In times of questioning and despair, people often quote the Bible to provide answers. Surprisingly, though, the Bible does not have one answer but many "answers" that often contradict one another. Consider these competing explanations for suffering put forth by various biblical writers:
The prophets: suffering is a punishment for sin
The book of Job, which offers two different answers: suffering is a test, and you will be rewarded later for passing it; and suffering is beyond comprehension, since we are just human beings and God, after all, is God
Ecclesiastes: suffering is the nature of things, so just accept it
All apocalyptic texts in both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament: God will eventually make right all that is wrong with the world
For renowned Bible scholar Bart Ehrman, the question of why there is so much suffering in the world is more than a haunting thought. Ehrman's inability to reconcile the claims of faith with the facts of real life led the former pastor of the Princeton Baptist Church to reject Christianity.
In God's Problem, Ehrman discusses his personal anguish upon discovering the Bible's contradictory explanations for suffering and invites all people of faith--or no faith--to confront their deepest questions about how God engages the world and each of us.
Noted religion scholar and agnostic Ehrman explores the divergent array of biblical perspectives on the essential question of suffering. Ehrman also traces his own journey from belief to doubt as he puts forth a case for why both Old and New Testament teachings fail to reconcile the concept of a loving God with the reality of human misery. L.J. Ganser, a 2005 Audie winner for Russell Shorto's The Island at the End of the World, sets an animated professorial tone that is appropriate to both the weighty nature of Ehrman's argument and the author's wry, irreverent commentary. Ironically, the musical interludes between the discscoupled with Ehrman's extensive Scriptural readingsevoke a Sunday School vibe. Ganser gives voice to Ehrman as a thoughtful curmudgeon in the national dialogue about faith; a figure whose challenges to orthodoxy somehow manage to steer clear of the caustic polarization that characterizes much of the current culture war. Simultaneous release with the HarperOne hardcover (Reviews, Dec. 3). (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.