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The Scripture about Sex

Written on October 29, 2010 by R. Depp

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An expert on religious studies named Michael Coogan accomplished an incredible feat: to talk about God and sex.

The ancient texts contained in the Bible are subjected to different interpretations. But now, an editor of The New Oxford Annotated Bible named boldly applied his knowledge of the Scripture to uncover what the Bible has to say about sex. In his work entitled ‘,’ Coogan discussed everything from Adam and Eve, prostitution to erotic Bible chapters. Here are the few excerpts of the interview of Alexander Sliver with Michael Coogan featured on Time website.

Alexander Sliver (AS): Your book begins with a discussion of the erotic Song of Solomon. Does its inclusion in the Bible mean there was a positive attitude toward sex back then?

Micheal Coogan (MC): I think there was a positive attitude toward sex in general, because reproduction was essential. Anything that led to reproduction was certainly viewed positively, and the idea of refraining from sex for religious reasons was something that was fairly unusual in Judaism in most periods. In many passages it’s a highly erotic text, and it was a text that rabbinic literature tells us used to be sung in taverns. Yet when I was in seminary many decades ago, it was razored out of many of the Bibles that we had.

AS: How important is it to read the Bible in its original languages?

MC: It’s essential for some of us to do it, if for no other reason so that translations can be made that are as accurate as possible. Often translators reflect their own views and their own biases just as much as the biblical writers do. I was interested recently in this case that the Supreme Court had in the Westboro Baptist Church. I looked at their website, and he lists all the passages that he says the Bible talks about sodomy. Well, in most of them sodomy isn’t discussed at all. The term sodomy is a translator’s term to translate Hebrew words that never mean sodomy in the sense of anal intercourse between males.

AS: Were people in biblical times less prudish than we are today?

MC: I think in some ways they were, even though they used a lot of euphemisms. When they were thinking about their god, they thought of him in ways not that different from the way other people thought about their gods. If you could describe God as a king or a shepherd or a warrior, then you can also describe him as a husband, and doing the sorts of things that husbands do. In the Greco-Roman world in which Christianity arose, the idea that a deity would come down to earth and have sex with a mortal would have been not surprising at all.

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