Probing questions lie beneath contemporary disputes about biblical interpretation: How can the Bible be used to promote justice rather than to excuse injustice? How can we teach and preach a scripture passage in which a father sacrifices his daughter because of a rash oath he made when scripture fails to condemn the action? How do we pray Psalms that curse enemies rather than show love to them?
On questions like these, there is a temptation to close ourselves off from the church’s past. Because the graveyard of abuses in the church’s history is so full, we are tempted to find succor only in present-day voices. These voices will not be so naive about sexism, abuse and violence, we tell ourselves. They can move us through the labyrinth of biblical interpretation to a just and proper use of the Bible.