Introduction – Take Back the Word (2 of 23)

Take Back the Word book cover

Goss, Robert E., and Mona West, eds. Take Back the Word: A Queer Reading of the Bible (Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press, 2000).
AZ | BN | WC

This post is part of a series of posts on the anthology Take Back the Word.


The introduction to Take Back the Word shows us that the anthology is a reclamation project. The authors recognize that the Bible has been used as a weapon against LGBTQ people in the past, and they (along with the other authors in the book) to provide different ways of reading. The Bible contains “texts of terror” (drawing from Phyllis Trible’s book of the same name), but we can “out the Bible” (drawing from Nancy Wilson’s Our Tribe) in order to find more positive readings. The authors of the introduction identify the book’s hermeneutic as reading the Bible as a friend:

When we approach the Bible as a friendly text, as a text that ‘does no harm’ [drawing from John Wesley, I believe], the terror of Scriptures is transformed into the life-giving Word of God. (5)

This is a highly optimistic view that the authors don’t explore much, except to give brief summaries of the chapters that follow. I’d be intrigued to know whether the aforementioned texts of terror can indeed be read in a friendly way; they don’t say how friendly we can be with the Bible. But the introduction has provided an encouraging foretaste of what we’ll see in the rest of the book, laying the (very brief) groundwork for a positive queer reading. I look forward to reading the rest of the book.


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