Murdoch University Emeritus Professor Bill Loader has published a new book that brings together findings from his acclaimed five-book series on sexuality in ancient Judaism and early Christianity.
Making Sense of Sex: Attitudes towards Sexuality in Early Jewish and Christian Literature summarises key findings from his five-year ARC-funded investigation and is written in an accessible style for a general readership.
“This book is designed to be a resource for anyone interested in exploring how sexual matters were approached in the New Testament and Early Judaism,” Professor Loader said.
“My intention has been to provide a more solid basis for discussion of modern issues to do with sexuality, one grounded in historical sources. I hope this book will provide a reliable starting point for debate.”
Professor Loader said the new book required him to condense 2500 pages from the initial five-book series into 176 pages.
He said that reaction to the project from both liberal and conservative perspectives has been positive and that the project had brought many surprises, including insights that run contrary to popular notions of Biblical views on sex.
“There’s a popular notion that Christianity was anti-sex, but this doesn’t really develop until the second century AD. And it really comes from popular philosophy and its influence on Christianity,” Professor Loader said.
“In the ancient world, Jews were very positive toward sexuality. As Jews, such as Philo of Alexandria, encountered the Hellenistic-Roman world, some of them bought this idea that strong feelings were bad.
“But in general, Jews believed that God created human beings and created sex, not just for reproduction, but for pleasure and intimacy. That’s the standard Jewish approach. They were not hung up on sex.”
Making Sense of Sex will be published on August 15 and can be pre-ordered here.