Review: Unprotected Texts by Jennifer Wright Knust

Unprotected TextsSummary: Bible scholar Jennifer Wright Knust addresses the big questions that dominate today’s discussions and debates when it comes to sex and the Bible: Is premarital sex a sin? When, and in what contexts, is sexual desire appropriate? With whom can I legitimately have sex? Are same-sex relations permissible? In an era where the phrases, “the Bible says,” and “God says,” are so often exploited, it is time to consider what the Bible actually does—or does not—say about monogamy, polygamy, homosexuality, gender roles, and sex.

Unprotected Texts directly and pointedly takes on widely shared misconceptions about sex, arguing that the Bible cannot—and should not—serve as a rulebook for sexual morality, despite popular claims to the contrary. From the Song of Songs’ lyrical eroticism to the rigid sexual rules of Leviticus—and everything in between—Knust parses the Bible’s contradictory, often surprising messages.

My Thoughts: I am having a hard time separating my own beliefs from this review. Huh? OK. Let me think …

The book is well-written, and the subject is very well researched (obviously, I suppose). The argument is presented quite well, and the book as just a book is done well. But, I don’t know if I’m buying the arguments presented in this book. I just don’t know. Honestly, I had to read this faster than I’d have liked in order to get my review done on time. This is a very thought-provoking book that one must take their time going through – especially if you were raised in the modern church, like me.

Despite being a book that’s largely research-based (as opposed to fiction, for example), this is not a boring book. (Because, let’s face it, it’s quite common for books of this type to be a bit of a chore to read through.) Again, it’s written well. I actually didn’t find myself dreading having to pick it up to continue reading (as I sometimes do with books of this type).

I plan to revisit this book when time allows – perhaps during my month off from scheduled reviews in March. I want to really read through it slowly and more thoughtfully than I was able to this time around. It’s great, it’s thought-provoking, and most definitely worth another (more focused, less rushed) read.

My Rating: 3 stars

Source: Received as part of a blog tour promotion on TLC Book Tours.

Read It: You can get your own copy of Unprotected Texts HERE. (This is an Amazon link, and purchase through this link will result in my receiving a small commission. Your support is appreciated!)

Jennifer Wright KnustAbout the Author: Jennifer Wright Knust is assistant professor of religion at Boston University, specializing in New Testament, biblical studies, and early Christian history. An ordained American Baptist pastor, she has served churches in Philadelphia and Maine. She holds a doctorate in religion from Columbia University and a master of divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York. She is the author of Abandoned to Lust: Sexual Slander and Ancient Christianity.

Tour Info: For the main page for this blog tour, including more reviews of this book on other blogs, visit TLC’s post.

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FTC Disclosure: All items reviewed were either obtained by me for my own enjoyment or sent (from the author, publisher, publicist, via tour sites, etc.) in exchange for an honest review. I receive no monetary compensation for my posts. All opinions expressed are my own. Any exceptions to this are clearly noted in the appropriate posts.

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  1. There are no contradictions regarding sex in the Bible. Yes, some of the people disregarded God’s rules, but God’s rules remained the same.

    • ham1299
      Twitter: ProudBookNerd

      I agree with you on that. And that is why I was having a hard time reviewing this book. I didn’t want to punish it for an argument that I just don’t agree with.

  2. Interesting! I think books that challenge your beliefs, but still don’t necessarily convince you, can help prove to yourself how strongly you believe something. I’d be interested in a discussion between the author and someone like you, who just wasn’t convinced by the author’s reasonings.

    Thanks for being on this tour!

    • ham1299
      Twitter: ProudBookNerd

      You make a good point about the strength of someone’s beliefs. Thanks for pointing that out! :-) As for a discussion, LOL, I’m so not good at that kind of thing! LOL Plus, she’s a Bible scholar – something I so am not! ;-)

  3. Its obvious the author of this book does not know the author of the Bible.

    Its sad today how credentials don’t seem to matter anymore. She titles herself as “Bible Scholar”, but you wouldn’t know it reading her book. It makes me wonder what “Bible Scholar” means, if this is the kind of ignorance it involves. I don’t even know where to start. She is all over the place, taking too many things out of context, pulling other things out of the air and spins the reader in circles to the point that it almost makes sense… if you didn’t know any better.
    But I guess that’s “New Age” isn’t it? Where we invent our own Gods to fit our personal preferences, and/or interpret an existing God to our liking. We make God conform to us, rather than conform to God. All this book does is confuse and distort the Truth, potentially leading a lot of possible Christians away. When, I say “Christians”, I’m talking true Christians, and not those who play church.
    I’m waiting for real Theological Scholars to try and read through her book, if they can endure the agony, and present the scripturally critical review. Trust me… it won’t be pretty.

  4. I’m really interested to read your thoughts on a revisit of this book. I haven’t read it myself (yet), but after reading your review and a few others, I’m very intrigued. Honestly, my first thought when I read the synopsis was, er, not very positive. Kind of like Fauztran said, I feel like this book will be rife with out-of-context arguments, and it also makes me wonder on what the author bases her claim of being a Biblical scholar.

    I also agree with Trish that a discussion between the author and someone like you, who disagrees with her conclusions, would be fascinating. It doesn’t matter if you don’t consider yourself a Biblical scholar; if you’ve carefully read the Bible, cover-to-cover, if you argue your side *within* context, and if you firmly believe in what you’re saying, then I’d say you’re just as educated (or more!) as this author is on the subject.

  5. I did not read the book, but yesterday I heard the author interviewed by Terry Gross on “Fresh Air”. I was surprised at her answer when she was asked (paraphasing) why then you still follow the Bible since you are against what the Bible says about: (stoning of women, poligamy, homosexuality…)? She said(Again paraphrasing), because I grew up with my mother reading the Bilble and I can’t just leave those memories reading the Bible with my mother”.

    I think that is very sad…


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