God and Sex

What the Bible Really Says


By Michael Coogan

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For several decades, Michael Coogan’s introductory course on the Old Testament has been a perennial favorite among students at Harvard University. In God and Sex, Coogan examines one of the most controversial aspects of the Hebrew Scripture: What the Old Testament really says about sex, and how contemporary understanding of those writings is frequently misunderstood or misrepresented. In the engaging and witty voice generations of students have appreciated, Coogan explores the language and social world of the Bible, showing how much innuendo and euphemism is at play, and illuminating the sexuality of biblical figures as well as God. By doing so, Coogan reveals the immense gap between popular use of Scripture and its original context. God and Sex is certain to provoke, entertain, and enlighten readers.


  • "Michael Coogan is one of the leading Hebrew Bible scholars in America. His new book on sexuality in the Bible (the sexuality of men, women, and God!) promises to be as scintillating as it is informative. Here a seasoned interpreter of Scripture shows how ancient authors viewed the world of sexuality, and how these ancient reflections can influence modern thinking, as "people of the book" reflect on the pressing issues of sex and gender in our own day, issues ranging from adultery and premarital sex to same-sex relations and heterosexual sex within marriage."
    Bart D. Ehrman, New York Times bestselling author of Misquoting Jesus
  • "Readers looking for an unbiased appraisal of what the Bible says about premarital sex, homosexuality, and polygamy can trust Coogan, a biblical scholar of the highest order. Concise, clear, and accessible to general readers, this book covers all the usual topics plus a few that may surprise ... Readers may be surprised to find a convincing discussion of evidence for God's own (sometimes unflattering) sexuality, in metaphor if not in fact. Coogan's reminder at the book's end that modern application of biblical texts requires interpretation and nuance is a welcome corrective to selective, literalist use."
    Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • "Revered by the devout as a revelation of God's will, the Bible vexes many progressive thinkers as an obstacle to gender equality and sexual liberation. Coogan has written this book to help such progressives get past their vexations ... A critique as radical as this one will astonish conservatives, who will wonder why those who accept it would even bother with the Bible. But it will embolden social activists glad to weaken restraints rooted in traditional understandings of scripture.
    Expect media attention and controversy."
  • "Michael Coogan is an extraordinary writer on the culture of the Bible and the ancient Near East. Though acknowledged far and wide as an impeccable scholar, he always manages to make his scholarship accessible to the general reader and to find just the right point of entry into a subject so that the reader may be lured onward. Furthermore, his clarity of exposition inevitably exposes the relevance of his subject to our world. A book on sex in the Bible is the perfect subject to display Coogan's unusual abilities. It's hard to imagine readers not being interested in the subject of sex and God, especially in the hands of a writer as skillful as Coogan."
    Thomas Cahill, former director of religious publishing at Doubleday and author of the bestselling Hinges of History series

On Sale
Nov 3, 2011
Page Count
256 pages

Michael Coogan

About the Author

Michael Coogan is Director of Publications for the Harvard Semitic Museum and Professor of Religious Studies at Stonehill College. For several decades, he has taught an introductory course on the Hebrew Scriptures at Harvard University, as well as at Wellesley College, Boston College, and Stonehill College. One of the leading biblical scholars in the United States, he is the author of The Old Testament: A Historical and Literary Introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures and editor of the acclaimed third edition of The New Oxford Annotated Bible.

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