I just received InterVarsity’s Fall 2011 catalog and noted that William Webb has a new book coming out: Corporal Punishment in the Bible: A Redemptive-Movement Hermeneutic for Troubling Texts. Many of you will remember Webb as the author of the egalitarian book Slaves, Women, & Homosexuals, in which Webb argued for an ethic on the women’s issue that goes beyond the ethic of the New Testament. In that book, Webb argued that “redemptive-movement” often brings readers to an ethical position superior to the one found in the Bible. So even though Paul clearly argues for male headship in a variety of texts, redemptive-movement indicates that there is a better ethic for contemporary readersâ€”namely, egalitarianism.
In this latest book, Webb applies this hermeneutic to spanking and finds that spanking shouldn’t be done. The catalog describes it this way:
“William J. Webb defuses misguided readings of biblical passages that call for the corporal punishment of children, slaves and wrongdoers. Setting these passages in their ancient cultural context, Webb reaffirms the importance of reading Scripture with God’s redemptive movement in mind.”
Readers will recognize many of those who offer endorsements of the book: Dan Block, Darrell Bock, Mark Strauss, William Heth, Robert Chisholm, Christopher Wright, Mart De Haan, and Scot McKnight. Here’s a quick sampling of what they say:
Scot McKnight: “Every parent and every pastor, in that order, needs to read this book before either lifts a hand or teaches others to lift a hand. I pray this book will flourish.”
William Heth: “This book is about exercising parental discipline biblically by, paradoxically, disobeying the concrete specific instructions in the Bible (in seven ways!) that speak to this subject. Contemporary pro-spankers have, indeed, already done this but do not adequately justify how they could abandon an ‘on the page’ grammatical-historical exegesis of the corporal punishment texts to get there.”
The table of contents indicates that there is an appendix that takes on Andreas KÃ¶stenberger’s argument in favor of corporal punishment from his book God, Marriage & Family. Here are the contents:
Foreword by I. Howard Marshall
Introduction: A Troubled Christian Soul
Part I: Troubling Texts
1 Seven Ways Pro-Spankers Go Beyond the Bible
Part II: A Redemptive-Movement Hermeneutic
2 The Slavery Texts: A Redemptive-Movement Model
3 The Rod and Whip Texts: A Biblical Basis for Going Beyond
Part III: Lingering Questions
4 What About Adult Corporal Punishment?
5 What About Using Only Noncorporal Methods for Children?
Conclusion: Dare to Read the Bible Differently
Postscript: An Unplanned Parenting Journey
Appendix: A Response to Andreas KÃ¶stenberger
We will be keeping our eye out for the appearance of this book. It is set to release in September, and it’s available for pre-order now from Amazon.com.