for Robert Gagnon’s The Bible and Homosexual
(Abingdon Press, 2001; 520 pages; now
in its third printing)
Published Reviews and Comments
conservative magnum opus" and "the weightiest American treatment" on the
subject of the Bible and homosexuality.—Richard N. Ostling, one
of two religion writers for The Associated Press and former (for 29
years) religion writer and senior correspondent with Time
magazine. Mr. Ostling has received all seven of the prizes in the
religion newswriting field, including the American Academy of Religion
and Templeton awards.
best single treatment of the issue of [the Bible and homosexuality].”—Charles
H. Talbert, Professor of New Testament, Baylor University. Comment
made in: idem, Romans (Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary; Smyth &
Helwys, 2002), 78.
Author of: Reading Luke-Acts in Its
Mediterranean Milieu (Novum Testamentum Supplements, 107; Brill,
2003); Reading Luke (rev. ed.; Macon: Smyth & Helwys, 2002);
Reading Acts (Crossroad/ SPCK, 1997); The Apocalypse: A Reading
of the Revelation of John (Westminster/John Knox, 1994); Reading
John (Crossroad/SPCK, 1992); Reading Corinthians (NY:
Crossroad, 1987; rev. ed.: Macon: Smyth & Helwys, 2003); and many other
book is an unemotional meticulous examination of the relevant scriptural
texts with a fair and at times devastating evaluation of other modern
interpreters and interpretations of the issue. . . . It is ‘must’
reading for pastors and for other Christian leaders.”—E. Earle Ellis,
Professor Emeritus of New Testament, Southwestern Baptist Theological
Seminary. Review in Southwestern Journal of Theology 44 (Summer
Author of: History and
Interpretation in New Testament Perspective (Brill, 2001); Christ
and the Future in New Testament History (Brill, 2000); The Making
of the New Testament Documents (Brill, 1999); The Old Testament
in Early Christianity (Mohr-Siebeck, 1991); Pauline Theology:
Ministry and Society (Eerdmans, 1989); Prophecy and Hermeneutic
in Early Christianity (Mohr-Siebeck, 1978); and other works.
not, however, know how any reasonable person could read Robert A. J.
Gagnon’s 500-page book, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and
Hermeneutics (Abingdon, 2001), and not conclude that any exegesis
evading the clear meaning of Paul is evasive indeed. Nor from now on can
I regard anyone as qualified to debate homosexuality who has not come to
terms with Gagnon’s encyclopedic examination of all the relevant
passages and all the exegetical hypotheses concerning them. I have not
always agreed with James Barr, but when on the dust jacket he describes
Gagnon’s treatise as "indispensable even for those who disagree with the
author," I think he is absolutely right.”—J. I. Packer, Professor
of Theology, Regent College. Remarks published in: Christianity Today,
Jan. 21, 2003.
Author of a 4-volume Collected
Shorter Writings (Paternoster, 1998-99); Concise Theology: A
Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Tyndale, 1993); Knowing God
(Intervarsity, 1993); A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of
the Christian Life (Crossway, 1990); and many other books.
“The definitive exegetical treatment [of
the Bible and homosexuality] by an author with a high view of
Scripture’s authority, but some unconservative ideas on its
composition.”—Gordon J. Wenham, professor of Old Testament at the
University of Gloucestershire in Gloucester, England. Comment made in a
paper delivered at the Fourth National Evangelical Anglican Congress,
Blackpool, England, Sept. 22, 2003 and posted at
of: Story as Torah: Reading Old Testament Narrative Ethically (T.
& T. Clark, 2000); Genesis (2 vols.; Word Biblical Commentary,
Word, 1987, 1994); Numbers (Old Testament Guides; Sheffield
Academic Press, 1997); The Book of Leviticus (New International
Commentary on the Old Testament, Eerdmans, 1979); and author or editor
of many other books.
the past decade I have read probably a dozen books dealing with aspects
of homosexual identity and practice. This book is worth more than all
the others combined. Here’s why: (1) Many books and articles deal with
only a handful of biblical texts and offer up very sketchy exegesis;
this book deals substantively with more than a dozen specific texts, as
well as taking seriously the larger historical and literary contexts of
these passages. (2) Much of popular and semi-popular writing of the past
30 years is ill-informed about the literature of the ancient Near East
(not much) and the Graeco-Roman world (quite a bit) dealing with
same-sex intercourse; Gagnon includes lengthy quotations of relevant
materials and shows their possible bearing on the biblical texts. (3)
The author interacts carefully, critically, and fairly (it seems to me)
with scholars who have offered a “revisionist” interpretation of the
relevant biblical texts. (4) Gagnon includes in his hermeneutical
section substantive discussions about and citations from the technical
literature in journals of science on the causes of homosexual behavior
and the possibility of change.”—Robert F. Hull, Jr., Dean and
Professor of New Testament, Emmanuel School of Religion (Johnson City,
Tenn.); review in the Mar. 2004 issue of a school publication (The
Clipboard) for alumni and Board members. Posted at:
is the most comprehensive and up-to-date treatment of the biblical texts
that are generally associated with homosexual practice and of the
arguments used to interpret them. Its treatment of the pertinent Old
Testament, early Jewish and New Testament texts places before the reader
the full dossier of ancient textual evidence, the various interpretive
possibilities and full references to modern scholarly debate.”—Daniel
J. Harrington, S.J., professor of New Testament at Weston Jesuit
School of Theology in Cambridge, MA, and editor of New Testament
Abstracts; review in America: The National Catholic Weekly,
March. 11, 2002.
“[Gagnon’s] scholarship is mature and exacting: it persuasively
enunciates the conventional interpretation and relentlessly assails the
liberal camp. . . . an impressively learned study driving home that
those few Biblical texts and authors that allude to or mention
homosexuality condemn it. . . . an extraordinarily useful repository of
information and sources. . . . He has undoubtedly galvanized the debate:
the book will be welcomed and hated, praised and blamed, but it should
be read. . . . [It is] a valuable contribution to the issue.”—John
Barclay Burns, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, George
Mason University; excerpted from review in Journal of Religion and
Society 4 (2002).
thoughtful and well-documented study makes the case that Christians
should not endorse homosexual relations. Written in a clear but
non-inflammatory style, the author engages a remarkable range of
contemporary biblical, theological, and pastoral scholarship. Divergent
viewpoints are summarized and critiqued in a balanced way so that
readers can understand the various sides of the debate. The care with
which Gagnon engages various points of view strengthens his case. . . .
The breadth and balance in this work make it a valuable guide through
the maze of studies on the topic of homosexuality and Christian
practice. . . . Those who agree with the position taken by Gagnon will
welcome the care with which he develops his argument, and those who
disagree will find in Gagnon a worthy conversation partner, who takes
challenges seriously and responds thoughtfully.”—Craig R. Koester,
Professor of New Testament, Luther Seminary (St. Paul, Minn.); excerpted
from review published in Word & World 22/1 (Winter 2002): 94-96.
Hebrews: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary
(Anchor Bible; Doubleday), Revelation and the End of All Things
(Eerdmans), and Symbolism in the Fourth Gospel: Meaning, Mystery,
Community (Fortress, 1995).
“[Gagnon’s] massive tome, written in non-polemical tone, is the first
comprehensive exegetical treatment of this intractable issue of
homosexuality. . . . Gagnon’s book may also be the last of its
kind, since it does so much, and further work likely will address only
aspects of the issue, rather than seek so complete a treatment. . . .
Gagnon’s thorough work excels in 1) careful textual analysis and
intertextual considerations; 2) exacting detail in historical-critical
investigations, taking into account cultural backgrounds and ideological
contexts of relevant contemporary literature cited, whether Ancient Near
East, Greco-Roman, or early Judaism; and 3) extensive engagement with
most all scholarly contributions to date. . . . Virtually no stone is
left unturned on this topic. . . . The range of arguments considered and
his careful analysis [of Paul and Deutero-Paul] sets a bench-mark for
all further study of these texts. . . . Whether we agree or disagree
with Gagnon’s views, his arguments are clear, cogent, and persuasive.”—Willard
M. Swartley, Professor of New Testament at Associated Mennonite
Biblical Seminary; excerpted from review in Mennonite Quarterly
Review 76:2 (April 2002): 215-22. Author of:
Homosexuality: Biblical Interpretation and Moral Discernment (Herald
Press); Israel’s Scripture Traditions and the Synoptic Gospels: Story
Shaping Story (Hendrickson); Slavery, Sabbath, War, and Women:
Case Issues in Biblical Interpretation (Herald); editor of: The
Love of Enemy and Nonretaliation in the New Testament (Westminster)
and The Meaning of Peace: Biblical Studies (Westminster).
“Future debates in the church and the academy will have to take into
account this major work on Scripture and homosexuality. Using
historical-critical and literary-critical tools, biblical scholar Robert
Gagnon has done meticulous exegetical work on the key passages, engaging
a range of contemporary scholars with very diverse opinions. . . .
The Bible and Homosexual Practice has arrived at a moment when
questions about the ordination of gays and lesbians, the performance of
rites for same-sex unions, and related matters, are high on
denominational agendas. It should be an indispensable resource for
dialogue and decisions. Especially so because it casts the issue in
theological terms rather than in culture-war categories. . . . [T]his
book has made an impressive case for a common thread of biblical
teaching on the purposes of human sexuality. It should be a standard
reference work for years to come.”—Gabriel Fackre, Abbot
Professor of Christian Theology, Emeritus, Andover Newton Theological
School; excerpted from a review published in Pro Ecclesia 11:3
(Summer 2002): 377-79.
Author of The Christian Story
(Eerdmans) and 18 other books.
“Regardless of one’s views, it is no longer possible to preach, teach,
speak or write on this subject with integrity before carefully
considering this magisterial work. . . . It is a must for every pastor
and church library. . . . [Gagnon] has given the English-speaking
Christian world an unmatched encyclopedic work on homosexual practice
and the Bible. I recommend it highly.”—Kenneth E. Bailey,
Research Professor Emeritus of New Testament Studies, the Ecumenical
Institute, Jerusalem; excerpted from review in Presbyterian Outlook
(Nov. 5, 2001).
Author of Poet and Peasant: A
Literary-Cultural Approach to the Parables in Luke (Eerdmans), and
many other works.
Endorsements submitted for book jacket and/or inside book
is a brilliant, original and highly important work, displaying
meticulous biblical scholarship, and indispensable even for those who
disagree with the author.”—James Barr, Regius Professor of
Hebrew, Emeritus, Oxford University, and Distinguished Professor of
Hebrew Bible, Emeritus, Vanderbilt University.
Author of The Concept of Biblical
Theology (Fortress), Biblical Faith and Natural Theology
(Oxford University), Beyond Fundamentalism (Westminster), The
Semantics of Biblical Language (Oxford University), and seven other
work contains the most sophisticated and convincing examination of the
biblical data to date and puts the data in the context of ancient
culture. The implications for the present are drawn in a prudent and
well-argued manner. The book thus makes an essential contribution to
defusing the emotionalism that surrounds the discussion. Even someone
who advocates a different position will be able to appreciate this
advantage of the book.”—Jürgen Becker, Professor of New
Testament, Christian-Albrechts University (Kiel, Germany).
Author of Paul: Apostle to the
Gentiles (Westminster/Mohr-Siebeck), Jesus of Nazareth (de
Gruyter), and four other books.
Christian concerned with homosexuality can afford to ignore this book.
Agree with the conclusions or not, it presents a meticulous scholarly
account of biblical and post-biblical traditions about same-sex
relationships, and shows the weakness of many modern discussions.”—John
Barton, Oriel and Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy
Scripture, University of Oxford, England.
Author of Ethics and the Old
Testament (Trinity Press), Oracles of God: Prophecy in Israel
After the Exile (Oxford University), Reading the Old Testament
(Westminster), and many other books.
incisive logic, prudent judgment, and exhaustive research should
book a dominant voice in the contemporary debate on an extremely
sensitive subject.”—Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, O.P., Professor of
New Testament, Ecole Biblique, Jerusalem.
Author of Paul: A Critical Life
(Oxford University Press), 1 Corinthians (Doubleday), The Holy
Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide (Oxford University Press), and
several other books.
“Gagnon has offered a learned, judicious, and comprehensive examination
of the biblical testimony. He makes a genuine contribution to the
continuing debate by critically evaluating a host of theories developed
by defenders of same-sex practices. His book is fair and compassionate,
and should become a major resource for those taking the scriptural
witness seriously.”—Brevard S. Childs, Sterling Professor of
Divinity (Old Testament), Emeritus, Yale Divinity School. Author
of Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments (Fortress);
Old Testament Theology in a Canonical Context (Fortress);
Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (Fortress), and 7
“Gagnon makes his point clear in defending the non-acceptance of
homosexual relationships on biblical grounds. In its learnedness, his
book will without doubt be in the vanguard of its position and cannot be
ignored in future debate even by proponents of discordant views.”—Martti
Nissinen, Professor of Hebrew Bible, University of Helsinki,
Author of Homoeroticism in the
Biblical World (Fortress) and Prophetie, Redaktion und
Fortschreibung im Hoseabuch (Neukirchener).
“Gagnon's work provides in my judgment the most thorough and satisfying
analysis and evaluation of the biblical texts yet produced. It is
abreast of the latest literature, scrupulous in its exegesis and
sensitive to hermeneutical questions. It is a study that no serious
scholar will want to ignore.”—David F. Wright, Senior Lecturer,
Ecclesiastical History, The University of Edinburgh, Scotland.
Editor of Martin Bucer, Reforming
Church and Community (Cambridge University Press); co-editor of
New Dictionary of Theology (Intervarsity); and author of a number of
scholarly articles on homosexuality.
“Gagnon's book is an extremely valuable contribution to the current
debate and deserves to be read very widely. The biblical exegesis is
distinguished by rigorous scholarship, while the discussion of how the
biblical material speaks to the modern church and to secular society is
characterized by balanced and sober judgment and by a sympathetic
understanding of the present situation. I recommend this book
wholeheartedly.”—C. E. B. Cranfield, Emeritus Professor of
Theology, University of Durham, England.
Author of the 2-volume International
Critical Commentary (T&T Clark) on Romans and six other books.
is probably the fullest and best presentation of the conservative
position. Amid the many publications on the Christian attitude to
homosexuality, Gagnon's book stands out by reason of its wide learning
and rich detail which characterize it as a serious work of scholarship,
expressing the case against same-sex intercourse sympathetically and
convincingly.”—I. Howard Marshall, Professor of New Testament
Exegesis, Emeritus, University of Aberdeen, Scotland.
Author of the new International
Critical Commentary on The Pastoral Epistles, Witness to the
Gospel: The Theology of Acts (Eerdmans), and 16 other books.
is the most thorough examination of the scriptural and theological (and
a variety of other) perspectives on same-sex relations that I have seen,
a tour de force that cannot be easily set aside by anyone who
reads it and reacts to it in anything other than a superficial and
prejudiced way. It has the potential to bring discussion of this topic
to a new level.”—Marion L. Soards, Professor of New Testament,
Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
Author of The Speeches in Acts
(Westminster), Scripture and Homosexuality (Westminster), and
The Passion According to Luke (JSOT).
know of no comparable study of the texts and interpretive debates that
surround homosexual behavior. Gagnon's approach to the issue grasps the
complexity of the debate, and does so with much compassion. Although
the work is not polemical in tone, it also becomes clear that some
widely-quoted authorities and contemporary advocates of sexual
liberation in this area have misread the historical and textual data to
enhance their cases and misused contemporary scientific, classical
argument and pastoral evidence.”—Max L. Stackhouse, Stephen
Colwell Professor of Christian Ethics, Princeton Theological Seminary.
Author of Covenant and Commitments
(Westminster), Christian Social Ethics in a Global Era
(Abingdon), and six other books.
“Gagnon's book is extraordinarily satisfying.”—Bruce M. Metzger,
Professor of New Testament, Emeritus, Princeton Theological Seminary.
Author of The Canon of the New
Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance (Oxford),
The Text of the New Testament (Oxford), and over a dozen other
“Thorough...and very well informed.”—James D. G. Dunn, Lightfoot
Professor of Divinity, University of Durham.
Author of The Theology of Paul the
Apostle (Eerdmans), The Partings of the Ways Between Christianity
and Judaism (TPI), Christology in the Making (Westminster), a
2-volume commentary on Romans for the Word Biblical Commentary series
(Word), and over a dozen other books.
book anticipates every question that I thought to ask about this subject
and provides an extensive answer. I believe that this volume will become
a classic in the ongoing discussion of the church's understanding of and
response to homosexuality.”—Duane F. Watson, Professor of New
Testament Studies, Malone College.
Author of Rhetorical Criticism of
the Bible (Brill) and Invention, Arrangement, and Style:
Rhetorical Criticism of Jude and 2 Peter (Scholars Press).
“Gagnon’s book is well written, well organized, well and closely
argued. I hope it will be widely read.”—C. K. Barrett, Emeritus
Professor of Divinity (New Testament), Durham University, England.
Author of the new International
Critical Commentary on Acts (2 vols.); Paul: An Introduction
to his Thought (Westminster); commentaries on Romans, 1 Corinthians,
2 Corinthians, John, and 16 other books.
is one of the very best exegetical/theological treatments of the issue
now available. All who are concerned with the issue will need to reckon
with it.”—Douglas Moo, Professor of New Testament, Wheaton
Author of the commentary on Romans
for the New International Commentary of the New Testament series
(Eerdmans) and three other books.
“Gagnon's study—impressively informed but not pedantic, passionate in
its defense of traditional Christian views but detailed in its summary
of other positions, closely argued without any sacrificing of clarity or
forthrightness—represents the kind of contribution that can only elevate
the discussion. Readers on both sides of the issue, and those yet
undecided, will learn much from a careful study of his argument.”—Stephen
Westerholm, Professor of Biblical Studies, McMaster University.
Author of Israel's Law and the
Church's Faith: Paul and His Recent Interpreters (Eerdmans);
Jesus and Scribal Authority (Lund: Gleerup); Preface to the Study
of Paul (Eerdmans).
its comprehensiveness and rigor, Gagnon's book gives a most helpful,
much needed, timely, and novel contribution. The book is so well
organized that ministers can easily use it as a reference work, and it
is so clearly written that interested laity can follow the argument.”—Ulrich
W. Mauser, Emeritus Professor of Biblical Theology, Princeton
Author of The Gospel of Peace: A
Scriptural Message for Today's World (Westminster) and two other
is an impressive study that moves the discussion forward in an important
and hotly contested area of Christian ethics. It articulates and
defends the traditional view, but is delightfully free of tired
traditional arguments. Nothing is taken for granted. The book is at one
and the same time hard hitting, carefully nuanced, irenic, practical and
fair. It is a necessary read for any who are seriously concerned with
Christian sexual ethics.”—John Nolland, Professor of New
Testament, Trinity College, Bristol, England.
Author of the 3-volume commentary on
Luke for the Word Biblical Commentary series.
thorough, irenic and socially-concerned book. Here you will find the
most up-to-date survey of the evidence and arguments all wrapped into a
hard-hitting, unflinching commitment to Scripture which at the same time
is sensitive both to pastoral and counseling issues. The trend today is
to duck the issue or to offer non-evaluative remarks; Gagnon stands
against the trend with uncommon grace and insight.”—Scot McKnight,
Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies (New Testament), North
Author of New Vision for Israel:
The Teachings of Jesus in National Context (Eerdmans) and A Light
Among the Gentiles: Jewish Missionary Activity in the Second Temple