is an excellent resource if you've ever wondered how to argue that Christians should be progressive on issues such as slavery and equality for women, yet still prohibit homosexuality. While this book may be a bit too detailed and in-depth for the average Christian, it is great for pastors and anyone with slightly more advanced theological understanding. This book is also very affirming to women, This is a fascinating look at the difficult topic of how to apply Biblical ethics to modern life. It is an excellent resource if you've ever wondered how to argue that Christians should be progressive on issues such as slavery and equality for women, yet still prohibit homosexuality. While this book may be a bit too detailed and in-depth for the average Christian, it is great for pastors and anyone with slightly more advanced theological understanding. This book is also very affirming to women, especially women who desire to enter Christian ministry, and can help counter arguments that women should never teach or lead men. So if you know any women in ministry, they may really enjoy this book. Webb's approach uses a "redemptive-movement hermeneutic", which examines how the commands given to the Old-Testament Israelites or New-Testament Christians were pointing forward to an ultimate ethic. Specifically, he looks at the topics of slavery, women's equality, and homosexuality. He concludes that the Bible was moving towards abolition of slavery, equality for women, and total prohibition of homosexuality. These conclusions are supported by looking at 18 different criteria which can be used to determine if a particular ethical teaching in the Bible is most likely trans-cultural (meant for all people at all times and places) or cultural (meant only for a specific people at a specific time and place). Yet even then, a trans-cultural principle may need to be applied in different cultures in different ways, and Webb has some interesting insights into how some of these trans-cultural principles may appear in our culture today. I really appreciated Webb's detailed and thorough approach to these issues. I have seen some of these 18 criteria used by various authors, but Webb looks at each criteria very closely and determines how useful each is when applied to the issues of slavery, women's equality, and homosexuality. He points out errors and logical problems that are often made when trying to use one of these criteria to justify a position on ethical issues. I found his reasoning to be very thorough, logical, careful, and convincing. Definitely one of the best books which shows how the Bible is still relevant to modern life and how to apply its teachings to contemporary society.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jelle de Jong

    Especially the first part of the book is thought provoking. After the first chapters he starts to apply his line of thinking to the questions of slavery, homosexuality and the place of women. In my opinion in the later chapters he goes to far to prove his point. He even made a list of good point, mediocre points and weak points. Which is an honost way of defending your hypothese, but doesn't make for nice reading. The further you go, the weaker the points get. No applauding big bang at the end, Especially the first part of the book is thought provoking. After the first chapters he starts to apply his line of thinking to the questions of slavery, homosexuality and the place of women. In my opinion in the later chapters he goes to far to prove his point. He even made a list of good point, mediocre points and weak points. Which is an honost way of defending your hypothese, but doesn't make for nice reading. The further you go, the weaker the points get. No applauding big bang at the end, but just a squib.returnreturnHe states that we should read (some parts) of the bible as an indicator to figure out in which way we should head to make for a better understanding of the will of God. We shouldn't read the laws of the bible as static. He then gives several criteria how we can figure out in which way a given text is pointing and if we should or should not bring the application of the text any further. Should we give women the same place in the church as men, because the text gives the women a little bit better place in the church than in the surrounding world, or should we stick to the text because its statement is finalreturnThis goes much further than: "You should figure out what the writer intended to say with this text. And to do that you should figure out the context of the text." Which is the way I have learned to read the bible. In this 'context'-way of reading, you only try to understand what the underlying principle of the text is. You move up the abstraction ladder (to quote William Web). For example: the text about slavery should now be read as texts about employee and employer.returnWilliam Webb opposes this line of thinking. He says that God expresses Himself in ways so that his people may understand. Therefore there are several reasons why He doesn't always tell what it should be like in the end, the ultimate goal. William Webb explains what this reasons good be. returnI still think it is a bit far fetched at times, but given the bible and his laws as it is, I think Webb's way of reading it, is the best and easiest way to keep the bible intellectualy believable. At least for me.; G8 boek

  29. 4 out of 5

    Paul Mullen

    I read this book because it seemed to show up on the reading lists of a lot of folks in their 20s and early 30s. I wanted to know what they were reading. The basic dilemma of the book is this: How should one decide which texts in the Bible provide culturally informed guidance for life, and which are transcendent and apply to all cultures at all times? Webb's argument is this: If you start with the premise that the key message of God is redemption, then one can look for a redemptive theme or movem I read this book because it seemed to show up on the reading lists of a lot of folks in their 20s and early 30s. I wanted to know what they were reading. The basic dilemma of the book is this: How should one decide which texts in the Bible provide culturally informed guidance for life, and which are transcendent and apply to all cultures at all times? Webb's argument is this: If you start with the premise that the key message of God is redemption, then one can look for a redemptive theme or movement, as he calls it, throughout the scriptures. He uses an X-->Y-->Z rubric to explain the idea that if the original cultural norm was X, and the scriptures seem to prescribe Y, then one could draw a philosophical vector from X through Y pointing to Z, which would be an ideal expression of the cultural norm. X Y Z If slaves are badly treated in the original culture And the Bible sets more humane limits on slavery then the Bible must be pointing to an ultimate value that is very nearly anti-slavery If women were treated as property in the original culture, and the Bible provides a more honorable place for womenThen the scriptures are pointing to a place of near (or absolute) equality with women as the ultimate value. The book lays out this argument and then explores the questions of slavery (roughly a neutral issue these days), the role of women, and the acceptance of homosexuality as test cases for his hermaneutic (philosophy of interpretation). The last half of the book is an exploration of a number of criteria for determining of a certain passage is culturally relative or transcendent, each of which is founded on the overall premise of a redemptive movement hermaneutic. The book reads somewhat like a graduate school thesis -- organized, logical, supported, but not particularly artful. At some point, you'll probably find yourself understanding the rhythm of his argument and then begin to skim through the details.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alex Stroshine

    William J. Webb has written the definitive book for egalitarian-oriented evangelicals who remain biblical and orthodox in their understanding of homosexuality as sin. The book is exhaustive, covering the issues of slavery, women and homosexuality and how Christians should engage with passages touching on them. Webb sees a crucial distinction between cultural (dependent upon historical context) and transcultural values in Scripture. He proposes a "redemptive-movement" hermeneutic that would maint William J. Webb has written the definitive book for egalitarian-oriented evangelicals who remain biblical and orthodox in their understanding of homosexuality as sin. The book is exhaustive, covering the issues of slavery, women and homosexuality and how Christians should engage with passages touching on them. Webb sees a crucial distinction between cultural (dependent upon historical context) and transcultural values in Scripture. He proposes a "redemptive-movement" hermeneutic that would maintain the "spirit" of the text but adapt it to contemporary understandings. He points out that many who hold to a "static" hermeneutic do not actually consistently adhere to or practice the hermeneutic (while women may be barred from preaching/teaching in certain denominations, virtually no denomination, egalitarian or complementarian, would demand women cover their heads). Other admonitions in the Bible have been abandoned (e.g. washing one another's feet, though Adventists still practice this, along with Saturday worship - another alteration by non-Adventist Christians). This is probably closer to a 4.5. My main criticism of Webb's book is that it is so exhaustive that it gets a little unwieldy and difficult to follow; while I appreciate Webb's engagement with the slavery texts and the relevance it has for hermeneutical discussion, it seems a little out-of-place compared to women and homosexuality (which at least have the commonality of being about gender and sexuality). Webb is winsomely gracious and irenic in his engagement with those on his "left" and those on his "right" - even going so far as to write a whole chapter entitled, "What If I Am Wrong?" and he celebrates the differences between the sexes rather than ignoring them (he refers to his preferred posture as a "complementary egalitarian). Webb engages with sociohistorical circumstances, theological considerations and scientific research in delivering his assessments. Highly recommended for Christians interested in and especially confused by hermeneutics and sexuality.

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