Modern Believing


Modern Believing (2018), 59, (1), 53–92.


Book Reviews A. P. A. Thatcher, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Theology, Sexuality, and Gender. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. Pp. xii, 719. Hb. £95. ISBN 978-0-19-966415-3. The Oxford Handbooks seek to provide ‘authoritative and up-to-date surveys of original research in a particular subject area’ (dust jacket). It is difficult to imagine a more daunting but important task within contemporary theological education than to provide this for theology, sexuality and gender. While one can quibble about balance, individual contributions, or this or that omission, frankly, Thatcher has done an outstanding job in shaping this volume of forty-one chapters. It fully deserves to become a well-thumbed resource in every library which aspires to help educate Christians today. As Thatcher makes clear, this is a primarily a work of Christian theology, but one which understands that theology must be in close and constant dialogue with ‘secular’ knowledge and cultural context. He has arranged the volume into eight loosely-paired sections. The essays in the first part, ‘Methods’, provide a theological orientation for the reader which also helps them appropriate the content that goes to make up the second part, ‘What Theologians Need to Know …’, comprised of six contributions from biology, psychology, anthropology, sociology, philosophy and queer theory. The next two parts address ‘Sexuality and Gender in the Biblical World’ and ‘in Christian Tradition’. The fifth and sixth parts then bring us to the present day and an account of ‘Controversies within the Churches’, followed by an exploration of other major faith traditions (Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism). The final two clusters of essays look at experience: ‘Concepts and Issues’ allows for the exploration of violence and justice, sexual pleasure, desire and love, and HIV/AIDS; and the experience of various groups of people is explored in ‘Sexual Theologies for All People’ – those beginning sexual experience, wives and husbands, Modern Believing 59.1 2018

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