News from AllianceQ: September 2013

Book Review: Jesus Family Values by Deirdre Good

Jesus’ Family Values is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to know more about what the bible teaches about family. Considering all the talk about ‘family values’ in our culture today, you might think you know basics of biblical family values, but there’s a good chance this book will surprise you.

Dr. Good’s exposition of these scriptures gives quite a different picture of the family in scripture than those promoted by organizations such as Focus on the Family or other conservative groups. Did you know that John seems to value ‘friend’ over ‘family?’ That in Mark, Jesus calls the disciples to abandon their families for a new family that doesn’t include husbands, wives, or fathers? That Matthew completely rejects the role of earthly fathers?

The author, Deirdre Good, Professor of New Testament at The General Theological Seminary, New York City, provides an excellent exegetical exploration of the family values of the Gospels and Paul’s letters. This very careful analysis of family in the New Testament shows us what the scripture does say, and what it doesn’t, while carefully showing how the culture of the time, and the culture of our time, has influenced what is written and how it is read.

Here is how the Midwest Book Review describes this book:

Written by Professor of New Testament (The General Theological Seminary, New York City) Deirdre Good, Jesus’ Family Values is a rigorously scholarly examination of exactly what “family values” and dimensions of the family were in the days of Jesus Christ and the apostles, and precisely what the New Testament has to say – and what it doesn’t say – about such matters. Setting scripture in a firm and well-researched historical context, and meticulously noting the nuances of translation as well as which scriptures are considered apocryphal by which churches other factors influencing their interpretation, Jesus’ Family Values makes every effort to analytically answer the questions: What were Jesus Christ’s family values, and those of his apostles? What does this mean for modern Christians with abiding faith in both God and the importance of family? Of especial note is the keen observation that today’s suburban family household divorced from the workplace perhaps resembles Victorian era households more than those of Jesus’ time. A desperately needed antidote to proponents of “family values” who quote or misquote snippets of scripture to support specific narrow views, Jesus’ Family Values places the highest value of all on truth – and concerning such thorny and controversial topics such as religion, the best way to reach the truth is to offer as much research, evidence, broad-ranging interpretation, and logical means of analysis as reasonably possible and let the reader come to his or her own informed conclusions, precisely as Deirdre Good has done. Highly recommended.

Near the end of this volume Dr. Good writes “When I kneel [at communion] side by side with someone whose construction of family looks radically different from mine, I witness to a God whose ways are not our ways, whose judgments cannot be limited by our finite understanding, whose generosity and creativity must not be circumscribed by our tiny hearts and minds.”